Sunday, 9 February 2014

The Dean on Sunday Trading

From "The Pilot" of 1994 comes John Seaford, who was then Dean of Jersey, writing on Sunday trading, a topic which still is being reviewed today. I think it is a very sensible article and balanced article.
On Sunday Trading by John Seaford, Dean of Jersey
Seven whole days, not one in seven. If the secularist and commercial lobby have their way all shops will be open seven days a week and there will not be even one day any different from any other. We are in serious danger of losing the rhythm of the week - every day becoming just like every other day.
On 8th December last year, the House of Commons in the UK Parliament voted for something near to total deregulation of Sunday trading. It looks as though England may have seen the last of the protected Sunday, and come into line with Scotland. What about Jersey? Speaking as one who has only recently arrived in the Island, one of the differences that we noticed, and one which we appreciated, was that Sunday is different, and Bank Holidays, too. Saturday afternoon in town is busy with shoppers. The market stalls have extra staff to meet the demand; and yes, Minden Place car park is full -- but then it always is! But on Sundays the shops are closed and families are able to be together.
During the pre-Christmas period perhaps there is a case for shops to be open longer hours, and maybe on Sundays, outside normal office hours, so that more working people have a greater opportunity to purchase the special gifts that are required at that time. Does the same argument cover ordinary domestic shopping? Does it extend to the rest of the year? I cannot see why it should. But then, which of us has not run out of some basic ingredient, and appreciated being able to pop out and get the necessary from the open-all-hours, and all days too, corner shop?
Some would promote Sunday shopping as enabling a valid all-family recreational pursuit. They present a picture of Mum and Dad and two happy children wandering unhurried and unhassled through the store together choosing the three piece suite or whatever. What a false picture! The more shops that are open, the more women (and it usually is the women) will be at work and not available to go shopping with the rest of their family. And how many families do you know that could afford to make spending money together their weekend hobby?
And yet it has to be admitted that some of the most vocal anti-Sunday trading people are those who would be most upset if their club or pub or favourite restaurant was not open to make their Sunday special and enable them to enjoy a game of golf or a meal together.
Even lay Christians have largely joined the world's ways. How many are always in church every Sunday, come what may; and how many have relegated Sunday worship to: an occasional or irregular activity when other calls on their time allow it? How many times have we heard someone say, "Sorry, shan't be in church next week as we have friends coming for lunch" or some other excuse? And more church choristers have been lost .to Sunday sport than to Sunday shopping.
The first Christians, of course, never enjoyed the privilege of a protected Sunday to 'facilitate worship. They made time to worship on the first day of the week. They gave up something precious - some of their small amount of spare or free time on a working day - to praise God.
I would hate to see the weekly rhythm vanish. Sunday is a special day and should not be just like any other day. Sunday is the Lord's day; it is the first day of the week; it is the day of creation; it is the day of resurrection and re-creation. But it is difficult to say that people should not be allowed to do certain things, just because it is a Sunday. A Christian cannot argue that it is immoral to trade on Sundays, for if something is immoral on a Sunday it is immoral on a Monday, too.
But still let us keep Sunday special. I think that to treat it like every other day is undesirable - unwise, uneconomic, unsociable and actually unhealthy. Particularly I think it is unnecessary to open all the shops. It should be a holiday because it is a holy day though we must acknowledge, especially in Jersey, an ever increasing number of people will need to work on Sundays in the holiday industry, in leisure and tourism. While sadly, even in Jersey, a. decreasing number are involved in the holy day industry.

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