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History and Facts about Blue Laws for Kids

Gathered by: Will

  • A blue law is a type of law designed to enforce religious standards, particularly the observance of a day of worship or rest.
  • Prohibition on the sale of alcoholic beverages or prohibitions of almost all commerce on Sundays are still enforced in many areas.
  • Blue laws often prohibit an activity only during certain hours and there are usually exceptions to the prohibition of commerce, like grocery and drug stores.
  • In his 1781 book General History of Connecticut, the Reverend Samuel Peters (1735–1826) used it to describe various laws first enacted by Puritan colonies in the 17th century that prohibited various activities, recreational as well as commercial, on Sunday (Saturday evening through Sunday night).
  • Sometimes the sale of certain types of merchandise was prohibited, and in some cases all retail and business activity.
  • Another version is that the laws were first bound in books with blue covers.
  • These Sunday laws enacted at the state and local levels would sometimes carry penalties for doing non-religious activities on Sunday as part of an effort to enforce religious observance and church attendance.
  • Maryland permits Sunday automobile sales only in the counties of Prince George’s, Montgomery, and Howard; similarly, Michigan restricts Sunday sales to only those counties with a population of less than 130,000.
  • In a unanimous 6–0 decision, the Lord’s Day Act was ruled an infringement of the freedom of conscience and religion defined in section 2(a) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Late in 2010, some Congressmen (after the four-day Bicentennial holiday was proved successful) asked for a law that would forbid the opening of supermarkets and department stores on Sundays, however retailers claimed that Sunday shopping made about 20% of their weekly sales, more than other day of the week, thus preventing the law from taking place.
  • In Norway the sale of alcohol on Sundays and election day is strictly illegal, the sale of alcohol on Saturdays ends at 6 pm, while it ends at 8 pm on weekdays.
  • Bergen County, New Jersey is the last remaining county that prohibits the sale of clothing, shoes, furniture, home appliances and certain other items on Sundays for secular reasons voted to keep by residents thru numerous referendums.
  • It approved the state’s blue law restricting commercial activities on Sunday, noting that while such laws originated to encourage attendance at Christian churches, the contemporary Maryland laws were intended to serve “to provide a uniform day of rest for all citizens” on a secular basis and to promote the secular values of “health, safety, recreation, and general well-being” through a common day of rest.
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