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Secularists & Sundays - Comments

jel's Avatar Comment 1 by jel

I, along with numerous other people, have a job where I'm obliged to work on Sunday's. It's not every Sunday that I have to work but every other Sunday (that's not strictly true, sometimes I'll work several Sunday's on the trot then I'll have a run of Sundays off but it averages every other Sunday).

On my Sundays off I like to lounge around, reading a paper, taking it easy. But that's pretty much what I do on any other day that I have off. The only difference for me is that, when Sunday is my day off, I'm restricted in what I can do. So many shops are closed, so many institutions (like banks) are closed that I can't treat it like a normal day. This is bloody awkward when it's the only day I'm getting off and there are things that I want to do. For me, personally, I want it to be just like any other day. If I'm off work I want to be able to do what I want without petty restrictions that mean nothing but aggravation to me.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 20:12:08 UTC | #929943

paulmcuk's Avatar Comment 2 by paulmcuk

It's funny, I live near the new Westfield shopping centre in Stratford (London) and I recall walking by it one Sunday morning shortly after it opened. You enter by a series of steps (or via escalator if you're lazy) which ascend like the entrance to an ancient temple and it amused me to watch the hundreds of eager shoppers climb up on this particular sabbath to worship the gods of Top Shop and, if they can afford it, Hugo Boss.

You could certainly argue that the idea of the sabbath did us a favour by introducing the notion of a day off for all and I guess we can thank it for that. But the christian argument that Sunday's should be kept "special" by law holds no water. They are free to keep the day special if they want to (as observant Jews do on Saturdays) but that's no reason to impose it on the rest of us. Equally, we are all free to keep the sabbath special by putting our feet up and watching all the programmes on our Sky+ (as I do) but that's no reason to deny other people the right to go out and buy stuff at 9am if they so please.

My only concern would be for those who have to work in order that the shops etc are open for us to use. I'm not au fait with the employment laws but my understanding is that those working on Sunday's either get overtime or other days off in lieu. As long as that's all above board, I have no quibble.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 21:29:12 UTC | #929959

Mark Ribbands's Avatar Comment 3 by Mark Ribbands

I couldn't help but feel that we might well be throwing
the cultural baby out with the religious bathwater.

Nicely put.

I’m with you for Sunday roast beef at my local (less so the long walks) then hogging the pub’s paper whilst I fall asleep on the only comfy chair in the place.

The word itself, ‘Sunday’, is clearly pre-Christian, but is so much part of our linguistic infrastructure that we hardly ever notice. Mention Sunday and it is immediately connected in one’s mind with the Christian God. Or if not that, then certainly not the celestial fireball. The question is, was the pre-Christian Sunday a day of leisure?

I have no issue with special Sunday arrangements for the Olympics. (Or indeed any other arrangements for the Olympics, since I intend to ignore them.)

But I surprise myself in siding with the ‘Keep Sunday special’ opinion. I would not go so far as to support oppressive legislation, but I do rather like the idea of having one quiet day of the week when, as Dan mentions, you can reasonably expect others to be free as well.

The alternative is homogenous continuous days with no visible pattern or structure. I believe humans need structure and pattern in their lives. I’m hopefully not alone here in often having not the slightest idea what day of the week it is, so Sundays are useful, if only to calibrate one’s inner calendar.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 22:02:31 UTC | #929969

BKsea's Avatar Comment 4 by BKsea

" For me, Sundays are associated with relaxing pub lunches"

Well, obviously we need a law closing all the pubs on Sunday so the bartenders can enjoy a day off too.

Fri, 23 Mar 2012 23:17:21 UTC | #929986

papa lazaru's Avatar Comment 5 by papa lazaru

I love Sundays. And Saturdays. What a great idea.

I was born on December, 25th. Not so great. I get 1/2 of my share of presents every year, and everyone forgets. Ban Christmas, I say.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 00:21:22 UTC | #930009

Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 6 by Schrodinger's Cat

The matter would seem simple enough for secularists: Sunday is just another day of the week, so why should it receive differential legal status because of Christian tradition?

It's not quite as simple as that. Even without all the religious nonsense, there is still even a secular sense in which 'the weekend' is special and Sunday is not 'just another day'. For me it has always been a day for doing those special things....like popping round to see relatives, or watching the entire Lord of The Rings trilogy. There is a deep cultural sense of Sunday being a rest day.....even down to songs with titles like 'Easy like a Sunday morning'.

People, not God, invented the 7 day week.....probably to divide the lunar cycle into even portions. As we invented the whole thing in the first place and religion hijacked it.....I see nothing wrong in claiming back what was always ours. The Sunday roast just would not be the same on a Monday.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 00:42:04 UTC | #930013

QuestioningKat's Avatar Comment 7 by QuestioningKat

A "Keep Sunday Special" campaign reeks of religion. The word "special" can imply God without you intending on doing so. Legislation would be even worse. The hijackers would be out in full force. I say, Saturdays and Sundays need to be reclaimed from the employers and keep the time reserved for your own use.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 01:41:17 UTC | #930023

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert

Sorry, complete nonsense. If you think Sunday is 'special' fine, but I don't. If you think Christmas or Easter is 'special' too then fine, but don't force it down other people's throat.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 10:58:45 UTC | #930132

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 9 by Alan4discussion

Like a lot of atheists, I continue to celebrate Christmas each year. I ignore the religious connotations and treat it as a festival of food, friendship and slighty-less-crap-than-usual television.

The Xtians simply stole the existing mid-winter and spring festivals anyway. A cheer-up party at mid-winter or in spring is a good idea!

Is it possible for secularists to support a 'Keep Sunday Special' campaign? Or does the Sabbath and all the cultural traits that go with it belong in the dustbin of history?

It is also a good idea to have a communal day off for people to socialise with friends and family.

The perversions came with the religious campaigns against Sunday football etc, which were competing and draining congregations from the earlier church monopolies on Sunday social gatherings.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 14:49:21 UTC | #930168

inquisador's Avatar Comment 10 by inquisador

comment 8 by Atheist Egbert:

Sorry, complete nonsense. If you think Sunday is 'special' fine, but I don't. If you think Christmas or Easter is 'special' too then fine, but don't force it down other people's throat.

In other words: "Bah Humbug!"

Well I think it's all fine. I think that special rest days with all their cultural connotations are just begging to be expropriated by atheists and anyone else.

Call it reclamation.

We all need something like them; religious or not.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 16:08:36 UTC | #930184

Mee Peestevone's Avatar Comment 11 by Mee Peestevone

Sundays are special for me especially if a statutory holiday falls on that day – I get 200% pay and more if I work past 7.5 hours. And if I don't work it, I still get paid 100%. Also I get 150% pay working regular Sundays.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 16:43:47 UTC | #930190

green and dying's Avatar Comment 12 by green and dying

Sounds good to me.

Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert :

Sorry, complete nonsense. If you think Sunday is 'special' fine, but I don't. If you think Christmas or Easter is 'special' too then fine, but don't force it down other people's throat.

Are you upset about all the other secular cultural conventions which are 'forced down your throat'? What about the 7 day week or Saturday and Sunday being the weekend and the others weekdays?

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 17:08:18 UTC | #930192

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert

Comment 12 by green and dying :

Are you upset about all the other secular cultural conventions which are 'forced down your throat'? What about the 7 day week or Saturday and Sunday being the weekend and the others weekdays?

Christmas and Easter are not 'secular' they're Christian holidays. They may have been stolen from pagan sources but I really don't care. Secularism is strictly separation of church and state, and makes no sense when used in context of religious holidays.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 17:52:48 UTC | #930199

green and dying's Avatar Comment 14 by green and dying

Comment 13 by AtheistEgbert :

Christmas and Easter are not 'secular' they're Christian holidays. They may have been stolen from pagan sources but I really don't care. Secularism is strictly separation of church and state, and makes no sense when used in context of religious holidays.

We're talking about Sundays, not religious festivals. That's what I was comparing to the 7 day week etc.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 18:12:15 UTC | #930205

BowDownToGizmo's Avatar Comment 15 by BowDownToGizmo

Sunday is special, its for cycling! It's nice to have 1 day here in London which doesn't begin with a rush hour. Driver's are more relaxed, more patient and above all, more absent.

However, the question is of course, how much would Sunday change if business rules were relaxed? The number of working hours per week isn't going up, and many only work mon-fri now despite Saturday's availability. Also its worth considering that the 5 day working week is linked to global markets, which again will not be opening up for us in the UK just because we relaxed our sunday trading rules.

Also, if it wasn't for the absence of an outright ban on trading sundays, how would you enjoy that sunday lunch at the pub Mr Conquer?

Then some irks. Its 5pm on Sunday, just back from all day cycling and there's no food in the fridge. All the shops shut at 4pm. Argh!

I don't have anyone in my household mon-fri. Why is it my mail only comes mon-fri? Why do they only come to take my meter readings mon-fri? If I want to use my bank, why is it only open while I'm in work? Seriously?

Will any of these things end if sunday trading hours are relaxed? I expect not since they remain despite Saturday being open for business.

Conclusion: meh, ambivalent, don't think much will change, pros and cons if it does

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 20:35:11 UTC | #930240

BenS's Avatar Comment 16 by BenS

I noticed this myself - should have thought to make a topic, really - but I wondered if there was any real reason for these ridiculous Sunday trading laws to still be in effect.

With a few exceptions, I think businesses should be allowed to trade when they please. If you want to Keep Sunday Special then sure, go for it - but don't legislate it. All that does is get in my way.

Sat, 24 Mar 2012 21:25:10 UTC | #930251

canadian_right's Avatar Comment 17 by canadian_right

There is a big difference between deciding to celebrate Christmas, and being FORCED to treat every Sunday as special.

The government has no business forcing any private person or business to do anything due to purely religious reasons. The religious who own businesses can still decide to close or keep short hours on Sundays. The private individual who wants to keep Sunday special can keep it special without the governments help. I should not be forced to be forced to limit my activities because of religion.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:32:18 UTC | #930299

Mee Peestevone's Avatar Comment 18 by Mee Peestevone

I totally agree with you in regards to the government having no business forcing private businesses to do anything due to purely religious reasons. The only bylaw we have for Sundays prohibits objectionable and disturbing noises made by construction before 10 a.m. All is open for business even postal outlets, most banks, but no government services except liquor stores.

Comment 17 by canadian_right :

There is a big difference between deciding to celebrate Christmas, and being FORCED to treat every Sunday as special.

The government has no business forcing any private person or business to do anything due to purely religious reasons. The religious who own businesses can still decide to close or keep short hours on Sundays. The private individual who wants to keep Sunday special can keep it special without the governments help. I should not be forced to be forced to limit my activities because of religion.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 01:59:35 UTC | #930305

crucialfictionofjesus's Avatar Comment 19 by crucialfictionofjesus

Onya, Egbert; nice one!

Never cared for 'festivals' and xmas became depressing after divorce & 'loss' of kids; weddings too, overblown and nonsensical. Try to make every day a bit special in some small way. Sunday bloody Sunday- church, school next day, 'sing something simple' on radio, 'TV Toppers' on the box, remember how revolting it all was? God was such a BORE!

Comment 8 by AtheistEgbert :

Sorry, complete nonsense. If you think Sunday is 'special' fine, but I don't. If you think Christmas or Easter is 'special' too then fine, but don't force it down other people's throat.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 10:00:19 UTC | #930343

danconquer's Avatar Comment 20 by danconquer

Comment 17 by canadian_right :

There is a big difference between deciding to celebrate Christmas, and being FORCED to treat every Sunday as special.

You've changed two variable in that comparison: "deciding/FORCED" and "Christmas/Sunday". Intentional or not though, it does raise what I suspect is a potential inconsistency in some people's approach to this. People are very quick to breezily dismiss the idea that government should intervene in commercial/employment activity on Sunday... But I'm quite sure that a great many of those same people would actually be very uncomfortable with the notion that businesses providing non-essential services should be allowed to compel employees to work on Christmas Day. Yet there is no rational basis for making a distinction. If you regard it as an infringement of 'individual liberties' then it shouldn't matter whether it is one day in 7 or 365.

I notice that some have used terms like "forced" and "rammed down people's throats". The current arrangement allows small businesses (such as pubs and corner shops) to choose their own hours, meaning all involved - both customers and employees - can reasonably be assumed to be consenting. But Tesco's is now the biggest single private employer in Britain. In many towns and cities, retail is no longer a part of, but is the economy and is the only employment on offer. If you were suddenly informed that you were now compelled to work a limitless range of 24-hour shifts on sundays against your wishes then wouldn't you feel like the one having something 'rammed down your throat'? There are actually alot of private individuals who do rely on the current laws to keep some kind of semblance of 'special' to their sundays.

I should not be forced to be forced to limit my activities because of religion.

The question remains though just how much of this is actually down to religion? Does it not seem likely to you that the very earliest human civilisations would naturally have allocated a 'special' day, insofar as one that allowed for a unified, cohesive break for it's members? It seems far more plausible to me that religion - as is often the case - simply hijacked, rather than created, what was a pre-existing human phenomena.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 10:36:41 UTC | #930347

danconquer's Avatar Comment 21 by danconquer

Perhaps one solution might be to abolish all the existing controls over trading hours on sundays... And replace it with a single, simple statutory rule: All non-essential work on sundays must be available on a strictly voluntary basis, with employers prohibited from making it a contractual condition of employment.

It seems that everyone (except perhaps Tesco shareholders) would win under such a system: People who don't want to work would not have to, people who do want to work all day long would be able to and command a truer market rate for their labour which is otherwise driven down when employers are able to compel staff to work involuntarily.

I'd elaborate more on what seems an eminently sensible idea, but I have to go to work in an hour. Yes, on Sunday.

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 10:42:37 UTC | #930348

BenS's Avatar Comment 22 by BenS

Comment 21 by danconquer :

Perhaps one solution might be to abolish all the existing controls over trading hours on sundays... And replace it with a single, simple statutory rule: All non-essential work on sundays must be available on a strictly voluntary basis, with employers prohibited from making it a contractual condition of employment.

Just playing Devil's Advocate here, but we already have laws in place to prevent employers from compelling employees to do excessive hours - so why force them not to be able to stipulate Sunday working in a contract? It's already voluntary, you don't have to sign the contract. If part of my business plan, say, involves opening Sundays (if I'm a pub or a paintball site, for example) how can I not make it a condition of at least some employees that someone has to work Sundays...?

On the plus side, I could get a job as vicar and then politely decline to work Sundays. Great!

Sun, 25 Mar 2012 12:43:05 UTC | #930362

debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 23 by debonnesnouvelles

What an interesting question! I have heard the debate about sundays a lot, but I never thought about it this way.

Reading almost every comment on here, I find myself thinking: yeah, you're right. Which implies to me that there is no good rule to fit all in this case. Some people like the idea that on sundays everyone stops working and will meet in their best clothes on their sunday walk by the river. Others want to use their 1 free day a week to get done what they can't do when they're working and so would prefer to have a day off on a workday.

There are some professions which need to provide a service on a sunday. We would all be much worse off if there were no ambulances on sunday and no hospitals, if water and power supplies suddenly halted on a sunday. Even if you decided that the Police should get the day off too, you can't be sure that a criminal will obey the sunday-no-workday-rule. So someone has to work on sunday and will the get another day off in exchange.

In my family there was no sunday. My dad worked every day of the week without exception, I have never known it any other way. And my mum too used sunday to do work preparations for monday. So was that a ruined childhood? I think not. How about everyone choose for themselves as much as possible? Employees do get free days, maybe there can be a certain amount of freedom in that.

As to the idyllic sunday, maybe I should visit some of you sometime to experience the true sunday feeling. I can imagine, if I was living in the village of "Mon oncle" by Jacques Tati, that I would gladly hang out in the market place in front of "Chez Margot" on a sunday watch the day go by...

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 08:33:44 UTC | #930519

Jonathan Dore's Avatar Comment 24 by Jonathan Dore

Like Dan, I have no problem with supporting this idea. The bottom line is that everyone in employment should be entitled to a day off a week. It doesn't have to be a Sunday, but there are additional social advantages to it being the same day for everybody, or at least most people, because that means our social pleasures then don't have to be solitary. If you agree with the above two points, it makes sense to support that day continuing to be Sunday simply because, in the West, the historical precedent has been set for it to be that day, so we have a much better chance of retaining something of that status for Sunday than we do of establishing it afresh on behalf of any other day.

Mon, 26 Mar 2012 12:38:08 UTC | #930539

SaganTheCat's Avatar Comment 25 by SaganTheCat

as a musician, sundays have always been holy for me. sunday rehearsals when everyone is off work, can congregate in a barn and jam for a bit, chat about stuff, get away from day to day domestic life then round the afternoon off by partaking in the local eucharist before going home to sunday dinner is a tradition that i'll always cherish. i agree, there needs to be a day in the week where everyone has the choice to take off or at least get recompensed for the inconvenience of getting up on a sunday.

i would support this.

bank holidays on the other hand can eff off.

how about "keep the sabbath hollyoaks omnibus" for a secular campaign slogan?

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 12:27:10 UTC | #930726

BenS's Avatar Comment 26 by BenS

Comment 25 by Daniel Clear : i agree, there needs to be a day in the week where everyone has the choice to take off..

There is, it's called 'the days not stipulated for work in your contract'. Don't want to work Sunday, don't get a job that requires you to work Sundays. Don't want to work Wednesdays... etc.

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 17:41:01 UTC | #930772

Alan4discussion's Avatar Comment 27 by Alan4discussion

as a musician, sundays have always been holy for me. sunday rehearsals when everyone is off work, can congregate in a barn and jam for a bit, chat about stuff, get away from day to day domestic life then round the afternoon off by partaking in the local eucharist before going home to sunday dinner is a tradition that i'll always cherish

Around here the local musicians gather with guitars amps etc in the village pub on Tuesday nights - so in about half an hour's time, ...... ... ... ... I will no longer be posting here. ..... ... ...

Tue, 27 Mar 2012 19:05:29 UTC | #930791

starvoyager5150's Avatar Comment 28 by starvoyager5150

Saturdays and Sundays as set aside from the work-week: this is ingrained into our culture, hammered into place by religion and the school schedule of our youths (also based upon observing the sabbath). Many of us (perhaps most ??) work a Monday through Friday schedule with the other two days reserved for our own uses. From the standpoint of one who works the M-F workweek with Sat-Sun off, I think we should thank christians for helping to shape the concept of "weekend", my favorite part of the week. After all, they had to get something right.

Wed, 28 Mar 2012 18:17:24 UTC | #930982

Isaiah40's Avatar Comment 29 by Isaiah40

Seven day trading ineitably results in big business getting bigger and small business dying out. The big businesses are the ones that can afford to open and they gain enough additional market share to make the small businesses uprofitable.

A day off in a community really only works if it is as collective as possible - for both business reasons and social opportunities.

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 06:43:04 UTC | #934558

mmurray's Avatar Comment 30 by mmurray

Comment 29 by Isaiah40 :

Seven day trading ineitably results in big business getting bigger and small business dying out. The big businesses are the ones that can afford to open and they gain enough additional market share to make the small businesses unprofitable.

For supermarkets this might be an issue but collective purchasing power is far more likely to be the reason large supermarket chains have wiped out the corner store. That and convenience factor. But this is not true of all business. The small coffee shops and restaurants around here do really well out of being open on Sundays.

A day off in a community really only works if it is as collective as possible - for both business reasons and social opportunities.

Do you really not want to be able to fly or take a train on Sundays or wander down the street for a coffee or do your shopping? We all like to do things in our spare time that requires other people to work. So time off just needs to be staggered for different people. As long as employers negotiate work time sensibly I can't see the problem with this. Actually I like the occasional day off during the week. It's nice sitting in the local coffee shop watching all the poor buggers who have to work :-)

Even the Catholic Church gave up on this when I was a teenager by allowing Saturday evening mass as a replacement for Sunday mass. Perhaps that was because they recognised that in Australia their god took second place to the god of sport.

I have no desire to return to the days when children laughing and playing on a Sunday was a sin. There is enough unavoidable suffering in life without stupid people making up random rules that add to it.

Michael

Sat, 14 Apr 2012 07:21:52 UTC | #934560