USA Today had an interesting report that more and more states are finally relaxing their antiquated blue laws and allowing alcohol to be — gasp — sold on Sundays. In the article, entitled Sunday Alcohol Sales Are on the Rise in U.S., it is revealed that “[s]ince 2002, 14 states have joined the list of states allowing Sunday sales of [alcohol], bringing the total to 36.” But that means there are still 14 more states, plus D.C., that prohibit Sunday sales of alcohol.
According to Dvaid J. Hanson, author the wonderful website, Alcohol: Problems and Solutions:
A blue law is one restricting activities or sales of goods on Sunday, to accommodate the Christian sabbath. The first blue law in the American colonies was enacted in Virginia in 1617. It required church attendance and authorized the militia to force colonists to attend church services.
As Wikipedia adds. “Most have been repealed, have been declared unconstitutional, or are simply unenforced, although prohibitions on the sale of alcoholic beverages, and occasionally almost all commerce, on Sundays are still enforced in many areas,” despite the fact that Sunday is the second busiest shopping day of the week.
As Lisa Hawkins, with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, put it, “[b]lue laws … simply don’t make sense in today’s economy. They inconvenience consumers and deprive states of much-needed tax revenue.” But economy aside, you’d think people would recognize that the origin of these laws to it to force religious practices on everyone, despite principles of religious freedom and not all citizens following the same faith. Apparently, you’d be wrong. One naysayer, Bruce Beckman (a council member in Downers Grove, Illinois who voted against modifying local blue laws), is quoted as saying he voted against changing his community’s blue laws because the “relatively small amount of tax revenue this might generate isn’t as important as using Sunday mornings for family, going to church … and not sitting in a bar somewhere.”
To me that’s an unbelievable rationale. I can hardly fathom someone holding such an opinion in 2010. Nobody’s stopping him from attending church or spending the day with his family, but that he believes he has the right to force everyone else in his community to do likewise is deeply offensive. It’s absolutely none of his business how I choose to spend my Sunday and that he thinks he should actively keep it illegal to do something he personally doesn’t care for is a tyranny, no matter how slight or small.
Happily, such outmoded points of view are visibly in decline, as evidenced by the increasing number of states doing away with these old-fashioned laws. Below you can see which states, in white, are still behind the times.