Barry Saunders

What if we mixed drinks and church on a Sunday morning? – Saunders

Guests enjoy brunch at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh in March.
Guests enjoy brunch at Beasley’s Chicken + Honey in downtown Raleigh in March. newsobserver.com

If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, I always say.

Church and other religious institution leaders who are getting their holy robes in a bunch should rejoice in the potential relaxing of the state’s blue laws prohibiting alcohol sales before noon on Sundays.

Instead of continuing to fight the inevitable tide of Bloody Marys, Fuzzy Navels and mimosas that could soon be cascading through downtown before church services are over, churches could offer their own alcohol attractions.

Surely you can’t mean ...

That’s precisely what I mean. And don’t call me Surely.

Open bar at the First Self-Righteous Church would give the hotel owners and restaurateurs clamoring for a repeal of the state’s blue laws – so-named because they are feeling blue over all of the lost revenue – a run for their money while simultaneously helping with that church building-fund drive.

Unorthodox? Sure, but what better way to fight the scourge of Demon Rum than with an Angelic Absolut or a Pious Panama Cocktail?

That way, those of us who are so inclined can get our fill of the Holy Spirit and distilled spirits without leaving the pews.

Can I get an “Amen” for the Holy Spirit?

State Senate Bill 155 – formally known as the Economic & Job Growth for N.C. Distilleries Act – has provisions within it that deal with distilleries and auctioning booze, but the part of the bill that everyone knows about deals with whether we can have a nip with our eggs Benedict, bacon, grits or whatever you prefer to eat as brunch. It is supported by hoteliers and restaurant owners and seems like it might pass, unless a latter-day Moses can spread forth his arms and prevent us from being drowned before noon in a sea of mixed drinks.

Assuming that Moses mantle for now is the Rev. Mark Creech of the Christian Action League. I left messages for the Rev. Creech last week, but he hasn’t called me back. Still, he has been an outspoken critic not just of this bill, but of booze. I dared read a column he wrote called “I dare you to read this about alcohol” on his CAL website: “For me, it comes down to this,” he wrote. “I will not keep a dog in my house that is apt to bite me, even tear me apart. And for similar reasons, I don’t believe you should drink alcohol.”

In a March N&O story, Creech said, “I think I speak for a lot of pastors when I say we have to deal constantly with people whose lives have been ruined by alcohol sales or abuse of alcohol. There’s a sort of tacit disrespect here for the people I represent – that during the primary time that we’re meeting, you’re going to allow sales.”

Those such as the Rev. Creech who worry that people will forsake church to hang out at the local gin palace on Sunday mornings are forgetting that some of us like to go to church verrrrrry early. Why should we be denied an a.m. taste? Hmmm, but how to prove that we’ve already been to church?

Say, what if the ushers stamped our hand, and we could show the stamp to the bartender when ordering that 10 a.m. pick-me-up?

There’s something to be said for remembering the Sabbath, whichever day you hold it to be, for having a day when we’re pretty much forced to ease up off the gas pedal of life and slow down. I’m old enough to remember when stores didn’t even open on Sundays, when if you hadn’t gotten your lard to fry Sunday dinner the day before or you just had to have that Cowsills’ Greatest Hits album, you were out of luck until Monday at 10 when John’s Record Shop opened.

There’s much to be said for the economic stimulus the brunch bill would spark. As a former waiter, I know no one tips or tithes like drunk people. There’s even more to be said for treating adults like adults. If drinking mimosas – my favorite is Cold Duck mixed with orange juice and I call it a Duckmosa – is bad at 10 a.m., it’s bad at noon too.

If, on the other hand, it’s a legally permissible pastime at noon, it should be at 10 too.

Of course, if churches start having open bars, then the protests will come from the other direction. Hoteliers and restaurateurs might propose a ban on preaching before 10 a.m.

Barry Saunders: 919-836-2811, @BarrySaunders9

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