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

CeeB

February 16th, 2011
4:16 pm

LA…I was born in Atlanta in 1962. Preacher’s kid is right. Department stores (no malls back in those days), grocery stores, movie theaters, etc were not opened on Sunday. I don’t know if it was the Georgia’s Blue Law that actually prohibited this but it was an accepted practice. Truett Kathy continues this practice today…
This is from the Chick-fil-A website (http://www.chickfila.com/Closed.asp):

“Admittedly, closing all of our restaurants every Sunday makes us a rarity in this day and age. But it’s a little habit that has always served us well, so we’re planning to stick with it.

Our founder, Truett Cathy, wanted to ensure that every Chick-fil-A employee and restaurant operator had an opportunity to worship, spend time with family and friends or just plain rest from the work week. Made sense then, still makes sense now.”

JL

February 16th, 2011
4:16 pm

It’s the principle of it which bothers me …true conservatives believe in Limited Government so they should be for this. It will also bring more revenues to the state which had to furlough my wife this year. Also if I want wine or beer when I get home from church and sunday dinner ( Baptist By the way, yes most Baptist drink), I’m a grown, tax-paying man and should be able to go to the store and buy it and responsibly enjoy it!!!!

LA

February 16th, 2011
4:36 pm

CeeB

ChicFilA is a private company and can operate as it wants.

John

February 16th, 2011
5:17 pm

I think that the Christian Coalition should keep there nose out of places that it doesn’t belong. If you don’t want to buy alcohol on sunday, then don’t! YOUR small pathetic social group shouldn’t be able to dictate the choices of the communities around the state.

LA

February 16th, 2011
5:26 pm

“YOUR small pathetic social group

Not small when it tells GA lawmakers what to do.

John

February 16th, 2011
5:50 pm

Its still small, just that they go to church with the people so they don’t want to start an uproar during their brainwashing!

John

February 16th, 2011
5:54 pm

The point is that we should all have a say so on it. They don’t speak for me, so their ideas and beliefs they are pushing shouldn’t decide for me either. Put it to a local vote, and they can have the chance to vote Yes or No like everyone else.

Preacherskid

February 16th, 2011
6:05 pm

LA you need to get on this blog. There’s a guy over here that you’d just love. I mean he’s just aching to get into it with you. :-)

http://blogs.ajc.com/political-insider-jim-galloway/2011/02/16/a-fresh-argument-against-sunday-sales-we-dont-want-to-be-like-california/?cp=3#comment-122278

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Bob Barr, Jason Pye, There is help, Jason Pye, rebecca skie and others. rebecca skie said: Has Religious Right Again Killed Sunday Alcohol Sales: Sonny Perdue, a teetotaler, had stood in the way of effor… http://bit.ly/dTeG1f [...]

Rockerbabe

February 16th, 2011
7:23 pm

People who are age 21 should be able to buy alcohol anytime they want. Everyday is the Lord’s day or didn’t the preachers know this?

"Information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment" - BHO, May 1, 2010

February 16th, 2011
9:05 pm

I want to buy beer on Sunday.

The wingnuts on the right who wanna stop this are just plain paranoid.

Games on TV or BBQ or or whatever on Sunday afternoon…

Tax Me !

"Information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment" - BHO, May 1, 2010

February 16th, 2011
9:11 pm

The United States should lower the national drinking age to 18 — With one condition –

If you serve in the armed forces, in harm’s way, then a drink is okay in my book.

FSUnole

February 16th, 2011
9:31 pm

yes, the vast majority of catholics are lost…they follow the rituals of man and not the true Jesus

CeeB

February 16th, 2011
9:45 pm

LA — you’re probably no longer reading this blog, but I’m not sure I understand your comment about Chic Fil A being a private company. The grocery and convenience stores are also private companies and if a law is passed wherein Sunday alcohol sales are allowed, the companies will decide if they want to particpate in Sunday sales.

My reference to Chic Fil A was just to illustrate the mindset of some concerning the Blue Laws and the foundation upon which they were based. You made a comment to Preacher’s kid that “he experienced 1700 laws” as if he was exaggerating, I was just attesting that there was a time when nothing was open on Sunday in Atlanta when I was growing up.

SmittyATL

February 16th, 2011
10:04 pm

Just absolutely silly. Anyone who wants to observe the sabbath by abstaining from alcohol purchases is free to do so.

Even the “public safety” argument is back assward. Now if a guy wants to drink beer while watching a Sunday ballgame, he won’t be able to bring home a sixpack and drink beer on his couch. Instead, he’ll go down to the local tavern, knock back five or six, then drive home. Score one for public safety.

Buz'd

February 16th, 2011
10:08 pm

They’re just afraid us drunks will pick up a six pack on the way into church and not put as much in the collection plate!

SmittyATL

February 16th, 2011
10:11 pm

FSUnole, you are a disrespectful fool. Without Catholicism, there would be no Christianity. I’m not a Catholic, but I believe that all Christians should have the utmost respect for them. I’m guessing you don’t like them Jews either…

Patriot Games

February 16th, 2011
11:57 pm

I find it hilarious that these people above are criticizing Christians and Southern Baptists while they clearly state that they are not one themselves. As a Christian myself I see nothing wrong with the Sunday sales of Alcohol as we are given this enumerated right via the Constitution. I honor the Lord by attending Church on Sunday and by not working. What many idiotic left wing extremists forget is that our Constitution and laws of the United States were created on the basis of Christian principles. That’s the rationale not only of the religious opponents but Congress as well. If you want to see it as honoring God by not drinking on Sunday, then you should. That is ultimately the practice of faith itself, right? I choose not to do certain things based on my faith and in reverence to the Almighty. I do have the right by law to do some of these things, but it is my choice not to. This Sunday sales of alcohol thing is just another example of a choice that if you are concerned about religiously, you should refrain.

marko

February 17th, 2011
5:10 am

Do you know the difference between Baptist and Methodist? Two Methodist will greet one another in a liquor store. The truth is nobody enjoys poking fun at pompous religious nut jobs than I do. But, in this case they’re just part of the equation. the liquor stores fear the competition, and the restaurants don’t want to lose their Sunday monopoly. Politics really does make strange bed fellows. For the rest of us, the really funny part is watching our elected heroes kiss special interest butts all year, and then sell themselves as men and women of courage and vision on election day.

Thou shall not encroach

February 17th, 2011
8:10 am

The Forgotten Messiah weighed in on Sunday Liquour Sales with this para-parable, that quasi-secular, semi-canonical, ambi-benedictive short story which illustrates a larger point, (always bi-moronic).

“A man who had fallen from a good career and marriage through society’s safety net ended up on skid row. In the gutter one Sinday night, he ran completely out of beer and wine. “No prob”, he muttered, “I’ll shoplift some more beer AND wine over at the local Walmart.” He scurried over to the store, which was open 24 hours. As he approached, he noticed the security guard locking up the doors. He became indignant and yelled at the guard, “Hey! What R U doing? The sign sez that this store is open 24 hours,’

The guard turned and looked incredulous at the bum and said, “Not in a row….”

(steven wright)

Carlosgvv

February 17th, 2011
8:33 am

LA

If three states are near bankruptcy now it seems likely more will follow. Will Obama say we can’t afford to let them fail and try to bail them out? I wonder which political parties would do what if this happens. I agree totally we should not have bailed out those banks. I think Business and Congress are way to cozy and watch each others backs just a little too much.

Joe the Plutocrat

February 17th, 2011
9:45 am

worth mentioning to those who are trying to draw a connection between Sunday alcohol sales and Chik-fil-A; it would be accurate if the state of GA (not Chik-fil-A corporate policy) required any resturant selling chicken sandwiches to be closed on Sundays. ergo, repeal the ban, and allow “Christian” (or Muslim) liquor store owners to decide if the wish to “honor the sabbath” in accordance with their religious faith.

LA

February 17th, 2011
10:06 am

CeeB

I was making a joke when I was referring to PreachersKid and the 1700’s. And yes, I know you know all about ChicFilA and their principles.

LA

February 17th, 2011
10:07 am

Carlosgvv

Hopefully Obama won’t be president by the time those states declare for bankruptcy. I have some lawyer buddies who are telling me that the best way to handle it is by allowing them to go bankrupt and to turn back into territories. The people in power, in those states, will be long gone by then.

LA

February 17th, 2011
10:45 am

“yes, the vast majority of catholics are lost…they follow the rituals of man and not the true Jesus’

Which is why a lot of Catholics have left the church. Tradition and rituals only do so much. Without the relationship, there is nothing.

LA

February 17th, 2011
10:46 am

“FSUnole, you are a disrespectful fool. Without Catholicism, there would be no Christianity. I’m not a Catholic, but I believe that all Christians should have the utmost respect for them. I’m guessing you don’t like them Jews either…’

Wow, project much? Not sure how you go from calling someone a fool to Jew hater.

You sound like someone who was part of this crowd.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=E3ctO7fdrcc

Preacherskid

February 17th, 2011
11:32 am

Well the religious lobby and the restaraunt lobby have won. I take my hat off too you.

http://www.wsbtv.com/news/26899958/detail.html

Sunday sales dead for the year

February 17th, 2011
12:25 pm

[...] sales dead for the yearBy Jason – February 17, 2011 Thanks to a segment of the state’s population that feels the need to assert their beliefs on the rest of u… and the lack of a backbone in certain members of the Georgia Senate, legislation that would allow [...]

retiredds

February 17th, 2011
2:21 pm

Simple solution on the voting on the bill: if it gets voted down by the Republicans, or any Democrats, it will be considered that ALL of them voted it down. And if it gets voted down we can thank the religious right for upholding the nanny state status of GA.

Preacherskid

February 17th, 2011
2:26 pm

It’s reprehensible the way this was handled. I don’t like that one party can hold a secret meeting and decide the fate of legislation. Not happy at all. No transparency it seems.

Former Atlanta Native

February 18th, 2011
7:54 am

A quick read interrupted by poor editing (two typos)

- 1 “Nathan Deal, has stated publicly he is inclined sign legislation…” – are we missing a word here?

-2- “Liquor store owners also have voiced opposition to the legislation, because they do want the competition they would face from supermarkets…” – opposition because they ‘do?’

Are the AJC budgets so low that editing doesn’t occur any longer?

Not missing the media in the Big A and I’m certainly glad to be away from both religious zealots and legal monopoly beer and wine distributors in GA as a franchise state.

Anne

February 18th, 2011
8:23 pm

Whether we have alcohol sales on Sunday or not , is one issue that personally I think should be decided by the people. I really don’t care one way or the other.

But what I do care about, is the unethical, behind closed doors, gag ordered decisions being made about our rights and our lives by people who may not have our best interest at heart. The very unethical way in which this debate was shut down, erases any doubt that these guys under the gold dome are corrupt and self serving

Preacherskid

February 22nd, 2011
9:51 am

This is an interview with Jerry Laquire (Christian Coalition) and a representative of the Independent Convenience Store Association.

http://www.11alive.com/video/default.aspx?bctid=788075010001#/Sunday+Liquor+Sales+Debate/788075010001

V. Powell

February 22nd, 2011
4:47 pm

I have not had dranked alcohol for 60 years, the rest of you can do this as well. I say stop selling alcohol on any day, it will not be missed.

Jim

February 23rd, 2011
1:12 am

Just to Lighten the mood I found this ridiculously hilarious video some kids made on Sunday Liquor Sales.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TOM_UuQzc0