Has Religious Right Again Killed Sunday Alcohol Sales?

It looks as if legislators under the Gold Dome are about to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory on the issue of Sunday sales of alcohol.

For the last few years, then-Gov. Sonny Perdue, a teetotaler, had stood in the way of efforts to simply allow voters at the local level to decide if they wanted to be able to buy alcoholic beverages at grocery and convenience stores on Sunday. His argument seems to have been that if Georgians wanted to drink alcohol on Sunday, they should plan ahead and buy on Saturday. During Perdue’s eight years in office, Republican legislators apparently saw no mileage to take a risk in upsetting a key constituency, the Religious Right, only to have Perdue veto such a measure.

But that was then, and this is now. Georgia’s new governor, Nathan Deal, has stated publicly he is inclined sign legislation allowing voters at the local level to decide whether to allow Sunday sales.

Two pieces of legislation — HB 69 and SB 10 — that would provide for local control on this issue have cleared their respective committees with little opposition. They await placement on the calendars of both chambers to come to the floor for vote. Until a few days ago, it appeared as if Sunday-sales was on the fast track to being passed.

A small glint of freedom appeared on the horizon; a flickering light that now appears illusory.

The Religious Right once again is flexing its muscles; determined to limit the personal choice Georgians should be allowed to make without the meddling of government nannies. Their complaint is that allowing a grown man or woman in Georgia to purchase a six-pack of beer on Sunday constitutes an unaccceptable “encroachment of the Lord’s day.” The contradiction that many such religious advocates object strongly to other meddling by the government gives them no pause.

Of course, opposition to the Sunday-sales measure does not end with those trying to force their morality and religious beliefs on others. Liquor store owners also have voiced opposition to the legislation, because they do want the competition they would face from supermarkets and convenience stores, if the Sunday-sales measure became law. Thus, their active opposition to the legislation.

The scenario that seems to be playing out is that House and Senate members with strong connections to certain liquor store owners are using the opposition of the Religious Right, and the resulting specter of primary challengers, to intimidate colleagues into opposing SB 10. At least in the Senate, in the absence of strong legislative leadership, this strategy appears to be working.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which supports Sunday sales, recently made clear it was going to “score” a vote on legislative scorecards; a common step using votes to measure support for business interests in the state. Last week, however, word leaked out that Senate leadership and ranking members had met with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and asked them to step back.

Polls have shown repeatedly that Georgians want to decide this issue for themselves; with results ranging from 52 to 78 percent in favor of the measure. One specific poll conducted by the well-represented McLaughlin & Associates, for a lobbyist group supportive of Sunday sales, shows Republican voters in five Senate districts supportive of the legislation. In fact, voters in all five districts expressed the opinion they would be more likely to vote for a candidate who supported Sunday sales over one who did not.

No matter what the polls say or what special interests groups want, this is an issue of personal choice, whereby Georgians should be allowed to decide what is best for their communities. Despite early support in the state Senate; intense lobbying by the Religious Right, coupled with a vacuum of determined leadership, may have killed the measure this session.

If constituents mount a determined push at this time, however, there may still be a chance to brace up the leadership in the Senate and secure passage. I’m just not sure I’d urge advocates of Sunday sales to hold their breath.

– by Bob Barr, The Barr Code

235 comments Add your comment

Joshua Zambrano

February 16th, 2011
5:27 am

I see it the way I do abortion – I wouldn’t mind seeing more restrictions on alcohol sales, because the freedom sought harms others. Alcohol inhibits the sections of the brain responsible for decision making, yet alcohol sellers use the myth that one should “drink responsibly”. I expect to see their advertising restricted in the same way nicotine sales were. Many innocent people die each year because of alcohol just like they do abortion, due to the reckless actions of others, and the advertising of an addictive, profit-seeking industry. I wouldn’t mind seeing a law forcing taverns to keep drinkers from leaving, by force, until testing sober, because of how alcohol affects the brain so that responsible decisions seem impossible, and many die as a direct result.

Joshua Zambrano

February 16th, 2011
5:50 am

As for the Blue Laws, they may violate Jefferson’s doctrine of Separation of Church and State. As Thomas Jefferson put into legislation, the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, essentially elaborating on the 1st amendment more fully:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_Statute_of_Religious_Freedom

“Whereas, Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and therefore are a departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion, who being Lord, both of body and mind yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as was in his Almighty power to do,

that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world and through all time;

Be it enacted by General Assembly that no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief, but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of Religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities. And though we well know that this Assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of Legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding Assemblies constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare that the rights hereby asserted, are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present or to narrow its operation, such act will be an infringement of natural right.”

Therefore, I guess this comes down to whether not being able to purchase alcohol on Sunday could be considered “suffer[ing] on account of his religious opinions or belief” or could be explained as part of the greater public good. I’d recommend Jefferson’s writing there though as a good source to look at in determining whether the Blue Laws violate Separation of Church and State.

Tafir Square

February 16th, 2011
6:22 am

Keep your hands off my Medicaid but don’t you dare sell that bottle of liquor on Sunday!

Hypocrites, all of them. We should protest in the streets.

The Alchemist

February 16th, 2011
6:29 am

If I wanted to have a “Lord” I would move to England.

How can the Talibaptists continue to prevail on this subject in a time of sorely needed added sales and liquor taxes?

Good grief, Jesus turned water into wine so obviously approves.

Another example of how Australia got the”good” immigrants when they got the criminals instead of the puritans.

Joel Edge

February 16th, 2011
6:48 am

“this is an issue of personal choice”
No, it’s not. It’s a non-issue. Even in my drinking days, I had a enough sense to stock up. If you can’t get out of a alcohol induced stupor long enough to figure that out, you have bigger problems. Personally, I wish they would OK Sunday sales. It might thin out the herd a bit quicker.

Bubba

February 16th, 2011
6:56 am

Anyone who thinks the government should be able to prohibit people from buying a legal product on a particular day, for religious reasons, is not a conservative or a supporter of small government — even though I’m sure they all think they are. They’re actually closer to Obama in their political philosophy.

Thou shall not encroach

February 16th, 2011
7:07 am

Remember thou keep holy the Miller Time.

“Encroachment on the Lord’s Day”: Isn’t that a five yard penalty?

” I’m just not sure I’d urge advocates of Sunday sales to hold their breath.” Bravo.

Eric

February 16th, 2011
7:34 am

If the Lord’s Day is that important, why are all other businesses allowed to be open for profit 24/7? Also, what’s the harm in buying wine at a grocery store on Sunday? Didn’t Jesus pour wine at the wedding in Cana?

sean Yankee

February 16th, 2011
7:47 am

You Georgians deserve the government your getting.
Bad Schools, Bad Traffic and Beer on Sunday.

sean Yankee

February 16th, 2011
7:48 am

that was supposed to be NO beer on sunday

Eureka

February 16th, 2011
7:52 am

It’s so silly. The same people who constantly scream about getting government out of thier lives are the ones who are so intent on preserving the “sanctity” of Sunday. Give me a break. What a bunch of hypocrites!

Eureka

February 16th, 2011
7:54 am

All of us don’t deserve this crap, Sean. I didn’t vote for a single right winger and I didn’t vote for the indicted new governor, although on this one issue he seems to have at least a clue.

iRun

February 16th, 2011
8:16 am

“Another example of how Australia got the”good” immigrants when they got the criminals instead of the puritans.”

I am so stealing that. Thanks Alchy!

Pot Smoker

February 16th, 2011
8:18 am

Because of your Stupid War on Drugs, I can buy MY drug of choice SEVEN DAYS A WEEK.

Ha Ha Ha Ha.

For all of you drinkers, you should try to make Alcohol illegal. Then, it would be more plentiful, more cheaper, and the quality would improve.

Roekest

February 16th, 2011
8:25 am

Go back to Haiti.

Bluto

February 16th, 2011
8:26 am

For all you morons that think it’s a good idea to allow restaurants to sell on Sunday but not a store…really? Let’s go out and get drunk and drive home but for heavens sake don’t go to a store and buy a 12 pack and take it home. Oh remember to pick up that lottery ticket on the way back from the bar on Sunday… hypocrites!

the watchful eye

February 16th, 2011
8:31 am

Sunday mornin comin down, he did not where he was or where he was goin all he knew was everyone was dressed for church, then he knew, the bars would not be open, but somewhere
he knew it would be a good day, when the believers left the church, there always was a little more in his hat, nowhere to go and nothin to do

Eric

February 16th, 2011
8:33 am

@sean Yankee – “you’re”… not “your.” Your school was in what state?

Carlosgvv

February 16th, 2011
8:38 am

“trying to force their morality and religious beliefs on others”

Say, haven’t I heard that phrase before? Oh, now I know!! Radical Muslems do the same thing. Maybe some things in the Muslim world and Christian world aren’t so different after all.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

February 16th, 2011
8:39 am

I am a tea totaler. I believe alcohol is one of an exceedingly-short list of truly dangerous drugs – the others are cocaine and meth-amphetamine. My libertarian attitude is that those drugs ought to be completely legal for home consumption, and that public intoxication on those drugs ought to be severely punished. I could not care less if people kill themselves with dangerous drugs, but I object to placing the public at risk. As to the families of users, too bad that they have a loser in the home – life is hard.

justmy2cents

February 16th, 2011
8:40 am

I agree completely with Bluto!! I also find it amusing that bars cannot serve alcohol until 12:30….you know, so all those church folks are out and can make it to the bar in time for the first pour.

Fire Rodney Ho

February 16th, 2011
8:42 am

I still don’t understand how the argument of “encroachment on the Lord’s day” is allowed under the First Amendment. Isn’t it illegal to implement laws that respect the establishment of a certain religion? Keep your paws off my South Paw!

Paul

February 16th, 2011
8:58 am

Hard to accept the argument of the religious wingnuts, given that currently one can “BE” the container (at restaurants and such) on any Sunday yet cannot purchase one. I guess that drinking and driving home with it is OK with them.

Ezra

February 16th, 2011
9:01 am

It is not about the sale of alcohol on Sunday but rather the influence of special interest on our law makers. Any law maker submitting to a special interest group which denies a vote by the public should be recalled. We do not need that kind of law makers. We should find what groups are attempting to block the free act of voting and boycott every business or organization attached to that special interest group.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:04 am

This no alcohol on Sunday business is ridiculous. As a staunch conservative I don’t understand how some people think that by banning the sale of alcohol on Sundays will somehow make things better. Now, to those attacking the Baptists and calling them names, instead of doing that why don’t you call or write the governor/senators about it. I’d be willing to bet that they drink alcohol.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:04 am

Enter your comments here

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:05 am

This no alcohol on Sunday business is ridiculous. As a staunch conservative I don’t understand how some people think that by banning the sale of alcohol on Sundays will somehow make things better. Now, to those attacking the Baptists and calling them names, instead of doing that why don’t you call or write the governor/senators about it. I’d be willing to bet that they drink alcohol.

Werd

Richard

February 16th, 2011
9:05 am

What kind of Marxist, Socialist, Communist liberal whack job would oppose allowing people to buy legal stuff?

Oh, yeah. They’re called Republicans.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:06 am

For some reason my comment won’t post. Anyway, just to some it up, the ban is ridiculous and does nothing to help anyone.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:06 am

Ok, why won’t my comments post?

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:06 am

The ban on alcohol is ridiculous.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:07 am

Bob

Get your AJC IT department to fix your comment section.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:07 am

The law about not selling alcohol is retarded.

Bwana

February 16th, 2011
9:07 am

This is the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard. We need to be afforded the opportunity to vote on this issue ourselves. Why is it okay for a man or woman to be able to go to a bar or restaurant on Sunday and get loaded and then drive home, but not be able to go the grocery store or liquor store to buy a six pack or a bottle and then come home and enjoy it in his or her home? This is a no brainer and those people who are against it, should stay home on Sundays and not buy any alcohol if they so desire.

CobbGOPer

February 16th, 2011
9:09 am

This “closed-door” or in other words super-secret GOP caucus meeting today would make a Communist proud. “Let’s make the decision in secret, so that when we vote it down, no one will know which one of us to blame.” Plausible deniability for everyone! And woe to the senator who drops the names of any of the opposing votes to the public, right? You can kiss your committee assignments goodbye?

If they kill this bill, I hope the Chamber of Commerce holds the entire Senate GOP Caucus to blame when they “scorecard” this issue for next years’ elections…

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:10 am

“Their complaint is that allowing a grown man or woman in Georgia to purchase a six-pack of beer on Sunday constitutes an unaccceptable “encroachment of the Lord’s day.”

Yeah, and that is ridiculous. If they were to totally live by that, they would not work at all on Sunday. No grass cutting, yard work etc…

Then again, people often take the Bible out of context.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:10 am

“Their complaint is that allowing a grown man or woman in Georgia to purchase a six-pack of beer on Sunday constitutes an unaccceptable “encroachment of the Lord’s day.” ”

Then again, people often take the Bible out of context.

Supreme Being

February 16th, 2011
9:11 am

More evidence of spineless lawmakers lacking the balls to do the right thing, because they put their political agenda to get re-elected ahead of populous opinion. Georgia will always be a laggard state with this type of leadership. Good on Nathan Deal for his willingness to let the people decide by voting on the measure.

Millertime

February 16th, 2011
9:12 am

C’mon guys. I’m drunk six days a week. At least give me one day to sober up before I have to get back on the streets!

ml

February 16th, 2011
9:15 am

if they feel so strongly about not drinking on the sabbath what happened to their faith telling them not to work on sunday? most cops are christians, and firefighters too. so are cops and firefighters disrespecting the lord by working on sunday. and should they not work and let the sinners have one of those win a contest and for the next 24 hours anything and as much as you can grab is yours?
and why are they judging others?
and what about do unto others as you would have them do unto you? like when a so-called christian is using religion as a smokescreen and diplomatic immunity for the bad things they do and their mistreatment of others and wants to tell someone else how to live. shouldn’t that person be able to go to that business with preferential treatment/tax shelter, excuse me, church, and be able to tell them to do things the way they want them done?
nowhere in the bible does it say – thou shalt act like a moron

Atlanta Native

February 16th, 2011
9:15 am

To sum up an article I wrote a few years back on this: WWJD?

Well, when there was no alcohol available for purchase while at a wedding where they had run out, he provided approximately 96 cases of excellent tasting wine. John second chapter verses 1-11.

What ritual did he give us for remembering him: wine as his blood – a ritual we perform on Sunday Luke Chapter 22 verses 17 through 20

Wat did he think of religious blue laws? In Matthew, Mark and Luke there appears a story where Jesus is questioned by Pharisees as to his disciples plucking grain on the Sabbath. The Pharisees were concerned that it was against the law to work on the Sabbath. Jesus responded that it was OK for David to eat the showbread from the temple and it was OK for the disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath, because they were hungry.

Thus the words and actions of Christ fly in the face of the assertions of these Christians. Do they find themselves morally superior to our savior by their words and actions on this?

Who are these people? I say the are modern day Pharisees who would join in on condemning Christ for dining with a tax collector and associating with Mary Magdalene based on their superior sense of virtue.

PS – Don’t come back with Leviticus quotes until you give up BBQ pork, shrimp cocktail and wearing different cloths at the same time.

Joe the Plutocrat

February 16th, 2011
9:16 am

do the words “Muslim Brotherhood” sound familiar? but let’s be honest, this isn’t all about the “Christian brotherhood”. lobbyists representing the mom and pop retail liquor stores have a hand in this as well. only in “conservative” Georgia, would free market mavens use religion as a smoke screen to futher self-serving, competition-killing policy. maybe the Federal government will interceed and 22nd generation GA school children can study the second war fought over “states rights”?

TnGelding

February 16th, 2011
9:16 am

Let’s hope so. And why not kill them the other 6 days as well?

Joe the Plutocrat

February 16th, 2011
9:16 am

fixed my typo – should read: “22nd century GA school children”

willydoit?

February 16th, 2011
9:18 am

What’s the difference between a baptist and a methodist?

The methodist will speak to you at the liquor store!

GrammarKing

February 16th, 2011
9:20 am

It is distressing to me that we, the general population, continue to allow the tyranny of a few to impose upon the lives of the many. As many have noted before me, the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution protects the freedom of religion for all citizens – which, as I understand it, protects all religious affiliations, not just the Christian faith. It would seem to me that Georgia’s Blue Laws violate this clause, which T. Jefferson expounded on in his Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, “all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinions in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” The most important clause in this passage comes near the end – (paraphrasing) a man’s freedom to practice his religion should in no way impose upon, impede or in any way prevent another man’s civil (public) life. To carry this a bit further – feel free to talk to me about your religion, but don’t try to force it on me.

And, the argument about stocking up the day before is specious at best. What if it’s Super Bowl Sunday and 8 more people decide to come over, but you only have beer for 3? What if Sunday is July 4th, and you got a little crazy Saturday night and finished all the beer in your house? If alcohol shouldn’t be sold on Sunday because it “encroaches upon the Lord’s Day”, why should anything else, under this reasoning, be sold? Back in Jesus’s day, people drank alcohol EVERY DAY because it was safer than drinking most water.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:24 am

“most cops are christians, and firefighters too. ‘

And you know this how?

“do the words “Muslim Brotherhood” sound familiar?’

Love it when left wingers compare Baptists to terrorists. Hey, when’s the last time a Baptist blew up a building etc?

really?

February 16th, 2011
9:24 am

churches can use WINE on sunday mornings for communion, but they don’t want us buying alcohol that same day?! HAHAHAHAHAHA! that’s why i do not attend church…hypocrisy.

Chief

February 16th, 2011
9:26 am

The funny thing is that Pot Smoker is right, although that is a discussion for another day.

This debate over Sunday alcohol sales and how our elected leaders are handling it is so far beyond ridiculous that I honestly can’t be bothered to care anymore. I just laugh when friends from other states make the usual “country bumpkin” comments about Georgia, because there is no way to defend against them.

LA

February 16th, 2011
9:26 am

“churches can use WINE on sunday mornings for communion, but they don’t want us buying alcohol that same day?”

Do you not know the difference between Catholics and Baptists? Obviously not.