Day of worship being eroded by greed

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Sunday begins and ends with church for the Tofrik family from Scarborough in North Yorkshire. Between the morning service, which Sue, 37, and Tony, 39, attend with their two boys, and the evening service, which Tony attends alone, there is usually a lunch with family and friends and a walk or a board game, writes Mary Braid.

It is essentially a day for quietness and contemplation. Mrs Tofrik tries to stock up with groceries before the Sabbath but will use the local corner shop if pushed. The family would never go drinking in the pub or visit the supermarket.

Their routine is shared by about 200 people who attend the local Ebenezer Baptist Church and who have fiercely opposed the "erosion" of the specialness of Sunday.

"We have prayed about the changes to Sunday and written to our MP," Mrs Tofrik, a part-time insurance broker, said. "Obviously as Christians we see Sunday as a day of worship, but we believe the changes are also an attack on family life in this country. We believe it is driven by big business greedy for profit.

"Money is not the be-and-end-all of everything. We seem to have forgotten that people matter, too. People don't have to do their shopping on Sunday. They should think of all those people who are now going to be forced to work in shops on Sunday and what that will do to their family life."

Mrs Tofrik says that a congregation member has already lost her job because she was unwilling to break the Sabbath. Another Christian friend is frightened that she may be pressed into Sunday working in a local supermarket when her contract ends.

Mrs Tofrik argues that small corner shops have always opened on Sundays without changing the day's character. Their very existence is threatened, she insists. Neil, 10, and Simon, 8, occasionally complain that their parents do not allow them to play sport or go on outings with friends. "When they grow up I would obviously like them to keep it as a day for worship," Mrs Tofrik said, adding that, eventually, they would make their own choices. Mr Tofrik, a sales manager, says Sunday gives the family a chance to catch up and allows the children space to discuss things that might be bothering them. He denies that he is trying to restrict public choice or failing to recognise the inevitable tide of social change by attempting to preserve Sunday.

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