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LDS Church: No Lunch for Lawmakers

by Jerre Wroble
Posted // 2012-01-25 -

Along with recent revelations that Mitt Romney tithed more than $4 million to the LDS Church over the past two years, we learn that the church will hold off hosting lawmakers at its traditional pre-session "thank you" lunch.

Lawmakers from both parties defend the church's hosting of the gathering, saying the church is a constituent like any other. Utah's 75 state representatives and 29 state senators, especially the non-LDS members, no doubt found the meeting helpful in knowing if and when the church was amenable to certain types of legislation.

But this year, the church is stepping back, suggesting a "thank you" lunch is better after the session than before.

Such restraint is laudable but obviously in deference to Mitt Romney's quest for the presidency. As his stars align for his bid for Republican presidential nominee, they shed more light nationally on how the LDS Church calls the political shots in Utah.

The church's meddling in Utah politics has long been accepted as the norm. In 2011, after the Legislature passed a bill restricting the number of available liquor licenses and outlawed drink specials in bars, the Utah Hospitality Association filed a lawsuit. State attorneys are fighting the suit, arguing that the LDS Church is entitled to weigh in on legislative liquor regulation.

A Jan. 22 Salt Lake Tribune article quotes Ken Wynn, a former director of the state's liquor agency and current spokesman for the hospitality group, as saying, “In my 30 years of experience, I have firsthand knowledge that the LDS Church has influenced every piece of liquor legislation that the state has adopted over the past three decades.”

Beyond Utah, the church's involvement in helping ensure passage of California's Prop 8, the 2008 California measure that banned gay marriage, is further proof the church can become a well-oiled political machine when it needs to be.

Any Mormon hoping to be a viable presidential candidate will have to convince American voters that the LDS Church will not be calling the shots in Washington, D.C. Based on the what's gone on in Utah, that will be a hard sell.

Not only is it hard to imagine the church resisting the urge to "thank" a full-tithing member like Mitt Romney were he to become the nation's chief executive. He will be expected to "thank" them right back. 

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Post a comment
Posted // January 28,2012 at 11:39

Non Tax paying persons or organizations should have no say in any business conducted by elected officials.  How many Utah citizens would hace a say inChurch Business?  If you don't vote or do not pay income tax you cannot participate in any process of governments.


Posted // January 28,2012 at 16:05 - Anonymous, you just knocked out all not-for-profit agencies rights to lobby. They are mostly funded by government dollars. What about the ACLU? You just cut their voice. Some people will only donate to the church run not-for-profits. Do you want to lose all of those donations to people in need and have the government pick up the tab? If you made a law like that you would have organizations like the Knights of Columbus starting up everywhere speaking in proxy for the church. It would get very messy very quickly. It is better to have conversations publicly and above board. We don't disenfranchise anyone because of their race, gender, religious or non-religious beliefs. If we start now we will cease to be the United States I grew up in and love.


Posted // January 27,2012 at 17:31

I firmly believe that there are valid points by both points of view. My goal is not to insult another's religion by any means. I think I am merely making an observation based on my own expereinces here in Salt Lake. 


Posted // January 27,2012 at 08:11


Is that your real name? After brazenly mis-stating what I said you have become an embarrassment to yourself and may want to consider changing your name. Your egomaniacal nature is showing. Please pardon me if I no longer respond to your religion baiting insults.





Posted // January 27,2012 at 10:19 - "I was taught when I was raised that the first person to raise their voice had lost the argument." And, that pretty much says it all, Some mormon. You've been taught the principles of submission and acquiesence and acceptance of blind authority, in my opinion. You've been taught not to raise your head above the herd or someone will lop it off either by embarassing you in front of your peers or making you think that your salvation is based on obedience. You've been taught that,"When then elders have spoken, the thinking has been done." I'm a native of Utah so I can't be buffaloed with parsing words about reality. I don't have a chip on my shoulder about your church, I have a chip on my shoulder about some of your fellow Mormons who follow the teachings they choose and they have plenty of resource materials to manipulate, like D & C, Book Of Mormon and the Bible. If you read the local papers, you would be filled with facts about how Mormon legislators have come right out and said that alcohol is a bad hing and they are trying to control its presence in 'your' community. Why do you think there is a 'shortage' of liquor licenses or why Mike Waddoups wasn't tarred-and-featherd when he invented 'Zion Curtains' for any business serving evil alcohol. His thinking is that if non-drinkers even see someone mixing a drink, they might be tempted to start. And with bass-akwards thinking like that becoming actual law, you bet we're sick and tired of it.


Posted // January 26,2012 at 06:51

The article insinuated politicians are in lock step with the LDS church. I merely pointed out the LDS church does not control political decisions. People need to separate the church from the LDS population. Much of what happens in Utah is because mormon people want it to happen not because the LDS church wants it to happen. In the same way Catholics have a bigger political voice in some eastern cities and Jews have a bigger political voice in New York it would be expected LDS people would have a bigger voice in Salt Lake. Just as politicians check with the Jews and the Catholics before making laws they check with Baptists in the south and Midwest and check with atheists all over. This article is trying to dim the truth and make reality into something else for the author’s own reasons.


I was taught when I was raised that the first person to raise their voice had lost the argument. I find that to be true. I find it interesting the most vitriolic personal attacks in this blog come from someone who is using superlatives to make their argument. Superlatives are usually wrong because they are dumb arguments. The truth is normally a mixture of some of this and some of that. To fully understand something we need to understand it from multiple perspectives. Dumb arguments reflect on the person making them in a poor light. This article is attempting to make a superlative argument and it is no wonder the bloggers blogging about it are doing the same.

There are pluses and minuses to living in anyplace. That is just how life is. I am pleased I have the freedom to choose wherever I want to live. I feel for people who like to dance who move into Baptist areas and find no place to dance. I feel for people who like to drink who move to Utah. It is difficult to live in unfamiliar cultures and change is difficult for all of us. My hope is that I will always be respectful to others even when I disagree with how they are impacting my life and I expect other people to behave the same way. If I had difficulty with where I lived I would try and change it or move away. At least I have the freedom to choose how to behave and where to live.


Posted // January 27,2012 at 17:03 - Bill, It is quite obvious from my comments I am not going to be bullied by you. This fact discredits your argument I am submissive. I work for a major corporation and they constantly train us on how to behave to successfully work with other people. My approach of trying to change the community when necessary and look the other way when nothing can be done about it is the result of that training. So much for you putting me in a box that you can deal with. I have lived in other cultures where I am uncomfortable for this reason or that reason. Through controlling my own attitude I have made myself happy. Smarter people than I say a person brings their own happiness with them. I would think you would benefit greatly from the serenity prayer. Based on my experience you will be happier if you can apply its wisdom. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference. I can tell you are a nice person when you want to be. You can make the world a better place and be more successful by being nice even when you are trying to change the world. It is up to you. I know you can do it if you want to.


Posted // January 26,2012 at 21:27 - There we go, right on cue. Some mormon bellowing the Mormon mantra..."If you don't like it here, leave". Must be a primary jingle you all learn when you were about 8 years old.


Posted // January 25,2012 at 21:27

I just moved to Utah about 7 months ago from PA. In the short time I have lived in downtown Salt Lake City, I have been shocked at the non-diverse community. You immediately can understand or feel the LDS influence throughout the city and obviously politically. I have traveled the country for work and have never experienced such detachment from the rest of the country. To say that the LDS doesnt influence the general population in Salt Lake would be a complete lie. If you research or survey people who have lived in the area and then moved out of the area, all say the same. That people not from the area do not feel like they fit in to the community. I have immediately felt it. Sadly, it progressively gets worse in my opinion. I think the LDS has many great attributes to the city and state. But if you ever plan to have the rest of country accept this area as a viable location to settle. You need to make changes.