Thursday, March 25, 2021

The forgotten history of Sunday in America

Senate Majority Leader Schumer spoke on the Senate floor yesterday about voting, and he said, “Our Republican Party has sunk so low that they have a Republican leader who is over in the Rules Committee defending these actions by State legislatures. I asked him and all the Republicans to give us a reason. Why did the Georgia Legislature only pick Sundays to say there should be no early voting on Sunday? We know why. It is because that is the day African Americans vote in the ‘souls to the polls’ operation, where they go from church to vote. It is despicable.”

It is true that African Americans go to church on Sunday. Many others also do the same.

It is also true that some states have allowed voting on Sunday.

Finally, it's true that Sunday in one instance is the same Sunday as the other. No contest there. The circumstances line up.

What does not line up is his ascribing of motivations behind these moves.

Ever since the resurrection of Jesus, Sunday has been a day Christians observe as the Lord's Day. It's similar to the weekly Jewish Sabbath rest and is similarly observed. Observing the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, and it's also the longest, most detailed. The point is not to work one day per week. Businesses used to close on Sunday. Blue laws were passed ensuring as much.

The Constitution of the United States specifically makes an exception for Sundays in dealing with the relationship between the President and Congress, and allows for Congress to make similar calendar adjustments to avoid Sunday activity.

Closing business and government operations on Sunday is one way to honor God. Only in recent years has there been voting on days other than Election Day, including Sunday. To re-close government voting operations on Sunday is a a matter of making a previously not-needed adjustment in order to honor God with the days we make available for voting.

If one wants to take a narrow, short view of voting on Sunday in order to paint one's political opponent in the worst possible light, they can, and they would also be wrong.

3/26 Update: Yesterday Schumer dismissed this view of Sunday: “Another member on the committee defended limits to early voting on Sundays—a day when many African Americans go to vote after church—by quoting the Bible and the Commandment to keep the Sabbath holy. I don't know where to begin with that one, but I will start by reminding my colleagues of the separation between church and state, and, frankly, the Bible passage she talked about comes from the Old Testament, when the Sabbath was on Saturday. This is getting beyond ridiculous.”

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