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The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

The University of Utah's Independent Student Voice

The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Too close to theocracy

By John Stafford

The circus-like debate stirred by the Common Ground Initiative was another reminder of just how prevalent religion is in Utah’s politics. Apocalyptic proclamations and scripture quoting were at an Inquisition-like pitch as legislators failed to tread lightly over that thin line separating church and state.

This attitude was supported by lobbyists such as Utah Eagle Forum President Gayle Ruzicka, who cited scriptures to show how “the Lord gives us some lobbying instructions”:

“We are told after we importune at the feet of our elected officials and they heed not (a righteous message), the Lord will arise and come forth and vex the nation and “in his time, will cut off those wicked, unfaithful, and unjust stewards, and appoint them their portion among hypocrites, and unbelievers,'” she said in an e-mail. Reference to the omnipotent power of God in politics gives evidence to how theocracy is often an appropriate word to define the relationship between religion and government in Utah.

Utah legislators meet annually to discuss their agenda with officials of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The commonality of this practice makes it seem like mundane, unprovocative news. But the fact that we as Utahns are so desensitized to the role the LDS Church plays in our government makes claims of the unconstitutionality of this practice seem a bit out of place.

The president of the LDS Church isn’t communicating via earpiece how the 80 percent of Utah lawmakers who belong to that church should vote. However, the fact that church officials are annually meeting directly with lawmakers puts the LDS Church’s so-called “political neutrality” in question. There is nowhere else in the country where an annual powwow between lawmakers and a church body takes place, and these meetings seem to have more in common with an Iranian theocracy than a U.S. government that emphasizes church-state separation.

A theocracy is a government that is supposedly directed by God. Basically, the word of God is given to the church, and the church passes these beliefs to lawmakers, who govern according to the church’s will. Utah seems to be a little too close to this. The question arises: If the church is truly politically neutral, why are these annual meetings necessary?

The answer is simple8212;they aren’t. Although a common myth refers to how the United States was founded on “Christian principles,” this lie is easily exposed. The U.S. constitution never mentions a deity because the Founding Fathers, who were a broad mix of Atheists, Deists, Christians and Agnostics, had a goal of creating a religiously neutral country. In the 1796 Treaty of Tripoli, Joel Barlow stated, “The Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the Christian Religion.”

This message has apparently not been transcribed to Utah’s government.

[email protected]

John Stafford

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