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National Sunday law

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National Sunday law involves a conspiracy theory which alleges that the United States government is on the verge of enacting a national blue law that would make Sunday a day of rest and worship. The theory depends on the idea that the Pope is the Antichrist and the Mark of the Beast is worshipped on Sunday. Sinister forces (read: the Vatican) are conspiring to enact a national Sunday law in the United States, which would be the trigger that unleashes the fulfilment of the prophecies found in the Biblical books of Daniel and Revelation. In addition, this law would outlaw worshipping on Saturday, thus beginning a period of persecution of those who worship on Saturday, or Sabbath.

This idea originated in the 19th century within Seventh-day Adventism (which regards the Sabbath as Saturday), and some on the fringes of the SDA church have taken a handful of failed Congressional bills and papal writings and inflated them into the trigger of the apocalypse. This is quite ironic considering that you would think that opposition to blue laws might come from more secular groups, yet infighting[1] and Schism aren't simply conjectural.


Fears about a national Sunday law date almost to the founding of the SDA church. In The Great Controversy, Ellen G. White wrote: "and even in free America, rulers and legislators, in order to secure public favor, will yield to the popular demand for a law enforcing Sunday observance."[2] She claimed to have foreseen such a thing in 1844.[3] The most notable attempt at passing a national blue law was in 1888, coincidentally the same year the third edition of The Great Controversy was released. The fourth and last edition in 1911, still containing this national Sunday law teaching, is still in circulation today.

U.S. Senator Henry Blair[4] (R-NH) introduced a national Sunday bill in 1888,[3] which thankfully did not pass. Alonzo T. Jones, of the California Conference of the SDA church, spoke before the United States Senate Committee on Education and Labor about the subject.[5] Jones also wrote a book, National Sunday Law, published in 1889.[6]

A century later, parts of John Paul II's Dies Domini encouraged Sunday rest guarantees from secular government,[7] writing that "my predecessor Pope Leo XIII in his Encyclical Rerum Novarum spoke of Sunday rest as a worker's right which the State must guarantee" and "Christians will naturally strive to ensure that civil legislation respects their duty to keep Sunday holy."

Connections to the Antichrist[edit]

Some Seventh-day Adventists believe that a national Sunday law was a clear and present danger to their religious freedom.[8] They fear that the Antichrist will unleash great persecution of Sabbath-keepers just before the Second Coming.

The belief tying Sunday blue laws to Bible prophecy and the Antichrist appears to come from White's The Great Controversy. To quote her again: "Satan himself will personate Christ. […] he claims to have changed the Sabbath to Sunday, and commands all to hallow the day which he has blessed. He declares that those who persist in keeping holy the seventh day are blaspheming his name by refusing to listen to his angels sent to them with light and truth."[2] Modern SDA ministers like A. Jan Marcussen have continued this association, equating the "beast" of Revelation with the Papacy.[9] He also identifies the Number of the Beast from Revelation 13:18, 666, from the numerical values of the Pope's presumed title of "Vicarius Filii Dei"; actually, this has never been an official title of the Roman Pontiff. But it sounds enough like one of his official titles, "Vicarius Christi," to confuse paranoid people.

This fear of a coming national Sunday law became a conspiracy theory and something that must inevitably happen, due to the official church stance on Ellen G. White's writings as carrying divine authority.[10]

Several books cheaply printed for mass distribution continue to promote fear of a coming national Sunday law, among them National Sunday Law by A. Jan Marcussen[11] and the National Sunday Law Crisis apparently published by Harvestime Books (the purveyors of other fine books on alternate cancer remedies, the adult vaccination crisis, and the like).[12] Marcussen's book ties other issues into the conspiracy; for example, there is a conspiracy to bring back the death penalty so Sabbath-keepers can be executed once the national Sunday law is enacted. Marcussen's book has been mysteriously showing up since 1983 in laundromats, phone booths, rest areas, and unsolicited in the mail and usually elicits unintentional lulz from the reader.

Despite the presumed support of an international religious organization with two thousand years of recorded history, and numerous predictions, no such law has been passed in the United States in the one hundred years since it was first mentioned.

Also consider[edit]

  • Blue laws already exist in many states/counties/municipalities, restricting anything from the sale of alcoholic beverages to, in the past, businesses being open at all on Sunday. What is so special about a national Sunday law that would make it the trigger that sets off the fulfilment of Bible prophecy, when the U.S. was already blanketed with state and local blue laws?
  • The trend over the past four decades has been to repeal those blue laws. Any attempt today at introducing such a bill in the U.S. Congress for a national law would be laughed at.
  • Such a law would be blatantly unconstitutional under the Establishment Clause. Even if such a bill passed Congress, it would be immediately stayed by the courts and struck down soon thereafter.
  • A law requiring businesses to close? In the United States? That might cut into corporate profits! Think of the idle rich job creators, somebody. It seems politically impossible.
  • Such a law would be widely viewed as antisemitic as well as anti-Seventh-day-Adventist.
  • Belief that such a law is inevitably coming is based on a peculiar interpretation of Bible prophecy and fears dating from the late 1800s that have ossified into a persistent conspiracy theory, not on any real legislative priorities in Congress. A quick look at shows nothing of the sort introduced in Congress in recent years. The closest things have been bills mentioning Sunday premium pay or designating certain Sundays "Drive Safer Sunday" or "Parent's Day".
  • What is so special about the United States that a national Sunday law in the U.S. would trigger the end times? Would a national Sunday law in Thailand, Ukraine, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo also trigger the end times?
  • Where they get Sunday worship as the mark of the beast is anyone's guess. (The number of the beast is described in Revelation 13 as 666, and the mark of the beast is described as a physical mark on the hand or forehead.)

You can't be serious. People really believe this?[edit]

Yes. And it gets even worse: Obama and global warming are apparently now part of the conspiracy.

See also[edit]