In the United States there has been a vigorous debate over whether bakers should be forced to make cakes for gay weddings if doing so violates their religious beliefs — and now a similar debate has crossed the ocean.
A Muslim cashier in England made the news recently after she refused to sell wine to a customer because it violated her religious beliefs, The U.K. Sun reported.
Lee Saunders, 35, was trying to buy a cheap bottle of wine at a Tesco store when the headscarf-wearing clerk told him to use a different line. A store manager was nearby and quickly jumped in to serve Saunders.
Saunders said he was later told the woman couldn’t serve him because of “religious beliefs,” but he had objections to that particular line of defense.
“If you apply for a job, surely you’ve got to be able to do everything within the boundaries of that job,” he said.
However, Saunders was not unsympathetic to the cashier’s position. He understood that it was quite possible the store simply put her in that line without thinking that she might have some religious objections.
“She apologized afterwards, but she’s been put in that position. It’s not entirely her fault, to be fair,” he said.
This isn’t the first time a Tesco store has been at the center of religious controversy. The U.K. Daily Mail reported that back in 2014 a Muslim clerk at a Tesco in Neasden refused to sell a customer wine and ham during Ramadan.
The U.K. Telegraph noted that there was a divide among stores about how to handle this sort of incident. For example, the Marks & Spencer department store chain has stated that Muslim employees are allowed to refuse to serve customers items that might clash with their religious beliefs.
There is nothing wrong with not forcing people to do things that violate their religious beliefs. However, if Muslims are going to be allowed to refuse to serve customers because of religious objections, then Christians should be allowed to do the same.
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