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Benedictine monks suing Louisiana over casket sales

captureAn order of Benedictine monks sued Louisiana regulators Thursday for blocking them from selling handmade caskets because the monks are not licensed funeral directors.

The monks of the 121-year-old St. Joseph Abbey, in St. Tammany Parish north of New Orleans, charge the state Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors is attempting to maintain a casket cartel, and that board members are mostly engaged in industry they regulate.

They claim the regulations are unconstitutional.

The monks planned to sell their wooden caskets for $1,500 or $2,000 to support the abbey.

They tried to get an exemption from the regulations in 2008 and 2010, but legislators rejected the requests.

A lawyer for the embalmers board could not immediately be reached for comment.