By Bishop William Lori
Published by the National Catholic Register
There is a narrow exception for kosher catering halls attached to synagogues, since they serve mostly members of that synagogue, but kosher delicatessens are still subject to the mandate.
The Orthodox Jewish community — whose members run kosher delis and many other restaurants and grocers besides — expresses its outrage at the new government mandate.
And they are joined by others who have no problem eating pork — not just the many Jews who eat pork, but people of all faiths — because these others recognize the threat to the principle of religious liberty.
They recognize as well the practical impact of the damage to that principle.
They know that, if the mandate stands, they might be the next ones forced — under threat of severe government sanction — to violate their most deeply held beliefs, especially their unpopular beliefs.
Meanwhile, those who support the mandate respond, “But pork is good for you.”
It is, after all, the “other white meat.”
Other supporters add, “So many Jews eat pork, and those who don’t should just get with the times.”
Still others say, “Those Orthodox are just trying to impose their beliefs on everyone else.”
But in our hypothetical, those arguments fail in the public debate, because people widely recognize the following:
First, although people may reasonably debate whether pork is good for you, that’s not the question posed by the nationwide pork mandate.
Instead, the mandate generates the question whether people who believe — even if they believe in error — that pork is not good for you should be forced by government to serve pork within their very own institutions. In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is: No.
Second, the fact that some (or even most) Jews eat pork is simply irrelevant. The fact remains that some Jews do not — and they do not out of their most deeply held religious convictions.
Does the fact that large majorities in society — even large majorities within the protesting religious community — reject a particular religious belief make it permissible for the government to weigh in on one side of that dispute? Does it allow government to punish that minority belief with its coercive power?
In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is: No.
Third, the charge that the Orthodox Jews are imposing their beliefs on others has it exactly backwards.
Again, the question generated by a government mandate is whether the government will impose its belief that eating pork is good on objecting Orthodox Jews.
Meanwhile, there is no imposition at all on the freedom of those who want to eat pork. That is, they are subject to no government interference at all in their choice to eat pork, and pork is ubiquitous and cheap, available at the overwhelming majority of restaurants and grocers.
Indeed, some pork producers and retailers, and even the government itself, are so eager to promote the eating of pork that they sometimes give pork away for free.
In this context, the question is this: Can a customer come to a kosher deli, demand to be served a ham sandwich, and if refused, bring down severe government sanction on the deli?
In a nation committed to religious liberty and diversity, the answer, of course, is: No....
Read more: The Parable of the Kosher Deli