Blue laws forbidding businesses to operate on Sunday have been on the books for over three hundred years in the United States, but in recent decades they have become increasingly controversial. Jews and Seventh-day Adventists have been among the severest critics, arguing that blue laws violate the First Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, in which Congress is forbidden to make laws “respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” They claim that the practice places an undue burden on those who observe Saturday, not Sunday, as their day of worship. Equally vocal in their opposition have been secularists who do not want any day set aside for religious purposes.

In an article entitled “The Lord’s Day and Natural Resources” (May 7, 1976, issue), the editor of this magazine argued that the developing natural-resources crisis requires prompt action. He proposed that all businesses in the nation be closed one day a week and cited Sunday as the logical day for this. The suggestion was based on natural law and the common good of humanity, not on the idea that a particular day should be governmentally ordained for religious activity.

The mail in response to the article dusted off the old arguments that this was an infringement of the First Amendment. Seventh-day Adventists were upset, especially since, in their eschatology, compulsory religious observance of Sunday will mark the closing days of the age before the second advent of our Lord. It may be small comfort to them that Sunday observance is rapidly losing, not gaining, ground.

Approximately thirty states still have some form of Sunday closing, according to Religious News Service. These laws are under attack, however. ...

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