Religious basis for regulation of times for purchasing alcohol?

Having had my Sunday morning grocery run thwarted once again (“sorry sir - we can’t sell you that bottle of wine, it’s still twenty minutes til noon”), I’d like to know where these laws originated. Here in Texas you can’t buy hard liquor (other than at a bar) after 9:00pm Mon-Sat, and not even beer or wine on Sunday, if it’s before noon.

Is this seemingly arbitrary and highly irritating state of affairs solely the result of religious prudery? Or is it the work of some helpful government nanny attempting to sober up the workforce for another week of productivity?


I’ve heard (no cite) that most of these laws were more bigoted than religious in nature. Attempting to make it hard for working-class immigrants to purchase alcohol – making it only available when these people would be typically busy working.

As much as those laws often piss me off, there is some reasoning behind some of them. Bars, for example, often have to stop serving liquor between 2:00am and 9:00am (or whatever) because the people living nearby need some time to sleep without all the noisy drunks.

As for not selling wine on Sunday mornings in a grocery store, I see no logic behind that one at all.

They’re the remnants of “blue laws” which when I was a kid (1970s) required most businesses to be closed on Sundays with the exception of grocery stores and drugstores, and maybe gas stations. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect they were post-Prohibition laws intended to put a crimp in liquor buying that were probably engineered by Southern Baptists and other no-fun Christian denominations.

Some of the liquor laws are statewide, while others are locally regulated- last call is a combination- I don’t think bars can serve after 2 a.m. anywhere in the state, but some counties and cities move that time earlier in the evening.

I also suspect that the no booze on Sunday morning thing has something to do with that being the traditional time to go to church; don’t want people skipping church to go buy beer and wine, now do you? :rolleyes:

(Parts of) Wisconsin has sort of an anti-blue law that stops liquor/beer sales at grocery/liquor stores at 9pm. Want to drink after then? Support your local member of the Wisconsin Tavern League, who love that little law.

Wasn’t there some suburb in Chicago where you could get drinks till 6am. And it caused eveyone to move over there when the other bars closed at 4am, and it caused a lot of problems.

We finally got a law through in this city that allows you to sell beer and wine on Sunday if you already had a six day license. There were all sorts of people quoted in the paper talking about how if they sell booze on Sunday people won’t go to church, which always cracks me up - seriously, you think the only reason people go to church is because without prior planning you can’t get drunk instead?

That’s what I don’t understand. If you don’t want people buying alcohol in your county you can become a dry county, there are lots of those, but outlawing the sale of alcohol on Sunday makes absolutely no sense to me. If I want to drink on Sunday I can buy booze on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday or Saturday without restriction.

I guess it’s a law just to punish poor planners or impulse drinkers…

You “don’t want people skipping church to go buy beer and wine, now do you?”

You say that as if it is a bad thing.

My church used to serve wine sometimes… :slight_smile:

The blue laws go back to the crusades against drunkedness from the Temperance movement at the end of the 1800’s.

The logic is that there is no reason to be buying alcohol when you should be in church. Anytihng that temps a person away from church was a “bad thing”.

Simialrly, bars in some places were required to close for an hour between 4 and 6 PM so the patrons had to leave; on the theory they’d go home to wife and kiddies instead of blowing all their money in the bar.

Closing hours - same deal. B 11Pm/12midnight/1AM you should be heading home, instead of drinking all night. Forcing bars to close forced the drunkards to leave.

Had a bit of a debate on this with a Finnish friend once; their laws regarding the purchase of alcohol are fairly restrictive (IIRC, something like no sales in stores from midnight to noon). Libertarian that I am, I am generally inclined to let everyone go to hell in their own way; if you shut down the bar and want to keep the party going, I don’t have a problem with a 24-hour liquor store existing to serve you. Moreover, there’s nothing stopping you from actually, y’know, having liquor on hand in your flat before you go out to the bar in the first place.

His argument was that the law was a positive and well-thought out measure directed towards curbing binge drinking–arguing, in effect, that binge drinkers were lousy at planning and wouldn’t have the booze on hand before they went out, so when they closed down the bar and nothing was open, they would be forced to dry out until noon, at least. I don’t know if I agree, but he’s the one who lives there–he no doubt knows the drinking habits better than I do.

So, while there’s definitely a religious motivation for the Sunday laws, an argument of this sort can be made for shutting the stores down and having a last call at some more or less reasonable hour.

Liquor stores were closed in on Sundays in Massachusetts until a few years ago (unless it was a weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas or the store in question was within 10 miles of the New Hampshire border then it was A-Ok; go figure). Mitt Romney of all people was key in making Sunday liquor store sales legal all over the state all year round. A main source of opposition was the liquor store owners themselves. They claimed that the slightly increased sales overall from opening an extra day weren’t worth the extra operating costs yet they had to be open 7 days a week to remain competitive. Some of them liked being forced to close one day a week as long as their competition did too.

I’ve heard the exact same thing said about car dealerships in Texas, which can only open either Saturday or Sunday. In practice, they’re all closed on Sunday.

You missed the rolleyes smiley… generally speaking, church time would be the best time to get beer before a noon kickoff, but you have to plan ahead here in Texas.

The North Carolina college town that I lived in from 1975 to 1979 had some stringent blue laws…and not just regarding alcohol. Most stores except supermarkets were not allowed to open on Sundays.

And there were some strict rules regarding what could and could not be sold in the supermarkets on Sunday. They could only sell items that were deemed necessities - which was generally interpreted to mean food items and nothing but food items. It made for some interesting times at the cash register - this was in the day before computerized registers so the store could not “lock out” items the way they would now.

3 incidents come to mind.

Once we were buying approved items on Sunday, as was the young mom in the cart in front of us. However, she had also picked up a can of Play-Doh at the insistence of her child and the child was holding onto the Play-Doh.

The cashier rang up the order but refused to sell her the Play-Doh. The kid fell into a full screaming tantrum as the decision was handed down, then he didn’t want to relinquish the Play-Doh. The poor mother was forced to physically wrest the can from her crying child and return it to the cashier and she left with the child still screaming. When it was our turn, we thanked the cashier for doing the Lord’s important work.

Then , on another Sunday morning, one of the cashiers refused to sell one of my roommates a box of tampons. I think she expected my roomie to slink away in embarrassment but she did not know my friend. My friend went ballastic and threatened to “prove” to the cashier and everyone in line that her tampons were a necessity. When she started to unzip the cashier relented.

The third one was just a whim of mine, inspired by the Play-Doh incident. I went to the toy section and grabbed a copy of “My Child’s First Book about Jesus” and took it to the register with a defiant smirk, the cashier glared at me but rang it up without verbal comment.

In the 70’s in Arkansas we had very specific blue laws, such that each store that opened on Sundays (mostly drugstores and some gas stations) had a list of what could and could not be sold. The list was very specific. The one I remember was that black or brown shoelaces could be sold, but not blue or white ones. The reasoning I got from my boss was that black or brown shoes could be shoes worn to church, but no one would go to church in blue or white shoes.

In Indiana now we are having this fight over Sunday carry-out alcohol. It comes down to a battle between the grocery stores (who want to be able to sell alcohol everyday – they sell Mon-Sat now) and the liquor stores who want to be able to get seven days of cash for six days of work. (But, then again, Indiana laws make so sense at all. Only in liquor stores can you buy cold beer, but you cannot buy cold sodas in liquor stores. Go figure!)

My parents ran a “Four Square” dairy (US: 7-11) back when NZ had similar Sunday trading laws. There was a section of the dairy that was curtained off on Sundays that contained such blasphemous things as cleaning products (who knows why…)

One odd restriction I recall was that newspapers and magazines were OK to sell on Sunday, but all books were verbotten… which had the odd consequence of meaning that on ones way to church one could purchase a Playboy but not a Bible. :smiley:

Goodness - what town was this? We were in Chapel Hill from 77 to 81 (and later) and I don’t recall any such laws. Then again, Chapel Hill was a hotbed of commie liberal heathens.

My in-laws used to live in Bergen County, NJ - which still has blue laws prohibiting most retail stores other than grocers and news shops. And the news shops - which might sell books every other day of the week - can only sell newspapers and periodicals. MIL commented that because of this, on a Sunday you could buy a Playboy but not a Bible :D.

:::snerk::: - I should have read yours before posting mine - saying the EXACT SAME THING :D.