IN Touch: Keep religion out of alcohol sales debate
My tenth post on The Indianapolis Star's IN Touch blog is now online. I'm going to keep re-posting those entries here (at least until someone from the Star asks me to stop). Go ahead and visit the post on the IN Touch site, anyway.
(Note that in the above-copy I've corrected several typos that were created by the editing that was done to the original version of the post that I submitted. I also added the link to the original article that my post referenced.)
A recent article in The Star ("Panel thirsts for facts in Sunday alcohol sales debate") discussed some of the pros and cons of Sunday retail alcohol sales. Among the arguments promoted by the Indiana Association of Beverage Retailers against expanded Sunday alcohol sales was this: "Remember the Sabbath: Sunday is a religious day. Liquor shouldn't be sold on it." There are, of course, two problems with this particular argument.First is the recognition that alcohol is already sold on Sunday in bars, restaurants, and at sporting events. The issue is not whether alcohol should be sold on Sunday, but whether retail sales should be allowed. I doubt many Hoosiers would support a return to the ban on restaurant alcohol sales on Sunday.
Second, and more problematic, is the suggestion that "Sunday is a religious day." Well, it is for some, but not all. Jews worship the Sabbath on Saturday, Muslims on Friday, and others not at all. Some religious traditions ban all use of alcohol while others include alcohol as an important part of religious observance. If government is going to legislate on the basis of religious tradition, how should government reconcile those competing positions?
It should not be the job of the government to regulate what people can and cannot do on religious grounds. If your religious views tell you not to purchase, consume, or sell alcohol on your Sabbath, then that is your right. But those religious views should not be enforced, through governmental action, on others who may have honestly held but divergent religious views (or no religious views at all). There may be good arguments against Sunday retail alcohol sales, but religious belief should not be among them.