Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Meet Your Unfriendly Private Club Bouncer--The Church

[Religion+Politics] Momentum is picking up behind the move to abolish our fair state's archaic private club membership law, now that Huntsman has upped the ante and promised to move forward on it in the next session along with Liquor Board commissioners Coray and Granato agreeing that its time has come.

But one thing that continues to bother me is the obligatory reference in all these articles to the LDS church, which of course always respectfully declines weighing in on the issue. But that doesn't mean people aren't listening, and waiting to see what the word from on high might be. Like from this article in the D-news last Friday, for example, where Huntsman graciously says in reference to the church and the private club issue:

"I think every body's entitled to weigh in if they have a stake in this discussion," Huntsman said.

Huntsman is no fool of course and knows that engaging the issue without talking to the church would be a grave political faux paux. But for the rest of us, lets just step outside of our Utah bubble for a second and honestly ask ourselves: What stake does the church have in this?

I am being absolutely serious here. Lets meditate on this some more, why would a church have a stake in a discussion revolving around something that it's members don't partake of (ostensibly)?

Is it the fear that maddening debauchery will ensue if people don't have to pay for memberships? That anarchy will reign in Utah because bar hoppers will be able to walk into a bar without paying a membership and then finding it dead or not to their liking, have the ability to walk into another bar without paying entry?

Of course there are easy answers to this question, the frustrating part is just that the answer never quite fits the question when it comes to Utah's awkward marriage of politics and religion.

For example:

Q:Why would a conservative state that is vehemently opposed to government meddling in private business allow restrictive private memberships in the first place?

A: Because this is Utah and this is the LDS church.

Q: Why would a church even that espouses free agency and encourages temperament amongst its members care about the drinking habits of non-members?

A: Because this is Utah and this is the LDS church.

Q: But couldn't the church see that drinking in bars where there is a fully trained staff on hand to make sure that patrons who drink too much get water, food and a cab if they need it, much better than driving people to go and buy cheap liquor and throw house parties where there is nobody really stopping them from binging and driving home later? Why hasn't this been factored into the debate?

A. Because this is Utah and this is the LDS church...etc....etc...(Eric S. Peterson)


  1. Here in the Bible Belt the Baptist all weigh in on the same issue. I don't think it is just a Utah thing.

  2. All governments regulate alcohol consumption. None stipulate that you have to drink the stuff in order to have a say in what public policy will be.

  3. As a devout Mormon, I agree with your post, in content, if not the tone. It should matter not to members of the church. There is no discernable direct effect ( not the place to debate someone's son/daughter dying by a drunk driver, etc.) Just get rid of the stupid private club and move on.

  4. Having witnessed Texas Liquor Laws (there are no "dry-towns" in Utah, but I saw many towns where no liquor was sold AT ALL in Texas), this is certainly not the strangest state for liquor laws. However, as someone who has never consumed any alcoholic beverage, I really hope the private club law is repealed. I expect State Rep Greg Hughes to lead the charge for the Gov on this one.

  5. A community has every right to regulate businesses that have such an impact on society. Personally I'd zone them right out of existence.


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