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Bishop Lori of Bridgeport, Connecticut, has written the Parable of the Kosher Deli, “for those with ears to hear.” In this lesson, the government has applied a nation-wide mandate that requires kosher delicatessen’s to serve ham sandwiches. Naturally, the owners were incensed and demanded that the law be rescinded. Rather than abandon the mandate wholesale, though, the government employed what seemed to be an accommodating compromise:

“Some who supported the deli owners initially began to celebrate the fact that ham sandwiches didn’t need to be on the menu, and didn’t need to be prepared or served by the deli itself. But on closer examination, they noticed three troubling things. First, all kosher delis will still be forced to pay for the ham sandwiches. Second, many of the kosher delis’ meat suppliers, themselves, are forbidden in conscience from offering, preparing, or serving pork to anyone. Third, there are many kosher delis that are their own meat supplier, so the mandate to offer, prepare, and serve the ham sandwich still falls on them. This story has a happy ending. The government recognized that it is absurd for someone to come into a kosher deli and demand a ham sandwich; that it is beyond absurd for that private demand to be backed with the coercive power of the state; that it is downright surreal to apply this coercive power when the customer can get the same sandwich cheaply, or even free, just a few doors down.”

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