I’m not sure how this story wound up blowing up on social media, but it’s definitely taking on a life of its own. A couple in Wisconsin who were on vacation went to the local Walgreens because the woman had left her birth control at home and wanted to purchase some condoms. A cashier named John informed her that he would not ring up the purchase because it went against his religious faith to do so. Her boyfriend tweeted at Walgreens about the incident and the situation escalated from there, or so you might think from the social media uproar. But digging further into the details, this looks like it should have mostly been a non-story. (NBC News)
A pair of shoppers at a Walgreens in Wisconsin said an employee refused to sell condoms to them on religious grounds — something Walgreens said is permitted under its policies.
Nathan Pentz tweeted earlier this month that his partner, Jess, went to buy condoms at a store in Hayward because she forgot her birth control. He said when she went to the checkout, the cashier said he would not ring up the condoms, because of his faith.
Pentz also tweeted the couple’s customer service response to Walgreens, which said the employee “embarrass[ed] [her] in front of other customers because of her reproductive choices.”
Here’s the tweet that lit the fire.
We went to Hayward to get some groceries and a stop at @Walgreens because we had left Jess birth control at home. As Jess was checking out, cashier John told her he couldn’t sell her the condoms. “Oh I got them from over there.”
“We can, but I won’t because of my faith.” 1/x
— Nate Pentz (@natepentz) July 3, 2022
We’ll get to the religious freedom aspect of this food fight in a moment, but the details of the failed transaction don’t really sound as bad as the couple is making it out to be. The cashier politely offered to ring up the rest of the woman’s purchases (which she refused) and offered to go get a manager or another cashier to ring up the condoms for her. And a manager was indeed found who rang up the purchase without any problems. Walgreens is backing him up, saying that they allow their employees to work while “respecting the religious and moral beliefs of our team members.”
So the company does not have a policy against selling condoms and the woman was able to complete her purchase. If you want to assign “blame” to anyone, it would be the cashier, not the company. And yet the hashtag #BoyottWalgreens was quickly trending. When asked about the incident, a Walgreens spokesperson said that the cashier was still employed at the store but was being transferred to either the photographic department or the stockroom.
The woman who was attempting to make the purchase claims that she was “embarrassed” in front of the rest of the customers and was being persecuted because of her “reproductive choices.” But why would she be embarrassed? This is the 21st century, not some scene out of American Graffiti. The woman is an adult and it’s no secret that drug stores sell condoms.
So are there any similarities between this story and all of the noise we hear from the “Just Bake the Cake” crowd? Not really. We’re not talking about an employer or a sales clerk who is picking and choosing which customers he will sell to based on some demographic category, which was the case with the Masterpiece bake shop saga. John, the cashier, apparently would refuse to ring up condoms for anyone, regardless of their race, gender, or sexual orientation. And if he’s managed to find a job with an employer whose policies allow for such choices, it’s probably a pretty good fit.
But none of that is going to stop the woke crowd from trying to launch a boycott against Walgreens. We’ll have to wait and see whether they cave and fire the employee, leaving John effectively “canceled.” I’d like to think it won’t happen, but in the current era, nothing really surprises me anymore.