It looks like church and state remains essentially synonymous and virtually seamless in Salt Lake City. That is, it’s difficult to see where one stops and the other begins.
Mayor Rocky Anderson has largely caved in to Mormon Church (LDS) demands that freedom of speech be ended around its historic temple area.
The controversy began some time ago when the city sold the church a block adjacent to its Temple Square, but that sale did not include the easement, which provided for free access and expression.
The church strictly enforced its own rules anyway prohibiting any speech or activity it didn’t appreciate, such as born-again Christians speaking critically about the LDS and handing out tracts.
Enter the American Civil Liberties Union.
A court decision later forced the church and the city to allow free expression on the block.
The Mormon Church used its considerable muscle to pressure the city into a solution it sought to circumvent the court decision. That is, sell LDS the easement through a land swap.
Now it seems that church and state are again united in Utah and single minded regarding how best to run Salt Lake City, reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.
The deal to swap property owned by the church for the easement has received the blessings of the church and city council, which is completely composed of Mormons. In a seamless media event both made the appropriate pronouncements and announcements for the plan.
But is likely there will be more litigation.
City coffers will no doubt spill forth the funds necessary to defend the LDS solution.
What Salt Lake City residents have learned, is even though approximately half are now non-Mormon, what the LDS wants it gets.
So much for democracy, free speech and pluralism in Utah. Brigham Young would no doubt be proud of Mayor Anderson for bowing before a higher authority.