Today, a National Sunday Law is being agitated under the guise of “saving the family” and the “economy.” Does this mean that a religious test will soon be required by law? The Eternal Gospel Church, a ministry founded in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventist Believers, has recently published a full-page ad in the USA Today, New York Times, LA Times, and the Tampa Tribune on the controversial and complex issue surrounding Sunday Laws.
" In matters of conscience the majority has no power."
“The re-institution of a National Sunday Law would help save the workers, the family, and the economy. This is what the churches, the governments, the secular media, and the labor unions are lobbying for today," says Pastor Raphael Perez of the Eternal Gospel Church. He says his church, which is a member of the General Assembly of Free Seventh-day Adventists, has been on a nation wide newspaper campaign to raise awareness to what he calls "a revival of religious/political ideas of medieval times that are a threat to civil and religious liberties."
Pastor Raphael Perez cites several recent newspaper articles in which he sees society trying to reestablish Sunday as a national day of worship and rest. For example, Perez says that the USA Today newspaperrecently endorsed Sunday observance by law in an article written by Gladys Edmunds on Oct. 24, 2007 entitled: “Better Take a Break, Or You’ll Break Down.” In this article, the columnist reminisced about a “time when almost all retail establishments recognized Sunday as a day of Sabbath and rest from work. They honored and respected that day by closing.” She concluded the article by giving one possible solution: “Shut yourself down for a day of rest.” And if not one would suffer the consequences of resting by “force.”
A similar article appeared in the Wall Street Journal by Mollie Ziegler Hemingway entitled: “The decline of the Sabbath in America: Less praying, more working and playing.” This article published June 15, 20017 and was circulated nation-wide promoting Sunday-keeping and Sunday closing laws as necessary for saving our culture.
A World-wide Phenomena
The Eternal Gospel Church claims that there is a world-wide call to restore Sunday as the day of rest through civil legislation. They claim that laws are being agitated that would compel people to observe Sunday by refraining from work; and, that the media is complicit in this because they only give one side to this issue. Look at a few of these headlines:
“National Back to Church Sunday Set for Sept. 18 Across America,” PRWeb.com, Sept. 14, 2011
“Sunday Shopping banned in Croatia,” Associated Press, July 15, 2007
“Louisiana Barber Ticketed for Working on Sunday,” FoxNews.com, May 27, 2008
“Sunday Shopping? France Says No,” Time Magazine, Dec. 17, 2008
“New Sunday Shopping Rules Make No Sense,” Winnipeg Sun [Canada], May 23, 2012
“Do we really need more Sunday shopping hours?” Express & Starr [England], March 29, 2012.
“Trade Unionists Campaign Against Sunday Trading” PolskieRadio, [Poland, March 5, 2012
“North Dakota Catholic Conference Says Sunday Law Benefits All People” EWTN News, July 15, 2011
“Sunday Shopping Linked With Less Happiness,” New York Times, Sept. 3, 2010
“Guarantee that Sundays will be Work-free, EU Leaders Urged,” The Sofia Echo [Europe], March 24, 2010
“German Court Enforces Day of Rest,” ABC News, Dec. 3, 2009
The Vatican, head of the world’s largest Christian denomination, has also weighed in on the Sunday Law question: “The pope said traditional family values and Sunday rest were key to escaping the ills of modern society… Particularly in a period of economic crisis and social unease, families should celebrate Sunday as the day of man and his values.” - Pope Says Family Values are Key to Escaping Modern Ills, AFP News, June, 3, 2012.
Surprisingly, the U.S. Supreme Court has already ruled in two separate cases [McGowan v. Maryland, 1961, and Braunfeld v. Brown, 1961] that Sunday laws are not a violation of the First Amendment – which separates church from state – but rather, Sunday Laws are “secular” and are designed to improve “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” of its citizens.
A Lesson from History
Pastor Raphael Perez says that we should learn from history and not make the same mistakes of the past. He says that on the surface all these Sunday Laws sound quite refreshing. However, he claims that we cannot ignore that in Colonial America, Sunday Laws, or Blue Laws, were established as early as 1655 by the Puritan Christians in an effort to try to compel the people to attend their religious services - by law! Failure to do so would result in fines, imprisonment, and even death.
"Also in Europe, during the Middle Ages, at the Council of Laodicea 363-364 A.D., Canon 29, church and state united to persecute those who didn’t follow the Sunday Law" says Pastor Perez, a former Roman Catholic seminary student now turned Seventh-day Adventist.
Voice of Dissent
Not everyone is convinced that Sunday Laws are good for society. Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas gave a dissenting opinion against the establishment of Sunday by law in MCGowan v. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961): “The Court picks and chooses language from various decisions to bolster its conclusion that these Sunday laws are in the modern setting are civil regulations. No matter how much is written, no matter what is said, the parentage of these laws is the Fourth Commandment; and they serve and satisfy the religious predispositions of our Christian communities.”
Also Charles Spurgeon, the famous 19th Century Baptist preacher, sums up his dissent against Sunday Laws when he said: “I am ashamed of some Christians because they have so much dependence on Parliament (government) and the law of the land. As to getting the law of the land to touch religion, we earnestly cry, ‘Hands off! Leave us alone!’ Your Sunday bills (Laws) and all other forms of act-of-Parliament religion seem to me to be all wrong.” American State Papers, Bearing on Sunday Legislation, p. 737.
"Remember that religious legislation, regardless of how innocent or beneficial it may appear, always seems to bring persecution to minority groups," explains Pastor Raphael Perez. Perez feels that he is in the minority group because His church keeps the Seventh-day, or Saturday, as the Sabbath instead of Sunday. He concludes by reiterating a call to religious liberty and calls for toleration, "America became great because if its free institutions. Our U.S. Constitution forbids the establishment of a state church and forbids the church from using the state to punish the voice of dissent. These principles established by the Founding Fathers made this nation a bastion of liberty, freedom, and justice for all.
About The Eternal Gospel Church: Eternal Gospel Church was founded in 1992 by Seventh-day Adventist Believers, and has been engaged in a world-wide newspaper campaign for over 20 years with the goal of teaching people about the sensitive nature, complexities, and history of Sunday Laws. Their most recent full-page ads were published in the USA Today, the New York Times, the LA Times, and the Tampa Tribune. Their mission is to protect the spirit of liberty and encourage religious and civil liberty. The Eternal Gospel Church works in collaboration with the General Assembly of Free Seventh-day Adventists.