full disclosure

“What does it say?”

Charles reread the paperwork before responding, the crease in his forehead, the telltale sign that it was troubling news, deepened before he had finished, “We are being sued.”  Despite his best efforts to remain calm, the final word caught in his throat.

His wife’s right hand made a mad dash to cover her mouth though no sound escaped.

Setting aside the paperwork, Charles took Livia’s left hand in both of his, squeezing gently, reassuring her that everything would be okay in the end.  He trusted in their relationship and their faith and he knew that even if the coming case went entirely against them the Lord would show them another path.  As long as they were together, as long as they continued to believe, they would be okay.

He smiled and Livia let her hand drop to join the others.  She took courage and solace in the strength she found in his hands and the peace she saw in his eyes.  She knew what he was thinking, and she agreed.  Together, in their faith, they would be okay.

“But, I don’t understand,” she said a few moments later.  “Our food is always of the highest quality.  Our restaurant is always impeccably clean.  We’ve never failed an inspection.  We’ve never had any complaints…”

“We are being sued for discrimination.”

Before Livia could completely process what that meant, Charles explained the details of the lawsuit further:  “A customer took offense to us praying together at the end of the night in question.  They saw one of our end of evening prayers, thanking God for another wonderful day, and the suit claims we violated their rights by forcing them to endure our religious ritual.”

“That’s preposterous.”

“That’s the way of the world right now.”

“What are we going to do?”

“I’ll call Pastor Reed in the morning and see if she thinks the church will help us hire an attorney to fight the claim.  If nothing else, I’m sure she will want to meet with us and we’ll all pray for guidance.  And, no matter the outcome, we will be okay.  If we go bust, the community will help us stay on our feet.  If we have to close the business, God will help us find something else.”

Livia took in a long, slow, breath and then let it out, once again squeezing her husband’s hands, “Okay.”

“Okay,” he replied, smiling again.

“Though…”

Charles raised his eyebrows in query, and Livia finally smiled in return, mischief dancing behind her pained eyes, “Perhaps we should post some signs around the restaurant to let customers know that, before they get served, every meal is blessed in prayer.”

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28 thoughts on “full disclosure

  1. Oh Lord. I’m on both sides of this one. Even though I work in litigation, I think people need to get a life. Things happen. Some you like, some you don’t. The correct response is “get over it” not “SUE”.

    That being said, I am sick of folks imposing their prayers on me. Generally, I roll my eyes rather than dialing my lawyer, though.

    But this was wonderfully written as always DJ.

    • It’s an interesting conundrum… to start worrying about what others’ are imposing on us. For as free as we are, our freedoms come with limitations.
      I’m tired of the government imposing taxes on me… So, my choices are move or go to jail.
      I’m tired of work imposing certain tasks on me… so, my choices are find a different job or starve.
      I’m tired of people openly practicing their religions around me… so, my choices are ignore them or join them or … sue them?
      Yes, my examples are overly simplified. I’m just cranky this week. Religion isn’t even the chief cause of that, it was just the word that came to me when I sat down to write.

      • Hmmmm… I’ll bet both scenarios would make killer episodes of Law & Order.

        “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help Yourself?”

      • On a side note, thank you for the smiles tonight. 😀

        I feel like I should write those two scenarios of Law and Order as fan fiction… See what I can do with them.

      • Handing out smiles is what I do! Always happy to help in that department…

        I think you should give that story idea whirl as well… so many wonderful possibilities for humor and satire!

  2. I have some strong opinions about this…. but at the end of the day..if seeing a private owner of a restaurant perform a prayer bothers you…you don’t have to eat there. But suing over that is extreme I think. That being said… I do not believe religion should be in secular schools. School is school not church. I recently had to help a friend check into a hospital. It is the ONLY hospital in our town, and it happens to be a religious one. At check in, they had bibles, and over the intercom there is a pastor who preaches. I will drive to the next town before I ever go to that hospital. It made me VERY uncomfortable to even be there with my friend. It felt discriminatory and judgmental to me. I happen to be Atheist and I had the feeling what with all the praying and preaching going on that if you didn’t believe their crap you might not get good care. I was very offended. I believe that because we are such a diverse nation that religion should be kept out of public things, it should be practiced at home and at church, or in the case of the private business owner…that’s his place and no one has to go there if they don’t want to. People HAVE to go to hospitals, courthouses, schools, public places. I like the penis reference myself “It’s fine to have a penis, it’s fine to be proud of it, but when you whip it out and start waving it around in public we’re going to have a problem”.

    • The hospital thing is weird… Was that in Simi? For essential services like that I definitely agree that religion should be kept out of it.
      I’m just tired of the frivolous lawsuits. People, in general, need thicker skin and to take their money elsewhere rather than expecting everyone else to cater to their specific beliefs, feelings, ideals, etc… Basically, they all just need to grow up and act like adults.

      • Yes Matt in Simi we have Simi Hospital Adventist Health and I kid you not being in that hospital was just like being in church. There were people in the hallways doing laying of hands on a patient and having some kind of prayer circle. For a second I thought we had accidentally been transported deep into the heart of the baptist south. I half expected there to be serpents and tongue speak. I don’t really have any objection to prayer but I felt it should have been in the patients room not in the hallway and not as if they were preaching from a pulpit in terms of the decibel. I agree with you though that people need thicker skins about being catered to especially in privately owned businesses. I also agree about frivolous lawsuits. Ridiculousness.

  3. There’s a big difference between forced religion and simply being present when someone else is praying. I’m guessing that in the senario you have in mind, this couple and maybe their staff were quietly praying somewhere in the back of the restaurant, and it just so happened that there were still customers on the premises. Because let’s face it, I pray all over the place (quietly and unobtrusively), but I guess wearing a habit most of the time probably warns people that that’s going to happen.

    I like your idea with this one though, the idea that there are things we should accept and live with instead of instantly going for the lawyer.

    I also agree with Dani’s comment above, though, that there are places where faith is not something that should be the main thing about the place. If you’re going to teach religion in a school, then you should teach about every single religion. If you’re going to provide a chaplaincy service in an organisation, then you need a representative from every single faith. And there should be the respect for people to believe what they choose. After all, when you look at the basic teachings of all religions and it’s about love and respect, not about beating up people who are “wrong”.

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