In a concession to the Catholic Church, the Croatian parliament has passed a law requiring all shops to be closed on Sundays beginning January 1, 2009.  This is the result of years of campaigning by the Church, which makes up 90% of the population.

It will allow Sunday shopping at Christmas time and in the summers, and gas stations and public transportation will remain open.  Bakeries, newsstands, and flowershops will also remain open under the new law.

Thaddeus M. Baklinski at reported, "The parliament of the predominantly Catholic country of Croatia is urging its citizens to reclaim Sunday as a day for celebrating the Eucharist, for family and for rest."

Baklinski adds the following analysis: "Most post-communist countries, including Croatia, have experienced problems transitioning from the oppression of Marxist ideology, which proclaimed there is no God and therefore no need for any day for religious observance or rest, to a free market economy with a fascination with and craving for all things Western.

"Croatia, however, is now in a more stable political and economic situation where its people can reaffirm their centuries-old traditions of family and faith and experience a Renaissance of their culture. The banning of Sunday shopping is a significant step in that direction.

"The benefits of not making Sunday just an extension of Saturday have been well documented."

Croatia is not the only nation considering bans on Sunday shopping. In Britain, a group called "Keep Sunday Special," has been campaigning to ban shopping on Sunday.   According to the KSS website,

"Keep Sunday Special (KSS) has been fighting to preserve Sunday as a day for rest, family activities and worship since 1985. It has had the support of a wide variety of organisations including churches, unions, trade associations and retailers. In recent months the campaign has refocused to emphasise the need for everyone to have a regular, shared day off."

In 2005, Catholic Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix, Arizona, observed that "the world has suffered with the loss of the religious observance of Sunday as a day of rest," and reflected that the day which used to be reserved for religious and family togetherness, has turned into "an extension of Saturday," filled with errands invariably including shopping."

KSS claims that there are five primary reasons to pass laws involving Sunday rest:

    Protecting relationships
    Preserving community
    Saving local business
    Respecting faith
    Getting rest

Although a unified day of rest may make sense from a secular perspective, those who keep another day as sacred or believe differently are sure to feel increasingly out of the mainstream if these efforts succeed.


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