Thursday, February 02, 2017

Forum editorial: Leave Sunday out of it

By Fargo Forum on Feb 1, 2017 at 5:12 p.m.

The North Dakota House of Representatives had a change of heart (and mind) on a bill to repeal the state's last vestige of blue laws, which prevent most businesses from doing business on Sunday morning. After defeat of the repeal a few days ago, the legislation was brought back for a second vote, and the repeal prevailed by a razor-thin margin. Let's hope the repeal bill wins big in the Senate.

As much as they tried to deny it, proponents of Sunday morning closing were driven by a religious motivation. They said it was about a "day of rest," not the Christian sabbath, but their argument was a transparent fraud. To their credit, several Republicans stayed true to their beliefs about government intrusion and said the state should not be telling business operators when they can and cannot be open. To their shame, other Republicans ignored that basic conservative philosophy in favor of an unsubtle endorsement of a specific religious practice—the Sunday sabbath.

The hypocrisy of the Sunday morning closing law as it stands now is obvious. Exceptions for restaurants, movie theaters, convenience stores and other businesses raise the sticky question: If North Dakotans can buy a tank of gas or breakfast after church (if they go to church, which is not required in state law—yet), why can't they buy a pipe wrench or a crock pot or a party dress or a set of tires?

And the idea of a state-mandated "day of rest" in modern society is preposterous. North Dakotans are quite capable, thank you, of taking a day of rest any day of the week—as their work demands and family life schedules dictate. The Legislature should butt out.

The state Senate should take up the House repeal bill and pass it—even if the Senate has to work on a Sunday.

Editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.

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