Yechezkel Goldberg wrote:
If a product is known to be owned by a group that would be considered halachically as "Idol Worship", is it forbidden to use this product even if it has a hechsher (kosher certification)? Case in point: (name witheld) health food which is said to be owned by Scientology; (name witheld) tea which is said to be owned by the Moonies?
The Torah does not prohibit using a product simply because it was produced by an idol-worshiper.
However, if you know that the profits go exclusively for 'sacramental' purposes, it then beomes a question of 'lifnei eaver' -- 'putting a stumbling block before the blind.' Just as it is forbidden to give shrimp cocktail to a Jew, so it is forbidden to give 'idol-worship parephenalia' (sacramental wine, statues, etc.) to an idol-worshipper. The question is: Is giving someone money which will be used to buy a statue the same as giving him the statue itself? Or, since money is one step removed - that is, they don't use the money directly in the worship - is it therefore permitted?
In any case, it is a mitzva not to support 'cult' activities. Therefore, if you are absolutely certain that they are owned wholly or greatly by one of these groups, it would be a good idea to discourage people from buying these products.
A word of caution: If it is not absolutely certain that they are owned by these groups, a vary grave sin of harming someone's livelihood could result.
Speaking of cults:
At an introductory session of the 'Reincarnated Society of Born-Yesterday Cenobites' a certain Mrs. Finklefarb sits in the back knitting. After the meeting, however, she volunteers for the next level of training. She continues from level to level until she's finally allowed to travel to Tibet, meet the Grand Cenobite, and say three words to him. While waiting in the long line, she patiently knits. Finally she is brought before the leader, looks him in the eye and says "Moishe! Come home!"Sources:
- Talmud Avoda Zorah 2a (Tosafot); and 6a.
- Shulchan Aruch Yoreh De'ah 148:12.