Monday, July 13, 2015

‘Keep Sunday Special’ campaign aims to stop plans for longer trading hours


British Christians give 5 reasons to respect Sundays. A The Guardian columnist argues politicians “worship the god of finance.”

SOURCES Relationships Foundation, BBC, The Guardian AUTHOR Evangelical Focus LONDON 13 JULY 2015 17:12 h

A shopping centre in the UK. / Archive

“We believe in having time for family, friends and community. We believe in time to rest and enjoy ourselves. We believe in working hard and living life to the full. And we believe in keeping just one day a week a bit special”, say the ‘Keep Monday Special’ campaigners. 

Many evangelical Christians support the campaign, propelled by the Relationships Foundation, asking the question: “Do I really need to go shopping on a Sunday?” 

“We don't want to tell people how to live their lives, but we do believe there need to be some limits to protect the things that matter most”, the initiative says.

Five reasons are offered for their case. Sundays should be kept as a special day to protect relationships, because “children need to spend time with their parents for healthy social and moral development, and adults need time to develop the relationships with partners, family and friends that give them support and well-being.”

A second reason is the preservation of community: “Sunday trading has a direct effect on a local community. Every voluntary organisation, club or society depends upon people having time off at the same time as each other. So with the erosion of Sunday as a different day from all the rest, communities are in danger of increasing fragmentation.

A third reason is saving local business: “When the big stores started to open on Sundays, the small convenience stores that used to be the only source of Sunday supplies suddenly lost valuable trade. The local independent traders that never used to open on Sundays suddenly found themselves having to open in order to keep up with the competition”.

Respecting faith is reason number four argued by the campaign: “For many people in this country, Sunday has a particular religious significance as a day set aside for worship and a day that's different from the rest of the week. Of course it's a view that's not shared by everyone in our multicultural Britain, but it's a view that we should respect.”

Finally, the campaign asks Sundays to be kept to just rest:For many people, the choice to rest on a Sunday is one they can make for themselves. But for many others, there simply is no choice. Retail, transport, catering staff and everyone else involved in Sunday trading need protection from being forced to work on Sundays.” 

Shopping in the UK. / Getty Images


UK’s government Chancellor George Osborne said in the last weeks that there was a “growing appetite” for shopping on a Sunday.

“There is some evidence that transactions for Sunday shopping are actually growing faster than those for Saturday. (…) The rise of online shopping, which people can do round the clock, also means more retailers want to be able to compete by opening for longer at the weekend.”

The Treasury pointed to research by the New West End Company - which represents more than 600 businesses in London - that suggested two extra hours of Sunday trading could create nearly 3,000 jobs in the capital.

It said such a move would also generate more than £200m a year in additional sales in London.

‘Keep Sundays Special’ accused the government of a U-turn. Its spokesman, Michael Trend, said it had received a letter on behalf of David Cameron in April which stated that there were “no plans” to relax the current laws.


“Nothing, absolutely nothing, must get in the way of shopping and our ever increasing productivity. Instead of all those tedious family gatherings, we should be out there buying more things we don’t need with money we don’t have”, ironically writes Giles Fraser in a column in The Guardian. “A day of rest? God, no! We must be turning those wheels of finance, building those pyramids, getting into more debt.”

Fraser, who is Priest-in-charge at St Mary's Newington (London) thinks the Conservative Party in power only thinks about growing the economy. “A strict monotheist, Business Minister Anna Soubry wants us to worship the god of finance on a Sunday. All other gods must be smashed, smeared, ridiculed. Only the god of money deserves our true and unquestioning obedience. Well, I do wish she’d stop ramming her religion down our throats.” 

So why is Sunday special?”, continues Fraser. “The Christian answer is more complicated than expected. Early Christians moved their ‘day of rest’ from the seventh day of the week to the first day, from Saturday to Sunday. Despite the fourth commandment mandating Saturday, ie seventh day, sabbath observance, this move was partly a way of honouring the resurrection, which happened ‘on the first day of the week’; partly about distinguishing Christianity from Judaism; and partly a way of colonising the posh Roman sun-worshipping day.”

Fraser adds: “Unfortunately, most Christians and Jews have conveniently developed a remarkable degree of forgetfulness about the political valence of sabbath.”

He finally adds that “there are perfectly good non-religious reasons for keeping Sunday special. Boredom is the mother of creative invention, and often a blessing. But it’s special to me because it’s a day when we are not forced to worship the market. And that’s why the Tories hate it”, concludes Fraser.


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