On the website for its Culinaria store downtown, Schnucks proclaims its manager's mission:
"For Tom, grocery is not just a career," it says, "it's a calling."
Tom Collora has incorporated that calling with another — his Roman Catholic faith — in the form of a crucifix on a wall behind the customer service counter, opposite the new store's checkout registers. And in doing so, he's provoked questions about faith and business in the public square.
Sorry, but no. A grocery store is not "the public square." It is a private business which serves the general public. If you don't understand the difference you should go back and take high school civics.
Collora has worked for the grocery chain for 40 years and said he has displayed a crucifix at two other Schnucks stores he has managed — one on the Hill in south St. Louis and another in St. Charles — and has never had a complaint.
But some customers are reacting angrily to the new display. Lori Weinstock, 40, a health care professional from University City, was shopping a few weeks ago when, after paying, she looked up to see the crucifix.
"It startled me. It seemed so out of place," Weinstock, who is Jewish, said. She was startled enough to write a letter that was published last week in the newspaper the Jewish Light.
"It would have been equally startling if it had been a Star of David or an emblem of another religion," Weinstock said. "It's grocery shopping, and it should be welcoming to all and exclude none."
I'm sorry. Was someone being barred from shopping at this store? Of course not. So what is the complaint? Well, Ms. Weinstock believes everyone else in the world should share her opinion about what constitutes proper expression of religious belief.
That's a bigot. (For those who need the definition: a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices.)
Luckily, the Post provides us with even more bigots.
D.J. Grothe, 36, is a vice president of the New York-based Center for Inquiry, which promotes "science, reason, freedom of inquiry and humanist values," according to its website. Grothe is an atheist who also happens to live in the building next to Culinaria.
"It's just another example of the disrespect that those without religion or those with minority religions get in our society," he said. "It's bad taste and bad business. Who wants to (shop) where someone else's faith is being pushed down your throat?"
Got that? Hanging a crucifix on a wall in a private business is the same as "shoving religion down your throat."
Look at how far these bigots are willing to go to eliminate our rights to practice our religion by the dictates of our own conscience:
Some critics have said that because more than half of Culinaria's funding came from government sources such as tax credits and the Missouri Development Finance Board (which owns the building in which the store is situated), the store should be held to church-state limitations.
City resident Thomas Duda, who is Catholic, has made the crucifix an issue on his blog, notmymayor.com. He says a company that received public funding to build a store should not blatantly express a specific religious belief that could be offensive or uncomfortable to some who shop there. In an interview, Duda added that he would like Schnucks to prohibit individual managers from endorsing a specific religion.
Such a view represents a monstrous attack upon our human and Constitutional rights. Think about the sheer scope of governmental control over religious expression it demands. Using this criterion what would keep the government from making me take down religious inspired art from my own home? After all, maybe the developer received tax breaks when they built the subdivision.
The only voice of sanity in the piece comes from the Catholic Church:
Lawrence Welch, director of the office of ecumenical and interreligious affairs for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said Collora — a Eucharistic minister at the Old Cathedral downtown — should be praised, not criticized, for displaying the crucifix at his store.
"In a pluralistic society, we have no problem with anyone displaying religious symbols," said Welch. "We would have no issue with another faith displaying their symbols. A crucifix's public display is not a threat to anyone's religious freedom."
This is exactly correct. We have to live with one another in this society. We are going to have different opinions, philosophies, beliefs, tastes, interests, and pet peeves. The demand some people make that other people have an obligation to live their lives so that none of those aspects that make up their individuality are visible to others (on pain of government intervention no less), is grotesque in its arrogance and its lack of common human decency. That someone believes doing so is an expression of "humanism" shows just how far our educational standards have fallen in this country. Real humanism celebrates individuality in all of its expressions. For this very reason humanism assumes one will constantly come into contact with differing opinions and ways of living. But, no! These so-called "humanists" demand innocuous conformity!
Then these "humanists" blink.