Religious Pushback | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Religious Pushback 

What should we consider when we ask whether candidates walk in lockstep with the church? Plus, what is it with the inland port elite?

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Religious Pushback
For those who remember 1960, you undoubtedly remember John F. Kennedy. But did you know the pushback and criticism he endured as a candidate because of his religion? JFK was Catholic, and that sent up red flags. Would he answer to the Vatican? The last time religious prejudice was brought up in a campaign was in 1928 during the stunningly failed candidacy of New York Gov. Al Smith. But Kennedy dealt with it openly, reciting his "I am not the Catholic candidate for president" speech. Sen. Mitt Romney dealt with similar questions about his religion—The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Yes he lost, but it was likely due more to his lack of support among young people and minorities. Now, along comes Rocky Anderson, former Salt Lake City mayor and provocateur, saying state Sen. Luz Escamilla is unfit for the office of mayor because of her Mormon affiliation. Well, not exactly. He questioned her independence, seeing how some legislative votes aligned with church policy. Given that 90% of state legislators are Mormon, Escamilla probably wasn't alone. Rocky questioned "whether the public interest is going to be betrayed, yet again, by a Utah politician beholden to special interests, including the Mormon church." He wasn't wrong to question, but he should know circumstantial evidence when he sees it. Does Escamilla walk in lockstep with the church? It's a fair question that only the voters can decide. Salt Lake Tribune columnist Michelle Quist, a conservative, Mormon attorney, decided to ride to Escamilla's defense, stoking Rocky's fire and brimstone. The LDS church can take it. They know how to play the game. But the big question is where Escamilla is on this. She has been all but silent. Now it's time for her to speak out. Be like JFK. Or end up like Al Smith.

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An Inland Miss
Does anyone doubt that the inland port is a done deal, no matter the facts, the politics or the rationale? What is particularly stunning is how tone-deaf the IP elite can be. Jack Hedge came to oversee the port during a protest, the Trib noted. And he said, oh yeah, his biggest job would be to build trust with the community. So what did he do? Oh, he's a busy and important man—lots of phone calls, meetings and interviews. Those would be with people other than critics. He has effectively rebuffed Dorothy Owen, chairwoman of the Westpointe Community Council, and Deeda Seed of the Center for Biological Diversity. But he'll get to them, some day. Meanwhile, while the port fight goes on, there are plans for another large-scale development in the fragile Northwest Quadrant, according to the Salt Lake County agenda. Open space just screams to be filled.

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