Can Anyone Justify Blue Laws WITHOUT Invoking Religion?

An issue has come up before the Springfield, IL (pop: 115,000) city council. Seems a local alderman went to a grocery store one Sunday morning around 11:00 to pick up a twelve-pack for his day on the lake he had planned. Wouldn’t you know it, you can’t buy beer on Sundays in Springfield before noon.

Being a city alderman, the guy decided that he was in a perfect poition to do something about his problem. So, he went to work on Monday and had a chat with the mayor (who also is rumored to enjoy a tall cold one from time to time). Next thing you know, the city council begins discussing a repeal of this antiquated blue law.

This has brought impassioned pleas from the local clergy to preserve the ban, always in the name of keeping Sunday a special day. The Lord’s Day. From what I’ve read in letters to the editor, it seems that the local clergy aren’t so much concerned with the idea that preventing beer sales will translate to more people in church; rather, they’re concerned that repealing the Sunday morning liquor ban is just one more step toward making Sunday “just another day.”

I once read somewhere that there is a justification for blue laws that does not involve religion. It has something to do with the idea that preventing the sale of some commodity for a period of time (and Sunday is a convenient day) is somehow better for the local economy, or something. I, for one, can’t get my brain around it, but I’m not an economist.

So anyway, is there any justification for blue laws that does not invoke religion?

I live in Connecticut - no alcohol at all is sold on Sundays and NEVER after 8 p.m. any other days

We do not like Blue laws.

But the answer to your Q is quite simple…No. Blue laws originated with the Lord, and will forever - or at least until Kerry is elected - be based in the Lord.*

[sub]sorry so short…I’m in a hurry…:)[/sub]

No liquor on Sunday- increases chances of other drivers on the road being sober.

No prostitution- men less likely to bring STDs back to their wives. Men have more money to spend on their families.

No gambling- adults can’t gamble away money needed for basic needs of children.

Thanks, but I’m mainly concerned with banning sales of X commodity or doing X activity on Sundays (or only Sunday mornings).

I think you’re being a little amitious if you believe that Kerry’s election is going to have any effect on local city ordinances. Unless you’re making a joke, in which case I’ll go have a plate of crow…

All I can think of is that if you’re forced to forego a vice for one day a week, you’re better off. Whether it’s Sunday or any other day is immaterial.

At one time in Texas almost all stores were required to be closed on Sunday. One of the reasons behind that was that small mom-and-pop types stores couldn’t stay open 7 days a week without bringing in extra help, and it would be tough to find someone to work only one day out of the week. Larger stores already had the employees in place, therefore, the reasoning went, being open on Sundays was unfair to small business.

That’s not quite the same thing as the question in the OP, still…

But then you can properly justify not having liquor on any day. And that’s prohibition all over again.

There’s no reasonable justification to prevent the sales of a drink on just one particular day, except for invoking religion.

There, however, might be a reason to ban selling alcohol after (or before) a certain time on all days. This may theoretically reduce excessive drinking, but I have no idea.

No, it just seem to reduce poor planning. There’s nothing to stop me from buying 6 cases of beer right before close on Saturday, therefore providing me with plenty of beer well into Sunday.

Blue laws (or licensing laws for our friends across the pond) are IMHO an anachronism are are as relevant today as laws against where one can hitch ones horse

and are :smack:

If anything, there is a stronger case for restricting the right to purchase liquor during the regular work week. Requiring that no liquor be sold before, say, 10 AM Monday-Friday (exclusive of legal holidays) would serve the purpose of limiting the ability of minors to purchase alcohol when they should be in school. Yes, there would be a limitation on the rights of adults, but this wouldn’t be substantial - most people work and probably aren’t too concerned about their ability to grab a six-pack on the way to the office.

Particularly selecting Sunday to restrict sales has no real justification other than religion. It almost certainly has little to do with “making Sunday just another day.” I’m sure that the clergy are far more interested in preventing the audience for a sermon from being drawn into taverns instead of to the pews. This probably explains why most Sunday morning television programming is either religious, boring, or (more often) both, and why theaters generally don’t start showing movies before 11.

There is no secular justification for blue laws; the only purpose they attempt to serve is to enforce Christian standards of morality within the community.

This article describes Massachussetts’ attempt to repeal their blue laws, and they’re hoping it will actually help their economy:

I’ve heard the same argument, but the non-religious solution is to force stores to close one day of their choosing. Making it Sunday is discriminatory, since it forces Jewish storeowners to close two days. If legislatures resist not making it Sunday-only, you can tell that there is something religious going on.

I’m going to have to disagree with this part of your post. I don’t think any clergyperson truly believes that a person who can’t buy a drink (or go to a movie or whatever) might as well go to church instead. That’s just silly (the idea; not your post). I’ve never known anyone who went to church simply because there was nothing else going on Sunday morning to hold their interest.

What I’ve heard straight from the mouths of local clergy around here is that “Sunday is THE LORD’s DAY! If we start selling liquor on Sunday mornings, then Sunday ceases being a special day!”

But does that mean that the laws were originally put in place to force non-churchgoers to abide by the will of the churchgoers. Or were they put into place to appease churchgoers, who didn’t want “their” time of the week sullied by such vulgar things as sales of the Demon Rum?

this is the way my former neck of western new york operated. all liquor stores were forced to remain closed for one day a week, and most chose sunday. this, i feel, is an artifact of the prohibition spirit, and may or may not have anything to do with religion, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t secular.

i disagree that choosing sunday as a forced day of closing can’t be secular. true enough, the roots are religious, but with as many christians in this country as there are, and with the way democratic societies tend to cater to the whims of the majority, it could simply be considered cultural at this point.

I actually know a mom and pop who ran a store that was open 7 days a week. They worked every single day. They didn’t take a single day off for over ten years.
Of course, there were two of them, so if one of them needed to go somewhere the other minded the store.


Then you’d have to explain the secular purpose in enforcing a Sunday closing rule instead of a one day closing rule. - especially because such a rule imposes a penalty on minority religions. It seems to me like a clear SoCAS issue. The religious motivation for the rule does not decrease with time.

a secular reason for choosing sunday would be that that happens to be the day that the most people prefer to have the stores closed.

so, because i say it is the year 2004, my statement is religiously motivated? time itself may not diminish religious motivation, but common practice can, and that’s what i mean when i say it could be considered a cultural thing.

i am, of course, playing devil’s advocate here. i think blue laws are archaic and most definitely motivated by religious beliefs. the OP asked if there could be secular motivation, however, and i’m simply trying to make the case that there can be.

Since there is no compelling reason they all have to pick the same day, this argument is not relevant.

I think you have, intentionally or otherwise, shown that there really isn’t any such case. :slight_smile: