Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Utah Diversity: Mormons from Around the World

[Demographics] "Worldly" has always been a funny term for utah. In many ways you couldn't have a more culturally isolated and sheltered place, and then on the other hand you could drive to some small town like Paragonah and probably find half the town speaks a second language (at least the males who went on LDS missions that is).

It seems Utah really is a diverse place through an LDS lens, but could all that be changing? An ominous news story covered in the dailies recently showed Mormons making up a historic low in Utah's population--only 60 percent.

Which comparatively speaking is still quite the stranglehold for any one religious demographic for an entire state. Yet what is interesting is that Utah is sssllooowly making a move towards greater diversity, but the only question is whether or not the shape of diversity in utah to come will be outside the church's influence or just another manifestation of it?

Many things seem to point to an all together cosmopolitan outlook. On the economic front we've never had a Governor more active in introducing Utah business directly to foreign powerhouses like India and China. Politically the University of Utah is garnering people active in Intl. politics, and not just academically speaking.

Like the U's recent law school hire Chibli Mallat who is currently running for president of Lebanon, while also teaching about Middle Eastern law, quite impressive and worth checking out here
Beyond that our wise city planners and masterminds of the Downtown Rising project are hoping to create a "Utah World Trade Center" which would actually consolidate all of the scattered international business and nonprofit interests in the state, as well as a university partnered conflict resolution and peace studies center, all into a sleek downtown building that kind of looks like Al Pacino's casino in Ocean's 13.

So the future looks bright and diverse, but when all is said and done it will be hard to say whether or not it will be truly cosmopolitan or just an evolved Mormon mecca as it is today. Not until we get there at least. (Eric S. Peterson)

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