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    April 10, 1889

    “Sunday Laws and Temperance” American Sentinel 4, 12.

    E. J. Waggoner

    By the above heading we do not mean to imply that Sunday laws and temperance have anything in common, or that they have any connection, for they do not. We have had some sharp discussions with friends that thought we ought not to pronounce wholesale condemnation on Sunday laws, but ought to work for, or at least not antagonize, laws prohibiting the selling of liquor on Sunday. But the more we see of the Sunday-law argument, the more convinced we are that no more vicious law could be passed than a so-called temperance Sunday law. All such laws are designed solely to exalt the Sunday above other days, but they do also exalt the liquor traffic to a place of respectability. We have lately come across a little tract on the subject, which shows this more plainly than anything we have ever before seen.AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.1

    The tract in question is entitled, “Through the Side Door.” It is published by the “New York Sabbath Committee,” and purports to have been written by a working-woman. At the top of the first page of the tract, the following statement appears: “This paper received the prize of fifty dollars for the best essay on Sunday Liquor Selling, by a working man or woman.” This shows that the argument is considered an extra good one.AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.2

    As a matter of fact, and as might be expected, the tract contains no argument whatever. It is simply a story, whether of real or fictitious occurrences is not stated. The lady represents herself as having been employed in a library just across the street from a saloon, where she could see all that went on. Moreover, the bartender was a patron of the library, and with him she had frequent talks. In the first conversation the young man told how he was forced, by lack of employment, to engage in the saloon business. After stating that he was obliged to tend bar or starve, the following dialogue occurred:—AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.3

    Working-woman—Could not these same arguments be used just as well by a man who, from being out of money, had taken to house breaking or highway robbery?AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.4

    Bartender—Perhaps they might, and most men would feel justified in doing either of those things rather than starve. But you must remember that those avocations are not lawful businesses, as ours is.AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.5

    Working-woman—Except when you sell on Sunday.”AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.6

    There you have it. In this tract, issued for the purpose of arousing public sentiment in favor of Sunday laws, and against the saloon, the liquor traffic is plainly declared to be lawful and right on any day but Sunday.AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.7

    But this is not all. After describing the building owned by Mr. Rorkle, for whom the young man tended bar, and speaking of the side door, she says:—AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.8

    “Now we knew, and all the neighbors knew, that despite the law, many customers of the bar-room came through this door every Sunday, and procured drinks just as easily as upon any other day. Men went into the door with natural complexion and demeanor, and came out flushed and excited; they went in with sedate expression and firm step, and came out with dazed and vacant look and unsteady limbs. We and the other neighbors all were perfectly cognizant of how the laws of the land (and higher laws beside) were violated every Sunday, over at that corner, and yet none of us liked to become an informer.”AMS April 10, 1889, page 91.9

    There it is again. Of course it is understood that there was a law against selling liquor on Sunday, and none against selling it on other days of the week, but we challenge anybody to show that the whole tenor of that paragraph does not go to support the idea that it is the day that makes the business wrong. Doubtless she and her neighbors saw the same scenes enacted every day, if they looked for them on any other day; they must have seen men go in sober and come out intoxicated and silly; but it didn’t disturb them on any day but Sunday. The tract makes mention of Mr. Rorkle, telling what a fine, law-abiding man he was, and only one fault is recorded against him, namely, that he kept open his saloon on Sunday.AMS April 10, 1889, page 92.1

    We have no apology to offer for liquor selling. We believe that liquor is the cause of an untold amount of crime, and that it results in nothing but evil. But to say that it is worse to sell liquor on Sunday than on other days is the same as saying that it is worse to kill a man on Sunday than on any other day in the week. We take no stock in Sunday liquor laws, because we know that they do not help the cause of temperance a particle. On the contrary, they hinder it, by elevating the liquor traffic to a level with all other employments. Moreover, from what we have seen of the working of such laws, and from the arguments that are adduced in favor of them, we know that if strict Sunday laws were once secured, that would practically put an end to all temperance legislation. No general effort would ever be made to close saloons on other days. And so we say that the profession that Sunday liquor laws are temperance laws is the result either of ignorance or hypocrisy.AMS April 10, 1889, page 92.2

    E. J. W.

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