“Despite public sentiment, Sundays likely to stay dry for now,” is an article which appears in today’s Atlanta Journal Constitution. If you haven’t heard, Georgia is contemplating (again) a Sunday sales bill that would allow communities to decide whether they want to allow beer, wine and liquor retail package sales on Sundays. (Georgia is one of three states that ban Sunday sales of alcoholic beverages at stores, i.e., you can purchase a beer for consumption on the premises of a restaurant on Sunday, but you cannot purchase a six-pack from a grocery store that day.)
So what’s the deal? According to the article,
Two-thirds of Georgians who answered a recent poll said they want the right to vote on allowing stores to sell beer, wine and booze on Sunday.
A free-market Republican caucus that includes several state Senate leaders calls the Sunday sales vote a “no-brainer.”
However, religious conservatives have strongly opposed such sales, saying alcohol shouldn’t be peddled on the Christian sabbath. Some liquor store owners, including those with political connections to Gov. Sonny Perdue and Cagle, have also opposed the idea. Liquor store opponents don’t want the expense of being open on Sundays just so grocery and convenience stores can make more sales.
What a political laugh-off. The alliances and competing interests here remind me of the “wine shipping” cases. It’s a sabbath/commerce split. On the one (invisible) hand, you’ve got the “free-market Republican” who wants to supply a product to serve a demand. On the other (clasped) hand, you’ve got the “born-again evangelical,” who is often a Republican, who does not want to blemish the Sabbath.
No matter how arcaine or abstract the theory, I’ve been taught, “Don’t check-in your common sense at the door.” Opponents of the Sunday sales bill have one theory: It just doesn’t feel right to offer package sales on Sundays. That’s it. To support that theory requires reading scripture. Respectfully, those wishing to honor the Sabbath (by banning retail alcohol sales on Sundays) have left their common sense at the door, and they’re floating various theories — secular, mind you — to justify the prohibition.