On the Sunday Law
View the Video of the US Government's Endorsement of the SDA Church
Read John Whitehead's letter.
BY GIANFRANCO ROSSI
Past November marked the twentieth anniversary of the adoption of a major document concerning religious liberty by the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN). Seventh-day Adventists played a key role in producing the Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief. For the first time one of those involved in the negotiations reveals how Seventh-day Adventist influenced the negotiations surrounding the document's acceptance.--The Editors.
In Italy I had worked in favor of religious liberty. I had gathered and used many documents from international organizations and different countries relating to the Sabbath or to the weekly day of rest. The Lord had blessed my work with the Italian authorities, who had issued declarations regarding freedom to observe a day of rest (in our case, the Sabbath) for students, military personnel, and general workers.
Lanarés had to leave the meetings for pressing matters in Bern, Switzerland, and in his absence I tried then to contact the Dutch delegate, Jaap A. Walkate. "The right to observe a day of rest is vitally important," I said. "There are millions in the world whose convictions require this freedom." I showed him a Dutch law that grants both Saturday and Sunday as days of rest for those whose religious convictions require them. I showed him also a copy of the law and administrative documents issued by other countries (Philippines, United Kingdom, Israel, United States) and the text of the convention concerning weekly rest (article 106 of the International Labour Organization) that specifically supports the rights of minorities on such issues.
Mr. Walkate said, "You have so much material, you could write a book on the topic." I also showed him the text of an amendment that I had prepared and suggested that it could be added to article 6 as a new paragraph. It read: "The freedom to observe the holidays or the days of rest according to the precepts of religion or belief." Walkate expressed interest and made only one observation on the text. He suggested that the word "customs" was more useful than "precepts." More important, he assured me he would do something about bringing this before the entire group.
I also contacted the Filipino delegation, because I was able to talk to Ambassador Leticia Ramos-Shahani, the head of the delegation. I mentioned her colleague, Mr. Lim, who in 1957, as a delegate of the Philippines at the International Labour Conference, had supported the introduction of the words "The traditions and customs of religious minorities shall, as far as possible, be respected" in a document issued by this body.
I showed her the transcript of Mr. Lim's speech, in which he specifically mentioned Seventh-day Adventists: "In the Philippines there are more than a half million Muslims who would not like to work on Friday, for example. The Christians believe that Sunday is the day of rest, although even among those Christians we have the Seventh-day Adventists, who believe that of the seven days of the week, the Lord meant Saturday to be the day of rest."
I showed her text from Filipino law that allows employees to ask their employer for a weekly day of rest according to their religious convictions. I showed her also documents from other countries. "Would you be willing to propose the amendment I prepared," I asked, "the same amendment I presented to the Dutch delegate?" Ambassador Ramos-Shahani responded positively and assured me she would. I thanked her (and the Lord) for her answer.
The next day when the Filipino delegate was to make the proposal for the amendment, a revised version of article 6 was distributed. Proposed by the U.S., it contained a new paragraph that read: ". . . the freedom to celebrate holidays in accordance with the customs of religion or belief." Seeing that the paragraph had the word "customs" and not "precepts," I thought the Dutch delegate had met with the U.S. delegate and asked for the paragraph I had suggested.
Lanarés and I were delighted with this proposal by the U.S. delegation. We were, however, not fully satisfied, because the paragraph mentioned only "holidays," not "days of rest."
I contacted the delegate from the Philippines, who assured me that during the discussion of this new paragraph she would propose the wording "to observe days of rest" and the substitution of "precepts" for "customs."
At the next meeting the delegate from the Vatican was absent. As the meeting began, the president launched the discussion of paragraph h, starting with the initial U.S. suggestion: " . . . the freedom to celebrate holidays in accordance with the customs of religion or belief."
Paragraph h was accepted as we wanted. I thanked the Lord for such a great victory, so important for Adventists in all the world, as well as for religious people of all faiths and convictions.
At the end of the session Ambassador Ramos-Shahani, asked me if I was happy. "This is one of the greatest joys of my life," I told her as I warmly thanked her for her important motion. I also thanked the president of the group and the other delegates who had contributed to achieve the results for which we had hoped.
The working group finished the draft of the declaration on March 5. On March 10, 1981, the Commission on Human Rights approved the text suggested by our working group. The General Assembly of the UN proclaimed the declaration without vote by unanimous consensus on November 25, 1981.
Over the past two decades this declaration has contributed to further understanding, religious liberty, and more openness for the spread of the gospel in all countries. And as long as governments agree to abide by its conditions, it will continue to do so.
The document is of great value to a church that teaches the importance of observing God's commandments, including the fourth-the Sabbath. Seventh-day Adventists were able, with God's help, to contribute essentially to the paragraph that underscores that religious liberty implies the freedom "to observe days of rest and to celebrate holidays and ceremonies in accordance with the precepts of one's religion or belief."
This declaration, issued in 1981, has proven very useful in the decades since. In some countries, such as Italy, Spain, Poland, etc., this declaration has been used extensively. For example, article 17 of the Italian law N. 5126, dated November 22, 1988, reads: "The Italian Republic recognizes to the members of the Seventh-day Adventist Churches the right to observe the biblical sabbath rest, which lasts from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday."
If we consider that the right to keep the Sabbath was recognized specifically by law for the first time in Rome, center of a religious power that hallows Sunday, we must admit that God has providentially intervened to help His children keep His commandments.
Twenty years have passed since the issuing of the declaration. I have often wondered: Why did the working group need so long, almost 20 years, to prepare a text of only eight articles? Why did Adventists intervene only shortly before the work was concluded?
I'm sure I don't know all of God's reasons; I can only guess. All I know for certain is that God's thoughts are much higher than our own. All we can do is humbly follow Him as far and as fast as He leads us. To God be all glory.
Gianfranco Rossi is the former director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty (PARL) of the Euro-Africa Division and secretary general of the International Association for Defense of Religious Liberty (AIDLR). He is now retired and lives with his wife in Lugano, Switzerland.
Dallas settles Seventh-day Adventist code inspector lawsuit
02:23 PM CST on Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Without debate, the Dallas City Council on Wednesday approved payment of $55,000 to a Seventh-day Adventist code compliance inspector who sued the city because superiors made her work on her Sabbath.
As part of a settlement, inspector Marilyn Ford also retains her job with a shift that accomodates her religious convictions.
In 2004, Ms. Ford refused to work Saturday shifts because Seventh-day Adventists celebrate the Sabbath that day.
But her boss told her she'd be fired if she didn't work, according to her lawsuit filed in federal court. Ms. Ford filed a grievance with the city, but the city denied it and fired her in 2005.
It was the second employment row for Ms. Ford in two years: In 2004, the city fired her after accusing her of falsifying code compliance documents. She won her job back on appeal and superiors scheduled her to work Wednesday through Sunday.
Dallas officials had argued that Ms. Ford's request would have forced them to create a new position to accommodate her scheduling requests. They also argued that Ms. Ford could have applied for a job outside the code compliance department or for a Monday through Friday job within the department after a year.
Supreme Court rules on government Ten Commandments displays
Wednesday, June 29, 2005; Posted: 4:35 p.m. EDT (20:35 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Supreme Court struggled in a pair of 5-4 rulings Monday to define how much blending of church and state is constitutionally permissible, allowing the Ten Commandments to be displayed outside the Texas state Capitol but not inside Kentucky courthouses.
Editor's Comment: If you cannot gain constitutional permission to display the Ten Commandments on government property in support of "religion", how would one expect to interest government in passing a "National Sunday Law" "in the name of religion"?
Adventist News Network
December 13, 1996
Sunday Laws Not an Option Now
Silver Spring, Maryland, USA... [ANN] Any "so-called" Sunday law legislation is not an option currently, according to United States congressman Roscoe Bartlett. During a luncheon meeting on December 10 at the Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA, Bartlett, was questioned regarding Congress and Sunday law legislation.
He forthrightly indicated that he saw under present circumstances practically no possibility for such legislation to be seriously considered, let alone enacted by Congress.
In his opinion, the oposition from the number of Jewish members of Congress and that of many others would be much to strong. Bartlett, who is a Seventh-day Adventist, explained that for any such legislation to come forward in a significant way, there would have to be "radical changes in American society."
For more than a century, Seventh-day Adventists have opposed work cessation Sunday blue laws, considering them to be religiously motivated and therefore unconstitutional, and furthermore discriminatory toward those observing another day of worship and rest.
French Government Reinstates Adventist Rights
Paris, France ... [ANN] French Seventh-day Adventist pupils can once again legally observe their day of rest due to pressure from a religious freedom group.
In a letter to the French chapter of the International Association for the Defence of Religious Liberty (IADRL), the office of Minister of Education confirmed it was granting permission for Jewish and Seventh-day Adventist students to be absent from school on Saturdays.
"In making this decision, the French government has reversed its policy which discriminated against religious minorities," says Maurice Verfaillie, Communication director for the Adventist Church in central and southern Europe.
Until 1993, each new minister of Education wrote letters granting permission for Adventists to be absent from compulsory attendance on Saturdays at France's public schools. The 1993 Waco tragedy and 1994 Solar Temple suicides led some French authorities to identify certain religious minorities as "dangerous sects." According to Verfaillie, media campaigns against such cults led to some school directors to mistakenly identify Adventists as a kind of unusual religion that should not be granted any kind of toleration. "The attitude of French school authorities hardened," said Verfaillie. "Many practising Jews and Seventh-day Adventists were not granted the right to freedom of conscience regarding Sabbath (Saturday) absences for religious motives."
A 1992 decree passed after Islamic agitation was cited as a reason to restrict religious freedom. As a result, some school directors refused to grant permission for Saturday absence. Now that right has been reinstated.
"There is no objection to pass on my letter to the families so that they can mention it, in case of difficulty, to the relevant academic authorities,"said cabinet director Denis Soubeyran while confirming that permission has now been granted again. "This is a great help to Adventist families, not only here in mainland France but also in French overseas territories," says Verfaillie. "It is also a great advantage to show the public that the Seventh-day Adventist Church is not considered a sect but as a church by French authorities. The letter from the minister of Education takes on particular importance in the context of the emotional agitation regarding the new religious movements and religious minority groups."
March 21, 2005 Ashkhabad, Turkmenistan .... [Mark A. Kellner/ANN]
The resumption of weekly public worship for the Adventist Church in Turkmenistan may represent another milestone in religious freedom there. What is taken for granted in many parts of the world -- the right to peaceably assemble for worship and ownership of a church building -- has been a subject of great difficulty in the former Soviet state, now a republic, which is located in Central Asia, bordering the Caspian Sea, between Iran and Kazakhstan.
In November of 1999, a bulldozer began the demolition of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Ashkhabad. Last year, however, things began to change. In June, the Adventist Church received registration #0001, the first Protestant congregation to be registered by the country's Ministry of Justice, church leaders said.
Adventist News Network
Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters
September 5, 2000
Adventist Leaders Welcome Changing Relationship Between Church and
State in Sweden
Stockholm, Sweden .... [Bettina Krause]
Eight months after historic legislation broke the more than 400-year bond between the state and the Lutheran Church of Sweden, Seventh-day Adventist Church leaders say the impact of the reform has been significant.
Pastor Per Bolling, president of the Adventist Church in Sweden says that while the day-to-day operation of the Adventist Church in Sweden remains nearly the same, the change has been very important in another sense.
"From a legal perspective, we are now permitted to be a church," says Bolling. "Up until the beginning of this year, there was legally only one church in this country. The rest of the churches were organized as voluntary associations-like football clubs, for instance-or foundations, or as limited companies owned by shareholders."
"Consequently, we applied to become a church, and we were registered as such in July this year," reports Bolling.
Bolling says that the legislation will result in social and cultural changes that may take years or decades to develop, including a gradual erosion in the Church of Sweden's monopoly as provider of rites of passage such as marriage and burial. In the short term, the reform will mean a significant reduction in the amount of government financial support for the Church of Sweden. The Church of Sweden has also gained more freedom in ordering its internal affairs; the appointment of bishops and deans will now be ecclesiastical rather than government decisions.
Dr. John Graz, director of the public affairs and religious liberty department of the Adventist Church worldwide, has also welcomed the changes, calling them a "movement towards a healthier, non-discriminatory environment in which the religious liberty of individuals is respected by the state." Graz says the reform reflects the already high level of tolerance for diverse religious traditions in Sweden.
Eighty-seven percent of the Swedish population belong to the Church of Sweden, and until 1996, Swedish citizens became members of the Church at birth. The Adventist Church has been active in Sweden since 1901.
Breakthrough for Sabbath-keeping Students in France
Paris, France .... [Bettina Krause]
A letter issued by France's Minister of Education last week will make it easier for students to receive religious exemptions from school attendance on Saturdays.
While affirming that the principal of each school still has the discretion to grant or deny requests, the letter by National Education Minister Jack Lang identifies religious accommodation as a valid reason for a principal to grant an exemption.
"This is a significant breakthrough," says Dr. John Graz, director of the public affairs and religious liberty department of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide. "There has been an ongoing, deteriorating situation in France where Adventist students have been denied permission to be absent from school on Saturday-their day of worship."
Graz says that from 1950 to 1981, France's Minister of Education issued an annual letter recommending such exemptions "almost as a matter of course."
"Since that time it has became more difficult," Graz says. In the past three to four years, dozens of Adventist students have failed to gain their principals' approval for Saturday absences. An Adventist student from Versailles was denied Sabbath accommodation and took his case to the European Court of Human Rights in 1999. Although the court ruled in the student's favor, teachers at his school went on strike when the ruling was implemented.
The timing of the minister's letter is significant, coming just weeks after France's National Assembly adopted a proposed anti-sect law. The law, which prompted expressions of concern from religious and human rights groups around the world when it was adopted on June 22, targets a list of 172 so-called sects. If passed by the Senate, the law would provide for the dissolution of religious organizations engaging in the poorly defined crime of "mental manipulation." Although the Adventist Church was not included on the list of sects, Graz says the law foreshadows an increasingly hostile environment for all religious minorities in France.
"There is an ideological battle against the principles of religious liberty in France," says Graz. He says that "widespread secularism," "public apathy towards religious freedom issues," and "a media-driven fear of small or unknown religious groups" has contributed to the current environment.
Graz says that it is difficult to know why France's Ministry of Education released the letter last week after stalling on the issue for more than three years. International bodies-including the United Nations and the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom-expressed concern about France's increasingly hostile attitude towards religious minorities, which may have played a role, Graz believes.
Jean-Paul Bargoun and Jimmy Trujillo, Adventist church leaders in France, have been credited with obtaining the letter. They say that while the minister's letter has no binding legal effect, it may have "persuasive influence" on the decisions made by school principals.
The Seventh-day Adventist Church, which teaches that Saturday-the seventh day-is a day of worship and rest, has operated in France since the 1880s. The Adventist Church is a longtime proponent of religious liberty principles, believing that individuals should have the right to follow the dictates of conscience in matters of religion and worship.
After issuing his guidelines on religious expression in the federal workplace President Clinton has been hailed as the president most supportive of religious freedom in our nation's history!
Rabbi David Saperstein, director of the Religious Action Center of
Reform Judaism said:
"[The Clinton administration] is the most supportive administration to religious freedom and religious liberty of American citizens of any administration in the history of this nation. Time and again, they have stood up on behalf of the rights of religious people in the schools, on behalf of religious freedom generally and now within the federal workplace." The recently issued guidelines tell federal employers to reasonably accommodate employees' religious practices, including allowing them off in order to keep the Sabbath.
Perez anticipates national laws will be passed that require Sunday worship. He contends enacting those laws would be a sign of the end of the world. Adventists believe Saturday is the Sabbath.
Reid said there is no danger of Sunday-law legislation. He also called Perez's ad campaign "manufactured danger."
"He's a loose cannon on the deck," Reid said.
Hector Avalos, associate professor of religion at Iowa State University, said he does not think the nation is moving toward Sunday laws. "I think we're moving away from them," Avalos said. "At one point the Supreme Court thought they were good, but legally and culturally we're far away from this happening."
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
July 2, 1995
PARLIAMENT VOTES CHURCH - STATE ACT WITH THE SEVENTH-DAY ADVENTIST CHURCH
Warsaw, Poland... After five years of negotiations, the Polish Parliament (Sejm) has approved the text of a law which regulates the relations between the Polish Republic and the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
According to Zachariasz Lyko, the Church's counsel, who represented the Church in the legislative negotiations, "this Act of Parliament is of historical proportions. Our Church not only received a legal status in the country, but that status makes the Church equal before the law just like other denominations, including the Roman Catholic Church."
The parliament acknowledges that the Church in Poland is a part of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church, and recognizes the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists as the highest authority in doctrinal and ecclesiastical matters. News of the parliamentary decision was announced by world Church president, Robert S. Folkenberg, to the participants of the world congress of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, meeting in Utrecht, The Netherlands, just hours after the vote of approval in Sejm on Friday, June 30.
The law establishes the Church's jurisdictions and describes its relationship with the state. It guarantees full religious freedom for Adventists, ensuring that their Sabbath rights in the work place and school will be honored. Free Saturday is also guaranteed for military personnel.
The Church has full autonomy in its operations, governed by its own statute. Freedom of its missionary work is guaranteed, together with the Church's public activities. Regarding the day of worship, the law recognizes Saturday as that day. Believers have a right to be free from work and studies between sunset on Friday and sunset on Saturday.
The law states that Adventists are awarded an opportunity to teach religion to Adventist students in public schools. The Church is also guaranteed the full right to establish and operate institutions, including schools of all levels, publishing houses, foundations and other entities. The Church is guaranteed the right to military chaplaincy.
The law received support of practically all members of parliament, with only three abstentions, and was part of a legal package that received parliamentary passage for three other churches, including Baptists, Methodists and Polish Catholics. Now, the law is being sent to the Polish Senate and will await the president's signature which will make it legally binding.
Dr. B. B. Beach, public affairs director of the world Church, states that, "The passing of this law is a remarkable religious liberty victory for the Polish Seventh-day Adventist Church. This marks the climax of many years of negotiations and increasing positive relations between the Polish state and the Church!"
The law is similar to recently passed legislations in Italy and Spain which gives separate and legal recognition to the Adventist Church and the religious needs of its members.
Professional Licensure opens to Sabbatarians in Philippines
December 12, 2000 Manila, Philippines .... [[Raquel Floresta Operana/Charlotte McClure]
Philippine President Joseph Ejercito Estrada signed into law a significant bill for Seventh-day Adventists on December 8. The "Professional Regulation Commission Modernization Bill" ensures that Philippine professional licensure examinations will only be scheduled on weekdays and not on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
Many Seventh-day Adventists in the Philippines had been denied professional licensure in the past because the examinations were scheduled on Saturdays, the Adventists' Sabbath day. "Because Adventists chose not to attend classes or examinations on their Sabbath, many professional people had to wait years to get licensed," says Jemima Orillosa, a native of the Philippines who currently works in Secretariat at the Seventh-day Adventist Church's world headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland, USA. "A person applying for their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, for instance, might be able to take one part of the exam and then wait long years to find other parts of the exam scheduled for a weekday," she adds.
Congressman Harlin C. Abayon (First District, Northern Samar), who worked on this bill, intentionally sought chairmanship of the Civil Service Committee in the Philippine House of Representatives so that he could help members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Together with Pastor Bienvenido Tejano, Philippine Ambassador to Papua New Guinea and religious liberty director for the church's North Philippine region, Abayon worked with the country's legislators for the bill to be passed first in the House of Representatives and later in the Senate.
Earlier in his term, President Estrada had issued an administrative order to the Professional Regulation Commission that examinations should not be done on Saturdays, but Pastor Tejano and Congressman Abayon wanted the assurance of seeing the intention put into law to ensure that Sabbath examinations be avoided in the future.
After signing the bill, President Estrada said, "I have fulfilled my promise."
Among the witnesses to the signing of the bill were Congressman Abayon and his wife, Ambassador Tejano, Violeto F. Bocala, president of the Southern Asia-Pacific region of the Adventist Church, Howard F. Faigao, associate publishing director of the Seventh-day Adventist Church worldwide, Alberto C. Gulfan, Jr., president of the Central Philippine Union Mission; Pastor Hiskia I. Missah, youth director and director of religious liberty in the Southern Asia-Pacific region, and Nestor D. Dayson, president of the North Philippine Union Mission.
Adventist News Network
Proposed Law Would Protect Brazilian Sabbath-Keepers
Brasília, Brazil .... [Siloé de Almeida/ASN/ANN Staff]
Proposed legislation aimed at protecting the rights of Brazilian Sabbath-keepers moved another step forward last week when it was approved by a high-level government committee.
The Committee of Constitution and Justice of the Brazilian House of Deputies approved the "project," or proposed legislation, March 20 .
The legislation, authored by Deputy Silas Brasileriro, is intended to protect citizens whose religious convictions do not allow them to undertake study or exams on Saturday. If passed, the law would allow for entry-exams for federal public administration to be held on Sunday, and would prevent other public examinations, college entrance examinations, and school tests being held on Saturdays.
"Such projects are based on the constitutional principle [assuring] the inviolability of freedom of conscience and belief, and reaffirming that no one will be denied rights because of religious belief or philosophical or political conviction," said Deputy Geraldo Magela, CCJ recorder.
The proposed legislation now goes for final editorial analysis and will then be considered by the Federal Senate. "The last step for this victory in the field of religious liberty will be approval in a plenary session of the Federal Senate," explained Magela.
Norway Considers Dramatic Reform of Church-State Ties
Oslo, Norway .... [Bettina Krause/ANN] [April 2002]
It's time to loosen the centuries-old ties between the Lutheran Church and the Norwegian government, according to a four-year commission into the country's traditional church-state relationship. The Church/State commission, set up by the Lutheran Church of Norway, released its recommendations earlier this month, saying that "all churches and religious societies in Norway should be treated equally." The report also calls on members of the Church of Norway to "take responsibility for their church, both financially and in practical leadership."
"This is indeed good news for all free churches in Norway," says Tor Tjeransen, president of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Norway. "Although free churches in Norway are given ample room to function and operate, there is no doubt that it is an anachronism to operate a state church."
Separation between church and state would require a change in the Norwegian Constitution, which in turn requires the vote of two different parliaments, explains Tjeransen. He says the issue won't be finalized before 2005, at the earliest.
Under the country's 1814 Constitution, the king is the head of the Church of Norway, and he exercises this power through the Government Council of State. The parliament deals with church finances and passes legislation relating to church affairs. Since 1660 the king had been responsible for appointing all church leaders, including parish pastors. Although this process was reformed in 1989, higher-ranking church officials continue to receive their appointment from a select state committee.
Recognition of Norway's growing religious pluralism was a significant factor in prompting this review of the church-state relationship, say leaders of the Church of Norway. Although there has been a steady increase over the past decade in Norway's Muslim and non-Lutheran Christian groups, an overwhelming majority of Norwegians still belong to the Church of Norway; at last count some 86 percent. In 2000, 82 percent of babies born in Norway were baptized into this church.
Norway remains one of the few countries of the world to maintain a state church. The commission's report, expected to generate significant public debate in Norway, follows the decision of the Lutheran Church in neighboring Sweden to sever church-state ties two years ago.
Adventist News Network
Seventh-day Adventist Church World Headquarters
September 11, 2002
New Hope for Sabbath-Keeping Students in Ukraine
Kiev, Ukraine .... [Valery Ivanov/Rebecca Scoggins/ANN]
Ukrainian authorities have recommended that educational institutions schedule all major exams on weekdays rather than on Saturdays or Sundays, which are holy days for many religious groups.
The Voice of Truth (Golos Istiny), a Seventh-day Adventist periodical in eastern Ukraine, reports that the Ukrainian Ministry of Education and Science made the recommendation this summer in a letter sent to all public schools, institutes, and universities in the country. The action comes in response to a petition submitted by Ukrainian Adventists on behalf of students and parents who worship on Saturday.
"We are so happy that our voice has been heard in this case," says Valery Ivanov, communication director for Adventists in Euro-Asia. "This recommendation allows students to follow their convictions in celebrating the seventh day. It is important not only for Adventists in Ukraine but also for Jewish people, Sabbath-keeping Pentecostals, and other groups who honor the Bible Sabbath."
Although the Soviet Union was officially atheistic, school exams were rarely scheduled on Sundays even during the Communist era. However, Saturday was often a day for school and work, and this practice has continued in many former Soviet nations. Students who don't attend classes or take exams on Saturdays can fail their courses and lose the opportunity to attend universities.
Adventist students in Ukraine, Russia, and nearby nations usually deal with the challenge of Saturday exams by asking individual teachers and schools for permission to test on another day. Sometimes they are successful, but Ukrainian Adventists hope that the new recommendation will provide a stronger atmosphere of religious tolerance.
Ukraine is one of the most religiously diverse nations in Euro-Asia, with significant numbers of Orthodox believers, several branches of the Catholic Church, and numerous Protestant denominations. The country is also home to the largest remaining Jewish communities in the former Soviet Union.
SUNDAY CLOSING AND WEEKLY REST PERIODS:
HISTORICAL EVOLUTION AND CURRENT SITUATION
Pressure to liberalize Sunday closing laws, always present to some
degree since the enactment of the Lord’s Day Act, intensified from the
1970s onwards. This can be ascribed to the secularization of society and,
perhaps most importantly, the desire of certain segments of the retail business
community to increase economic activity, and improve their competitiveness, by
extending weekly shopping hours.
Sunday closing laws were also challenged in court, although such challenges were initially unsuccessful. However, the adoption of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1982 proved to be a turning point for opponents of Sunday closing legislation. In 1985, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the federal Lord’s Day Act. It came to the conclusion that, by compelling all Canadians to observe the Christian Sabbath, the Act infringed the Charter guarantee of freedom of religion. It also deemed such an infringement not to be reasonable or demonstrably justified in a democratic society.
CULLMAN, Ala. -- Cullman County residents will get the chance to vote for an amendment November 2 allowing businesses to open Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Currently the local blue law allows most retail stores to open only from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays. Supporters say people need a day off to attend church or be with their families, while opponents say people need the extra day for shopping.
Blue laws were common throughout Alabama until the 1970s and 1980s when court challenges, law changes and consumer complaints wiped them from the books or relaxed them.
The Alabama League of Municipalities has no record of any other county still enforcing laws limiting Sunday business hours.
A Wal-Mart manager said he supports a repeal of the law because it encourages Cullman shoppers to do business elsewhere on Sunday.
ABOUT OUR NEW HOURS OF OPERATION -- FamilyChristian.com
In August of this year, we began opening our stores between services on Sunday afternoons-starting with the Dallas area. Family Christian Stores has now extended our hours to include Sunday nationwide.
We have an opportunity to extend our ministry to the primary day of worship, and reach people when ministry is at the forefront of their hearts and minds. Being open between services on Sunday also furthers our ministry of providing guests with the Bibles, books and other Christian resources that meet their needs-whenever their needs arise.
This was a decision that we took very seriously-and after prayer, study and counsel from other Christian leaders-we felt it as important for Family Christian Stores to be serving our guests on Sunday for limited hours.
The abbreviated Sunday hours reflect our desire to support morning worship time for our employees and guests, while still meeting the resource needs of the Christian community.
If you have any comments or questions regarding Family Christian Stores being open between services on Sunday, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We at Family Christian Stores are committed to a very important calling-Helping to Strengthen Hearts, Minds & Souls by helping you to grow closer to Christ.
President and CEO
Family Christian Stores
Ban 'Christmas,' Not Worried About Backlash
Not wanting to offend a handful of complainers, these companies are willing to offend the vast majority who hold Christmas as a time to celebrate the birth of Christ. Their attitude is that those who identify themselves as Christians don't care if they eliminate "Christmas."
American Family Association
P O Drawer 2440
Tupelo, MS 38803
COMMENTARY: When retailers are even considering to "ban the use of 'Christmas' in their in-store promotions and retail advertising," you can be assured that society is not favorable to vote for or promote a National Sunday Law, honoring the "Christian Sabbath."