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Salaam, Salami: Cashier Claims Muslim Conscience Clause at Walmart

Let's be clear from the start, I'm just making a sandwich, not exercising reproductive choice.

I contributed to the oppression of the proletariat yesterday by shopping for groceries at Walmart. I picked up some salami, another moral offense.

In the checkout line, my cashier, a black woman in hijab, scanned the salami where it lay on the conveyor. She then said something to me that did not register. I thought maybe she was puzzled as to how to proceed with my reusable shopping bag (that's me, trying to win back anti-consumerist karma) and was asking if she could place my remaining ten items in twelve plastic bags. I gestured toward my French loaf and my fabric bag. She returned my befuddled look and clarified:

"My religion does not allow me to touch pork. Will you put the pork in your bag?"

Islam! Pork! Of course! I once invited a Muslim to let me make him lunch, but all I had in the fridge was a frozen pepperoni pizza. He declined and went home hungry.

I was in buy mode, not blog mode, so I cheerfully grabbed the salami and put it in my grocery bag. My cashier scanned and bagged the rest of my items... which, interestingly, included a frozen pepperoni pizza that didn't set off her haraam alarm.

When I got home, I got to thinking. The Muslim pork taboo isn't just about touching swine flesh. My salami was packaged in plastic and cardboard. The taboo can logically extend to refusing to be complicit in the sin of others who would eat such foul meat. My cashier didn't refuse to complete the transaction, as some Muslim cashiers have done with customers elsewhere buying pork or alcohol. But my cashier did decline to provide me with a basic service that her customers and her boss expect her to provide.

Remember, it's just salami. One package of salami.

But how many cashiers are Muslim? (At my nearest Walmart, many.) How many customers have pork products in their baskets? Multiply those numbers by stores, and you start exerting a noticeable downward pressure on customer experience and check-lane efficiency. And suppose on a certain slow shift, every member of the minimal checking crew is Muslim. At that hour, does Walmart have to hang a sign directing all ham buyers to the self-service checkout? Or for the sake of its business model, does Walmart have to ensure that every cashier on every shift can handle every transaction that a customer may bring to the till?

Whether we're talking salami or birth control, I could see any retailer saying that if you have moral principles against certain products, you shouldn't work in stores that sell those products.

But can we say that? Can we tell Muslims (and Jews, and fundamentalist Christians who take Leviticus 11:7–8 at face value) that they don't get to work as grocery cashiers? Or do faithful cashiers get a conscience clause that means I take my meat to the self-service counter?


  1. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    Reminds me of Dana Carvey's 'church lady' character, Cory. How about if you go to buy some bacon and the clerk says, 'Well, ...isn't that special? I wonder who could be telling us to buy that kind of meat there, mister. Could it be.... Satan?'

    Maybe just pretend it's SNL, Cory and go grab some pork chops. ;-)

  2. Joan Brown 2014.12.07

    They could be hired to do stocking or maintenance type work in departments other than groceries. That being said if people want to work in certain fields they should put aside some of their beliefs. For a brief period of time there was a Muslim woman working in the deli of the WalMart where I shop. Stores would have a major problem if all of sudden vegetarian employees started refusing to hand meat type products, just because they knew Muslims were doing it.

  3. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    If you do that, the more times it happens, the harder you'll laugh inside. :-)

  4. grudznick 2014.12.07

    I, for one, would have no problem eating meat handed to me by a Muslim or a vegetarian woman. I know back in the day when I used to sell cars I still sold them to some people that I disagreed with, but they paid me to do a job and by golly I did it.

  5. Joan 2014.12.07

    Does Walmart provide a detailed job description to prospective employees? If you're unwilling or unable to fulfill all the required tasks you need to look elsewhere.

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.07

    Bill, I may make sure I always buy a pack of salami or hot dogs or some such product every time I go through the line and keep track of how many checkers decline to handle those items and what different responses they give. Of course, with hot dogs, we face the question of whether they are real pork dogs, or beef, chicken, turkey, or some other offal. Would a cashier committed to orthodoxy have to go through the inventory and memorize which hot dogs are pork and which are other?

    And will any cashier turn me away for buying pepperoni pizza?

  7. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    Have fun with it, Cory. It could be worse.

    It could be Sibby or Bob Ellis telling you that you're just feeding the crony Oscar Mayer capitalists, but if you grow your own food and share it with others you're a communist. And that cash you're trying to pay with isn't really worth anything, but if you use a credit card you're using the number of the beast.

    No way to win here, bro. Gotta just laugh it off. ;-)

  8. leslie 2014.12.07

    is it important to respect any person's religious beliefs in such an instance; deb, would you have a knowledgable thought here? why?

  9. grudznick 2014.12.07

    Nobody should ever be turned away for buying pepperoni pizza. That's just silly.

  10. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    It's not uncommon at our Safeway in Rapid City for a young clerk to call on an older one to ring up an alcohol sale. (Because it's illegal for minors to sell it.)

    I suppose if a pig meat buying group of customers were to demand an equal level of service for their ham hock purchases as they get when they buy a lamb shanks, management would make the necessary changes in checkout protocol.

    The important thing I would think is that no one should be made to feel self conscious about their food choices at the check out counter.

    Can you imagine what would happen if some thin, in-shape young check out person gave every 300 pounder coming through with a box of Twinkies a little tongue cluck and made them bag them up themselves?

  11. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.07

    The young cashier/no alcohol comparison is useful from a business perspective: if management considers religious injunction as ironclad as legal injunction, then management needs a regular full-time wiener handler to rove from lane to lane when the orthodox checkers need help... or management needs to say, "This job requires ability and willingness to handle all items in the store."

  12. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.07

    Leslie, you raise a good question about respect for other beliefs. I respect beliefs contrary to my own every day, in my own house. I think I'm pretty good at it. :-)

    But how far into our daily secular lives must that respect extend? Is there a simple analog to the "rights extend as far as you can swing your fist" rubric? Am I allowed to say, "Go ahead, believe in Allah, but don't hold me up in the grocery line"? I don't even like dealing with the corporate-mandated small talk in the grocery line: I'm watching the prices ring up, making sure there are no errors, and concentrating on making my payment. Dealing with unexpected religious questions is a huge distraction that could make me or the cashier make an error in tallying my bill. Islam's fine, but not when it starts costing me time and money.

    Am I allowed to say that? Does such a position fit with the Constitution and the liberal paradigm?

  13. Bill Fleming 2014.12.07

    I don't know if it fits the Constitutional or liberal paradigm, Cory, but a 'regular full-time weiner handler' fits the Freudian paradigm pretty well. ;-)

  14. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.08

    I read Cory's words, "regular full-time wiener handler to rove from lane to lane", and cracked up! Hahahahahahahaha!

    This is where the religious exemptions lead to a real mess. Where does an employee's religion end and customer service begin? Should every pharmacy have someone on hand to fill birth control prescriptions for the pharmacists who refuse to do so? How is that going to work in Lemmon? Highmore?

    I don't have a problem respecting another's religious traditions. But I do expect to complete my errands in a business, regardless of a particular clerk. Same with being in a public place.

    In the same vein, if a business wants to infringe on employees' religious preferences, (Are you listening Hobby Lobby Christianists?!), perhaps they should get out of business and find another way to make a living. They could sell the business to those nice pagans down the street.

  15. Jaedon 2014.12.08

    I'm atheist, but this is pretty ridiculous. Wow you have to bag your own meat. Big deal. This is clearly distinct from the vegetarian examlle or the birth control example because Islam forbids its followers from teaching certain meats. No religion prevents people from touching birth control. Vegetarianism isn't a religiois choice.

  16. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    And I didn't treat it as a big deal in the line, Jaedon. But if you can ridicule my choice as making a big deal over nothing, can you not also ridicule the cashier's choice? "Wow, it's just a package of sandwich meat. You bagged my pepperoni pizza and the world didn't end; why are you balking at my salami?"

    Furthermore, I'm asking the question from an employer perspective. I hire workers to perform specific services for customers. A subgroup of workers has religious objections to performing some of those services. In the interest of consistent customer experience and efficiency, am I allowed to reassign that subgroup, or to not hire them for those specific jobs?

    Remember that the taboo isn't simply about "touching" a particular object. It's about refusing to facilitate sin. In that regard, refusal to sell birth control and refusal to sell meat or alcohol are analogous religious questions.

  17. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    "Wiener-handler"—I thought you'd enjoy that, Bill and Deb! ;-)

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    Deb's right: far from ridiculous, this situation touches on the same constitutional issues of the Hobby Lobby decision, although here we're talking about the requirements an employer could place on employees rather than the requirements the state can place on employers. We are talking about a conflict between personal religious principle and efficient commercial activity in the public marketplace.

  19. JeniW 2014.12.08

    Cory, what I think would be interesting to know is if the manager at the Walmart that you shopped at knows of this employee refusing to bag salami, and if it is considered acceptable?

    And, if so, does the manager really expect customers to bag their own items, or do they have employees who can/will do that?

  20. JeniW 2014.12.08

    To take it one step further, I do not believe in condoning and encouraging the use of alcohol, but if I work at a business that sells alcohol can I refuse to touch the bottle, can, suitcases, etc. of alcoholic beverages, and accept the payment (on behalf of the business?)

    Should I even be working at a place that sells alcohol?

    If the check-out person believes that the consumption/touching of pork products is a sin, should she even be working there?

  21. Nick Nemec 2014.12.08

    Would a grocery store with a full time wiener handler roaming from lane to lane be considered a full service grocery store?

  22. Steve Sibson 2014.12.08

    Cory, so someone is proposing a law that says Muslims have to put taxpayer subsidized salami in grocery bags? Or our you comparing apples to oranges?

  23. Nick Nemec 2014.12.08

    Cory was the salami wrapped in some sort of package? I assume you didn't slap a piece of salami on the belt without the benefit of packaging. Would the packaging prevent someone from touching the actual meat? I know I'm splitting hairs here with someone else's religious beliefs but I'm curious as to how many layers of protection are needed to prevent violation of the religious law. If there are pork products are in the meat case would they contaminate the meat case, which would in turn contaminate the floor, which would in turn contaminate anyone entering the store? Would the contaminated floor contaminate the parking lot and soon the entire world would be contaminated by one piece of salami in the meat case of one isolated store in Madison SD?

  24. leslie 2014.12.08

    i dont think we are talking about madison but forgot where the cory enterprise is "living", "residing", ect. not that it matters.

  25. Nick Nemec 2014.12.08

    If the argument is that her handling the package of salami would facilitate your sin and she doesn't want to be a party to that sin doesn't ringing up the purchase or simply working in a store that sells salami also facilitate your sin?

  26. Nick Nemec 2014.12.08

    Yes, it really doesn't matter where the offending salami resides, the entire world is contaminated by its existence.

  27. mike from iowa 2014.12.08

    It is more than bagging it,Jaedon. That package has to go across the scanner and unless the customer is in self-help lane,the clerk has to scan the item. But then would the scanner be contaminated?

    Muslims seem to take their religion seriously,unlike millions of christians who do what they say they don't want other people doing.

  28. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Nick, if the full-time weiner-handlers also helped bag the yams, the russets and the Yukon Golds, maybe we could call them 'dictators.'

  29. bearcreekbat 2014.12.08

    Cashiers work hard. If a cashier asks for help, who cares whether the request is based on her religion or whatever. Why not just go out of your way to help her out, rather than worry about what's going on in her head?

  30. larry kurtz 2014.12.08

    Steve: Cory and Madville are not nearly as influential as readers here believe.

  31. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Sounds like that's what Cory did, BCB, went out of his way to help her, almost reflexively. I think his post here is "upon reflection" which, as we know, is always risky business. ;-) [edited by CAH...]

  32. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    How influential is that Larry? And how do you know what the readers here believe, in terms of Cory and this Blog's influence? (Just curious.)

  33. Vickie 2014.12.08

    Bill does it make a difference where those woods in question are located when the lie occurs? ;)

  34. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Vickie, good question! I forgot that part. What do you think?

  35. Vickie 2014.12.08

    I think that a lie is a lie no matter where the woods are and who might hear about that lie and then responds to it. :)

  36. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Good answer.

  37. Vickie 2014.12.08

    Oh rats. I should have added that it doesn't matter where the one who hears about it and responds is located...

  38. Vickie 2014.12.08

    Hmmmm. Now I have a dilemma. Later this month I will be in Omaha for a few days. Do I still get to read and reply to things here while I am,in fact,temporarily out of state?

  39. Troy 2014.12.08

    The other day I was on my cell phone in concentrated conversation. A lady with her hands full "interrupted" me and asked me to open the door for her. I did so and apologized for not paying attention. I APOLOGIZED.

    A person in my neighborhood told me their daughter was afraid to ride her bike to a friend's house past my house and our neighbors house when our dogs are in the front yard. I told her that if I saw her, I'd pull my dog onto the porch when I saw her coming.

    My point is that being neighborly is making accommodation to the people in our midst. Despite having significant theoretical and lifestyle differences with Islam, if a Muslim woman asked me to make such an accommodation, I'd do it without a second thought. It's just being neighborly.

  40. Vickie 2014.12.08

    You'll get no argument from me about those things Troy. Some of us just do those sorts of things with no problem.

    If I was in the same situation as Cory was or those that you describe,I would act the same way. It wouldn't be an issue. You just do it and go on about your business.

  41. larry kurtz 2014.12.08

    but making a woman wait three days to have a D & C because religion is just effing fine.

  42. Vickie 2014.12.08

    No. No it isn't.

  43. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Troy, I think Cory's question has a little different dimension than that having to with business. I once asked an artist to come to work for us and he refused because at the time we had some casino accounts. i told him he wouldn't have to work on those, but he still said no. Later when he went to work for another firm, he called and asked me if we would do some work on a casino account his boss had just landed. because as he had told me, it was against his religion to work on that stuff. I refused the business. We're still friends, but I had to explain the nature of the unintended insult to him. presumably, I won't have to explain it to you. ;-)

  44. Roger Cornelius 2014.12.08

    Cory acted humanely and respectfully to the Muslim cashier, I do wonder how the salami got across the scanner though. When pigs fly?
    The burden of the cashier's work is on her, not the employer.
    Back in the days when it was a sin for Catholics to eat meat on Friday, there was an exemption for the elderly and those with health problems. As I recall, all you had to do was ask a priest for a special exemption. Of course things have changed in the Catholic Church to where it is no longer a sin to eat meat on Friday but to giving up meat on Friday during the Lenten season.
    I'm not familiar with the hierarchy of the Islam faith, but it seems to me that someone along the chain could give a special dispensation to Muslim's that work in American retail, especially when pork products are packaged in plastic and cardboard.
    My concern is that this Muslim cashier would encounter a paranoid South Dakotan that has learned to hate Muslims.

  45. JeniW 2014.12.08

    If the cashier had worn gloves, would that have made a difference?

  46. bearcreekbat 2014.12.08

    It does look like there is split of authority on the pork handling/selling issue within the Muslim community. Some say it is okay provided the Muslim washes up properly. Others say it is okay if necessary to earn a living for the family. Another says a Muslim should either handle it if it is part of his job, or quit.

  47. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Here's what Cory "alleged:"

    "As part of his rant, Shaw repeats the persistent and pernicious lie that President Barack Obama is a Muslim."

    Nothing you've shown us supports Shaw's claim, Sibby.

    So, back to the topic. How would you feel about being a designated "full-time weiner handler" at a nice grocery store and getting paid for it (for a change?)

  48. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    Roger, the cashier had a handheld scanner. The package happened to be lying on the conveyor with the barcode up, so she could scan the package without touching.

    JeniW, it doesn't appear gloves would have made a difference, since the meat was double-packaged.

    But I remain puzzled at her choice of boundary for interaction with the taboo item. She allowed the transaction to take place. She rang up the price and took my money for a sinful purchase (and I enjoyed a sinful sandwich for lunch today—yum, salami!). I got the impression from this brief encounter and from the inconsistency with which she applied her principles (remember, she touched that pizza without a word!) that she may not have thought completely through her theology and the practical application thereof. That's not meant to be an insult; it just seems she needs to ask herself some questions about what her religious principles dictate she do in the marketplace. Her employer also appears not to have thought through the issue.

  49. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    Troy, you're a decent fellow. But retail doesn't run on decency. If I hire a doorman, I expect the doorman to be manning the door. If I hire someone to check and bag groceries, I expect her to check and bag groceries. If I look out from my office and see you the customer doing the work I pay my employees to do, I won't come chew you out for being neighborly, but I will come ask my employees why they're asking you to do their work.

  50. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    JeniW, I haven't contacted the manager. I wasn't sure this action arose to something worthy of possibly subjecting the cashier to guff from management. I wanted to test the situation here with you folks first.

  51. Bill Fleming 2014.12.08

    Cory, thinking about it from the clerk's perspective, is it possible she was acting somewhat irrationally out of fear and perhaps sharing a little of that fear with you? i.e. what was her demeanor?

    Was she trying to shame you? Or was she indicating that she would shame herself and be spiritually at risk if she handled that particular parcel?

    (I get it that she didn't notice the other package, but if we're talking about someone in an emotionally confused and/or spiritually conflicted state, it's not surprising that her behaviors may be inconsistent. Perhaps she was just trying to cope with a difficult personal situation and that it wasn't about you at all.)

  52. JeniW 2014.12.08

    Cory, I do not know that it is worth bringing up to the store manager either.

    It does raise some interesting questions though. I might do a bit of checking with someone who is in the know who might share some thoughts.

  53. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    And you know, JeniW, I probably won't. The conversation with you and others here is much more productive. :-)

  54. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.08

    Good perspective, Bill. I got no vibe that she was trying to shame me. Her words and demeanor gave me the impression her action was about herself and her beliefs.

    I'm thinking about what BCB found, the conflicting opinions even among Muslims. (Hey, Muslims, you really need to get yourselves a Pope, or at least a Vatican. It would make looking stuff up about your religion much easier.) My cashier could benefit from that some conditional ethics: let the pork taboo give way to the practical needs of the family you're earning money for.

    But should any believer in any faith maintain such taboos against certain foods? Don't such "don't touch!" rules and fears of uncleanliness eventually reduce to the absurdity Nick mentioned, about how everything touches everything?

  55. grudznick 2014.12.08

    If you have a pork taboo and you work in a business that supports the eating of pork, be it a hog farm in Hanson county or a Safeway in St. Paul, you are asking your own personal boogie men for trouble whether you touch it, scan it, or spread it on a piece of rye.

  56. Joan 2014.12.08

    Absurdity is right. You have quite a committee here, Cory. I don't get the dilemma. Why would a person take a job that required them to perform tasks they were unwilling or incapable of performing, unless they were completely unaware of the requirements, or the requirements changed after they were hired. It's not the employer's job to tailor every position to the employee's personal beliefs, but an employer should describe the requirements of a position.

  57. larry kurtz 2014.12.08

    icarus r us.

  58. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.08

    "being neighborly is making accommodation to the people in our midst."

    I believe Troy said that. I agree. Now if Hobby Lobby and various righty pharmacists and colleges agreed too.

    BTW Cory, I'm certain you know that even a good pope like Francis speaks for a minority of Christians and not all Catholics or Roman Catholics. No religion speaks with one, unified, authoritative voice.

    Lastly, "roving weiner handlers, dic-taters," etc. I'm just shaking my head . . . and grinning.

  59. grudznick 2014.12.08

    I missed the tater discussions, Ms. Geelsdottir.

  60. Donald Pay 2014.12.08

    I'm respectful of peoples' beliefs, but this checker should find other work. If you take a job at a strip joint, you better not have a religious issue with public nudity.

  61. grudznick 2014.12.08

    You and I are like peas in a pod, Mr. Pay, if you read my comment at 20:54:03. As usual you did a better job of stating it in a manner I approve most of.

  62. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.08

    Oh no. Weiner handlers may have emigrated to Texas now. Rumor has it that Sen. Ted Cruz is involved.

  63. Jenny 2014.12.09

    It really depends on whether you're having a bad day or not. I would probably have rolled my eyes if she had asked me to do that if it was a PMS day.
    Troy, I hope your dogs are chained up when they're in your front yard, or fenced in.

  64. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.09

    Susan, I have only one thing to say,
    Hahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha! Hahahahahahahaha!

  65. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    Jenny, here's what I heard. "PMS is not funny. Period."

  66. Troy 2014.12.09


    The canonical penitential discipline for not eating meat on Fridays still is in place for Catholics. However, Catholics in the U.S. are given the freedom to choose an appropriate and proportionate alternative (act of penance or charity) in lieu of not eating meat.

  67. larry kurtz 2014.12.09

    Yeah, Roger: like denying a woman's right to a D & C for three days.

  68. Roger Cornelius 2014.12.09

    Exactly Larry

  69. mike from iowa 2014.12.09

    Those are corn dogs. Rumours about gay Perry (not the one in France) might not be true,but they are persisitent.

  70. mike from iowa 2014.12.09

    Bachmann's looks put her in the buy-sexual category.

  71. Troy 2014.12.09


    In Sioux Falls, there is no requirement that I have my dog fenced or chained in my own yard and only their leaving my yard unleashed or interfering with a use of the sidewalk is a violation of city ordinance. And fear my or my neighbors dog might "attack" or run near a bike rider isn't interfering. My hunting dog responds to verbal commands to come and stay by my side.

    I undertake extra-ordinary control of my dog when I see this little girl on her bike, not because I have to do under the law but because it is neighborly.

  72. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.09

    I can deal with Troy's penitential discipline more than my cashier's substance taboo, because (1) Troy's religious practice is not making demands on me and (2) Troy's church makes practical allowances that preserve the spirit of the practice. There's no "magic"—Troy doesn't become unclean if he touches a pack of wieners during Lent.

  73. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    Here's an intriguing tangent to your story, Cory. It's basically saying that even atheists might have a reason to abstain from pig meat.

    Because, as you know, Muslims aren't the only ones who believe we shouldn't eat them. Interesting stuff;

  74. bearcreekbat 2014.12.09

    Bill, that was a fascinating link - thanks. I had always believed the prohibition was based on health issues, namely to prevent trichinosis and related problems due to the lack of sanitation or refrigeration. Hitchens' explanation is much more sinister.

  75. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    BCB, yeah, pretty grizzly and spooky, but it jibes with other sources anthropologically. Cannibalistic societies refer to human flesh as "long pig" and apparently the flavor is remarkably similar. Enough to make a guy give up pork chops.

  76. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    Also related, anthropologically:


    "For almost as long as people have been eating, they’ve been imposing rules about what can and can’t be consumed. In tribes or clans with totem animals, the totem is off limits. The Jews have the laws of kashruth, which, in addition to disallowing pork and shellfish, also forbid the consumption of reptiles, amphibians, and most kinds of insects (though there are some species of kosher locusts). Islamic dietary law divides foods into halal and haram; to the latter category belong pork, dog, cat, and monkey. Hindus do not eat beef, and many eat no meat at all. The Moru of South Sudan allow only children and old people to eat chicken and eggs, and some groups of Cushitic people in northeastern Africa avoid fish. (“Speak not to me with a mouth that eats fish” is a taunt recorded in Somalia by the nineteenth-century British explorer Richard Francis Burton.) The Yazidis, a group of ethnic Kurds who live mainly in Iraq, will not eat lettuce, and Jains eat no onions or root vegetables.

    “Food taboos are known from virtually all human societies,” a survey that ran a few years ago in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine observed. Such taboos must fulfill some deep—you might even say primal—human need.

  77. Donald Pay 2014.12.09

    I checked some Islamic websites and there seems to be some differences regarding this issue. Some say incidental touching of pork is not much of a problem. They recommend using hand sanitizer after touching. Other sites say that a person in the checker's position should find another job.

  78. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.09

    The Hitchens hypothesis is grim and fascinating... but would the explanation of the OT origins of the Jewish pork taboo also apply to the much later Quranic pork taboo? Would there have been enough pagan human sacrifice going on to motivate it in Mohammed's time? Or is my cashier simply carrying on a tradition Mohammed borrowed from the Jews?

    Looking down that tangential road toward origins, I can see how every primitive society could develop a food taboo based on health experiences. How long can such taboos persist in modern times? And in the case of the Jewish and Muslim food taboos, does continuing those traditions do anything to bring believers closer to God?

  79. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.12.09

    Hand sanitizer? Now things seem to be getting silly. Did the Islamic website specify whether the sanitizer is necessary only if a believer touches the actual meat or if the meat is packaged? Does the person suggesting sanitizer base the recommendation on a specific Quranic verse, or is he just winging it? And does Islam recommend sanitizer in any other situations?

  80. grudznick 2014.12.09

    It's been taught as part of the cult of religion, Mr. H. If you think you are closer to God because you're wearing your underwear backwards then you are closer to God because you're wearing your underwear backwards.

  81. bearcreekbat 2014.12.09

    Bill, another interesting link about the "paleo" diet. This strikes me as a possible origin of the "Atkins" low-no carb diet. Anecdotally, I once tipped the scales at between 260 and 270 pounds on my 6' frame. I tried the Atkins because my friend said straight liquor did not have carbs and I could imbibe as much as I wanted.

    I switched from beer to brandy or gin and dropped about 60-65 pounds on Atkins before the gout set in. I then followed my doctor's (Kevin W) advice to "eat less and exercise more." That took care of the gout and helped me dump another 30 pounds or so, and also helped me maintain my weight at an acceptable level (178-184) for the last 5 years. My current diet includes most all foods, but leans toward the paleo foods described in your link. I think that too many grains and too much sugar may well be the reason for my personal obesity experience.

    Currently, I do love paleo foods, including pork products, and will consume them whenever available, whether a cashier wants to handle it or not!

  82. bearcreekbat 2014.12.09

    You know, that last post probably was really "too much information." Sorry about that.

  83. grudznick 2014.12.09

    What are paleo foods, and have you switched to bourbon yet?

  84. bearcreekbat 2014.12.09

    Grud, no bourbon for me. I recall puking violently on Jim Beam bourbon in my teen years and have never gone back. I still like gin and brandy, but do appreciate an occasional Jack Black and some single malt scotch (plus an occasional Patron shot).

  85. jerry 2014.12.09

    You can order a burger medium rare, but you should not order pork that way. Maybe in the olden days of yore, they figured that out the hard way and the only way to convince the dummies was to make it against religion to eat the stuff.

  86. grudznick 2014.12.09

    Just like why wacky-weed is against the law these days, Mr. jerry.

  87. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    All good questions from a rational mind, Cory, but when it comes to culture, there is oftentimes a different level of reasoning in play. In his book, 'The World Until Yesterday' Jared Diamond has what i believe to be a most remarkable chapter on the functions of religion in 'traditional' societies. There are about seven of them, if i recall and I won't go into them here, but one of the functions is to hold the society together under a dogmatic system of beliefs that is peculiar to one's own group, and it usually involves steadfast belief in things other societies would think unreasonable or outlandish or would perhaps never even have thought of. Kind of like a secret handshake or something. Anyway, those beliefs are what hold the social order together and let people know when they are among their own people. Not unlike language in a way, and perhaps may even predate it. Anyway, it's really ancient stuff, and most likely related to our unconscious (as opposed to our conscious) mind, which as you may know operates largely on the symbolic level (see especially Carl Jung.)

  88. Bill Fleming 2014.12.09

    grudz, you're gonna hate this, but if you're gonna go all paleo, those gravy taters are out, buddy. :-)

    BCB I did the exact same thing with my diet about 3 years back with about the same total weight drop. It really does work. No alcohol at all for me anymore though. I used up all my drink tickets about 7 years ago. ;-)

  89. grudznick 2014.12.09

    If there is no gravy then I will not do it. I just wondered what it was. Cave man eating I would guess.

  90. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.12.09

    7th Day Adventism was described to me as "more of an Old Testament religion." A member told me that. He said pork is at least discouraged, if not outright forbidden. That was news to me.

    It also doesn't sound very Christian. That is not a problem to me, but I think they call themselves Christians. Kind of like a Mormon thing, I guess. There is no trademark on the word "Christian," so anyone can call themselves that.

    Back to my friend. His wife is a life long 7th Day, and she won't buy, prepare or eat pork, nor will she allow their children to do so.

  91. JeniW 2014.12.10

    I contacted someone in the know, and received a response to the questions I asked: Is because of the job responsibilities include bagging of purchased item, is the "sin" of touching pork products less of a sin? Is asking someone to bag the product rather than her doing so is asking the customer to "sin?" and, because Walmart and other businesses sell pork products, should employment at those businesses even be considered.

    I will try to summarize the response in hopes that I do not do an injustice. Asking the customer to bag the item is not asking the customer to commit a "sin," nor does the cashier view the customer who complies with the request as being a "sinner." It is a form of a workable compromise (my word.) It is a way of adapting to the larger culture where pork products are consumed regularly.

    Dietary restrictions (regardless of faith,) are not about "sin" per se, but more as following a tradition and belonging to a group. It is a way of being mindful (my word,) of keeping God in ever present.

    I hope that helps.

  92. Bill Fleming 2014.12.10

    From Wikipedia, here's the situation in Indonesia, the country with the highest concentration of Muslim citizens. Interesting note at the end. Looks like their position on pork could actually be good for South Dakota cattle ranchers.

    "Beef and goat meat are the most commonly consumed meats in Indonesia, while kerbau (water buffalo) and domestic sheep are also consumed to a lesser degree, since water buffalo are more useful for ploughing the rice paddies, while sheep are kept for their wool or to be used for the traditional entertainment of ram fighting. As a country with an Islamic majority, Indonesian Muslims follows the Islamic halal dietary law which forbids the consumption of pork. However in other parts of Indonesia where there are significant numbers of non-Muslims, boar and pork are commonly consumed. Dishes made of non-halal meats can be found in provinces such as Bali, North Sumatra, North Sulawesi, East Nusa Tenggara, Maluku, West Papua, Papua, and also in the Chinatowns of major Indonesian cities. Today to cater for the larger Muslim market, most of the restaurants and eating establishments in Indonesia put halal signs that signify that they serve neither pork nor any non-halal meats, nor do they use lard in their cooking. With an overwhelming Muslim population and a relatively small population of cattle, today Indonesians rely heavily on imported beef from Australia, New Zealand and theUnited States which often results in a scarcity and raised prices of beef in the Indonesian market."

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