Wine, Beer, Spirits and God in Georgia
A "Blue Law" is a local civil law meant to enforce religious standards and principles. In the United States the most common form of the Blue Law is a legal prohibition on the sale of alcohol on Sunday, the Christian Sabbath. One usually finds such laws in the region of the U.S. called the Bible Belt…like Georgia.
On November 8th more than 101 Georgia Municipalities will vote to determine whether to keep in place primarily one type of blue law common throughout these various municipalities: prohibition on buying alcohol at retail on Sunday.
It should be no surprise that in general Christian institutions oppose allowing citizens to buy a bottle of wine on Sunday. In some way, Christian institutions find this prohibition somehow supporting their view of the desires of their God. What's interesting, however is where the other opposition comes from: Liquor Store Owners.
Georgia was one of only three states including CT and IN that prohibited the retail sale of alcohol on Sundays. However, by-the-drink sales have been allowed. Things changed when the GA legislature passed a law allowing local municipalities and counties to hold elections concerning the right to buy alcohol at retail on sundays. 101 mainly cities (including Atlanta) and some counties have taken the opportunity and will hold elections on November 8.
Liquor store owners are arguing that people have become accustomed to buying their alcohol on Saturday, making Sunday sales unnecessary. In addition, they argue, they are not staffed appropriately to open their stores on Sunday, yet economics and competitive realities will likely demand they do in order to compete with grocery stores that will also begin selling wine and beer on Sundays if the initiative passes.Spirits may not be sold in grocery stores.
I understand the desire to not work on Sundays, let alone weekends. That's one of the reasons I'm not in retail. But what's interesting is that the state law that allowed these Blue Law repeal initiatives to ge on the ballot in Georgia had been stopped primarily by religious interests for many years. Now, in the midst of a recession, the law changes to let municipalities to vote on whether to have Sunday sales. In my mind this is progress.
Not being much of a religious person, the notion of saving the Sabbath for contemplation of God and faith doesn't make much sense to me. However, I'm a big fan of folks using Sundays for just this purpose if they desire. And as far as I can tell, none of the ballot initiatives force Georgians to buy beer, wine or spirits on Sunday. Furthermore, nothing in these laws will force liquor stores to open on Sunday. The question that is being answered in 101 Georgian locales is whether Georgians ought to be forced to support religion?