This blog posting represents the views of the author, David Fosberry. Those opinions may change over time. They do not constitute an expert legal or financial opinion.

If you have comments on this blog posting, please email me .

The Opinion Blog is organised by threads, so each post is identified by a thread number ("Major" index) and a post number ("Minor" index). If you want to view the index of blogs, click here to download it as an Excel spreadsheet.

Click here to see the whole Opinion Blog.

To view, save, share or refer to a particular blog post, use the link in that post (below/right, where it says "Show only this post").

Religious Walgreens Staff Refuse To Sell Birth Control And Pregnancy Tests.

Posted on 21st July 2022

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread (Religion).

As reported on Pop Sugar, there is a movement to boycott Walgreens (a large low-cost pharmacy in the US) due to incidents where there staff have refused to sell birth control (condoms and birth control pills) to customers. In the related twitter posts, there are not only many cases of such refusal, but also a case where the employees have lied about whether there were any repeats left on a prescription for birth control pills and whether the pills were in stock, and another case where someone ordered a pregnancy test online and received something entirely different.

Walgreens' policy is that staff can refuse to sell items, if the item conflicts with their religious views; in that case they must hand the sale off to another staff member.

My initial question is, what if there is no staff member on duty whose religious views permit them to sell the requested item? Also, there is no excuse for lying about the status of a prescription (whether there are remaining repeats on it) and lying about whether the pills are in stock; most religions frown on lying. Finally, knowingly sending an incorrect item ordered online puts the company in breach of contract.

I find Walgreens' policy bizarre. An employee, especially a salesperson, is a representative of the company: of their views and policies. Since it is Walgreens' policy to sell birth control and pregnancy tests, every employee should be prepared to do so; if not, they took the job under false pretenses, and should leave and work somewhere which doesn't cause conflicts with their religious views.

So, I agree: boycott Walgreens, until they change their policy.

I feel that, at root, this is a problem of employees not properly understanding what it means to have a JOB, and is part of the disease of wokeism, political correctness and fear of offending people (in this case, Walgreens' staff).

Brain Damage Causes Religious Fundamentalism

Posted on 9th January 2019

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

A recent scientific study has shown that there is a causal link between brain damage and religious fundamentalism, as reported in this story on

"The findings suggest that damage to particular areas of the prefrontal cortex indirectly promotes religious fundamentalism by diminishing cognitive flexibility and openness — a psychology term that describes a personality trait which involves dimensions like curiosity, creativity, and open-mindedness."

Now it is clear why you can never successfully argue people out of fundamentalist beliefs; something that many of us have tried.

Let's be clear, the research is not saying that all religious beliefs are caused by brain damage; only fundamentalist beliefs.

Of course, this doesn't mean that we should all stop trying to persuade fundamentalists that their beliefs are wrong, but at least now, when we fail, we know that it is because they are mad.

Headscarf Bans At Work?

Posted on 15th March 2017

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I found this new report by the BBC, about an ECJ (European Court of Justice) ruling on workplace headscarf bans to be a little odd.

The court found that it is OK to ban religious symbols and clothing at the workplace, as long as the ban is applied equally to all religions, but not on the basis of "the wishes of a customer".

The issue of customer perceptions and wishes seems to me to be the strongest reason for companies to institute such a ban. The caveat specified by the ECJ does say "the preferences of an individual customer", but what if there are multiple customers with the same preference: would that be an adequate reason for a ban? How many customers are enough? Also, how does a company determine the collective wishes of its customers: do they have to do a survey? I am really not sure that this ruling sets a useful precedent.

Personally, I am not offended and do not feel threatened by people at work (colleagues or suppliers) wearing headscarves, yamakas, crucifixes, etc. I do not understand why some people are upset by such things.

I have worked with people of many religions, in many countries, and sometimes the religious expression in clothing. jewellery and behaviour can be quite "in your face". I worked in Prague with a British Jew who only ate kosher food (widely available in Prague, but rather dry and boring, I found), and who flew home to England every Friday; he had to leave very early on Friday in order to be in his house before sundown (which is when the Sabbath starts). I worked in Jakarta, where most people are Muslim: it is impossible to have meetings at certain times of day because people are at prayers; there were prayers at lunchtime in the office (on the first floor, but usually overflowing into the reception, meaning that I had to leave for lunch via a back door, and visitors arriving during prayers couldn't get into the building). I have worked with people wearing headscarves, yamakas, crucifixes, leather wristbands (a Hindu religious tradition). I have worked with Sikhs, who are supposed to carry their kirpan (technically a small ceremonial sword, actually a knife) at all times (a bit of a problem when travelling by air nowadays). None of this is a problem, as far as I am concerned.

What I am not so keen on is face-covering headgear such as the niqab (but even that I can live with, if necessary). I like to be able to see people's faces when I talk to them (to see the expressions, so that I know whether to believe them) and to recognise them.

A much bigger issue for me is people who want to explain their religion to other people (colleagues and customers), and try to convert them. There are some people who wear religious items as a way to open conversations about their religion; that is not a problem with the items, but with their behaviour, and I see no reason why this problem should be addressed by banning the clothing, jewellery, etc.

I think that, at root, the real issue is the modern trend for people to expect to be comfortable and safe: to not be challenged with ideas that do not match their world-view; to be addressed and referred to with their chosen gender-neutral pronoun; to hear only politically correct speech; to not need to think about, and reassess their opinions. Having to meet and deal with others wearing religious clothing, etc. is a challenge to the bouderaries of the isolated and safe world such people want to inhabit. I have a message for such people: welcome to planet earth!

Worshippers Insulted?

Posted on 4th March 2016

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I was very surprised to read this BBC report about a court case, in Russia, of all places. Viktor Krasnov is on trial in southern Russia, and faces a possible one-year prison sentence for having written "there is no God" during an internet exchange.

Viktor Krasnov was reported to police by two young men who objected to his language in a dispute on a Russian social network. He was charged for having "insulted the feelings of worshippers", which was made illegal in 2013 after the Pussy Riot case.

I find it bizarre because organised religion has historically had very poor legal status in Russia, but this recent law seems to protect certain religious opinions against others; it suffers from the same hypocrisy problem as all laws against blasphemy.

Not believing in God, or gods, is a perfectly valid position (although an illegal belief in a surprising number of countries, and not legal to be publicly stated or published in many more). This court case, and the very existence of the statute under which it is being prosecuted, is an insult to those who hold that belief (that there is no God), as are similar laws around the world.

Russia also seems to have shot themselves in the foot with this legislation: it was enacted for reasons of social control, and as a side effect gave the Russian Orthodox Church a status that it hadn't had since the beginning of Communist control. Good luck putting that genie back in the box!

Christian Charity?

Posted on 29th December 2015

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I was completely gob-smacked by parts of this report from the BBC.

The report described how Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is donating money for medical research "to make amends". To make amends for what, you may well ask.

It seems that the luxurious apartment, overlooking St. Peter's Square, in which he lives, was renovated with funds (€200,000) which came from the Bambino Gesu Foundation, a charity which collects donations for a children's hospital in Rome. Originally, the Cardinal claimed that he paid for the renovation himself, but it turns out that is not the case.

To make amends, Cardinal Bertone has donated €150,000 to the charity because the affair had "damaged our hospital and our foundation". He said he would reimburse the money "in instalments from his savings and from contributions for charity that had been made to him over the years". Presumably, his statement implies that if the cause from which he received the funds were not so deserving, he would not feel the need to "make amends".

Several things about this story jar with me. Firstly, he denies any wrongdoing. He says the payments are a "a voluntary donation", "... not reimbursement, because I personally haven't done any damage". I have looked at this from several perspectives, and I can only characterise the issue as either theft or corruption, which would certainly be considered "damage" in most jurisdictions.

Secondly, the amount of the donation (€150,000) does not cover the original questionable sum (€200,000). Does he think the apology covers the remaining €50,000? What about interest?

Finally, he is paying back the money from where?! From "his savings and from contributions for charity that had been made to him over the years". So, let me just get that straight: he is paying back money that he stole from a charity, with other money that he was given to pass on to charities (and didn't pass on, so he stole that too).

How does Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone think this is OK? How does the Roman Catholic Church think this is OK? Why was the journalist who wrote this piece not onto this like a dog on a rabbit?

No wonder that he has such a huge grin on his face, in the photo in the BBC article.

Bad Christians

Posted on 10th April 2015

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

There has been a lot of news coverage recently about new state laws in the USA, purportedly in defence of religious freedom. Such laws have been passed in Indiana and Arkansas. This report on CNN is about moves to enact a similar law in Georgia.

In the CNN report, some people actually state that they are Christian; for the others simply remember that Georgia, Indiana and Arkansas are all predominantly Christian, there are crosses on the walls of several locations in the report, and the language used by the people interviewed when talking about their religion is clearly Christian.

So Christians then, but apparently Christians who feel quite comfortable ignoring the laws, instructions, teachings and examples (parables) in the bible. When the interviewer reminds one woman that the bible instructs us to love one another, she replies that you can "still love someone and not serve them". The interviewer valiantly tries again to invoke the contents of the bible, reminding her that one of the ten commandments is "Thou shalt not commit adultery"; "If someone had committed adultery, would you serve them?"; she replies "Yes". This same woman, however, would not knowingly serve gays.

This must be some new meaning of the word "Christian" of which I was previously unaware. Christianity is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ (Duh!), and generally, therefore, what is stated in the new testament takes precedence over what is written in the old testament; all the stuff against homosexuality is in the old testament. In the new testament, by contrast, we find statements including: "Judge not, lest ye also be judged", "forgive those who trespass against you", "love thy neighbour as thyself", and much more in that vein.

It makes you wonder how many of these so called Christians have actually read the bible. I think they need to have a new name, maybe "Christians who don't believe in the bible", or how about "Christ-tards"?

In some Moslem countries, misrepresenting the teachings of Islam to the same degree as these so called Christians misrepresent Christianity would earn you a stoning for blasphemy from passers-by. Actually, that idea has possibilities .....

The Right to Impose your Religion on Others

Posted on 30th June 2014

Show only this post
Show all posts in this thread.

I find this BBC story worrying in so many ways.

At root, it seems to be a basic clash of principles: a Christian-owned company in the USA has won an exemption from some of the provisions of Obama-Care, so that they don't have to pay for free contraception for their employees, due to their religious beliefs. It also seems to strike a blow for religious freedom.

A closer look at the issues tells me that the decision is against religious freedom. Groups whose beliefs are anti-contraception have won the right to impose their beliefs on another group: their employees.

My first question is, since when is running a business a valid exercise of religious beliefs? Where do we draw the line? The next thing might be the right to withhold tax money that would be spent on treatments which are in contradiction to religious beliefs. This is a slippery slope. The whole idea of the rule of law is to create a society where everyone is required to behave in a way deemed acceptable by everyone else, and these kinds of exceptions undermine that principle.

What about other belief systems and things like blood transfusion, vaccinations, genetic screening, gene therapy, cloned organs for transplants and stem-cell treatments? The news article states that the judgement does not apply to other forms of healthcare, but the chances of it not being used as a precedent for other situations are very slim. The basic liberal principle is that people should be given as much freedom as possible, as long as it doesn't impinge on the freedoms of others (for example, this principle prevents people arguing that they have a right to make human sacrifice because their religion requires them to), but the ruling described above clearly does limit the freedoms of the employees.

Also, what about the need for population control? Controlling population helps to ensure my rights: to a good and healthy life for me and my offspring. Now, it seems, religious groups have the right to undermine population controls by limiting access to contraception, thus limiting my rights and the rights of my offspring.

I do hope this judgement gets overturned, and quickly.