Letter: LDS women must make themselves heard on Bears Ears

(Rachel Molenda | The Salt Lake Tribune) Protesters gathered at the Capitol building in Salt Lake City on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump's plan to shrink Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments.

Americans of faith would probably tell you their preeminent concern today is freedom of religion. This issue is especially poignant for Mormons, whose ancestors experienced religious persecution. While I wasn’t surprised by a recent poll showing most Utah men (61 percent) support reducing Bears Ears, I was surprised that only a minority of Utah women (42 percent) do.

Since Utah is roughly 60 percent Mormon, these numbers suggest that a significant portion of Mormon women disagree with the current Utah (read: Mormon) leadership who doggedly lobbied for and enthusiastically celebrated the Bears Ears monument reduction.

Is it possible that these women empathize with American Indian tribes whose ancestral homeland is inextricably tied to their practice of religion? Indeed, how can Mormons seek protection for their own monuments while denying Native tribes protection of theirs? For Utah women, might the cognitive dissonance and mean-spirited nature of diminishing ancestral monuments be obvious? Shouldn’t we begin supporting the rights of religious freedom for the First Americans, just as we do our own? Women of Utah, please start the conversation at the dinner table tonight. Bears Ears is an issue of religious freedom. Time’s up(!) for this hypocrisy.

Diane Walker, Salt Lake City