Written by: Sam Dalton, @_SamDalton
A Rexburg woman, Cindy Lemon, started a petition Jan. 28 to have the new Wal-Mart closed on Sundays and has over 200 signatures.
Lemon said she started the petition through change.org.
“I believe that the Rexburg community is over 90 percent LDS,” Lemon said. “That being said, one of our major beliefs is that we believe in honoring the Sabbath day, which includes not shopping and not working where possible. It is a whole lot easier for people to not work if the business is closed and there are not a lot of jobs in Rexburg. With Wal-Mart coming in with so many jobs, I thought I would ask and see if it was a possibility.”
Hannah Spratling, a freshman studying exercise physiology, said she thinks it would be a good idea to close Wal-Mart on Sundays so people observe the Sabbath, but that everyone has their own choice.
Lemon said she was confident she would receive public support when she started her petition. She did not expect the backlash she has received, but is hopeful there are still members of the community who are supportive and want to see this change happen.
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The petition, “Making Wal-Mart values and Rexburg values work together,” has seen an increase from 211 signatures on Feb. 3 to 244 signatures Feb. 13. “Keeping Rexburg Walmart open on Sunday,” a counter petition started by Stephanie Westover of St. Anthony, Idaho, on change.org, has had an increase from 590 signatures Feb. 3 to 657 on Feb. 13.
“I don’t want Wal-Mart to close on Sundays because I like to shop on Sundays,” Westover said. “I have rheumatoid arthritis, and I am unable to stand in lines or walk in crowded areas, so Sundays are nice because it is less crowded.”
Westover said she feels Lemon’s petition is ridiculous if she expects a large corporation like Wal-Mart to close its doors on Sunday, for her religious beliefs.
Samantha Calder, a junior studying accounting, said she feels Wal-Mart should not have to make the decision whether its customers shop on Sunday. It is the customers’ choice.
“Not everyone in this area is LDS,” Westover said. “Some practice the Sabbath on Saturday, or Friday, or some not at all.”
Lemon said she first went to the local Wal-Mart about changing store hours and was directed to their corporate offices. A representative told Lemon that store hours have been changed in the past in other locations and that if there is enough community support, the company would look into making a change.
“As the Lord’s covenant people, we have covenanted that we won’t shop on a Sunday, and that’s our right not to,” said Isa Curran, a freshman majoring in general studies. “If somebody forced us to shop on a Sunday, then that’s the same as forcing others not to shop on a Sunday.”
Lemon said the community of Rexburg needs the students of BYU-Idaho and their support.
“We need them to sign this petition,” Lemon said. “This petition really was started with them in mind and we want to help them as much as they help us, and I think that if we work together as a community we can do this.”
Westover said it is good to do what Jesus Christ invites but that people should not force their religion on others.
“There is a lot diversity in our community of wonderful people,” Westover said. “No one group is better than the other or deserves special treatment based on their faith.”