In the first part of the last century and even more so before that era, laws limiting activities on the Sabbath were the norm. The religious forces, far more powerful than today, did not cotton to frivolity on Sundays, or anything else that kept the population from showing up for church services.
n the first part of the last century and even more so before that era, laws limiting activities on the Sabbath were the norm. The religious forces, far more powerful than today, did not cotton to frivolity on Sundays, or anything else that kept the population from showing up for church services.
In a book entitled, "Fifty Years of Freethought" (Vol. II, 1929), George Mac Donald described how preachers tried to shut down the Super Bowl of the time, namely, the Chicago World's Fair, from opening on Sunday, the sabbath.
“The Chicago World's Fair having been decreed, the kind of church people who adopt meddling as a means of grace saw that now was their day of salvation. Hitherto, with their fussy restrictions on Sunday work and amusements, they had been obliged to function merely as local nuisances. Now they would close the World's Fair on Sunday and make themselves felt as pests by all nations. . .The meddlers resolved to memorialize Congress to pay no money, make no appropriations in behalf of the Fair, save on the promise that the key should be turned on the exhibits every Saturday night, with no relief until Monday morning. They circulated petitions to this effect, and did such a business in collecting names that in some places they claimed more signatures than there were people.”
This Sunday before, during and after the Super Bowl, the people will have a day to enjoy, Those who wish to attend churches are free to do so and many will, and many more will spend some part of the day in prayer. Maybe a few fundamentalists will sacrifice a goat or something, but they will not attempt to discourage others to have a good time or do what they like on this Sabbath day, as once was the case in America and around the Christian world.
Robert Green Ingersoll, the famous lawyer, politician, and orator, once told a reporter in Cleveland that the ministers wanted every place closed on the Sabbath except the churches. He said this was a terrible imposition. He favored Sunday baseball, adding that it always gave him pleasure to see the Sabbath broken. He continued: "On that day, I love to hear the violins and see the boys and girls dancing. I love to hear the music in the parks, love to see the bathers in the surf, love to see people on their wheels, love to see little children gathering flowers, love to see people sailing, love to see them playing golf or ball. All this is so much better and sweeter than going to church, hearing horrible hymns in horrible tunes, horrible sermons about the harps of heaven and the tortures of hell. Away with the sacred Sabbath, say I. Man was not made for the sabbath." (Source: Frank Smith, "Robert Green Ingersoll: A Life," Prometheus, 1990, p. 378.)
Ingersoll told a story to illustrate what would happen if the ministers got their way: "The people will go to church as the man went staggering home at two o'clock in the morning. His poor wife said, 'John, how could you come home at such a time?' And John replied: 'Mary, the fact is every other place is shut up.'"
So enjoy the Super Bowl, if that's your pleasure and/or all the other wonderful things you can choose to do in a secular society. In this country, everyone, devout and secular, is free to do as he/she likes on the sabbath and every other day. Let's be grateful that people like Mac Donald, Ingersoll and so many other freethinkers came before us. As the Great Agnostic observed, "Man was not made for the sabbath."