The funeral business knows its got a good thing going. Theirs is an industry with high margins and layers upon layers of protection. Try breaking into the funeral business, it ain’t going to happen.
It is also an industry which is largely recession-proof. Good economic times or bad, people are going to die. They need to be disposed of.
So when a group of monks started making caskets in Louisiana, monks who weren’t officially licensed by the state, the funeral directors took them to court. One can’t just start up a casket making business. There are rules to death. And what do monks know about the afterlife anyway? The last thing the directors needed was a low cost provider of pine boxes. That could really eat into profits over time.
According to the Wall Street Journal, after a local Catholic newspaper publicized the effort in 2007, local funeral directors got the Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors—of which eight of the nine members are funeral industry professionals—to serve the abbey with a cease-and-desist order. Louisiana law makes it a crime for anyone but a licensed parlor to sell “funeral merchandise.” Violating the statute could land the monks in jail for up to 180 days.
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