Monks Sell Caskets

by J-Touchette

Since the 1960s, state statutes carrying thousands of dollars in fines and up to 180 days' imprisonment restricted coffin sales to those who had paid the expensive fees and met the stringent requirements necessary for a Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors license.

Monks from St. Joseph Abbey in St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana filed a suit in August 2010 as a result of the actions of the Louisiana Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors. The board had blocked the monks from selling caskets with simple white cloth interiors for $1,500-$2,000 saying the abbey had neither a funeral director’s license, nor a funeral home license as required by state law.

In July 2011, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval said there is no rational basis for‚ the licensing requirements to be applied to those who only want to sell caskets, like the 38 monks. He went on to say the laws were only in place to economically protect the funeral industry.

However, Louisiana’s funeral industry isn’t ready to give up the fight to preserve its exclusive right to sell caskets. On August 16, 2011 their lawyers appealed the ruling of the federal judge so the monks will have to continue their fight to earn the right to make the caskets. The monks realized the decision would probably be appealed. All they want is to get back to selling as they receive no financial support from the Catholic Church, and sell caskets to replace their lumber business which was wiped out during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Read more:

Louisiana challenges judge’s decision |

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