North Dakota considers lifting a Sunday ban

There was a time, whippersnappers, when we couldn’t go shopping on Sunday in these parts. The churches ruled retail, at least on that day. Basically, we were then what North Dakota is now.

Some people in North Dakota would like to be a little more Minnesotan, at least on that day. So an effort is underway in the legislative assembly to repeal the law that requires businesses to stay closed, the Grand Forks Herald reports.

“Even though we want to make sure that we protect people’s ability to have time to practice their religion or spend time with their family … it’s not the responsibility of the North Dakota state government to say, ‘This is the time,’” Rep. Shannon Roers Jones, R-Fargo, told the House Industry, Business and Labor Committee during a hearing on Wednesday.

It’s going to be a tough sell. The committee took no action on the proposal. Two years ago, a similar bill was narrowly defeated.

The governor is for repeal, but the pastors are not.

“Will it make us a better society if we can buy anything we want seven days a week?” said the Rev. Douglas VanderMeulen of the Community Baptist Church in Fargo.

Indeed, a lot of North Dakotans are using the morning for rest and reflection, but many are doing so in the parking lots of stores while waiting for them to open.

Roers Jones says it goes against Republican values of personal responsibility and limited government to keep the restrictions in place.

  • The Resistance

    And people worry about Muslims and Sharia law.

    • jon

      Log in their own eye and what not.

  • kevins

    But the liquor stores in Fargo are open at Noon. God bless.

    • John O.

      Just in case the late service ran short of wine for communion…..

      • kevins


  • We STILL can’t buy cars on Sunday…

    • John

      I only shop for cars on Sunday. It’s the best time to walk the lot without being accosted by a salesperson.

      Let’s keep that in place.

      • I get that, but then there are others who may only have Sunday as their free day to do things.

        • John

          nope. this is about me. me me me me me. 🙂

          edit: the people you speak of are known as car salesmen. (and certain religious groups)

  • Barton

    I know stores have been opening on Sunday for decades now, but I still find it weird sometimes, or I find it weird that the stores open before noon on Sunday’s somehow.

    And yet, there have been times when I selfishly declare: what do you mean [particular store] doesn’t open until 10am on Sunday? that’s way too late!”

    I did laugh at the last line: “Roers Jones says it goes against Republican values of personal responsibility and limited government to keep the restrictions in place.” Bless.

  • Mike Worcester

    When I was a kid I had a neighbor who was a devout Seventh Day Adventist. She did nothing on Saturdays. And by nothing I mean not even buy a magazine subscription from me when I was peddling them for a school fundraiser. I was too young at the time to understand that not everyone had their holy day on Sunday.

    Now I’m older and (presumably) wiser and fully understand that Sunday is not the holy day for a multitude of religious traditions, and that for the “nones” as quantified by the awesome folks at the PEW Forum on Religion and Public Life, a holy day for many of us is just another day ending in “y” to them.

    I also find it interesting how the typical political dividing lines are not in place here; that sometimes topics like this make for unusual alliances in policy advocating.

    • John

      We have some kids on our swim team who are Jewish. Saturday meets are a challenge, and I wish we had a better solution than “sorry, you won’t be able to attend.”

  • MrE85

    Responding to Rev. VanderMeulen:

    “Will it make us a better society if we go to your church one day a week?”

    I’m pretty sure of his answer to that question. I’m not so sure of mine.

  • BReynolds33

    The law does nothing, in reality. It is merely for show. People in retail still go to work at all hours, even on Sunday, when the store can’t open before noon. It provides for nothing, save for some extra time to stock shelves and straighten out the new ad set for the week. People still work in gas stations, hotels, restaurants, etc.

    I lived in Grand Forks for five years, and worked in a couple different retail places. I still had to be to work at 6AM. The Sundays I had off, we still were out and about, buying things. It was just a pain in the butt. With Amazon and other competition, they’re only hurting their businesses by forcing them to remain closed on a prime shopping day.

  • Rob

    In light of the fact that the interweb is open for commerce 24/7, the ND pastors’ opposition to keeping brick and mortar stores closed on Sunday seems exceedingly anachronistic.

    Heck, there are probably more than a few churchgoers who are surreptitiously using their cellphones to buy stuff online or upload iTunes purchases during interminable sermons.

  • John F.

    When I lived in Fargo, I worked for Target as a part-time job. Not only did I like the “no shopping until noon” (referred to as the Blue Light Law in ND), I readily volunteered to work Sunday mornings at Target. With no guests in the store, we were allowed to listen to music and wear jeans while we stocked shelves. It was my favorite day to work. Everyone was more relaxed and we often all took breaks together (something you can’t really do when the store is open).

    Religion aside, it was nice to have that break from customers every week.

  • Brian Simon

    “it goes against Republican values of personal responsibility and limited government to keep the restrictions in place.”

    I’d put it differently, but, yeah. What is the compelling interest for the state to regulate which days stores are open?

  • ec99

    The last time this came around, a legislator stood up and quoted the Ten Commandments as an argument against Sunday opening. Guess he didn’t know that text refers to Saturday. He also likely didn’t know that SUNday is a pagan holiday to worship Sol Invictus.