News “The laws of this country will trump their religious tradition.”
posted by March 28 at 9:07 AMon
Some Somali immigrants in Minnesota are ticking off the locals. More than 40,000 Somalis have immigrated to Minnesota, of all places, since the early ’90s. And many of these Somali immigrants—most of them Muslim immigrants—believe they shouldn’t have to do anything on the job that violates their faith.
Many Somalian cabdrivers—who dominate the airport taxi business—refuse to transport passengers carrying alcohol. Some Somalian cashiers will not handle pork products; instead, they’ve begun asking customers to scan their own bacon. To the immigrants, it’s a question of religious freedom—and protecting themselves from sin.
“This is not something we are choosing to do. It’s part of our religion,” said cabdriver King Osman, 37. “It’s forbidden to carry drink. Forbidden!”
Over the past five years, 4,854 passengers have been denied taxi service by Somali cab drivers for the sin of carrying booze. Folks in Minnesota are pretty ticked off.
The widespread response: This is America, and you’re free to practice your faith. You’re not free to inconvenience others because of those beliefs.
“If they don’t want to do that work, they shouldn’t be in that business,” said Christine Benson, 58, who owns a knitting store in a largely Somalian neighborhood. “They can stuff it.”
I particularly loved this man’s comments:
Jon Wohlwend, punching his code into the pharmacy’s ATM, looked up, sharing her outrage. “You call a cab, but he can’t give you a ride,” he started.
“Because you have alcohol on your breath,” Psihos said, finishing his thought.
“I mean, that’s why I need the ride!” said Wohlwend, 39. “Because I’m hammered!”
And I couldn’t agree more with this guy:
[David A.] Miller, executive director of the Center for Faith and Culture at Yale University, said that when the Somalis took their jobs, they knew what they would be required to do: Scan every item in a grocery cart; drive every passenger who needs a ride. If they can’t do the work, he said, they should look elsewhere.
“Chances are,” Miller said, “the laws of this country will trump their religious tradition.”
Yes, yes, yes: You’re free to practice your religious faith here in America—however simplistic your faith, however idiotic, however destructive—but you’re not free to inconvenience others because of your beliefs. If your religious beliefs prevents you from doing a particular job, well, then don’t take a job that conflicts with your religious beliefs. I trust the same folks in Minnesota shouting those sentiments at Somali cab drivers are equally upset with fundamentalist Christian pharmacists that refuse to dispense the morning-after pill to women citing their religious beliefs. A woman seeking birth control shouldn’t be inconvenienced by a fundamentalist pharmacist, she shouldn’t be sent on a wild goose chases through town seeking a pharmacist that will fill a proscription.
If the laws of this country trump the the religious traditions of one, they trump the religious traditions of all.