Legislators in New York are looking to force Chick-fil-A locations operating along the state’s 500-mile Thruway to be open seven days a week, undermining the chain’s commitment to close on Sundays.
A new bill, introduced in early December by several New York legislators, would require restaurants operating along the state highway system to open every day of the week, CBS News reports.
“While there is nothing objectionable about a fast food restaurant closing on a particular day of the week, service areas dedicated to travelers [are] an inappropriate location for such a restaurant,” the bill states. Chick-fil-A operates at seven of the Thruway’s 27 service areas.
Chick-fil-A’s Corporate Purpose is “To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.”
One of the ways the popular restaurant chain fulfills this commitment is by closing on Sundays – a value that its founder, S. Truett Cathy, began in 1946. Chick-fil-A has maintained this tradition since its inception, giving their workers the opportunity to rest, spend time with family “and worship if they choose.”
The restaurant explains why its locations close on Sundays on its website:
On the one hand, you can see the logic of New York’s proposal – restaurants in highly trafficked areas need to be available for travelers.
However, New York’s bill seems to be a solution in search of a problem. Surely there are many other restaurants – already open seven days a week – that are available on the state’ Thruway. Are there really any Thruway travelers who have gone hungry because Chick-fil-A wasn’t open on the Lord’s Day?
In fact – though far less common today – blue laws (laws which restrict certain types and times of business, usually on Sunday) used to be prevalent in the United States.
For example, in 1896, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld a Georgia law forbidding trains from running on Sundays. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Johnson Field opined, “The legislature has given the sanction of law to a rule of conduct, which the entire civilized world recognizes as essential to the physical and moral well-being of society.”
It was argued that blue laws not only serve a religious purpose – giving individuals the opportunity to worship, thereby fulfilling man’s obligation to His Creator – but they also provide a secular benefit including a cessation of commerce, the promotion of rest and service, and the well-being of individuals, families and society.
Justice Field added,
Upon no subject is there such a concurrence of opinion, among philosophers, moralists and statesmen of all nations, as on the necessity of periodical cessation from labor. One day in seven is the rule, founded in experience and sustained by science.
The prohibition of secular business on Sunday is advocated on the ground that by it the general welfare is advanced, labor protected, and the moral and physical well-being of society promoted.
Setting aside Sunday as a day of restoration is somewhat of a lost practice for many people and businesses, excepting Chick-fil-A and the USPS, of course.
Who hasn’t received the delivery of a package from an Amazon delivery driver on Sunday, for example? Isn’t six-days of Prime delivery enough? Wouldn’t the cessation of work for delivery drivers – and others required to work on Sunday – promote their dignity and value as human beings, rather than as cogs in a restless commercial machine?
But the problem isn’t just with the decline of blue laws – it’s with many of us, who have forgotten to honor the Lord’s Day.
When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites from Mt. Horeb, God commanded,
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work … For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (Ex. 20:8-11, ESV).
The idea of a day of rest was built into God’s creation of the world; the Lord structured His time of creation as an example for human beings to structure their work and rest.
At the same time, Jesus Christ reminded us not to be too legalistic over our Sunday rest. He reminded the Pharisees it was lawful to do good on the Sabbath. The Sabbath was created for man, not man for the Sabbath.
“He went on from there and entered their synagogue. And a man was there with a withered hand. And [the Pharisees] asked him, ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’ – so that they might accuse him. He said to them, ‘Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value is a man than a sheep! So it is lawful to do good on the Sabbath.’
“Then he said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other” (Matt. 12:9-13, ESV).
For all these reasons, Chick-fil-A should be commended for closing on Sundays – not condemned or forced to open by government edict.
Many of us need to practice resting on Sundays. In the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, it’s far too easy to view Sunday as the day to “catch up” on the tasks we missed throughout the week.
Do you have any particular manner of resting on Sunday? If not, perhaps you can consider ways you can better fulfill the purpose of the Lord’s Day.
You can also call and talk it over with one of our licensed or pastoral counselors if you think this might be helpful.
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Photo from Getty Images.