Outrage as Leading Christian Bookstores to Open on Sundays

Church organisations have expressed disappointment and surprise at news that one of Britain's most well-known chains of Christian bookshops is looking at plans to open its stores in Sundays.

|PIC1|The Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (SPCK) has made an announcement saying that it is looking at opening a number of its shops on Sunday afternoons, however, it added that none of its workers would be forced to work on Sundays.

The statement released by SPCK, which has more than 20 shops across the country, said the organisation had carried out a consultation on the issue among its staff, customers and church leaders.

It stated: "Most cathedral and large church bookshops have always carried on trading on Sundays, with the clear benefit of making Christian books available to members of the public who otherwise may go unserved.

"In no case would an SPCK bookshop be open during a Sunday morning service, and in no case has or will any employee of an SPCK bookshop been compelled to work on a Sunday."

Director of The Lord's Day Observance Society, John Roberts, has said: "The Lord's Day is a very important day for all Christians, and has held a special place in their week, namely for rest and worship."

According to the Church of England newspaper Roberts continued: "This decision will deprive staff of both these requirements. It will also take away from them valuable time with their families, which is so vital in today's pressurised society.

"Almighty God gave this day to be a blessing to the human race. This step seems to have been made on commercial grounds only, with little thought for staff and those longstanding supporters of SPCK who have spoken to us."

In addition, Dr Michael Schluter of the Keep Sunday Special Campaign also criticised the decision, telling the Church of England newspaper: "This is deeply at odds with Christian belief and practice. We know that long working hours leads to family breakdown and prevents people from engaging with their faith."

However, the Chairman of Saint Stephen the Great charity which incorporates SPCK, has defended the plans, saying the decision has been made according to the bookshops mission to make Christian literature readily available. In particular, he hoped the new measures might make it easier for those that could not get to the shops during the working week.

According to the Church of England newspaper he said: "We want shops to be open whenever possible. In no instance would we be open during church services. We plan to be open for three or four hours in the afternoon."