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Don Hodel's Article
The National Sunday Law

Focus on the Family: Sunday Laws Prove We're a Christian Nation

Perhaps if major Christian leaders never spoke in a positive way of Sunday as a Sabbath enforceable by law in America, we could confidently say that Ellen White's prediction was nowhere near being fulfilled. But alas, such is not the case.

The removal of Judge Roy Moore's 10 Commandment monument in Montgomery motivated a number of comments about Sunday, such as those already cited from Pat Robertson. Another prominent Christian leader is Don Hodel, who had this to say in an article from August 23, 2003. At the time he was president of Focus on the Family:

The foundation of our Constitution, our entire legal system, and most of the attitudes of our culture is the Judeo-Christian value system found in Scripture, including the Ten Commandments. There is ample historical evidence to support this proposition. It is no accident that many of the Ten Commandments are codified in law, (such as murder, theft, lying) and, formerly, many others were as well (such as swearing, adultery, Sunday work). While there has been a whittling away at these laws, like Sunday closings, it is undeniable that for most of our history both the states and the national government incorporated the rules of the Ten Commandments into laws.—"The Real Ten Commandments Issue."

Of course, this is not quite the case. America has never codified the fourth commandment, for it never has prohibited work upon the seventh day of the week. Consistently, whenever a particular day of rest has been enforced, it has been the first day not the seventh day that has been mandated, contrary to what the Decalogue specifies.

We wrote to Focus on the Family about this discrepancy, and the reply we received included the following:

First, we are well aware that Sunday is not merely a Christian version of the Jewish Sabbath. Although the earliest Christians, themselves Jews, probably did worship on Saturday according to Jewish custom, they also held Sunday to be a day of unique significance. . . . In time, as the church became predominantly Gentile, the celebration of the Lord's Day gradually supplanted the observance of the Jewish Sabbath among Christians, until at last Sunday worship became the norm. As a result, it is traditional in some Christian denominations to use the terms "Sabbath" and "Lord's Day" interchangeably. Mr. Hodel's statements reflect this common usage.

Thus many of these Christian leaders readily acknowledge that Sunday keeping is based on tradition, not on any Scriptural or divine command. This is all the more reason why it sounds so strange when they speak in a positive way about enforcing Sunday rest.

We received one more reply which contained the following:

Where Sunday Laws are concerned, I can assure you that Dr. Dobson does not support them and never has. In his opinion, legislation mandating the observance of Sunday as a holy day would be unconstitutional and an offense to millions of Jews and Seventh-Day Adventists in our nation. It would also contradict the teaching of Scripture: "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days" (Colossians 2:16).

Now if Pat Robertson and John Paul and European leaders were of the same opinion as James Dobson, then perhaps Ellen White's prediction would never come true, at least not anytime soon.

Don Hodel's comments, though, give one food for thought. We appear to be in a moral crisis in America. Abortion, gay marriage, and nudity on prime-time TV, even during Superbowl halftime, have angered Christians (and others). This nation, they say, is based on Judeo-Christian values, and these things should be prohibited.

"How can you prove that our nation is really founded on Judeo-Christian values?" one asks. They respond, "Our laws are based on the 10 Commandments." But most of the 10 are endorsed by religions other than Judaism and Christianity. Just having a law against murder does not prove that you are a Christian nation.

However, Sunday blue laws are different. There is no rational reason other than a religious one why Sunday should be a mandated day of rest. And there is no religious reason other than a professedly Christian one why Sunday should be enforced by law. Thus, the most potent proof that our nation's laws are founded upon professedly Christian values is the existence of Sunday blue laws.

But unfortunately, this line of argument is hopelessly inconsistent and contradictory. As Don Hodel wrote:

The foundation of our Constitution, our entire legal system, and most of the attitudes of our culture is the Judeo-Christian value system found in Scripture, including the Ten Commandments.

Yet as their reply to our enquiry makes crystal clear, "the celebration of the Lord's Day gradually supplanted the observance of the Jewish Sabbath among Christians, until at last Sunday worship became the norm." Sunday rest is therefore neither part of "the Judeo-Christian value system found in Scripture" nor part of the 10 Commandments, but is instead based only on tradition.

One more such inconsistency will suffice: In the thick of Judge Moore's case, James Dobson had this to say on the August 28, 2003, radio broadcast of Focus on the Family:

We are recording these comments late Sunday afternoon, which our listeners will hear, of course, on Monday. This is, I believe, the only program I have every prepared on the Sabbath — I don't remember another one.

The reason we are doing it today is that — even though we honor the Sabbath as a day of rest and worship — in this case the news story that we are going to be covering is changing so rapidly that we would have been giving old information — or misinformation — if we hadn't come in the studio this afternoon for an update.

Dr. Dobson need not have worried at all. By the time he started that broadcast, the Sabbath of the 10 Commandments, the same 10 Commandments this particular program was about, had already been over almost an entire day.

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Give Us Your Opinion

What do you think about a national Sunday law?
America will never have a national Sunday law. Nobody listens to the pope or Pat Robertson anyway, so don't worry.
It doesn't matter to me. I could care less what laws get passed.
I think enforcing Sunday rest on a national level is a good idea. If Jews and Adventists don't like it, they can find another country to live in.
If Ellen White's other predictions came true, there's a good chance this one will come true as well.
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