German Court Enforces Day of Rest

"The judges did not just endorse the division of time marked by Christianity, but also the necessity for this division. There is no ambiguity about this weekly rhythm. We people as social animals are duty bound and justified in dividing our time together. It is good to have free time together, it helps us to live as the social beings that we are."

The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:

"The judgement sounds antiquated, maddeningly unmodern and pretty patronizing. It tells citizens when they are allowed to shop, and when they are not. It makes shopping on a Sunday an exception. It is a ruling that goes against the economic liberal zeitgeist and is a ruling against the round-the-clock commercialization of life."

"Yet, the ruling is humane. It is an act in favor of the public spirit. … Those who regularly go shopping on Sundays today will have to work regularly on Sundays tomorrow."

"It may sound old fashioned but it is still correct: Sunday is Sunday because it is unlike other days. This is not about tradition or religion or a social heritage. Sunday is more than just a day off for individuals. It that were so, then it wouldn't matter if someone took a day off on Tuesday or Thursday. It is a day to synchronize society, that is what makes it so important. Without Sunday, every day would be a working day and a fixed point in the week would disappear. Of course there can be exceptions, there have always been particular professions who work on Sundays. But when the exception becomes the rule, then the commercialization of Sundays will not end at the department stores."

"The court has given everyone the right to a day off on Sundays. You don't have to take it. Everyone can do what they like with it. But it is good to have it."

An Interference in Individual and Economic Freedom?

The Financial Times Deutschland writes:

"The ruling by the Constitutional Court has revived the emotional debate about opening hours of shops on Sundays. That alone is annoying. But even more annoying is that with its strong emphasis on the religiously based day of rest on Sunday, it is interfering in individual and economic freedom."

"Without a doubt the freedom to practise religion is of great value. However, in an increasingly secular society with more and more individualized rhythms of living, it seems an anachronism for the country's highest court to use retail of all things to save the day of rest."

"In the public debate there is too little mention of the freedom of shop owners to keep customers through opening on Sundays, who would otherwise order online. And the freedom of towns to use Sunday opening hours to attract tourists. Or the freedom of customers to decide for themselves if they would rather spend Sundays amidst the crowds in the shopping malls or walking in the forest."

"Appreciating these rights does not mean throwing away the country to the false god of consumerism. It means allowing a debate … about what Sunday really means to us. That includes protecting the rights of salespeople, paying them extra for working on Sundays and not putting anyone under pressure to work on Sunday."

"If this is achieved, then it is high time that Sunday opening hours are no longer discussed in terms of belief but rationally."

The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung, which is based in Berlin, writes:

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