Adventist Media Response and Conversation

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sunday Law preoccupation among Adventists

In a Recent letter to the Adventist Review Claude Morgan, Religious Liberty director
Greater New York Conference Manhasset, New York writes the following:

I enjoyed Michael D. Peabody’s article, “Sundae Laws” (Jul. 24, 2008). Even though I have followed the subject of Sunday laws with interest for many years, I found a lot of interesting information that was new to me. I am concerned, however, that readers might reach the wrong conclusion if they read too much into Peabody’s remark, “Most Sunday Laws are no longer enforced and are generally viewed as anachronistic.”

For years I also have been saying, “Nobody is interested in Sunday laws but Adventists.” But that is no longer true. The reality is that a renewed climate favorable to Sunday laws has been developing quietly. Two examples: In its
August 2, 2004 issue, Time Magazine featured a column by Nancy Gibbs titled “And on the Seventh Day We Rested,” which nostalgically eulogized Sunday Laws. In 2006, Christianity Today, one of the most
prestigious religious periodicals in the country, also ran a column contending that Sunday laws would correct the ills of society.

While Sunday laws are not a center of focus for most people today, the climate of our culture is definitely becoming a fertile seedbed for their rebirth.

Personally I doubt his exclamation that he had been saying for years that “Nobody is interested in Sunday laws but Adventists.” Especially when citing the Christianity Today article. The article in no way indicated that there was any reason to introduce further Sunday laws, in fact it includes this quote:

"Blue laws fell because they became politically untenable," said Bradley Jacob, associate law professor at Regent University. "Not only did non-Christians find them unfair, but even Christians found them silly, archaic, and legalistic."

The article was more a news article which covered a research project. As the Article begins:

Church attendees become more likely to use drugs and drink heavily when states abolish "blue laws." So says a recent study, "The Church vs. the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?" The study also found that weekly church attendance and church giving decline after states repeal blue laws, which restrict commerce and labor on Sundays.

"They aren't quitting whole hog," said Daniel Hungerman, a study author and assistant professor of economics at the University of Notre Dame. Instead, those who attend weekly might go monthly, and monthly attendees might show up just at Christmas and Easter. While church giving decreased, the study found other charities saw a corresponding increase in donations.

When a blue law is in place, non-church-goers are about 10 percent more likely to drink heavily than churchgoers. After blue laws are repealed, the gap closes to about 5 percent.

For marijuana and cocaine use, the gap nearly disappears. Non-churchgoers are 11 percent more likely to smoke pot while blue laws are in place. After repeal, the two groups look almost the same.

Other than the title, there is nothing to support Religious Liberty Director’s statement that Christianity Today “ran a column contending that Sunday laws would correct the ills of society.”

Neither does the Time article in any way call for Sunday laws, it mainly bemoans the busy lifestyle of modern America. As the concluding paragraphs state:

With progress, of course, comes backlash from those who desperately want to preserve the old ways. Mom-and-pop liquor stores in New York fought to keep the blue laws to have more time with their families. Car dealers in Kansas City, Mo., pushed for a law to make them close on Sundays so they could have a day off without losing out to competition. Chick-Fil-A, a chain of more than 1,100 restaurants in 37 states, closes on Sundays because its founder, Truett Cathy, promised employees time to "worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week," says the chain's website. "Made sense then, still makes sense now." Pope John Paul II even wrote an apostolic letter in defense of Sunday: "When Sunday loses its fundamental meaning and becomes merely part of a 'weekend,'" he wrote, "people stay locked within a horizon so limited that they can no longer see 'the heavens.'"

In an age with no free time, we buy it through hard choices. Do we skip church so we can sleep in or skip soccer so we can go to church or find a family ritual — cook together, read together, a Parcheesi challenge — that we treat as sacred? That way, at least some part of Sunday faces in a different direction, whether toward heaven or toward one another.

Nothing in modern America promotes the idea of Sunday laws to cause people to attend worship services on Sunday or prohibit Worship services on Saturday. For a Religious Liberty Director to make such statements as that in the above letter is to speak from a poorly informed and generally foolish position.

As to the Review Article on Sundae Laws; it is not freely available on the web other then the first paragraphs. Those sentences lead me to think the story does not give the full information about the origin of Sundae’s as that is still a hotly debated subject between Ithaca NY and Two Rivers, Wisconsin. Naturally being Adventist the Sunday Law idea is preferred: What few people realize about this simple dessert, however, is that it was actually invented as a loophole to avoid stringent Sunday laws that prevented the sale of “soda water” during the late 1800s --

No comments: