The story of a 17 year old high school journalist in Kanab hit the Tribune about a month ago now. He "called out" the Kanab mayor for spearheading the adoption of a "Natural Family" proclamation for the city, voted in by the city's government. The student didn't pull any punches, calling for a more "Christ-like countenance" of tolerance and acceptance from his mayor. He subsequently got a scholarship and probably an award for having cannon balls between his legs. The proclamation was basically an adoption of the Sutherland Institute's (an Uber-Conservative think tank here in Salt Lake) proclamation on the same subject.
You can grab the entire 178 page "family" document here from the Institute:
Then the mayor got all huffy, wrote nasty letters to his high school counselor, and hit Stake President, calling for this young fellow to be chastised and reprimanded, then promptly went out of town for two weeks. In the meantime, businesses are suffering the effects of a nationally publicized call for a boycott of tourism in the area.
A week or two ago in the paper here in Salt Lake (Tribune), there was an interview with a restaurant owner in the area who said that there used to be about 3 or 4 busses full of tourists who would stop at her restaurant per day, and now they just drive by. She said that every time they go by, she loses about 40 meals that she otherwise would have served. She said she is suffering her way out of business and claimed that she is by no means the only one.
Apparently women who work in Kanab should be ashamed of themselves, and men whose families cannot be supported by their efforts alone are failures as well.
Anyway, on my way home from the office last night, KUER's Doug Fabrizio was in Kanab doing a live broadcast of his daily show, Radio West, on the entire controversy.
I haven't listened to the whole thing yet - I grabbed it on iTunes this morning though and I'll get to the rest of it shortly.
The Tribune this morning is reporting it though, under the headline "Kanab kid takes on mayor - in person".
There are 11 articles linked on that page showing the history of this controversy.
Good article - at the end Fabrizio asks the kid of he is planning on sticking around Kanab after he's through school. His reply: "depends on who wins the next election." He got a thunderous round of applause on that remark.
So, why capsulize this here? It seems to me that no matter what level of government we're talking about, civic, state, or federal, when the government tries to impose a moral agenda on its base of citizenry through legislation, it is crossing a line. There are lines with regard to Church/State interference, albeit sometimes hazy, and sometimes a moving target, but by and large, this kind of meddling in the private and personal moral beliefs of a community (of any size) through legislation of any type (full-blown law all the way down to a "non-binding resolution") is just wrong. The government's sole, boiled-down purpose is to provide for the societal welfare and protection of all its citizens. Period.
Right now it seems this state is a microcosm of a national "faith-based" initiative that puts a HEAVY Christian spin on all things legislative. One can EASILY argue that Bush won his last election on the backs of about 10,000 right-wing Christian voters in Ohio, if you recall. The faith-based lobby is growing huge and VERY powerful in the land these days, and there is a problem with that when it becomes so obvious in legislation like this. It leaves out other people who make choices that offend the more tender sensibilities of this "bull in a china shop" lobby movement, and it becomes a very slippery slope when the politicians try to prove they are caring for all their constituents. In reality, they are caring for the ones who throw the money behind their voices, who invoke the fear of God in debate, and who feel fine with discriminating against people who don't think like them. This is a familiar song when you look at the smaller model of this state's government. Our state representatives apparently are fine with denying basic regular-person rights to people whom they think are morally bankrupt. I have a problem with that - they are supposed to be serving al the citizens of the state, not just those who think like they do.
Remember, it was Jesus himself who chose to eat with the sinners, and socialize with the Publicans and Sanhedrin. When the prostitute was about to be stoned, it was Him who declared, "let him who is without sin cast the first stone." I just have a REALLY hard time with the self-righteous mountain-top dwellers we have in office. They've convinced a majority of people that they are needed in order to preserve the moral values they supposedly care so deeply about.
It's about time that Sen. Hatch, Mr. LaVar, Chris Buttars, (to name only a VERY few) and all their ilk be publicly shamed and soundly defeated in their next races, and replaced with individuals who will spend time, energy, and (our) money on legislation that will benefit all our citizens, no matter their lifestyle choices or other circumstances.
And I heartily applaud the City of North Salt Lake, and others, for SOUNDLY dismissing the adoption of a similar family resolution. Governments who take seriously the responsibility to care for its citizens have no right whatsoever to be entertaining such a narrow view.