Oh, for ....
This was one of those crazy bills in which lawmakers want people to be able to bring concealed weapons into public buildings. Allen got upset because a few people expressed common sense opposition to the idea. Lawmakers here cannot abide common sense.
Allen said, “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth,” adding “that would never be allowed.”
She hinted that guns in public buildings might be necessary until there is a moral rebirth.
Okay, this is actually really important.
The idea is called National Sunday Law, and is a particular paranoia of certain Christian sects in the United States. And it ties into anti-Catholicism, conspiracy theories about the influence of Marxists and Witches in the New World Order, and even the black helicopter tinfoil, because apparently at some point the U.N. is going to send its secret army to invade the United States and arrest all the Sabbatarians and put them in tiger cages to await execution. Or, at least, so says at least one version of the conspiracy theory.
And if one has never heard of this discussion, perhaps some of our hardline right-wing discourse seems shot through with some sort of incomprehensible fear. And, yes, these conspiracy theories are actually exceptionally important. This is one of those seemingly incomprehensible fears; there are more believers than we might ordinarily guess.
One easy way to familiarize yourself with the idea is to walk into a Seventh-Day Adventist bookstore and simply ask someone to show you the section on National Sunday Law.
Here is an interesting proposition: A political argument against the Christian Coalition that is even more conservative.
Currently, the pope is pushing for Sunday laws in Europe. “The blue law issue is expected to be contentious throughout Europe as the European Economic Community (EEC) struggles to determine policy for member nations. Pope John Paul II continues to press for mandatory Sunday-closing laws in all EEC nations.” Church & State, May, 1992.
“God said everyone should have a day off a week. Muslims chose Fridays, Jews Saturdays, Christians Sundays. Now the European Community is pretending to be God. It is about to decree that EC citizens must take Sundays off.” Economist, October 19, 1991, 16.
“In respecting religious liberty and the common good of all, Christians should seek recognition of Sundays and the Church’s holy days as legal holidays.” Catechism of the Catholic Church. New Hope, KY: Urbiet Orbi, 1994, 528.
John Paul II “insists that men have no reliable hope of creating a viable geopolitical system unless it is on the basis of Roman Catholic Christianity.” Malachi Martin, The Keys of This Blood, 492.
“Sunday is our mark of authority. . . . The church is above the Bible, and this transference of sabbath observance is proof of that fact.” The Catholic Record, London, Ontario, September 1, 1923.
Protestants in America
Religious Right activist David Barton said, “The court, in addressing the seventh-day sabbath of the Jewish religion vs. the first-day sabbath of the Christian religion, returned to the Scriptures to show that it could not be argued that Saturday, or any other day, was the day commanded by the Scripture–the sabbath could be any day, so long as it occurred every seventh. However, the court emphasized the importance of a uniform national sabbath; in this, a Christian nation, Sunday was to be that day.” David Barton, The Myth of Separation, 76.
Pat Robertson said, “There will never be world peace until God’s house and God’s people are given their rightful place of leadership at the top of the world. . . . Laws in America that mandated a day of rest [Sunday] from incessant commerce have been nullified as a violation of the separation of church and state.” Pat Robertson, The New World Order, 246, 227, 233, 236. Robertson laments that the separation of church and state prevents the nation from legislating a national Sunday law.
The United Nations
The following article is a quote from a Nazarene magazine called Newswatch. In its 1994 November/December issue, 4-5, it read, “The French magazine, Foy et Rai, reported from the United Nations Organization in Geneva, Switzerland, that plans are worked out to dissolve the UNO to make way for a World Tribunal.... This project and this plan provides for a total unification of church and state, and also provides for a single form of worship. The appointed day for all people will be Sunday. The number received by the people will promise the right to buy or sell.
“At the end of this statement, a Christian rose and asked the speaker, ‘What happens to the minorities who will not accept this plan?’ The Christian was told, ‘Their number will be canceled with a black line and they will be deprived of the right to buy or sell and will thus be forced to destruction.‘”
It really is impressive; those of us who would doubt such outlooks do at least experience one of those rare genuinely disbelieving moments. Because it really is amazing what corners of our society this paranoia creeps into. Seventh-Day Adventism is not exactly a congregation for the stupid; they are very well represented in society, yet many hold a sincere belief that this sort of thing is going to happen. Nor is it simply Seventh-Day Adventists; similar concerns exist in other American sects; this is simply a familiar variation.
There are very few days when these scrabbled potsherds have any real relevance, though one wonders at occasional outbursts of anti-Catholicism from socially conservative sectors. This, however, is one of those extraordinary days, when it becomes relevant because Arizona state Sen. Sylvia Allen (R) went and said, in the middle of a firearms discussion, “Probably we should be debating a bill requiring every American to attend a church of their choice on Sunday to see if we can get back to having a moral rebirth.”
This is one of those things a person in her position can say that just isn’t helpful. This is also one of those things worth keeping an eye on, because the ripple effect will probably show in some interesting ways. We should not be surprised that such a statment made its way into Sen. Allen’s Wikipedia page; it’s been over a week, after all, since she said it. But this is really important to more people than most of us would expect.
Image note: Top―State Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-6), then representing the Fifth Legislative District, speaks at a Nullify Now! rally in Phoenix, Arizona, 29 January 2011. (Detail of photo by Gage Skidmore) Right―Detail of Wikipedia page for Sylvia Allen; image captured 4 April 2015. Highlighted at bottom is a paragraph regarding a controversial statement in which the Arizona state senator called for a National Sunday Law.
Montini, E. J. “Sen. Allen would make church mandatory. God help us.” The Arizona Republic. 26 March 2015.
Marcussen, A. Jan. National Sunday Law. Thompsonville: Amazing Truth Publications, 1983.
Wehr, Jeff. “The Distortions and Inaccuracies of the Christian Coalition”. SundayLaw.net. (n.d.)