I’m mostly doing this post so I can link to it every time I need to talk about the logistics of Sunday laws. Save myself typing next time I do an end times review. Which I hope I get a break from for a while, because I want to do something different.
I got to thinking the other day as I was thinking about Now!, Project Sunlight, and Eleventh Hour. In these books, the characters all break the Sunday laws with relative ease, at least for a while. At first I thought this made the book boring (well, this is still valid) but then I realized that it kinda makes sense for there to be some time in between when a mandatory Sunday Worship law is announced and the implementation thereof.
I mean, can you imagine the logistics of it all? You’d have to form an entire committee just to figure out the sheer enormity of the task of taking attendance at the churches. Will it be split up into districts, like schools? Do we declare every person has to go to the nearest church in their neighborhood, or do we allow church of choice? Once we map out the districts, we need to place at least one person per church (but possibly more in larger churches) who is in charge of taking attendance.
Then we need to take a census to figure out who all lives in the districts and what church they should be going to. If they’re going to be lenient and allow church of choice, they could make sure that everyone in a neighborhood registers themselves in a church they will pledge to attend.
Then you need to assign people to enforce these Sunday Laws. You’ll need people to go door to door making sure people aren’t home. You’d need to assign people to be responsible for punishing these people.
You also need someone to check over the attendance sheets at the churches and make sure they’re filled out.
Then you would need to assign people to guard the back door to prevent people from leaving as soon as they’ve signed the attendance sheet. In fact, larger churches with multiple entrances would need multiple guards. In other churches, you’d need guards for windows also, and what about what happens in case of a fire? You could have guards who don’t know about the fire forcing people back into the building. What are you gonna do then? I get that modern churches have loud fire alarms, but the older ones might not.
If people are too sick to attend church, you’d need a way to factor that in, too. How many sick days is a person allowed? To whom should a person report if they are too sick to go to church? Should sick people be forced to go to church anyway, and sit in a quarantine room? What about chronically disabled people who have issues with leaving the house? Do they get special permits to not attend church, or do you send official church vans out after them? Or worse, do you just shoot them once the death decree goes out?
I mean, on a national level, this type of Sunday Law would be extremely difficult to enforce. It’s one thing to declare that no liquor be sold on Sunday before noon in certain counties. You can send secret shoppers every Sunday morning to check those and fine any liquor store for being open that early.
In fact, I could even maybe see Sunday Worship Laws being enforceable within small counties. After all, the Puritans did it. But something like that on a nation wide level, no, a world wide level like Adventists think will happen? It would be a logistical nightmare. Especially in rural areas in other countries where there might not be any actual churches. You’d have to go build some, or find some other way of enforcing this.
Then you have to figure out what to do with home churches. Are they allowed? Because I mean, if anyone can make a home church, then they could be doing some very not churchey stuff. I could totally see a group of men getting together going, “fuck this, let’s start our own “church” where we watch football on Sunday mornings. Go Blue!”
I don’t write this post to say that Sunday Worship Laws are impossible to enforce. I mean, similar laws are in place to make sure all children go to school, although you do get quite a few students who fall through the cracks, (especially since the homeschooling laws in some states are ridiculously lax).
They’re not impossible, they’re just very very difficult and it would take some wrangling. And I kind of wish more end times SDA writers would think about this.
In writing my end times story, I can’t remember if I wrote about any of this stuff or not. I did think about it quite a bit, but I can’t quite remember if I actually found a way to work it into the story. See, I wanted Parable Of The Sower to tell a story, not get bogged down by logistics.
But the logistics of such stories are kind of important, so I wish teenage me would have written more about it.
I did, however, have a slightly nicer version of what happens to the children of Sabbath keepers who refuse to obey Sunday laws. In Parable of the Sower, I had all children under 18 sent to foster homes for re education. (This in and of itself presents a logistical nightmare, but never mind.) In other end times stories, these children are just shot and killed, to punish the parents.
So, Sunday Laws are probably enforceable, but it would take some time to put systems in place, and you’d always have a few people that fall through the cracks. You would also have to completely change the cultural landscape of every single country on the entire planet, and there’d need to be a radical change in the way people think.
Are Sunday Laws probable? Even though the religious right grows scarier by the day, I honestly don’t think we’re at the point where they’d propose such a thing. And if they did, I know Adventists wouldn’t be the only ones complaining. The Jews? The Muslims? The atheists? The liberal Christians who believe in separation of church and state? Yeah, they wouldn’t be too happy either. Contrary to what Adventists believe, the rest of us are just as attached to our beliefs as SDAs are to theirs, so in reality, if Sunday Laws were to ever be a thing (which in and of itself is highly doubtful), there would be plenty of resisters.