By Hunter Hines
Christian Action League
September 22, 2017
WILSON – Because of his opposition to Sunday hunting legislation, an August 4th editorial by the Wilson Daily Times (WDT) blasted the Christian Action League’s executive director, Dr. Mark Creech, as a “Pharisee” and “legalist.”
“Neckties, pantsuits, and lapel pins have replaced the flowing robes and tassels, but modern-day Pharisees are as comfortable in Raleigh as their predecessors ever were in Solomon’s temple,” reads the editorial. “Like the Jewish authorities who held sway in Jerusalem two millennia ago, North Carolina lawmakers are imposing their personal religious preferences on the public. The General Assembly relaxed, but didn’t rescind, blue laws that banned Sunday hunting…”
In 2015, lawmakers repealed North Carolina’s 145-year prohibition on Sunday hunting with the passage of HB 640 – Outdoor Heritage Act. The legislation, however, did retain a prohibition on Sunday hunting from 9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – the hours most churches meet on Sunday mornings.
The WDT’s editorial references legislation which passed this year, HB 559 – Outdoor Heritage Act Enhanced. It expanded Sunday hunting by removing certain other restrictions that also remained in law, which pertained to Sunday hunting on private lands, allowing Sunday hunting on game lands, and allowing the hunting of migratory birds on Sunday.
The original version of HB 559, which passed the House, removed the 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. prohibition. But the Senate objected to its removal and restored it, which the WDT’s editorial, disparaged as “a curtsy to church custom.”
The editorial goes on to say it “should not be lawmakers’ job to encourage church attendance,” and that the current law with its three-hour prohibition on Sunday hunting during typical church hours is a “form of naked protectionism.”
The editorial further advocated that the biblical Sabbath is Saturday, and its recognition on Sunday is tradition, and “Sunday sanctimony is merely a manmade custom.”
Thus, the editorial implicates Rev. Creech, the Christian Action League’s supporters, as well as lawmakers that opposed Sunday hunting initiatives, as “Pharisees, those hidebound Hebrew scholars who reveled in making rules, including strict prohibitions on Sabbath-day work.”
“Blue laws enacted in the name of a Messiah who condemned legalism and called his free-will followers to voluntary obedience really throw us for a loop,” the editorial concludes.
Dr. Creech said he only learned of the editorial recently, and its content is reflective of many of the same arguments he’s heard in favor of repealing all restrictions to Sunday hunting.
Dr. Creech responded to the editorial with this statement:
I have never been so much concerned about a law or laws that restrict action in a free society as I have been with promoting the benefits that accrue from acknowledging the tradition of a Christian Sabbath. Those who pushed for the repeal of Sunday hunting in 2015, and those who wish now to further expand Sunday hunting, seem to have little or no regard for the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, and the wisdom of one day in seven committed to rest, family, and worship. The benefits that come from this aren’t just personal, but cultural too.
To be “legalistic” or a “Pharisee” is to employ an excessive or improper use of the law of God. It would be emphasizing the letter of the law at expense of its spirit. But that’s not what I have done.
The error of the Pharisees was that they twisted the positives to be gleaned from Sabbath observance into absurd meticulous burdens such as a woman not being able to use a mirror, lest she plucks out a grey hair and be guilty of reaping, which was considered work. This was an abuse of the Fourth Commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy.”
Nevertheless, Jesus always observed the Sabbath as an example of our need for one day in the week to concentrate on character building, as opposed to the other days of the week being given to commerce and recreation. Check the Scriptures carefully; they teach he attended the Synagogue on the Sabbath Day, ‘as was his custom,’ which means he attended regularly and faithfully.
Neither did Jesus oppose works of necessity on the Sabbath Day, as demonstrated when he and his disciples were hungry and picked grain. The Pharisees not only interpreted Sabbath observance to include this prohibition but also not allowing for military action when under attack.
Jesus’ teaching simply sought to restore balance to Sabbath observance. Still, nothing He said or did implied that the special significance of the day and its recognition in God’s law or that of his countrymen should be repealed, or deemed irrelevant and unnecessary for the individual or society.
What I have been concerned about is the disposition that seeks to make this day like any other day of the week. Over the years we have repealed nearly every kind of blue law. Repeal of Sunday hunting prohibitions is just more of the same.
I also recognize some people worship on other days than Sunday. But frankly, our culture is based on Judeo-Christian principles and the vast majority of churches meet on Sunday.
The Wilson Daily Times advocates Sunday hunting prohibitions are adverse to freedom. I suggest you can’t make Sunday like any other day of the week if you want to sustain liberty. Freedom can only be preserved by a God-loving, God-fearing, and God-honoring people. If society fails to recognize a special time for promoting and encouraging these traits, then it’s human nature to neglect them.
If the 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. prohibition of Sunday hunting is “naked protectionism,” for the church, then repeal of that prohibition would be naked favoritism toward business, sports, and entertainment interests at the expense of religion’s flourishing.
The current law does nothing to force church attendance. Furthermore, there is nothing unconstitutional, unethical, or un-American about laws that cooperate with religion’s indispensable labors to cultivate the kind of character that makes for a citizenship fit to guard and preserve liberty – something of great secular relevance. Actually, a people untrained in self-discipline and virtuous living cannot stay free. This is the role of churches, and, in part, the purpose of the Fourth Commandment. To keep repealing laws that circuitously support this essential service is self-defeating as a people.
It is no more “Pharisaical” to argue we should keep certain blue laws, which honor the Fourth Commandment of the Big Ten, than it is to contend we should preserve other laws that prohibit usurpation of parental rights (Fifth Commandment), murder (Sixth Commandment), alienation of affection and criminal conversation adultery laws (Seventh Commandment), theft (Eighth Commandment), lying under oath (Ninth Commandment), and gambling (Tenth Commandment).
We have additional laws that, without coercion, without a violation of church and state, indirectly support the first three of the Ten Commandments, which recognize and honor a Judeo-Christian God. Shall we say the maintenance of these laws is the “legalistic” imposition of some involuntary religious mandate? Some people would, but of course they would be wrong according to a number of Supreme Court rulings. Instead, such laws are simply the awareness, appreciation, and alimony for the continuance of our rich national heritage. It’s no different for blue laws, which arise out of the religious underpinning of God’s command to respect the Lord’s Day.
“Let the secularists scream, nay, nay, but this is a fact.
“Newspaper editorials that demonstrate gross theological error, as well as a lack of understanding that state law should reflect the laws of nature’s God; don’t just throw me for a loop but contribute to our culture’s moral downward spiral.”
The new law, HB 559, allows counties to opt-out of Sunday hunting via a vote by a county-wide referendum calling for its prohibition.