Repeal the 1961 US Supreme Court Decision upholding Sunday Laws

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Repeal the 1961 US Supreme Court Decision upholding Sunday Laws

This petition had 76 supporters

Eternal Gospel Ministry started this petition to U.S. House of Representatives and

Discrimination has no room in a modern democratic society. Sunday laws limit the privileges and opportunities of both religious and non-religious minority groups who don’t consider Sunday as a special or sacred day. At the same time Sunday laws favor and benefit the larger Christian populations who do consider Sunday as sacred and in need of protection. Sunday laws should have never been passed in the first place because historically they were designed to create uniformity in worship for all of society and ultimately they are unfair because they discriminate against other religious groups. There is no good reason to keep them around on our legal statutes for any future considerations. A successful repeal now would eliminate it's discriminating legacy forever and ensure religious liberty for future generations.

Sunday laws were enshrined and codified as the law of the land by four US Supreme Court decisions: 1. McGowan vs. Maryland, 366 U.S. 420 (1961); 2. Gallagher vs. Crown Kosher Supermarket, 366 U.S. 617 (1961); 3. Braunfeld vs. Brown, 366 U.S. 599 (1961);  4. Two Guys from Harrison vs. McGinley, 366 U.S. 582 (1961).

Most of these cases involved Jews whose businesses were closed on Saturday due to their religious conviction of resting on the seventh-day Sabbath. They wanted to be open on Sunday because of the burden of having to close their businesses two days a week. Sunday laws were causing economic hardships to the Jewish communities because it forced them to closes their businesses two days a week—Saturday, because that was their day of worship—and Sunday because of the Sunday law. On the other hand Sunday laws placed no burden upon the larger Christian communities because their businesses could open six days a week because Sunday already was their day of worship.

So the Jews claimed that Sunday laws were unfair because it discouraged Saturday-keeping and encouraged Sunday-keeping. The Jews also claimed that Sunday laws were discriminatory because the laws economically rewarded one group and economically punished the minorities. And instead of considering the religious beliefs of these Saturday, Sabbath-keeping Jews, the 1961 Supreme Court ruled that (1) people need to have a day of rest and that (2) Sunday is the uniform day of rest for all citizens. Even though Sunday laws were indirectly creating a financial burden to the Jews and even though it was more expensive financially to keep Saturday than Sunday, the US Supreme Court explained that Sunday laws didn’t forbid the Jews from observing their own Sabbath—aside from the inconveniences and hardships of Sunday laws. Thus Sunday laws were upheld and the discrimination continued.

The discrimination continued for the next three years until the US Congress passed a landmark piece of legislation called The Civil Rights Act of 1964. This law came about not to directly help the Saturday-keeping Jews but rather to stop the blatant discrimination against African-Americans throughout the country. The new law outlaws all discrimination in the United States that is based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This law means that businesses, including the federal government, by law have to accommodate peoples’ religious beliefs—including their day of worship.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 should have instantly repealed the Sunday law question; but for some reason it didn’t. These laws are still on the books and at any moment they can be revived and come back to discriminate against the religious faith of American citizens.

Sunday laws were originally founded and instituted to force people to go to church on Sunday. Emperor Constantine, who wrote the first Sunday law in 321 A.D., made Sunday the official day of rest for the Roman Empire. This law caused church attendance to explode and was meant to benefit the Christian church.

Dr. Samuel Peters, a Puritan descendant and graduate from Yale University, wrote about the origin of the old Sunday laws in early 1630s colonial America  in his historical book called A General History of Connecticut (1781). He explains what was the ultimate objective of these Sunday laws on page 220: “The law prescribes whipping, stocks and fines, for such as do not attend public worship on the Sabbath (Sunday).”

This is the origin of Sunday laws! They are meant to encourage people to attend church on Sunday. As long as these decisions go unchallenged they will remain being the law of the land and can be used at any time by any state or by a national act to discriminate against religious minorities in the future. It's time to ask our lawmakers to repeal these measures once and for all.

Who is actually pushing for Sunday laws? There are several religious and secular groups who are working to restore Sunday as the national day of rest.

1. Protestant Churches – The Protestant Churches have led a militant-style campaign to preserve Sunday as the day rest and worship since the very founding of our nation.

2- Israel - Just recently Israel has made an remarkable change with regards to work-free days of rest. They are pushing for Sunday closing laws and at the same time relaxing the laws that require all store to be closed on the Sabbath, the seventh-day.

3. Secular governments - Many governments have Sunday restrictions. France, England, Croatia, Germany, Australia, Canada, and even the United states have some form of Sunday restriction, some more stringent than others.

4. Labor Unions - Labor unions have been joining religious institutions to secure Sunday as the day of rest throughout Europe. In fact, trade unions in Europe are members of the European Sunday Alliance, an organization committed to enforcing Sunday as the day of rest throughout Europe. Here in America labor unions have also been working to keep Sunday work-free.

5. Roman Catholics - Pope Francis is an ardent proponent of Sunday sacredness. He is pushing for Sunday rest for both the religious community and for the secular public. The Catholic church was responsible for the recent closing of all stores in Germany.

6. Temperance/Social Groups – There are many organization such as the Lord’s Day Alliance, KeepSundaySpecial.org, and Save Our Sundays that are advocating for keeping Sunday sacred and work-free.

7. The media – Every week there are more and more daily newspaper editorials and magazine publications that are calling for a return to the old Sunday laws. We document these new drives by the media in our publication The Eternal Gospel Herald at www.eternalgospel.com

These are the forces that will not stop working until there are stricter enforcements of the current existing Sunday laws. In places where Sunday laws are present, stricter calls are made to increase them. In places where Sunday laws are non-existent, calls to return to Sunday-keeping are pushed.

With all the Sunday rest measures being agitated throughout the world we believe that Sunday laws will once again come under the national spotlight here in America in the very near future. Historically, Sunday laws have caused significant distress to the lives of millions of people throughout the generations. That is why we urge you and all of our Congressional leaders to repeal the unconstitutionality of these four Supreme Court rulings once and for all.

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This petition had 76 supporters