Victory in federal court for monks threatened with prison for selling caskets
October 26, 2012
The Fifth US Circuit Court of Appeals has handed a legal victory to a Louisiana Benedictine abbey whose monks were threatened with imprisonment for selling caskets without a license.
Citing a state law that threatens violators with major fines and imprisonment, the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors ordered the Benedictine monks of St. Joseph Abbey in 2010 to stop selling caskets. The monks, whose caskets were $250 cheaper than average, refused to seek a license because the law would have required them to convert the abbey into a funeral home with embalming equipment.
“We’re grateful for the court's opinion,” said Abbot Justin Brown. “Hopefully, in our quest for justice and for the ability to make and sell caskets freely, we're making it possible for others to do the same. Hopefully, we're fighting for the economic rights of others.”
“America is as much a land of economic liberty as it is a land of religious liberty,” added Deacon Mark Coudrain, director of the abbey’s woodshop. “The court recognized that the US Constitution doesn’t let the government prevent monks or anyone else from earning an honest living unless there is a really good reason, the kind of reason that was nowhere to be seen here.”
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