Christian Pharmacists And Muslim Cashiers

Just a question. Is there any moral difference between these two?

Muslim cashiers won’t ring up pork products

So Dsouza was taken aback when the cashier – who had on the traditional headscarf worn by many Muslim women – refused to swipe the bacon through the checkout scanner.

“She made me scan the bacon. Then she opened the bag and made me put it in the bag,” said Dsouza, 53. “It made me wonder why this person took a job as a cashier.”

In the latest example of religious beliefs creating tension in the workplace, some Muslims in the Twin Cities are adhering to a strict interpretation of the Koran that prohibits the handling of pork products.

Instead of swiping the items themselves, they are asking non-Muslim employees or shoppers to do it for them.

Some pharmacists say no to filling birth-control prescriptions

An increasing number of pharmacists around the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth-control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs.

“There are pharmacists who will only give birth-control pills to a woman if she’s married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to [dispense] it to anyone,” said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. “There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won’t even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence.”

Perhaps it’s just me, but I don’t see any difference between these actions. Can anyone see any logical rational to stand up for one while denouncing the other?

  • leslie

    Both are examples of religion getting in the way of doing thier jobs properly and professionally.

    The only difference is that at least with the Muslim cashier you still get sold the goods, they just don’t want to touch it.

    The Christian pharmacist in the example is totally withholding the product from the customer (not just making it difficult) and in some cases making it difficult for the customer to even take thier business elsewhere.

    So while both (from an atheists perspective) are stupid, one is definately more stupid that the other.

  • Chris

    “So while both (from an atheists perspective) are stupid, one is definately more stupid that the other.”

    As stupid as spelling “definitely” “definately?”

  • Stern

    So what. Why does anyone care if dont sell the medication or the bacon. Its their choice. If you don’t like it go to another store. Also D’Souza is a jerk and I let him know every time i see him at the Costco in Carlsbad or when he is shopping for jewelry at Fashion Valley Mall in San Diego.

  • Stephen Littau

    If either of these kinds of individuals worked for me they would have two choices: do your damn job or find another damn job.

  • Mark

    So while both (from an atheists perspective) are stupid, one is definately more stupid that the other.

    Surely you mean “secular perspective” instead of atheist’s perspective? I don’t see what this has got to do with someone else being atheist or not.

    They are both working in a secular industries, so they shouldn’t bring their religion to work. If their personal beliefs prevent them from performing their professionally duties, then they should find a line of work that does not conflict with their beliefs. IMHO.

  • Mike K

    “So what. Why does anyone care if dont sell the medication or the bacon. Its their choice. If you don’t like it go to another store.”

    Two different scenarios and here are the differences: Firstly the person who wanted the bacen *did* get the it in the end, albeit in a rather roundabout way. The pharmacist refused outright.

    Secondly the rules are different: The rules governing the dispensation of drugs (presumably to prevent patients from getting the same drug twice on a single perscription) appear to give include the power to deny the person the perscription altogether (i.e. they can’t get the drug elsewhere). No such rules exist for bacon.

    Thirdly one is more serious than the other. If you can’t get hold bacon you get fish for dinner on Saturday – big deal, and on Sunday you’ll have forgotten about it. If the pharmacist denies you help in a time-critical situation (i.e. morning after) you end up with a child you didn’t want and will have to look after for the next 20 years.

    I don’t condone the rather unprofessional behaviour of the supermarket clerk – she’s knew she was selling supermarket goods and that supermarkets sell pork, but the parmacist’s bigotry is in a league of its own.

  • uhm

    I’d fire them both.

  • what

    uhh… there is a huge difference. its to obvious for me to waste my time explaining.

  • Damien

    This only proves that mormons are right.

  • Matt

    No, Chris; as stupid as comparing his reasoned point to an elementary spelling mistake.

  • Kevin

    Neither one would have a job if they worked for me.

    However, if they decided to open their own Muslim grocery store or Christian pharmacy; they could stock whatever products they choose in them.

  • tarran

    Both cases are roughly the same, although the pharmacist is granted an extra monopoly power by the state that makes him more dangerous.

    From a nautural rights perspective, no person has a claim on the labor of another. If my brother mixes up a batch of beer,he has no obligation to share with me. He can choose whether or not to give me some beer for whatever reason he wants. He can choose not to give me some for wise reasons wise reasons (everytime I sell him beer, he beats up his wife) to dumb reasons (beer is wasted on the Irish since they don’t understand it). The reason for exercising a right is irrelevant. The right stands on its own.

    If I want beer, I can either make it myself, or convince someone who has some to trade or give it to me. I cannot, morally, force someone to give it to me against their will.

    The clerk who refuses to bag the pork, the pharmacist who refuses to fill a prescription are well within their rights. The store manager who fires the clerk for refusing to bag the pork is also well within his rights to do so.

    The pharmacist issue, on the other hand is qualitatively different, mainly because the government grants the pharmacist a monopoly on dispensing certain materials. Of course, this is, from a natural rights perspective indefensibly immoral. We can hardly act surprised that a man who is granted such a power over his or her neighbors abuses it! The problem is simply remedied by eliminating the list of substances that can only be purchased from a licensed pharmacist, and the list of substances that require a licensed doctor’s prescription.

  • anonymoustroll

    The Pharmacists is the more unforgivable of the two inexcusable behaviors. I make that conclusion based on two facts:

    1 – refusing to sell Plan B (or any other contraceptive or prophylactic) might actually impact someone’s health (I once dated a woman with a heart condition and she if she got pregnant, it would have meant her death… generally speaking, we took precautions, but there was the odd occasional scare… I can tell you that if Plan B had been around at the time and some shithead Pharmacist had refused to sell it, I would have become violent with that jackass).

    2 – While the Muslim’s behavior is annoying, you walk out of the store with your bacon.

  • Max

    “As stupid as spelling “definitely” “definately?””

    that seems rather pedantic

  • alec

    Being absent of bacon won’t make you pregnant.

  • L’Nae

    I’d rather have to deal with the muslim. At least I would get the bacon.

  • Pete

    While I do not agree with the pharmacists refusing to prescribe traditional contraceptives, those who refuse to fill emergency contraceptives view abortion, chemical or otherwise as murder. The muslims do not hold pigs as holy, and aside from viewing the meat and those who consume it as unclean, should not object to the slaughter of pigs. I doubt you would find a Jew (they also believe pork is unclean) who was unwilling to check customers out for pork wrapped in cellophane and/paper.

  • Jason

    It’s an interesting question. I linked your post on my blog, which is the only pharmacist blog that I’m aware of:

  • alan smithee

    So, after you touched the bacon, did the cashier hesitate to take your cash, credit card or check? Any of which you would have touched after you touched the bacon? You should have pointed this out to her just to see her reaction.

  • aviet_error

    clearly alec doesn’t know how babies are made

  • drunkencop

    Pete — please clarify that emergency contraceptives are very different from RU486 and any other form of abortion (chemical or otherwise, as you say). Emergency contraceptives prevent the egg from attaching to the uterine lining, and it’s extremely difficult to equate this with any form of murder, since none of the usual forms of abortion take place (i.e., miscarriage, ejection of living material, etc.).

    I understand that there are people who would like to consider a single egg cell to be a complete human being simply because it’s fertilized, but anyone who hesitates to accept that view would be wrong to condemn emergency contraception.

  • Robert

    The trend has opened a new front in the nation’s battle over reproductive rights, sparking an intense debate over a pharmacist’s right to refuse to participate in something he or she considers repugnant, versus a woman’s right to get medications her doctor has prescribed.

    Acting from principle is almost always laudable. However, one’s principles ought not to abrogate the rights of another. So, the refusal to fill a prescription on principle is morally justifiable, if and only if, the ‘patient’ is not then prohibited from being served by a more sympathetic pharmacist.

    Of course, in both cases, the variable is the employer, which could mitigate the problem by either providing an alternative employee for a particular transaction or simply terminating the obstinate employee. If, on the other hand, the employer is the one that impedes the lawful acquisition of the ‘meds’, then the state has an obligation to protect the Constitution (i.e. individual liberty).

  • tarran


    The problem here is that the state requires that the woman go to a pharmacist. This problem is simply solved by repealing the laws that create a special class of people who are granted a monopoly on the manufacture and sale of certain medicines.

    Just as the state has no business compelling people to take part in immoral behavior, the state has no business in preventing people from morally OK activities. If you want to mix up liver damaging doses of motrin, and use it yourself/sell it to your neighbors, you should not be prevented from doing so.

  • VRB

    The pharmacist may fill prescription everyday that may be toxic to a fetus, causing severe birth defects or death. Does that Christian pharmacist makes it his duty to inquire if all his customers are pregnant when he dispenses certain prescriptions, not just put the info on the label? I wonder how morally consistent people really are, when more is required of them.
    I have seen cahsiers wearing burkas and wondered if they are required to dress that way, how come they are allowed to work in this kind of mixed and unchaperoned environment?
    I don’t think either person, the cashier or the pharmacist were doing the right thing, they were trying to make statements. Otherwise when you studies pharmacy, didn’t you find that you might have some moral conflict or you get a job in a supermarket and you didn’t think they would sell pork products?

  • Steve S.


    Excellent post.

    “The reason for exercising a right is irrelevant. The right stands on its own.” I wish I had said that.

  • obvious

    In order for the two situations to be the same the Muslim cashier would have to refuse to allow me to buy the bacon, which obviously didn’t happen.

  • alec

    Actually, I got pregnant from eating too much bacon. That’s what they told me in my creationist science class at least.

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  • mullah muckhead

    muslims the whole world over are arse bum shite clingons.

  • mullah muckhead

    not only are muslims arse but they are gay i think most of them towel heads are latent homosexuals, oh yeah thay are

  • mullah muckhead

    their should be a muslim bullet fund and collect cards for each one you hit and kill. yep rid the world of that evil

  • mullah muckhead

    cmon liberal bastards tell me im wrong. wouldnyou trust the world under muslim law. nah youre just afraid to say so

  • mullah muckhead

    towel heads are evil. dont belive the shite they are all the same..oh fatwa on me..cause i say alllah is a bollix a big smelly bolix..oh double fatwa on me..cant wait till one of these fuckers bombs dublin cause divisions will blow the bollix out of your dam mosques and we dont care if youre in or not muslims innocent me arse you are all part of a regime get free you arse people

  • mullah muckhead

    tick tock tick tock muslim gets a clock