Thursday, March 26, 2015

NJ Governor Signs Law Keeping Religious Cemeteries Out of Headstone and Funeral Business

Earlier this week, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed A-3840 (full text), a law that bars religious groups that operate cemeteries from also selling headstones or offering various other kinds of funeral services. Religion News Service reports that the immediate effect of the law will be to require  the Catholic Archdiocese of Newark to give up its profitable business of selling headstones and private crypts. According to RNS:
The archdiocese became the first religious group in the state to enter the headstone business two years ago, alarming dozens of small, independent companies that produce monuments and crypts.
The dealers’ trade association, the Monument Builders of New Jersey, waged an 18-month legal fight and lobbying campaign against the move, contending the practice would spread to other dioceses and then to the owners of other religious cemeteries.
The archdiocese returned fire with a lobbying effort of its own, along with a personal appeal from Archbishop John J. Myers, who exhorted Catholics to fight the law.