Rocky Anderson: To challenge LDS Church power in Utah is not ‘bigotry’

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) The Salt Lake Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Thursday April 18, 2019.

Brigham Young, with the support of the Territorial Legislature, assumed autocratic control of Utah Territory under the guise of speaking on behalf of God.

At that time, the Legislature was all-Mormon, juries were all-Mormon, the courts assigned by the Legislature to hear all civil and criminal matters were all-Mormon (the federal judges sent to set things right having been run out of town), and non-Mormons were denied the right to own property.

When a “Gentile,” Dr. John King Robinson, sought to build a hospital, the police destroyed his workshop and he was later murdered at 300 South and Main Street. (Book suggestion: “Reminiscences of Early Utah” by Robert Baskin.)

Things have gotten better in some ways. Salt Lake City is now a far more diverse place. We haven’t had a Mountain Meadows Massacre since those days. The president of the Mormon Church is not advocating slavery as being divinely inspired, as Young did. And, now, only nine out of 10 members of the Utah Legislature are Mormons.

Some things have become worse. Back then, courageous, independent journalists were publishing newspapers, challenging the nonsense being published by the Deseret News and the abuses and domination by the Mormon Church.

Now, what used to be our major independent newspaper has been decimated because of the conspiracy between the Deseret News and the greedy venture capitalists who owned The Salt Lake Tribune before selling the skeletal remains of The Tribune to its first and current Mormon owner, Paul Huntsman.

Some things have remained about the same. For instance, the majority of voters supported access of patients to medical cannabis and, after the Mormon Church lost in its opposition to Proposition 2, the church choreographed legislation to override it. And the church targets members of the LGBTQ community with its bigotry.

Recently I posted on Facebook about my concern that “Now, we’re threatened with the prospect of a Mormon mayor (Luz Escamilla), who seems willing to do the bidding of the church, the developers, and the bank where she has been employed (and which employs so many elected officials – and not because they’re bankers!).” I then provided concrete examples of Escamilla’s actions, about which anyone should be concerned.

Instead of reporting about my entire post, or even my entire first sentence, Michelle Quist (“Rocky throws a bigoted attack at a candidate for mayor”), twisted what I wrote out of context, labeling it religious bigotry. My obvious concern was not about religion. It was about continued domination of our government.

Quist then bizarrely speculated that I “probably blame” the loss of a recent Utah Supreme Court case by a citizens’ group on “the justices’ church membership.” (In her first online version, she falsely represented I was handling that case.) She states that case is similar to a medical cannabis case I am handling in federal court.

If Quist had done the slightest research — or called me, as any responsible journalist would have done — she would have learned that the issues in the two cases are not similar at all. Also, contrary to Quist’s speculation, I actually agreed with the court’s decision in that case and had earlier urged representatives of the citizens’ group handling the case to drop it.

Quist’s big lie is that I attacked someone because of her religion. I don’t care about anyone’s religious affiliation. The concern I expressed in my post was about the control of our government by special interests, contrary to the public interest. (Mayor DeeDee Corradini was not Mormon, but still caved to the church’s demand to purchase a block of our city’s Main Street.)

I don’t trust that a candidate like Escamilla will not continue to remain silent about such things as the cruelty and bigotry of her church toward members of the LGBTQ community. I don’t trust any candidate who absented herself, as Luz did, from voting on a $24 million appropriation to the Inland Port Commission, then makes the campaign claim of opposing the inland port.

If Paul Rolly were writing for The Tribune, instead of people like Michelle Quist, we would learn about what’s really behind the actions of our elected officials and candidates — such as legislators who blindly toed the line drawn by the Mormon Church on Prop. 2.

We’d also be getting the truth about important matters, rather than an attack piece based on a partial sentence taken out of context and the malicious ravings of a “journalist” who won’t first check her facts and is eager to dishonestly speculate about what the target of her diatribe is thinking.

Rocky Anderson

Rocky Anderson has worked as Salt Lake City mayor, nonprofit volunteer, human rights advocate and lawyer to make government more responsive to the people.