I recently read an online discussion in which a few people shared stories of being out to eat on Sunday in Utah and discovering that an apostle was also eating in the same restaurant on Sunday. (Note the quote in the photo for this post–this is the person who was eating at an IHOP in Utah County on a Sunday). The discussion group shared several theories about why this would be the case:

If they are speaking “out of town” they go to restaurants to eat for convenience. But this was only an hour from Salt Lake (in Utah county), so not sure that applies.

  • GAs and apostles, due to travel schedules, observe the “sabbath” on a different day of the week rather than Sundays, which is just a work day to them.
  • GAs can do whatever they like due to the second anointing. Their salvation is ensured anyway, so who cares? [1]
  • Sundays in restaurants (and/or stores) are the one time they can avoid being mobbed by their adoring fans / church members.
  • The rules are “for thee and not me.”
  • TBM response: It’s a lie! Pictures or it didn’t happen! (After pictures are provided) You can fake a digital date stamp on a picture!

Given the amount of preaching about Sabbath observance, particularly linking it to parenting failures when children leave the Church, this practice feels more than a little icky / hypocrtical. I also never bought that claim about retention being linked to Sabbath observance anyway. Like, what, your kids will stay in the Church regardless of other factors just because you didn’t shop on Sunday? That’s like the claim that missionaries aren’t baptizing because they aren’t obedient enough, or that your financial struggles will disappear if you just pay tithing or that you can get rich through Mormoning even harder. It feels like a math problem, a superstition problem, or both. At minimum, it’s a distraction from the more direct things you can do to influence those results. At worst, it’s a way to blame people and make them feel guilty for things outside their control.

There was also speculation that GAs probably were sub-par tippers, which is possible, but IDK. If the bill is part of a reimbursement, they might tip better than normal. I know I was always a generous tipper when traveling on business! But the (ungenerous) assumption was that they might tip lower to punish the wait staff for breaking the Sabbath.

Back to the topic of Sabbath breaking, one of my first posts ever was about the fact that the phrase “ox in the mire” is not found in the New Testament; it’s a Mormon made-up phrase. The actual phrase is “ass or ox fallen in a pit,” but someone unfamiliar with the New Testament or whose dainty sensibilities were offended by saying “ass” made up the phrase. If someone talks about an “ox being in the mire” you know that person is a Mormon (or whatever we are supposed to call ourselves until five minutes after the next Church president’s ascendancy).

Some of my favorite college memories at BYU were going to Chuck-a-Rama after church with my roommates, where we would eat lunch, then hang out and visit long enough for them to switch to the dinner buffet, and we would eat again. When I was on my mission, I don’t recall ever eating out on a Sunday, but there was also the “appearances” factor of preaching one thing to investigators, but then visibly doing a different thing. That didn’t bother me at BYU because Chuck-a-Rama was the closest thing to a home-cooked Sunday dinner I ever had in college.

Decades later, I had a bishop who said that Sabbath observance rules didn’t count once you left your own county, meaning that if you were traveling, you would probably have to go to restaurants and stores, and it was no biggie. I used to misquote him as saying “outside your own zip code,” which was basically about two miles from our house.

Every family seems to have its own rules about Sabbath observance. Some of my relatives have gone overboard from my perspective: only wearing Sunday clothes all day, no TV on Sunday, no homework on Sunday, can’t dribble a basketball, no swimming, and I was really flummoxed by being called a “Sabbath breaker” for using a vending machine on a Sunday, which was going really far to make up nonsensical extra rules, in my opinion. I had often had to work Sundays as a teen, which my family didn’t like, but I suppose they understood it since teens always work in crap jobs, and the dining hall I worked in had students to feed seven days a week. Nurses and doctors also have to work Sundays, which is generally considered socially acceptable, even laudable.

My in-laws were much more relaxed than my own family, which was a nice change. And of course, when my sons got the Aaronic priesthood I discovered pretty quickly how routine it was for someone to have to go buy bread for the sacrament on Sunday morning which surprised me!

  • Are you surprised by the idea of apostles eating in restaurants on Sundays? Does it bother you? What do you think is the justification?
  • Have you seen an apostle or GA breaking the Sabbath or doing something they had preached against? Deets, please!
  • What were your Sabbath rules like growing up? Were they different when you formed your own family? What about your in-laws?


[1] But let’s be honest, if your salvation was guaranteed no matter what you did, you could certainly get up to something better than eating at IHOP on a Sunday, right?