A flimsy argument

Published 10:11 am Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The issue of Sunday hunting has once again reared its head and, as usual, has sparked heated debate. Based on two identical pieces of legislation currently being considered in the General Assembly – one in the House of Delegates and the other in the Senate – and the votes taken so far, the state seems poised to amend the current code to allow hunting on Sundays.

The Southampton County Board of Supervisors last week, after a 5-2 vote, passed a resolution to oppose the measure.

Proponents of the new legislation claim that landowner rights are being violated by the current Sunday hunting prohibition. In all likelihood, that will be the winning argument that leads to the new law’s passage.

Many opponents, including several on the board of supervisors who supported the resolution, cite their Christian beliefs as the primary reason for maintaining the current ban. That argument is flimsy at best.

Never mind the fact that specifically banning hunting on Sundays for religious reasons is clearly discriminatory against Christians over any other religious group. One board member, who was asked why he opposed Sunday hunting, said “The issue to me is that I feel that it’s a day that should be reserved for activities of Christianity.” Those of the Jewish faith who observe the Sabbath on Saturday could just as easily argue that Saturday hunting should then be banned for similar reasons. Not allowing Sunday hunting because of specific Christian beliefs in direct conflict with the first amendment of the Constitution of The Unites States.

But the real reason the “day of rest” argument fails to pass the smell test is because hunting is the only activity the Southampton County Board of Supervisors seems to take issue with on Sundays. The board of supervisors has passed no resolution to oppose Sunday golfing. Or fishing. Or movie watching, the drinking of alcohol or grass cutting. There is no movement, at least that we are aware of, to oppose Sunday afternoon football playing or NASCAR watching, horseback riding or bicycle riding. The board does not oppose Sunday trash disposal, even at sites owned by the county and staffed by county employees on the Christian Sabbath.

Only Sunday hunting appears to have made the board’s list of un-Christian like activities.

Perhaps there are many valid reasons for continuing a ban on Sunday hunting, and we suspect that as the state draws nearer to amending the current code in order to allow it, those local hunters in opposition will voice them. But by citing religious beliefs as their primary reason, those who are opposed to Sunday hunting may unwittingly be hastening the new law’s arrival.