By Kent Larsen
Olympic 'Identity Crisis' in Salt Lake City says Christian Science Monitor
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Today's Christians Science Monitor says that Salt
Lake City is feeling an identity crisis as the 2002 Winter Olympic Games
approaches. While the city has long been more moderate and diverse than the
rest of the state, its religiously-based traditions are "under some attack,"
leading to an identity crisis as it decides "Is this a Mormon town, or a
modern American 'everycity' that is ready to party?" The attacks come
because almost everyone agrees that Salt Lake is more Mormon than "everycity."
But not everyone wants the city to stay that way, and the Olympics is
demonstrating the different views. According to the Monitor, Mormons see the
coming Olympics as an opportunity to show the world that Mormons are, as LDS
Church President Gordon B. Hinckley put it, "not weird." But the city's
non-Mormons have a different, and somewhat incompatible, goal -- showing
that Salt Lake City is "everycity." LDS Church member Rick Cantrell puts it
this way, "The [Mormons] want the Olympics to correct misunderstandings
about the church. Others want Salt Lake City to be seen as a typical
American city." This difference means, says Cantrell, that "the tension is
One of the issues where this tension is manifest is alcohol sales. Utah's
liquor laws are stricter than any other state in the US, leading non-Mormons
to chafe at the restrictions. Bruce Albertson, Iomega Corp.'s president,
recently lashed out at the laws in a recent interview. In the interview he
blamed the LDS Church for the restrictions, "I just wish they wouldn't run
other people's lives," he said. While Albertson is not an LDS Church member,
many Iomega employees are, including, Mormon News is told, Albertson's boss,
Iomega Chairman David J. Dunn.
In the article, the Montior examines several other issues that have caused
tension among Mormons and non-Mormons in Salt Lake. The issues include the
LDS Church's purchase of the Main Street Plaza, the legal battles over the
ownership of the Salt Lake Tribune, and the lawsuit by former University of
Utah theater student Christina Axson-Flynn claiming that the University
forced her from the program because she refused to use profanity in a part.
Also covered in the article is Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who is
seen by many as "a counterweight to the political might of the Mormon
church." While the Monitor observes that Anderson has consistently
weighed-in on the side of the non-Mormons, the Monitor doesn't mention
Anderson's Mormon roots.
Salt Lake City wrestles with its Mormon roots
Christian Science Monitor 28Feb01 S1
By Paul Van Slambrouck: Staff Writer of the Christian Science Monitor