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Debate: Should business be allowed on Sundays?

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Should shops and other commercial services be able to open on Sundays?

Background and context

Historically, Sunday was left aside for attendance at Church and spending time with one’s family. Work was prohibited, and shops were shut by law. However, whilst the Anglican Church is still ‘established’ ( i.e. it is the official religion of England ), it is also true that Britain is a more and more multicultural country, and many people have proposed that this be recognised by removing the specific religious restrictions on shopping on a Sunday. A step was made towards this in the 1980s, when a law relaxed Sunday trading laws. Is it desirable to completely abolish them, both on moral and on practical grounds?

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Argument #1

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Yes

It is accepted that not everyone in Britain is religious, let alone a Christian. However, England is historically a Christian country, and should maintain its heritage by setting aside one day for non-commercial activity. This is not offensive to other religions, who can also use the day for spiritual reflection, or to the non-religious, who can still use the day for relaxing and being with their family and friends.

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No

On the contrary, the proposition is making the mistake that Sunday can be equally used as a religious day by all religions. This is not so - the link between Christianity and Sunday is overwhelming. Other religions have entirely different holy days, such as Saturday for Judaism and Friday for Islam. The faiths should occupy equal positions of importance. Better still, in this increasingly secular age setting a day aside for religion should be abandoned altogether.

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Argument #2

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Yes

Being able to work Sundays would be a logical extension of the ‘flexi-time’ concept that governs most offices nowadays. This enables a worker to plan their own holidays and time off to suit their own schedule. By opening Sunday up for work, people would have more freedom in organising their lives, as they could work Sunday and take time off during the week. As the state no more imposes fines for non-attendance at Church, and does not attempt to govern our religious lives, Sunday should be open for working by those that want to.

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No

Stress and over-work are already troubling aspects of the modern workplace, with legal compensations for stress and reaching record highs. Opening up Sundays for work would enable bosses to put more pressure on their employees to work the whole week, rather than taking their break some other time. The workers may themselves feel pressured into this by deadlines, or simply by the need to earn a breadwinner wage. Relaxing Sunday trading laws would take disastrous liberties with the health of workers.

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Argument #3

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Yes

People nowadays have to pack many essential activities into a short space of time. If someone works 9-5 from Monday to Friday, he has to pack in any shopping or leisure activities into the Saturday, leaving little time for relaxation and enjoyment. By opening the Sunday up to retailers, these commercial chores can be spread over two days, leading to a more relaxed weekend. Thus Sunday should be opened up for retail and commerce, helping to de-stress workers and giving them more control over their lives and work patterns. Also, such an outmoded religious hangover discriminates against other cultures and faiths.

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No

However, it must also be admitted that this was one of the main reasons for keeping Sunday free in the first place. The fact that no jobs can be done on a Sunday places the emphasis on relaxation and being with family. At the moment, some parents are so over-worked that they might not see their children much during the week. Sunday is a crucial day to ensure that parents can devote the proper attention to their children, as well as other relatives. Sundays are useful as a universally free day that social activities can be planned for. Only a small number of people work for Sundays at the moment; this number should not be increased, for consideration of worker’s health and personal lives, and out of respect for our heritage.

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