After Hurricane Katrina put St. Joseph Abbey of Louisiana in financial hardship, the monks decided to parlay their woodworking skills into making and selling coffins.
But before they could even sold a single casket, St. Joseph Abbot's leader Justin Brown said that the state told him no:
Brown, a soft-spoken man who is only the fifth leader of a monastery that dates to 1889, said he had not known that in Louisiana only licensed funeral directors are allowed to sell “funeral merchandise.”
That means that St. Joseph Abbey must either give up the casket-selling business or become a licensed funeral establishment, which would require a layout parlor for 30 people, a display area for the coffins, the employment of a licensed funeral director and an embalming room.
“Really,” Brown said. “It’s just a big box.”
And a big box whose occupant is unlikely to complain of its craftmanship, either.
So, after much prayer and two failed attempts to change the law, the monks are taking the fight to the courts, alleging that the law is for the economic protection of the funeral industry.
In and of itself, the story of humble monks vs the big bad funeral industry is interesting, but it belies the deeper issue of what is effectively a state-sanctioned monopoly: Link | Print version (Photo: Sean Gardner/The Washington Post) - via Metafilter