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Amazon v. Sunday

Amazon v. Sunday

There’s a reason that Jeff Bezos is one of the world’s richest men: convenience. 

Remember when, if you wanted to buy something, you had to get in your car, drive to the store, walk the aisles, grab what you wanted, and then bring it all the way back home yourself?

Well, thanks to Bezos, you can pretty much buy what you want without getting out of bed. Just type in a few words, flick your finger for a few scrolls, input a few clicks, and the next thing you know—whatever your little heart desires is delivered to your door.

Convenience sells big!

Amazon v. Sunday

Yet nothing comes without a price. Just ask those who work for and want to take their “Sabbath” off—which, in this particular case, happens to be Sunday, what many erroneously deem (see below) the “Lord’s Day.” Though the United States Post Office does not deliver on Sunday, Amazon does, which means that people have to work on Sunday, even if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Enter the case of Gerald Groff, a rural mail carrier who had been working part-time in Pennsylvania since 2012. When the station he had been assigned to began contracting with Amazon for Sunday delivery, he transferred to another station, which also began delivering on Sundays. Though Groff tried switching days, he ended up missing more than 24 Sundays over a two-year period—and was fired. In turn, Groff sued.

This isn’t the first time that Amazon’s Sunday delivery has caused conflict with drivers who don’t want to work on Sunday. In an earlier case, the Tampa Bay Delivery Service lost in court after a lawsuit was brought against it by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida ruled against the company, saying that it violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when it fired a worker who, based on his religious conviction, refused to work on Sunday. Title VII “prohibits discrimination based on religion and requires employers to reasonably accommodate an applicant’s or employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs unless it would pose an undue hardship.”

According to the court, the company did not prove that it would face “undue hardship” by accommodating the religious needs of the employee. As a result, Tampa Bay Delivery Service paid the employee $50,000 dollars in monetary relief and was to “provide training on religious discrimination to ensure that managers and dispatchers are aware of their obligations to prevent workplace discrimination and how to address accommodation requests.”

So far, though, Groff has not made out as well in the courts. Last year, the case Groff v. Dejoy, in which Groff argued that he was the victim of religious discrimination, was heard in the U.S. District Court for Eastern Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, the court ruled in favor of the Post Office, arguing that the defendant “would suffer undue hardship if Groff was permitted to skip Sunday shifts.”

Groff appealed, and his case, handled by lawyers from a host of different legal teams (First Liberty, The Church-State Council, the Independence Law Center) is now working through the courts.

Where’s the Text?

Earlier in the year, the well-known evangelical publication Christianity Today reported about Groff’s case in particular, and about Sunday-keeping in general, discussing how years ago the publication lamented the general decline in the number of Christians who kept Sunday as a day of rest, even after the U.S. Supreme Court, in 1963, ruled that Sunday closing laws were constitutional.

What was fascinating, however, in the Christianity Today piece was their explanation about how Sunday-keeping, as opposed to the seventh-day Sabbath—the day depicted both in the Old Testament (Genesis 2:1–3; Exodus 20:8–11) and in the New Testament (Matthew 12:1–9; Mark 2:23–28; Luke 6:1–9; 13:10–16; 14:1–5; John 5:1–16; Acts 13:44; 16:13; 18:4)—came about.

Said the article, “After the Resurrection, Christians began adopting the first day of the week as the Lord’s Day, but it took hundreds of years to develop the kinds of formal church services we come to associate with weekly worship, historian Craig Harline wrote in his book Sunday. And it wasn’t until the fourth century that Christians began calling it Sunday rather than the Lord’s Day. Before that, too many worried about the pagan connotations around the sun.”

This is a revealing quote on a number of levels. But the main one is: Where are the Bible texts? Where is even one text showing where the Bible authorizes or acknowledges the change from God’s holy law—the Ten Commandments—to a day that, even the quote itself admits, is linked to paganism, to the “pagan connotations around the sun”? The fact is, the article never goes to the Bible to find justification for keeping Sunday, as opposed to the Sabbath, the seventh day.

Instead, the article said that only after the resurrection of Jesus did they start keeping Sunday, even though in the New Testament, there is not one example of them keeping Sunday as a holy day, especially in place of the seventh-day Sabbath. All you have to do is pull out a Bible concordance and simply look up “Sabbath” in the book of Acts and you will see numerous references to the believers meeting in synagogues on Sabbath. What’s more, there is no verse in Acts, or in any of the New Testament, talking about the abolishing of the seventh day, which itself goes back to the creation week (Genesis 2:1–3) in favor of the first day of the week—the so-called “Lord’s Day,” a phrase that appears in the Bible only once (Revelation 1:10) and in no way associates it with Sunday.

Why, then, has Sunday become the preferred day among Christians, even with no biblical evidence for it? To learn more about this change and why it’s important, check out “The Lost Day of History.

Sabbath or Sunday, people do have the right to reasonable accommodation for their religious practices, and one hopes that Groff gets to keep his day off, even if it’s not the day depicted in the Bible.

This article contributed by Clifford Goldstein
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