Blue Laws Fall, Society Stumbles....

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This from the November 2006 Atlantic Monthly reminds me of a non-Christian college friend regretting the collapse of Massachusetts' blue laws in the early 80s. My friend, now a district attorney in Maine, said that while he might find it hard to justify blue laws constitutionally, their departure would deprive his commonwealth of something uniquely gracious by turning Sunday into just another day of commercial activity.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Churches may have God on their side, but they can easily lose parishioners to the lure of the shopping mall, the cubicle, or even demon rum, a new study suggests. Two economists examined the effect of repealing "blue laws"--regulations banning certain retail activity on Sundays--on church attendance in the sixteen states that have done away with such laws since 1955, and found that when the laws fall, so too do church attendance and church donations. The drop-off in church attendance was steepest among people who had previously attended weekly, while those who attended more than once a week were unaffected by the laws' repeal. States that repealed their blue laws also saw a noticeable increase in the consumption of alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine, and this spike was concentrated among precisely the people whose churchgoing had dropped off.

--"The Church vs. the Mall: What Happens When Religion Faces Increased Secular Competition?," Jonathan Gruber and Daniel M. Hungerman, National Bureau of Economic Research