Yesterday (Sunday) my family and I were at our local shopping wonderland, Cost Plus World Market. I love this place, because they sell products I can’t find anywhere else. My favorite is Bundaberg Ginger Beer (non-alcoholic), which is, without a doubt, the best ginger beer I’ve ever tasted. They also sell lots of interesting foods from around the world, including jasmine rice with the “Super Lucky Elephant” brand on it, which made both Thomas and me laugh.
While we were there, Tammy found a bottle of wine that she wanted. It was tall and curving, with beautiful lines, but most of all it was made of lovely blue glass. She has a thing for blue glass, and so she wanted the bottle. Just the bottle. She didn’t care about the wine in it, because she doesn’t drink at all. I don’t drink wine, though I do cook with it; I also have an occasional beer or mixed drink. And by “occasional” I mean I have one drink every two months or so. That makes me pretty much a non-drinker.
Anyway, I get up to the counter to pay for our items when it hits me: Dang. It’s Sunday. I can’t buy this bottle of wine because Jesus might blush! That’s right; I was a victim of Georgia’s absurd, antiquated Blue Laws. In Georgia, as in several other states, it is illegal to buy or sell alcohol in most cases on Sundays. Some counties/cities allow restaurants to sell alcohol on Sundays (after noon, of course; you can’t serve it while you should be in church!), but it’s always a fight with certain obstinate residents when it comes up. The city council of the city next to mine has been trying to legalize Sunday alcohol sales for years, because no new restaurant will open in the city without a liquor license, and the few restaurants that are there are leaving for friendlier areas. Yet there those few stubborn residents are, pining for “the town I used to know” and suchlike. Recently the city county finally passed Sunday drink sales and began issuing permits to several restaurants before eight residents filed a lawsuit to stop it. They found a judge who issued an injunction against further permits until a hearing could be convened. That hearing is coming up soon, but for now, no more permits are being issued. The few restaurants who obtained permits before the residents’ anti-alcohol jihad are happily selling on Sunday, though if the suit is successful, they will be stripped of their permits.
Now, I have no problem with people who don’t like alcohol. I may think they are a little backward, but I bear them no ill will. Don’t like alcohol? Fine. Don’t drink it. Don’t patronize establishments that sell it. Vote with your pocketbooks. But when you try to use the power of the state to keep me from getting a drink, that’s when I have a problem. And no matter how much some of these people try to disguise their motives, it all comes down to one thing: religion. They want to “protect” Sunday, because that day is special to their religion. I’m a Christian, so Sunday is special to me, too, but having a drink on Sunday is not a sin.
Alcohol is a legal product. Not allowing sales of it on Sunday is nothing more than favoring Christianity over the rights of citizens to buy the products of their choice on the day of their choice. The really amusing thing in all of this, if there is one, is that according to John, Jesus’ very first miracle was the conversion of water into wine at the wedding at Cana. And not just wine, but good wine. It was so good, in fact, that the steward asked the host why he had saved the best for last, when everyone was already drunk. I’ve actually brought this up with teetotalers and have been met with cries of “Oh, fie! It wasn’t really wine; it was merely grape juice.” Yeah. OK. Whatever.
(As an aside, the Greek in this case says τὸν καλὸν οἶνον. καλόν comes from καλός, which has these as possible translations “beautiful, handsome, excellent, eminent, choice, surpassing, precious, useful, suitable, commendable, admirable”. That was some good wine.)
So what do I want? I want overzealous religious folk (of any stripe) to mind their own business and stop trying to force their religion down my throat. These people would also do well to think about how they will feel if, at some point in the future, a different religion than theirs has the reins. How will they feel then, as followers of that religion start enacting laws forcing residents to respect their customs? Something tells me they would feel quite a bit different.