Many Christians believe you must keep Sunday holy. Does that mean you shouldn't be able to down a cold beer with your pizza at the local pub on Sunday?
Nationwide, walls of blue laws forbidding Sunday alcohol sales have come tumbling down. Since 2002, 14 states have ended the bans, according to USA TODAY.
In the Upstate, the cities of Greenville, Spartanburg, Anderson and Mauldin allow the sales. Simpsonville voters will decide the issue at the ballot box Nov. 2, and the Greenville County Council and the Greer City Council are deciding by early September whether to authorize referendums.
In the Lowcountry, Berkeley County residents also are expected to vote on the issue in November. The referendum is up for final council approval later this month. Moncks Corner voters approved Sunday beer and wine sales last November, following Dorchester County in 2008.
A dizzying eddy of issues swirl around the question: setting a moral and healthy example for children and neighbors; fairness in business competition; the ka-ching of added tax dollars into business and local government coffers; a shift in values held by a growing, changing population; and whether the people should be allowed to express their views at the ballot box as permitted by state law.
The Rev. Earl D. Simmons Sr., pastor of Maple Creek Missionary Baptist Church in Greer, said Sunday alcohol sales are immoral.
He said instead of showing honor and reverence for faith and the creator, "We find ourselves frolicking or in pleasure with alcoholic beverages," and residents are setting a bad example for children, which can have a dangerous domino effect.
He thinks there is a danger of losing a cherished value, "that we may raise our kids in a society that understands the value of resting in the presence and power of God on Sunday."
Simmons said, "I believe it also flies against society ethically in that we have this dilemma, this conflict where we as a nation -- a nation of faith, and a nation of belief in a divine God -- and yet on the day that he instructed us to worship and glorify him, we use it for selfish purposes."
Greer-area resident Michael Few likes to hang out with his friends at downtown Greer restaurants, but many are closed Sundays in the historic Greer Station.
"It would be nice to be able to get together on Sunday afternoon and watch a football game down there at one of the restaurants," he said. "As of now, we can't. You have to go into downtown Greenville."
Whether Greenville County Council and Greer City Council place the issue on the ballot in November is a tossup. County Council has held the first of three readings to place Sunday alcohol sales in unincorporated areas on the ballot, and some Greer restaurant owners are pressuring City Council to authorize a referendum.
Robin Martz, operating partner of Chophouse '47 at 36 Beacon Drive off Pelham Road and Interstate 85, said he shutters on Sundays because at an upscale steakhouse, "a glass of wine and a steak go hand in hand." His competitors in Mauldin and Greenville allow Sunday sales.
He sees the additional business if a county referendum were to pass as a "win-win" for local government and businesses, especially during these trying economic times, because Sunday alcohol license money goes to local government coffers.
"My focal point is that it's really a community benefit," Martz said. "We're all helping each other out."
A Sunday alcohol license costs $3,050 per year, and all of that goes to the local community, said Tom Sponseller, president and CEO of the South Carolina Hospitality Association.
A Sunday alcohol license "makes a huge difference" in a restaurant's bottom line, he said. Sunday can become the second busiest day of the week.
Meanwhile, "It's a real equity situation for the businesses outside those city limits," he said.
For instance, when a hotel on Greenville's Eastside is trying to attract a convention, not being able to have a Sunday night opening reception with alcohol can mean the business is lost to neighboring communities where Sunday sales are permitted, he said.
Simmons suggested that restaurants could turn the issue to their advantage by marketing themselves to families on Sundays as places free of alcohol.
Sponseller sees a trend toward Sunday alcohol sales statewide and nationwide. Numerous counties and communities in the state allow Sunday sales. Several more are considering putting the issue on the ballot this fall, he said.
Dave Munday of The Post and Courier contributed to this report.