Friday, November 16, 2012

Can Communities Enact Sunday Closing Ordinances? A Postscript.

First of all I want to thank those of my friends who supported changing our Sunday closing policy, because it challenged me to research my initial position. I would also like to thank those who referred to me and other supporters as “idiotic fairy tale worshippers”, “blatant hypocrites”, “tyrants”, “religious bullies”, “liars”, having “libido dominandi [the will to power, the desire to dominate, the lust for government] … for providing the ongoing motivation to continue my research and study the issue.

The result of my research and study (see my earlier posts on Sunday closing for detailed information and sources) led me to the conclusion that while cities, counties and states may enact legislation that supports either side of the question, choosing to support as a common day of rest a great decision. Here’s why:

  1. Looking first at the U.S. Constitution, it’s framers and the sources they drew upon, I found great support for the notion that those who elect to join a society or social order willingly give up some of their personal liberties and property rights to gain benefit from rules implemented for the benefit of the entire community. Locke and Blackstone espoused this view and the Constitution itself is evidence of it. For example, the 10th Amendment states “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the the people.” These words clearly support the notion of delegation of authority.

    The Constitution also clearly spells out what rights cannot be abridged by federal, state, or local governments. That Sunday restrictions on business does not violate these limitations is evidenced not only by multiple U.S. Supreme Court rulings but also by the actions of many of founders and all original 13 states in enacting such legislation.

  2. From the perspective of the community and whether such legislation is beneficial or harmful there are studies which show that increased hours of operation can raise the price of retail goods, reduce employment, harm small business and does not increase the amount of commerce within a given region. Studies also show that this, more often than not, leads to a deterioration of  the personal situation of full-time employees and to an increase in undesirable social behaviors such as increased substance abuse. Refer to the following links for examples of such data: Studies Relaunch Debate on Further Liberalisation of Shop Opening Hours, Blue Laws: Impact on Regional Retail Activity and The Cost of Repealing Blue Laws.

    Clearly there is evidence that “Blues Laws” are beneficial to communities. Moreover, while they do not force anyone to go to church or “keep the Sabbath day holy”,  they do provide support to those who wish to do so or wish simply to spend time with family and friends. So why would we want to eliminate such policies?

    George Washington rephrased the question into an eloquent statement in his farewell address, “Of all the dispositions and habits, which lead to political prosperity, Religion and Morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of Patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of Men and Citizens.”

In the end I’m very content with the initial position I held but am now much more informed on the subject. Should the issue arise again in Highland I would work to continue to support a common day of rest because I truly believe it is in the best interest of the community.


  1. God doesn't compell. And, He never robs us of the consequences of our choices. When I grow up, I want to be like Him. I want to offer instruction to those that want to hear and help them along their way become better people. Some day, maybe, can be like Him.

  2. Here are some thoughts on compelling others: Should we repeal speed limits and rely on our ability to persuade drivers to always act in the best interest of others, should we change the nomenclature on stop signs to read "pause if you believe it best", should we rid ourselves of public decency rules, building safety codes ... ? I believe God expects us to create ordered systems of government that give citizens an ability exercise their judgment in creating regulations. He does not believe in anarchy. Nature is evidence of that. A Sunday closing ordinance is simply an exercise of a community's right to establish basic rules of operation. It compells no businesses to operate within its bounds nor compells residents on what to do. As mentioned in my post it does support small business and contributes to the well being of employees among other positives.


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