Sometimes people have cash flow issues. In this day and age, it could happen to anyone. People respond to the need for green in a variety of ways. Sometimes they cut back, sometimes they sell things, or, in the case of the monks in Louisiana’s St. Joseph Abbey, they go into the casket making business.
The monastery, which dates back to 1889, suffered a blow in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina wiped out part of its pine timberlands, which had been a source of income. One of the deacons—whose father had requested that his son build him a casket—came up with the idea of the monastery turning to wood working, more specifically caskets. The monks prayed, voted, and then invested in the necessary equipment. Their workshop was dedicated in November 2007 and they were prompted served a cease and desist letter.
The Louisiana State Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors invoked a regulation that requires licenses for selling caskets. Essentially the regulation limits casket sales to licensed funeral directors. The Wall Street Journal Law Blog has been following the case and reported that the district court found the regulation unconstitutional and then, after the LSBEFD appealed, the Fifth Circuit refused to hear the case and instead sent it to the Louisiana Supreme Court. Even though they sent the case to another court, the judges on the 5th Circuit revealed their take on the issue within the opinion when they stated, “We insist that Louisiana’s rules not be irrational.” Ouch.