Several weeks ago, a new sushi restaurant opened up directly across the street from my apartment building, making it the fifth sushi restaurant in a short, one block radius around my home. Because I quite enjoy Japanese food, I tried it out last week. I ate my meal at the new restaurant and was pleased with what I had. There was a particular menu item I liked, a selection of tuna done in different ways: ahi, spicy, sashimi, and this nice cone thing. I was impressed enough that I recommended it to a friend of mine who lives near by.

This evening I went to check my mail in the mail room downstairs when I noticed a takeout menu for the restaurant in question on the bulletin board. I wanted to grab it but it was the only one there, so instead I flipped through it looking for a web site address. I didn’t find any URLs but what I did find was a curious quote at the very back of the menu, right at the bottom:

“Jesus is loving us”

I immediately did not like what I had read. Now don’t get me wrong, I believe people in our society should be free to practice religion, as long as they don’t try to impose their beliefs on the rest of the society. I really didn’t like how they just slipped that phrase on the back of the menu, it just seems sneaky. I have no problem with things like church bake sales or Salvation Army stores. In those cases, people are upfront about the purpose of their enterprise. Church members are selling baked good so that the proceeds can support and help their place of worship. Everyone knows if you go buy a cookie from a church bake sale, your money is going towards that church. Everyone is upfront about that.

Now where it gets messy is examples like the new sushi restaurant. The name of the restaurant isn’t “Jesus’ Sushi”. I went and had a meal there and had no idea the restaurant had some underlying Christian faith to it somehow. I just don’t think it’s a good idea to mix business and religion in the manner they did. What is that phrase on the back of the menu supposed to represent? Is that telling me that if I go eat there, my dollars are going towards a church? Is it just a statement of the owner’s religious faith? Again, whatever it is, I don’t think it was a wise move. People in general who are looking to eat sushi, want to do so in a non-denominational manner. I don’t go to Denny’s to read excerpts from the Quran. No one goes to Wal-mart to see passages of the Pentateuch in the flyers.

Undoubtedly in the past, I have given my sorta hard-earned dollars to business owners who are religious. The difference is, these business owners didn’t mix their religious beliefs with the running of their business in some sneaky way. I don’t care if some deli owner who made my clubhouse sandwich went to church earlier in the day. That’s because he or she didn’t slip a King James bible into my take out container.

I’m not really sure if I’ll go back to this sushi restaurant now. I know for sure my friend won’t go. He is a hardcore atheist and this is the type of stuff that gets him angry. I’m not sure if I’m being overly sensitive about this but again, there’s a reason why most restaurants don’t slip in religious phrases on the back of their menus.

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