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Church's Chicken: An Example of Islam in the Private Sector
by David J. Rusin • Apr 30, 2008 at 12:01 pm
A lawsuit involving Church's Chicken shines a spotlight on the Islamic attributes of its business. It also offers a valuable opportunity to discuss the rights of owners and customers regarding Islam in the private sphere:
This court will determine whether Arcapita, the American affiliate of Bahrain's First Islamic Investment Bank BSC, is guilty of discrimination or breach of contract. However, the aspect of the story that has received the most notice — the Shari'a-inspired prohibition on pork products at Church's Chicken — does not appear to raise any legal red flags.
A privately owned business may choose to sell or not sell whatever it wishes, as long as it does not violate the law or infringe upon the rights of others in the process. Customers have no inherent right to purchase pork at Church's Chicken franchises, and the company is under no obligation to offer it — regardless of the underlying motivation.
The free market, however, cuts both ways. Hungry Americans are not required to patronize any given restaurant. In the case of Church's Chicken, the absence of pork on the menu is just one excuse to eat elsewhere. Diners may also be concerned about what their money will fund at the Shari'a-compliant First Islamic Investment Bank in Bahrain.
Judging by reaction to this story in the blogosphere, the lawsuit itself could be the least of the problems facing Church's Chicken, whose business practices have clearly laid an egg in front of customers.