No liberty is violated by Highland’s Sunday closures

Residents of the city of Highland are considering repealing a Sunday closure regulation. They alone will decide.

My interest in this debate is intellectual. My two cents is simply to remind Highland residents that there is no liberty interest at stake with your decision about Sunday closures, one way or another. In other words, no resident’s liberty is being violated by maintaining the Sunday closure regulation.

Argue for or against the regulation. Argue that the regulation is arbitrary and inconsistent. Argue in support of the regulation for religious or social reasons. Argue whatever you want … except … don’t argue that any individual’s liberty is being diminished because of the Sunday closure rule. It’s not. There is no liberty interest to drive down such-and-such a street, turn left onto whatever street and turn right into a store’s parking lot, park in space number 2, enter the store at 10 a.m. on Monday, choose Tide detergent from the shelf, use checkout lane 5, expect exact change from the cashier and have the exit doors open automatically at your behest.

Oh yeah, and nobody’s liberty interest is diminished if they can’t shop on Sunday. It’s not even diminished if they can buy bread but not liquor on Sunday. Might you be inconvenienced? Perhaps. Might you be upset? Perhaps. Might you be forced to make any other decision in life at that moment except go shopping? Of course. But none of those matters impinge on your fundamental liberty interests.

So why do these regulations tug at that liberty interest?

One reason, surely, is that none of us wants to be told what to do. Ever. Another reason is that this liberty interest could be at risk if authorities decided to shut down all marketplaces and the freedom to associate and trade and otherwise live your life ALL of the time. The residents of Highland might not know what that extreme sort of restriction feels like, but anyone living in the Soviet Union from 1917 to 1989 knew what that felt like.

So there is a line that can get crossed – a line between constructively creating a unique community and unconstructively creating a unique community. The problem for my freedom-loving friends is that the line is rarely apparent and only becomes apparent with a community’s maturation. As a few homes grow into a neighborhood and that neighborhood grows into a community and that community into a town and then a city, residents will experience growing pains.

Rep. John Dougall shared some comments from a city worker about the history of this controversy in Highland. The city worker explained,

Highland’s business regulations were originally adopted in 1995 (about 20 years after city was founded). At this time the days and hours of operation were not regulated. The Council adopted restrictions to the days and hours of operation in 2000. This action was done in conjunction with the review and approval of a conditional use permit for a Smith’s Grocery Store. As part of the conditional use permit the Council included a stipulation restricting the hours of operation. This was then expanded to all businesses in Highland with the exception of private clubs, home occupations, gas stations, and restaurants.

This narrative seems quite natural and typical – the period where no businesses existed, where businesses were introduced, how regulations were first implemented (and then changed by circumstances) and even the exceptions within the regulations. Successful communities have growing pains and responsible residents will take all of it into consideration as they make community decisions.

There is another reason why such regulations feel uncomfortable to freedom-loving people: Few people think about the property rights of the business owner. Notwithstanding what I’m about to argue, I believe property rights are increasingly and unnecessarily diminished these days. I believe property rights are the basis of economic freedom. That said, property rights are not exclusive. We don’t have a right to sell human flesh, for instance. And interestingly enough, we don’t have a right to sell appropriate products whenever we want, including on Sundays.

It could be very reasonable for a business to argue that its products are particularly suited for Sunday sales – I’m thinking a ski resort or a private club. But generally speaking a business that sells bread or tires or cough syrup hardly has a claim on Sunday as a “sacred” day to do business.

So, then, why would we want to have a Sunday closure regulation? Let’s put the onus on proponents of the law.

Here’s what I would argue. I think it is entirely appropriate to pass just laws that reflect the common will of the people. For instance, a predominantly LDS community who predominantly believe that nonessential services should be closed on Sunday is not an unreasonable public gesture. No minority rights are being violated because no individual’s liberty interests are being violated nor are any person’s business interests diminished UNLESS that business sells products primarily suited for Sunday sales.

But I would go further in my defense of Sunday closure laws. I think there is a secular interest in a “day of rest.” If Sunday is that day, so be it. But I do believe that the common good is served by taking a day off, collectively. Doing so sends a communal message that there are more important things than commerce – and a free society requires more things of us humans than just commerce. It helps to reinforce a community culture that insulates against the negative effects of modernity. In other words, it doesn’t hurt to have a community identity, and it doesn’t hurt a “reluctant” neighbor in that community to acknowledge that common identity.

Of course, as I’ve mentioned, communities are constantly in flux. Determining a community identity is fluid, and so we have ongoing public conversations. This is common in Utah. So have no fear. Debate until it hurts. Just do so honestly, not given to platitudes either way – either in the name of religion or in the name of liberty.

I’m a leave-me-alone conservative by disposition (though not intellectually) and I have many dear friends who feel likewise. But the truth is that there is no such thing as a leave-me-alone-completely world, and the debate in the city of Highland is proof of that.

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  • Joe

    Giving the lie to the notion that government derives it’s powers from the people, for if the individuals do not have a moral right to a certain action, how could they in large numbers delegate to government this right which they do not have. Your standard of ‘liberty’ is not based on unchanging, absolute principles; you have accepted the arguments of relativism. What is right is whatever the community (euphemism for majority) arbitrarily decides is right. Given a relativistic definition of liberty such as yours – an ‘line that may be crossed’ placed at an arbitrary point as voted on by the community, it is not difficult at all to arrive at your views. Let this not be mistaken however for a stance based on principles. It is s stance based on the arbitrarily applied coercive power of the majority. Thus, certain types of commerce are arbitrarily politically favored – “With the exception of ” while others are not “all business except those lists”. Each community (majority) is free to arbitrarily decide the exceptions. Why restaurants, but not grocery stores? So, those only able to afford the grocery store must honor the day of rest, whereas those who can afford to eat out have the liberty to treat the ‘day of rest’ the same as every other day? In the end, it depends on one’s definnition of liberty. “Right and control of property” to me seems like a good definition. Your definition is clearly different from mine.

  • JBT

    If LDS people don’t approve of alcohol, that’s fine. They are free to not consume alcohol. They do not have the right to take that choice away from others based upon their religious beliefs.

    If LDS people don’t approve of gay marriage, that’s fine. They are free to marry only those of the opposite sex. They do not have the right to take that choice away from others based upon their religious beliefs.

    If LDS people don’t believe in abortion, that’s fine. They are free to not have abortions. They do not have the right to take that choice away from others based upon their religious beliefs.

    If LDS people don’t approve of shopping on a Sunday, that’s fine. They are free to not shop on Sunday. They do not have the right to take that choice away from others based upon their religious beliefs.

    No religious majority should have the right to impose the tenants of their religion on the minority. The members of the LDS church need to be reminded that they are not the only ones here. Most of not all of the divisive issues in Utah between the dominant religion and those of different faiths and those who adhere to no organized religion could be solved by the simple admonition: “LIVE AND LET LIVE”.

    • Rod_Mann

      From what I can see a majority or significant % of those in Highland who are not LDS support Sunday closing as well. The are plenty of secular reasons for having it. Why else would it be the predominant practice in a very secular Europe. Did you Sunday closing ordinances are in place in other states as well. such as entire country in NJ that has a significant Jewish population and of course an insignificant LDS population.

    • Liberty

      You’re right. We should not place any restrictions on people’s use of property, especially just because of religious beliefs. Hope you don’t mind if I open a brothel next door to your house.

  • Scott

    Wow. Wooooooooow. Paul Mero, you do not understand liberty. You have just described tyranny of the majority as legitimate. OF COURSE this infringes on the liberty of individuals. Where does the majority get the authority to tell the minority they can’t sell items on Sunday? Liberty is having the freedom to do whatever you want, AS LONG AS it does not violates others’ rights. Businesses being open on Sunday does not infringe on the rights of anybody. On the other hand, the community FORCING a business to close on Sunday MOST DEFINITELY violates property rights; this is tyranny! The business holder has a right to his property, and to use it as wants to. Say his business is open on Sunday, and an individual walks in to buy a product. Who has been harmed? Who has legitimate grounds to stop this business transaction? NO ONE.

    You say, “There is no liberty interest to drive down such-and-such a street, turn left onto whatever street and turn right into a store’s parking lot, park in space number 2, enter the store at 10 a.m. on Monday, choose Tide detergent from the shelf, use checkout lane 5, expect exact change from the cashier and have the exit doors open automatically at your behest.”

    On the contrary, there is most certainly a “liberty interest” to do all of those things. AS LONG AS the individual has not violated the rights (property or otherwise) of the owners of the streets, the parking lot, or the business, he has the LIBERTY to do all those things.

    You should read The Law by Frederic Bastiat. In it, Bastiat states that government only has the power to do those things that individuals have the power to do. If you, Paul Mero, were to try and interfere with that business transaction, you would most definitely be violating the rights of the business holder and the customer. Say that you bring ten people with you, and a majority of them vote to stop the transaction. You would still be violating these individuals’ rights by stopping the transaction. Apply that to the government as a whole, and you get the same result.

    I’m LDS, and I choose not to shop on Sundays, because I have been commanded to do so. But I cannot force others to not shop. That is their decision. Especially as LDS folk, we should be strongly against ridiculous policy like this one being debated in Highland. We preach persuasion instead of force. This is exactly what the War in Heaven was being fought for. We are hypocrites if we choose now to condemn the agency of man to compel on individuals our religious or other beliefs.

    Don’t get stuck on the slippery slope of tyranny of the majority.

  • Jeremy Nicoll

    “[S]ince men’s actions, given freedom to express their choices, are determined by their inner convictions and values, compulsory moral rules only serve to manufacture hypocrites and not to advance genuine morality. Coercion only forces people to change their actions; it does not persuade people to change their underlying values and convictions. And since those already convinced of the moral rules would abide by them without coercion, the only real impact of compulsory morality is to engender hypocrites, those whose actions no longer reflect their inner convictions.” — Murray Rothbard

    • Rod_Mann

      Sunday closing is not about forcing people to do anything or not do anything. It is no more or less imposing a belief or value on anyone than limiting the hours of operation for retail outlets such as closing by midnight and opening at 6 AM. A rather common regulation for businesses located in residential areas.

      • Brock

        Uh bro, you don’t know what you’re talking about. Everything you just mentioned are examples of forcing people to do one thing or another. It is forcing businesses to close when they have EVERY RIGHT to have THEIR OWN PROPERTY open whenever they want to. Similarly, forcing businesses to close and open by certain hours is also forcing the owners of property to do things with their property they do not want to do. IT IS THEIR PROPERTY. You have no right to force upon others how they can and cannot use their own property.

    • David Edward Garber

      “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” — C. S. Lewis

  • David Edward Garber

    I believe that it’s genuinely sinful to conduct business on Sundays, since I believe that it violates God’s commandments to us, but that it’s not genuinely criminal, since it violates nobody’s innate God-given rights. As such, I believe that we would do well to exercise only the power of persuasion, but not the power of coercion, in this case. Unless someone is violating someone else’s rights, political involvement is entirely unjustified, but we can (and, at least in my perspective, should) still lovingly seek (within the innate limits of our innate rights) to persuade our neighbors to change their ways. And, so, I believe that we should strive to be our brother’s keeper, so to speak, but not our brother’s tyrant.

    As best as I understand things at present…

    We each have innate God-given rights (or coercive authority) over our bodies, over the fruits of our own labors, and over our children within reason as they mature to adulthood, which constitutes our respective stewardship. These innate rights have innate limits, which are defined by the equal rights of others over their own persons and property and children. Across these boundaries, we may exercise authority over others’ respective stewardships ONLY either contractually (via mutual voluntary informed consent) or defensively, but NEVER aggressively. Any such aggression against others (such as unjustly taking either their lives or their property) is not only arguably a sin, but is also what constitutes a genuine crime. And we may contractually charter governments to help us to defend our innate rights from others’ criminal sins.

    States contractually exist to help us to defend ourselves against such aggression, including against their own. As such, they should respect our innate God-given rights as such, they should NOT treat these rights like negotiable government-granted privileges, and they should DEFINITELY NOT seek to conquer our respective stewardships and then direct our lives and property and children for us—even if some politicians arrogantly believe, in a wicked lust for Earthly wealth and power and glory, that they can run our stewardships better than we can, and even if they sometimes happen to be right. If we want leadership, then I believe that we should look not to political edicts but, rather, to religious doctrine. Our society’s churches and other free-market organizations arguably exist to teach us to govern our stewardships well, if we will but freely choose to listen to them. States are no substitute for churches, nor should we try to pervert them into churches, nor should they serve as enforcement arms for churches.

    God’s way, as best as I understand it, is not one of tyrannizing us into submission to His will, whether we like it or not. Instead, His way is one of liberty, both spiritually from sin and physically from tyranny. He arguably forbids us from such activities as conducting business on Sundays, but nevertheless says that we may choose for ourselves—and I believe that we should strive to follow His wise example in this regard. He justifies us in defending ourselves from sins that violate our rights—but not in tyrannizing/enslaving our neighbors, as He hates for one person to be in bondage to another.

    So, let’s please strive to exercise our rights properly in order to help our neighbors both to choose well and to be happy (as is our privilege to freely do so if we choose), but never to overstep the boundaries of those rights to try to force others to live as we please, including indirectly through our respective governments. We possess no collective rights, even by majority vote, over how our neighbors choose to freely conduct business with each other. Again, government’s proper role is NOT to force our neighbors to live THEIR lives as WE please but, rather, to help us to defend our rightful liberty. If we believe that it’s wrong for our neighbors to conduct business on Sundays, then let’s choose not to do this, and let’s also encourage our neighbors not to do this, either, but let’s never use their arguable sins as an excuse to play tyrant-demigod over them.

  • Christoph

    The author clearly doesn’t understand what personal freedom is in the slightest. It is an obvious violation of rights to say that someone cannot operate their business on a certain. I hope the Institute for Justice catches hold of this ridiculous law and gets it struck down.

  • Aldo Tavares

    After I read the article I couldn’t help but to wonder: Is Paul Mero for real? Is his opinion, the opinion of Sutherland Institute? I have to say that if the Institute’s ideals and goals are in sync with Mero’s opinion in this article, that would make it easy to see where the institute stands on topic of Liberty.

    I am a different kind of Republican because I am a Republican who believes in the Constitution. How can anyone state that there is no violation of liberties with the current Sunday business closures? What if the only day I have to do some shopping is on Sundays? I’d be out of luck. Well but not really, because not all businesses in Highland close on Sundays… so the closure law is only important for some businesses but completely unimportant for other businesses? Mero states that he believes that property rights are the basis of economic freedom yet he also believes that the property owners don’t have the rights to sell their goods whenever they want, including on Sundays. I find it interesting how selective Mero seems to be as to when Liberty should be applied. I guess it makes sense to him for the ‘law’ to have double standards.

    Mero starts his article by saying that his point of view is merely intellectual but in his next sentence, which to me is not intellectual at all, he states that there aren’t’ liberty interests at stake. An intellectual conversation about Liberty actually requires understanding what Liberty is and in my opinion this article shows that Mero lacks that understanding.

    Anytime, under any circumstances when the government oversteps the powers given to them by the Constitution, they are infringing on someone’s liberties. Anytime the government removes anyone’s liberty to choose, they are preventing Liberty from being exercised. Anytime the government chooses on behalf of the people, like in this instance – when to shop, the government is taking away the people’s liberties to shop on Sundays if that’s what they want
    to do. The mere fact that a law that prohibits property owners from operating their businesses on Sunday exist is an intrusion on the owner’s liberty to open his own store whenever he or she wants.

    At a certain point Mero argues that it is “entirely appropriate to pass just laws that reflect the common will of the people”, then he gives an example that it would be “good public gesture” for “non-essential” businesses to be closed on Sundays if a hypothetical predominantly LDS community thought so. But then he later admits that “communities are constantly in flux. Determining a community identity is fluid, and so we have ongoing public conversations.” So
    in another words we pass this law now because this community believes in X, even though that community over there doesn’t believe in X, they believe in Z, but who cares… let democracy, let the majority dictate what happens. Well Mr. Mero that doesn’t work. What if the majority decides that they want for the businesses to only be open Monday thru Friday? Or what if the majority decides that they don’t want that business there any longer? Because communities are in “flux”, they change, and 5 years from now that community will no longer be the same, then we will have to change the law again to accommodate the will of the majority of
    this new community and so on… while all along we just ignore the existing law, i.e. the Constitution and the liberties it provides to the people, but instead we go about our marry way creating new laws that only prune these said liberties. The law is set, it’s called the Constitution. Let the people choose. If I don’t want to shop on Sundays I won’t, but if I change my mind and decide I want to shop on Sundays I’d like to have the store open, which brings the next set of choice, if I don’t want to open my store on Sundays I won’t, but if I do, I’d
    like to have that liberty to do so. This is a matter to be decided between the owner and the customer, but through persuasion, not through government coercion. I may go the owner and say: Sir, I am willing to shop here on Sundays and I know many other people who would shop here on Sundays too, then the owner may decide to open on Sundays. At the same token, if the owner opens his store on Sundays and he is losing money by doing so, then he’ll have the opportunity to decide to close the store on Sundays. But again, that will be a decision of the
    consumer and the owner and not a liberty tearing decision made by the government.

    Furthermore Mero refers to a secular interest in preserving a day of rest. While “intellectually” speaking, he fails to recognize that different religious groups adopt different “days of rest”. How do we reconcile that? Are going to write laws that are religious specific? Some stores in this region will be closed on Sundays because of the beliefs of this religious group over here, but some other stores on this other region will close on Saturdays because of the beliefs of this other religious group over there. What a mess!! I despise his notion that the government has the role (or is even capable) of insulating us, (as Mero suggests) “against the negative effects of modernity”. That is not the role of the government. The excuses used to justify such anti-liberty ordinance may be many and I didn’t want to dive too much into that but I can tell you that I don’t shop where and when I don’t want to. I am not ‘forced’ to shop on Sundays just because the owners using his Constitution given liberty decided to open his business that day!

    I’ll end saying that I am a worthy member of the LDS church and that having businesses operating on Sunday does not affect by ability to keep the Sabbath Day holly.

    Please restore the property owner’s rights to choose when they want to open their stores. Please restore the people’s rights to shop whenever they want to shop.

    Liberty is freedom to choose. If you take away my liberty to choose you are violating my liberties.

  • Kevin

    It seems as though there are many points to this argument and while they may lead to one underlying principle, I have not yet come to that conclusion personally.

    With that being said I will comment on a few points:

    1) LDS Perspective. I have found no reference larger or more influential than this. The Family: A Proclamation to the World – “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

    2) Business Perspective. If those who support the proposition argue that its primary objective is to improve Highland’s economic standing then I have a few questions.

    a) What concrete evidence is there to indicate that Sunday closure negatively impacts yearly business and tax revenues in Highland compared to cities of a similar size and demographic? (Highland’s Local Dominoes actually out-performs other Dominoes in Utah County that are open on Sunday)

    b) How much net new business would be generated by opening on Sunday? Will residents purchase an extra roll of toilet paper, a roll they otherwise would not have purchased because they can go shop on Sunday?

    c) Employment and Taxes. Will businesses be able to employ a staff comprised of Highland residents on Sunday so that the economic multiplier of their wages paid will stay in the city? Or will staffing Sunday deter Highland residents from working in Highland and send money outside of the city?

    3) Why make a change for the sake of change? Will the change provide a tangible benefit for the city?

    • Rod_Mann

      Good questions. The city did NO research prior to enacting the opening ordinance that would answer your questions in 2 or 3. Council members who supported opening on Sunday indicated in March that the choice was Sunday opening or raising taxes. Then after passing the ordinance in June and re-passing it in July a 57% city property tax increase was passed. Go figure.

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  • Shane Stone

    Those who are condemning the Highland Sunday closing ordinance on the grounds that it violates liberty need to study further, especially Mr. Nicoll who quotes Murray Rothbard, the father of modern libertarian thought.

    Even the staunchest libertarian (of which I am one) believes in the rights of individuals to collectivize and pass ordinances to set forth the type of community they wish to live in. If it weren’t so, the only acceptable form of government would be no government. No rights are being violated with this ordinance. No one is forcing a businessman to buy property and start a business here. Anyone who comes to Highland to do business is aware of the ordinance. If they want to be open on Sunday, they can go to another municipality. If someone wishes to shop on Sunday, they can go to another municipality.

    Let’s think about this logically. Those who are against this ordinance on the grounds that it violates liberty are essentially saying that communities do not have the right to legislate anything. If someone buys property and puts up a pornographic billboard, that must be allowed otherwise the rights of the property owner and anyone who wants to view a pornographic billboard are being violated. What then about the rights of the children and anyone else who does not want to view a pornographic billboard? The idea is completely absurd.

    Communities have the right to draw a line with regards to moral standards. Liberty dictates that if you as an individual do not like where the line of a community has been drawn, you have the right to either try to get it changed or go to another community that is a better fit for your moral standards.

    • Rod_Mann

      Well said Shane!

    • Scott

      Obviously, you’re not a “staunch” libertarian, if you believe that a community can force others to use their personal property in specific ways. A “community” can only impose such standards IF the owner(s) of the properties involved all support it. Take a mall for instance. A business or individual owns the property and building, and then leases out spaces on the property for businesses to take residence in. The owner of that property can impose restrictions such as hours of operation because he OWNS THE PROPERTY. If those businesses don’t like it, they will just have to deal with it or move their business off of the property of the owner.

      A community, on the other hand, is totally different. In the case of Highland, for example, these businesses completely own the property they reside on. The community they find themselves in does not OWN THE LAND of the community. Therefore, the community CANNOT dictate what businesses or individuals do on land that is the strict property of those businesses or individuals.

      Please try to be more logical when thinking “logically”

    • Christoph

      You’re a libertarian? You don’t sound like it at all. I guess you must be a Libertarian but not a libertarian. What has happened in Highland isn’t at all in keeping with libertarian principles.
      Just a note, Rothbard was an anarchist, not a libertarian, and modern libertarian thought predates Rothbard. You should probably study liberty further.

  • Rod_Mann

    Here are some interesting facts for those insistent saying Highland’s Sunday closing ordinance violates the Constitution or at least is not in keeping with the spirit of liberty upon which our country was founded. My personal view is that people can oppose Sunday closing for a variety of personal reasons but when they argue on the basis of liberty, freedom, or the Constitution they are standing on a weak foundation.

    1. Jefferson authorized a piece of legislation in 1779 called “An Act for Punishing Sabbath Breakers and Disturbers of the Peace”. It was presented to the state legislature in 1785 by James Madison and passed by the legislature in 1786 and signed into law by Governor Henry (Patrick Henry). This legislation was re-looked at in 1799 when Virginia removed laws which were not in line with the Constitution. It remained in place after that exercise.

    2. All 13 colonies had blue laws and ALL 13 states had them post-constitution.

    3. The US Supreme court has ruled at least 4 times that Sunday restrictions on business(blue laws) are not unconstitutional. The most of cited ruling was 8 to 1.

    4. Blackstone says in Volume I page 125 of his Commentaries on English law:

    “But every man, when he enters into society, gives up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce, obliges himself to conform to those laws which the community has thought proper to establish”. — the who paragraph is well worth reading (it covers a couple of pages)

    Locke expresses similar sentiments in his Two Treatises on Government”. See section 128-131.

    Clearly the founders supported the concept of Sunday closing and those who influenced the Constitution by their writing understood that government, especially local government has the right to institute regulations for the good of the community.

    For those who are LDS and attempt to use scriptures to justify your opposition to Sunday closing laws you may want to consider the following:

    1. President McKay issues a 1st presidency statement in the 60’s supporting Sunday closing laws.

    2. Elder Mark E Peterson made direct reference to Sunday closing laws in his 1979 conference address entitle “O America, America”. Here is an excerpt but the entire talk is well worth a read.

    “It is no trivial thing to reject Almighty God, either by a show of indifference or with malice aforethought. The divine words still echo in our ears: “Trifle not with sacred things” (D&C 6:12).

    His commandments are clearly set forth. His standards of morality, honesty, and the other virtues are well known. But sadly enough, they are noted more for their rejection than for their acceptance. Does this mean that desolation might come upon us in some form?

    Why should legislatures condone immorality, whether homosexual or otherwise? Why should officers of state condone vice and even protect it? Why should lawmakers—why should the courts—oppose prayer and reading of the scriptures, doing so in the name of the constitution of this land, where we daily affirm, “In God is our trust” (“Oh Say, Can You See,”Hymns, no. 131)?

    Are they for Christ or against him in this Christian land? Can there be any neutrality with respect to God? Christ says no! We are either for him or against him (see Matt. 12:30).

    Why should legislatures favor a wholesale violation of the Sabbath day and defeat Sunday closing laws? Why should so-called Christian peoples put up with it?

    Almost like children, we fret over our fuel shortages and other inconveniences. We resent restrictions upon our pleasure-seeking activities. Why don’t we admit like grown men and women that a rejection of God is at the very root of all of our troubles? Why do we refuse to wake up to the facts in our situation? Why must we blindly plunge on into catastrophe?”

    3. Read Deut 5:14 and see what the God of the Old Testament (source of Natural Law) view of “Sunday closing” ordinances might be. BTW “within thy gates” refers to city (check the view of almost any Old Testament commentary to verify).

    “But the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.”

    Does anyone think that men like Madison, Jefferson, or Henry would have supported Sunday closing laws if they violated core principles of liberty? Think about it ALL 13 original states post 1787 had such laws. This mean a majority of all state legislators and ALL governors supported Sunday closing. Many of the very men of fought and bled for our freedoms and worked to frame the Constitution had no issue with this. This was not the isolated view of a few this was the overwhelming view of the many. Some my try to (and have) say the founders weren’t perfect and did bad things like the Aliens and Sedition Act, they aren’t role models for good government but to argue that in this case seems pretty pointless.

    If it was immoral or against God’s law would men like President McKay, Elder Peterson, Pope John Paul II, or even Elder Scott (I heard him) and President Benson (my father was a very close friend) by on the side of Sunday closing.

    Yes you can oppose Sunday closing but I don’t believe it can be claimed that supporters don’t love liberty or are supporting an immoral idea.

    • Michelle

      Excellent post! Thank you

  • Isaac

    isn’t going far enough with this. If businesses should be closed on
    Sundays, then obviously everyone should be at church. The city needs to
    collect church attendance and fine those who aren’t present. But what
    about before and after church? What are appropriate Sabbath activities?
    This age old debate can be solved with one small piece of legislation.
    For instance, television may be viewed on Sunday, but only “uplifting”
    programs, such as are found on BYUTV. Football games are forbidden, of
    course, and those who are caught watching will be fined. The city must
    obviously monitor television viewing to enforce this protection of
    liberty and community values. All residents must record everything they
    say on Sundays so that the city can determine whether or not their
    conversations are Sunday appropriate. If a person doesn’t like it, well
    they can just live somewhere else, probably among the heathens and
    apostates. And do I even need to go into details about the Sunday dress

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  • Pam Whitmore

    Thanks for all the comments. For more on this topic, see today’s post by William C. Duncan on Sutherland Daily at

  • Mike Trapp

    Socialism as I recently read in Paul Skousen’s “Naked Socialist” book, is defined as using force to achieve social ends. Sunday closure laws are that: socialist in nature. You can’t tell me that laws such as these are not geared towards giving the collective power over individual activities for social ends, not pragmatic ends. If your philosophy of government is to rein in the power of the tyrannical collective from intruding on the individual’s freedom to choose, you will see at once the necessity of permitting the individual business owner the right to operate on Sunday. Such social ends should be achieved by persuasion, not by the power of force. Remember what happens when we attempt to force the issue? What is free agency good for, if not the right to choose wrong? I personally think it is wrong to disrespect the Sabbath. But I also think it is wrong to compel a man against his will to close up his business on Sunday, if that is his choice for his own private property.

  • Guest

    I think this is the most confusing, convoluted, insane, stupid argument I have ever read.