By L.A. Williams and Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
October 15, 2021
Media outlets are touting a change in ABC law which recognizes Oct. 3 as the “first Sunday a bottle of liquor has been legally sold in the state since the beginning of Prohibition.” H.B. 890, signed into North Carolina law by Gov. Roy Cooper on Sept. 10, now allows for distilleries to sell bottles of their liquor products from 12:00 noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sundays.
“This major change in alcohol policy happened while I was fighting a severe bout with COVID and unable to address the matter. It was a provision tucked into a large Omnibus bill,” explained the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “I don’t know that my lobbying activity would have changed the outcome, but if I had been present, I would have least been able to register the objections of many concerned citizens who support responsible alcohol policy.”
Creech said the new policy is wrong on at least two fronts.
“It allows the distilleries in North Carolina to have a privilege not afforded local ABC stores, which can open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, but not on Sundays or holidays. Of course, this will put pressure on the ABC stores to push for Sunday sales too,” he said.
“Studies show adding Sunday sales increases excessive alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms,” Creech argued. “But Big AL, more specifically the distilleries in North Carolina and their lobbyists at the General Assembly don’t seem to care. It’s not life or health that matters to them, it’s the money made which counts.”
He said pertinent health and safety concerns are often dismissed under the guise of support for personal freedom.
“I think that might be a legitimate argument if the person who is free to drink has to take sole responsibility for the carnage of his or her alcohol abuse,” Creech said. “However, it’s not that simple. All of us have to pay for the sky-rocketing social costs of alcohol abuse whether we drink or not.”
Secondly, he said the Sunday sales are indicative of spiritual decline in that they reveal a society which no longer views the Lord’s Day as special or set apart.
“As Christians, we believe that every day belongs to God and every day should be lived for Him, but I don’t care what anyone says, no matter whether layman or another clergyman. You cannot read the Fourth Commandment, which in God’s economy has never been repealed, without also seeing that the Lord’s Day is uniquely His day and should be sanctified among us,” Creech continued. “Granted, there is much debate about how the day should be observed, but whatever way people choose to honor the commandment, its biblical guidelines are relatively simple. Except for works of necessity, the day was primarily meant to be set aside for worship, spiritual reflection, rest, and family, not getting liquored up. Liquor or the sale of intoxicating spirits, I promise you, are not a part of the Sabbath equation. I don’t mean to be melodramatic, but I grieve over such things. It’s such a dishonor to the God to whom we owe everything. We abuse our personal and corporate freedoms when forget we wouldn’t even have any liberty were it not for him.”
Creech also added the Supreme Court has ruled in McGowen v. Maryland (1961) that blue laws are not unconstitutional, despite that they may originate from religious underpinnings. “The High Court said that there is no violation of church and state when government cooperates with religion in ways to allow it to flourish,” Creech concluded.
Because of the change, distillers expect to significantly boost their profits.
Ollie Mulligan of Great Wagon Road distillery in Charlotte told reporters that in-person bottle sales had been providing $5,000 to $7,000 in revenue a month, but that he expects that to increase by 25% over time.
HB 890 also loosened rules for distillery tours and allows distillers to sell their products at festivals.