Should the salvation of souls be waived for a mere 1250 jobs? Or is it more important for jobs and the economy to allow commerce on Sundays before 1:30PM?
This is how some people view the quick action taken by Lexington County Council in repealing the county’s “blue laws,” officially known as Chapter 1 of Title 53 Pursuant to Section 53-1-160 of the Code of Laws of SC, 1976. It seems Amazon.com had this particular issue with Lexington County before being able to locate a distribution center here. They were concerned the law might impede the distribution center’s 24-hour operation. But the blue law had restrictions on selling merchandise on Sunday before 1:30 PM. It hardly seems reasonable that this would impact Amazon.com. After all, it does not impede McDonald’s from operating before 1:30 PM in Lexington County. Nor does it inhibit convenience stores or grocery stores in the county from selling their merchandise. The restrictions imposed by the blue law only affected retailers, such as those in the numerous shopping centers in the area, such as Columbiana and Dutch Square.
So why would you repeal this law, in such a quick time frame if it would not affect Amazon.com, as was stated as the reason? Both sides had something to say about the change.
For the County’s position, they say the change was needed “in order to foster a competitive, pro-business environment in the County.” The ordinance, 10-9, is needed because it is “essential to the operation of businesses in the County,” and that “it will promote a healthy and competitive local economy, preserve existing jobs and encourage the creation of new jobs.” Odd that they are only now effecting this change, and in such a rush, since the economic climate has been in some dire straits for two years now.
Those in favor of the repeal, such as Rev. Timothea Sharpe, pastor of Mt. Hebron Lutheran Church in Leesville, feel that the difficult economy and unemployment rates need the boost. “I have hungry people in my congregation and community. I have people without jobs in my congregation and my community.”
Those in opposition, such as county resident Julia McCrae, wondered “Who is Lexington County’s king? God or money?” The argument here, of course, being that with the stores not opening until after 1:30 PM, those who wish to exercise their religious rights and be able to attend church, won’t have to choose between church and job.
The arguments on both sides are worth considering. Yet the Lexington County Council decided to push this issue through without any true debate and community input. Since Amazon.com made this a provision of their locating in Lexington County, it was pushed through. Even though it would not impact their operation.
The council will probably have to deal with the repercussions of this decision for a long time to come. Especially if retailers fail to see any profits from opening earlier.