Crucifix causes concern at St. Louis grocery store

Sunday, September 20, 2009 | 4:04 p.m. CDT; updated 8:23 p.m. CST, Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ST. LOUIS — A downtown St. Louis grocery store has stirred up concern after installing a crucifix on a wall behind the customer service counter.

Culinaria manager Tom Collora put up the crucifix in view of the new store's checkout registers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Collora said he has worked for the grocery chain for 40 years and has displayed a crucifix at two other Schnucks down stores without complaints.

But now some customers are angry about the display.

Lori Weinstock, 40, who is Jewish, said the crucifix startled her enough to write a letter to St. Louis Jewish Light, a newspaper that focuses on the Jewish community.

"It would have been equally startling if it had been a Star of David or an emblem of another religion," said Weinstock,. "It's grocery shopping, and it should be welcoming to all and exclude none."

Collora said the crucifix "is not meant to promote one faith over another. It's just an opportunity to share a part of myself and my life with people I work hard to serve every day."

Lori Willis, Schnucks communications director, said Collora was the only manager in the chain's 106 stores to have requested to display an article of personal faith.

"Company leaders made a decision to honor that request out of respect for Tom and his faith," Willis said. "In fact, that's part of the reason they put him in charge of Culinaria. He's a man of such strong faith who better to put in a store where so many faiths come together?"

The display shows Jesus Christ nailed to the cross, which is of concern to some of Schnucks' Jewish customers.

The cross bearing Christ's body has become a symbol of the Catholic Church, said Ronald Modras, a theology professor at St. Louis University. A cross without it has become a Protestant symbol, he said.

"The cross is an ambiguous symbol which can mean one thing to one group and another to a different group," Modras said. "And for Jewish people (a crucifix) can mean, 'You are a Christ killer.'"

Karen Aroesty of the Anti-Defamation League of St. Louis said that despite complaints to her about the display, her organization will not lodge an official complaint with Schnucks.

"After some significant discussion within the Jewish and interfaith communities, we felt this was not a battle that should be pressed right now," Aroesty said.

City resident Thomas Duda said since the company received public funding to build a store, it shouldn't blatantly express a specific religious belief that could be offensive or uncomfortable to some who shop there.

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Mark Foecking September 21, 2009 | 9:07 a.m.

Can't we all just live and let live?


(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith September 21, 2009 | 10:31 a.m.

Things continue to be blown far out of proportion.

If you do not like the crucifix, or any other religious or secular emblem, displayed at a place of business then simply do not patronize that place of business.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 21, 2009 | 2:42 p.m.

There was a time when privately owned mom and pop stores displayed whatever religious artifacts they identified with.
While I see no problem with Mr. Collora wearing religious jewelry, I can understand why some customers may express an uncomfortable feeling about a singularly specific corporate display in a chain grocer which has stockholders.
Unless the Crucifix has a Shnuck's for sale price on it, I can understand the concern for appropriate displaying of personal art and/or religious alienators.
A more appropriate display of let's say the "COEXIST" sticker may have been less offensive to some.
Ultimately, I will side with the AntiDefamation League on this one. They seem to be the best organization to have a handle on this.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 21, 2009 | 3:43 p.m.

What happened to that Bill Of Rights thing called the Freedom Of Religion?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 21, 2009 | 3:50 p.m.

Charles Dudley Jr September 21, 2009 | 3:43 p.m.
What happened to that Bill Of Rights thing called the Freedom Of Religion?

What kind of crack is that?

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 21, 2009 | 4:41 p.m.

>>> What kind of crack is that? <<<

It is the same kind of crack as in if I do not like your face I do not have to look at it either do I?

Why you ask? Because your big nose goes against my choice of religion in following the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro September 21, 2009 | 8:22 p.m.

Well this explains why there is such a large selection and so many varieties in Shnuck's pasta aisle.
The video, however, says little about anyone's right to hang an upside down crucifix in a store where they are employed, unless they themselves own the store.
And, I know you're ugly, but what am I?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 21, 2009 | 10:20 p.m.

Chuck, the First Amendment and enjoyment of religion under it only applies when government tries to restrict that right. It does not apply to your employer, your neighbor, or anyone who is not a government entity or employee.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 22, 2009 | 4:22 a.m.

Oh but John Schultz the hard core Constitutional Libertarian you are going to deny a citizen their Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion at any where and any time?

For shame on you when you yourself proclaim not only on this news outlet but the Trib too that the Rights of the People should be upheld according to the Constitution.

Which is it John Schultz either we have the rights to worship as we like or we have no rights.

You cannot have it both ways. Straddling that fence will get you splinters in your bikini's if you slip and fall and I would hate to hear a grown man scream. :)

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 22, 2009 | 11:27 a.m.

Chuck, let me know if I need to get you a pocket Constitution (I have two, one of which is usually on my person or within reach) if you need it to understand what the First Amendment does and does not protect. The rest of your blathering sounds like a stuck pig who doesn't know what he is protesting, only that he needs to be heard loud and often.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr September 22, 2009 | 11:36 a.m.

What's wrong John you do not like getting called out on your Libertarian Secular Beliefs?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz September 22, 2009 | 1:15 p.m.

I don't like people who can't read the Constitution, figure out who it applies to, and to whom it does not. I can educate you, if you are willing to be taught instead of bloviating online.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote September 22, 2009 | 1:36 p.m.

This issue comes down to first amendment rights. The owner of the store is entitled to free speech as well as free exercise of his beliefs, regardless of the merit of that speech. If you don't like it, you're free to shop somewhere else.

Here's the first amendment:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

(Report Comment)
Larry Carter Center May 18, 2010 | 11:19 a.m.

Come one people. Where is your clarity of thought? Your critical thinking skills? It is nice a store chain allows a 40 year employee put up his favorite wall trophy. I'm sure more than one pep band in high school sports have hand drawn a tasteless banner to "kill" the opposing team. Torturing your favorite alleged baby god to death, is not that bad. After all, as the story goes this alleged Jeebus was only dead 38 hours anyway? Only our gov't employees have no right to intimidate all customers with religious terror symbols. No matter how insulting to my intelligence, I support people's freedom of religion. No harm no foul. I would support a Jewish boycott until this guy retires or gives his crucifix to some rectory somewhere.
....If I had 40 years tenure, I'd put up a statue of Rachel Corrie who died under an Israeli bulldozer, a good American defending the Palestinian victims of apartheid. Now how is that for an expression of my freedom? 843-926-1750 Larry Carter Center

(Report Comment)

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