Suppose that you own a small business. You have a small store located in one of the millions of strip malls that have become the American landscape. One day, a couple of representatives from a local Catholic church come into your store and request a few minutes of your time. They show you a picture of a large sign they want you to place in your store window so it will be visible from the street. The sign displays an image of Mother Teresa and is intended to honor her 100th birthday.
You politely decline the request, keeping your annoyance to yourself because upsetting potential customers is never wise. The Catholics thank you for your time and leave. You consider the matter closed and move on with your life.
The next week, you are visited by a small delegation representing all the Catholic churches in your community. They make the same request, but this time, they have something else to show you. It seems that they have collected several thousand signatures in the form of a petition asking you to display their sign. They suggest, ever so subtly, that you stand to lose some customers by not honoring their request.
Although you manage to refrain from yelling at them, you make it clear that you are not at all happy with their approach. You compare their tactics with the mafia and explain in no uncertain terms that you will not hang their religious propaganda in your store window. Again, they tell you that they appreciate your time and leave.
The protests start a few days later. Some people stop by to tell you that they will not do business with you until you agree to hang the sign. Others assemble to picket in front of your store. Your calls to local law enforcement do not go anywhere. They have the right to assemble as long as they are not physically blocking your entrance. Your business begins to suffer.
In case you missed it, this story is based on something happening right now in New York City on a much larger scale. Believe it or not, the Catholic church is demanding that the owner of the Empire State building, a privately owned building, light it to honor Mother Teresa. They do not care that the owner has a policy about not lighting the building for religious figures. They have collected over 40,000 signatures and taken out ads in the local papers. They intend to bully him into submission and are pulling out all the stops to do just that.
H/T to Stardust Musings and Thoughts for the Freethinker