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Austin Cline

Church & State Fundamentals: What about the "Sundays Excepted" Clause?

By November 27, 2012

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One common point of contention in the debate over whether or not the Constitution is reflects particularly Christian concerns and exists to reinforce Christian principles is the meaning of Article I, section 7 of the Constitution. This section states that "If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a law, in like Manner as if he had signed it..." Very similar wording can be found in many state constitutions as well.


Read Article: What about the "Sundays Excepted" Clause?

September 18, 2007 at 4:25 pm
(1) tracieh says:

If I opened up a company in India and wrote out a corporate manual. And in the manual, I recognized that Day X nobody in India works—as it is a religious observance day—where no vendors would be open, and no business is generally done, and people take the day off. And if I explicitly express in my manual that any payroll or other necessary functions that would normally fall upon Day X should be completed at least upon the day prior, does that mean my company is a Hindu company that is promoting the Hindu religion? Or is it simply a practical consideration in the current clime?

What theocrats fail to recognize is that nobody is disputing that a good number of early Americans were Xians. We actually DO get that. But do these same theocrats grasp what that _actually_ implies? It means that there will likely be some practical considerations for Xian holidays and observations in business (including government business) workings. And just because my company is closed over Xmas doesn’t mean it’s promoting Xianity. It’s simply recognizing that so many people are going to take off that day that it’s not even economically feasible to keep the business/company open that day. One company I used to work at closed for the entire week of Xmas during some years—depending on employee vacation requests. It wasn’t an endorsement of Xianity. It was simply a practical and completely understandable economic business consideration.

In fact, we have so many real world examples of secular businesses respecting religious holidays and national holidays that I can’t actually believe this argument is intellectually honest.

When I was a child, it wasn’t uncommon for nearly all businesses to be closed on Sundays. Banks still observe this—are banks Xian institutions, then? Since I don’t know of any Xians who try to promote that banks are Xian institutions, since they are closed on Sundays, I can’t buy this argument that one mention of a Sunday observance for a business/working event equals a Constitutional endorsement of religion (any more than a bank is endorsing religion when it does exactly the same thing).

Any Xian who can grasp that a bank is a secular, rather than a religious institution cannot use this argument without gushing disingenuousness.

January 31, 2010 at 12:22 am
(2) Eric (4tunate1) says:

I don’t actually see this as a case of disingenuousness so much as a fault of comprehension. The problem is that many of the radical theists genuinely don’t understand the difference between NONreligious (or secular) and ANTIreligious. The referenced clause DOES count as evidence that the framers were not ANTIreligious. The fault lies in the assumption that the only alternative is religiosity.

November 28, 2012 at 9:35 pm
(3) Victoria says:

Well, Tracieh is a lot younger than I had originally thought, or is it that I am that old??? I am 57. When I was a child…

When i was a child most people got off work at 5pm. I don’t know how late retail stores were open during the week, but certainly not as late as now. They were open on Saturdays because most people got home a 5 and ate dinner and stayed home for the evening. Banks were only open 9am – 3pm and were closed on Sat and of course on Sun. I think banks were open until 6 on Fridays.Those lines on Friday were long, long, long.

I remember the church near my junior high that would ring the church bells every day at noon. They would be competing with the noon whislte for the factories.

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