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New NJ state law takes effect, ends Newark archdiocesan sale of cemetery monuments

March 25, 2016

A new state law has taken effect in New Jersey, ending the sale of cemetery headstones by the Archdiocese of Newark.

In 2013, the archdiocesan cemeteries began offering headstones. (Technically the archdiocese retains ownership of the headstone, giving the buyer a guarantee of perpetual maintenance.) Private sellers complained that the program undercut their sales, and argued that the archdiocese was exploiting its non-profit status to drive them out of business. 

Last year the New Jersey legislature passed legislation that bans the archdiocesan program-- ignoring pleas from Archbishop John Myers that the measure is an infringement on religious freedom. The bill was signed into law by Governor Chris Christie on March 24, 2015, with a provision that it would take legal effect in one year. 

The Newark archdiocese plans a court challenge to the legislation. 

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