Recently the Grand Rapids Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette reported that a major supermarket chain, Meijers, is being sued for firing a member of the Christian Reformed Church who refused to work on Sundays for religious reasons. The federal government accused Meijer Inc. of violating the civil rights of a cake decorator claiming that the mega store “failed to provide a reasonable accommodation to the known religious practice” of the individual who filed the suit.
Excellent, I thought. Too many times people from our churches have been denied jobs because they would rather be in church on the Lord’s Day. Again and again, people have applied to EOE [equal opportunity employer] jobs only to find out that the “equal” did not include those who seek to honor God on His day.
It was high time that somebody challenged the system! After all EOE was meant to refer to religion as well as race. How nice to see the federal government take the side of the dedicated Christian.
Then I read the rest of the article. While it seemed the federal government was ready to support the young lady for her religious convictions, her church was not. Both newspapers included an interview with Dr. Henry De Moor of Calvin Theological Seminary. Dr. De Moor was cited as being a man who “trains CRC ministers” and an “expert on church polity.”
Let me quote what Dr. De Moor said:
“In view of current society, it’s hard for me to embrace that principle [not working on Sunday]. If every Christian insisted that we’re not going to work on Sunday, I suspect there wouldn’t be enough people to do the work.”
Would that be so bad? Some of those stores that are open on Sunday might actually have to close if there weren‘t enough people to work. Didn’t the Lord give us six days to buy groceries? Do I really need to buy those King Peppermints on Sunday or could I wait until Monday? I grew up learning that works of worship, mercy, and necessity were permitted on the Lord’s Day and none other. Can decorating a cake be compared to pulling an ox out of a pit?
If every Christian insisted on not working on Sunday, maybe there would also be a lot of Christians who wouldn’t shop on Sunday. Maybe instead of keeping the Sabbath Hour holy, they all could, as God commands, keep the Sabbath Day holy instead.
Dr. De Moor goes on to say in the interview: “Ethically, a better position might be to tell church elders they work one Sunday a month. If they say they are conscious of the Fourth Commandment and honor it as much as they can, I’m sure the elders would be satisfied.”
My prayer is that both the Grand Rapids Press and the Kalamazoo Gazette misquoted Dr. De Moor. After all, couldn’t the Israelites have used that same logic to justify worshipping Baal and basically doing whatever was right in their own eyes as long as those around them were doing it too? Couldn’t I use the very same logic and say: “In view of current society, where marriage is ridiculed, fidelity mocked, and virginity scorned, I have told my church elders that I am conscious of the Seventh Commandment and honor it as much as I can, only transgressing it once a month”?
As quoted earlier in this issue, God said: “I am the Lord; I change not.” We are called to witness to the current society, not adjust our lives to it.
The picture on page twenty seems to sum up the thinking of our so-called Christian society. It says “God Bless America” and right underneath it the words: “Now Open on Sunday”. We seek His blessing, but not His face.
Rev. Wybren Oord is the pastor of the Covenant United Reformed Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan and editor of The Outlook.