Friday, September 04, 2015

An Analogy and a Question


Fictional county, fictional state, USA.

This fictional county's government has established a "department of health" and appointed a director of said department.

One of the department's duties is to inspect restaurants for adherence to various legal criteria (mostly pertaining to cleanliness, adequate sanitation measures, etc.) and, provided those restaurants pass said inspections, issue them licenses without which it is illegal for them to sell food to the public.

One day the head of the county health department announces that he has converted to Islam, and that henceforth the inspections and licensing will be contingent upon restaurants adhering to Islamic dietary law. And no, he won't allow his non-Islamic subordinate inspectors to handle inspecting and licensing non-halal establishments. And no, he isn't going to quit the job, give up his paycheck, and let someone who's willing to do the job, do the job. If your food is not halal, you can't operate as a restaurant in the county, because he can't bring himself to sanction, in any way, food or food handling procedures that are haraam.

I can think of lots of arguments that might be offered for or against the inspection and licensing regime (as a libertarian, I call shenanigans on the whole thing).

But my question is this: Would anyone seriously argue that the health department director's decision and actions are an "exercise of religious freedom?"

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