Southern Utah News Articles
Speaking power to truth about illegal prayer at Kane County government meetings
In 1976, after being honorably discharged from the military, where I had repaired the corrupted electronic circuits in nuclear missles, I returned to Boulder, Utah, driving up the Burr Trail from the Bears Ears area through the wilderness lands of the Circle Cliffs in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
I visited the newly created Anazazi Indian State Park and discovered the Mormon staff had created a glassed-in burial display with the skeleton of a so-called “Indian Princess.” This blatantly unethical racist display of a Book of Mormon labeled “Lamanite” continued for many years, even after I later graduated college with a Human Ecology degree.
Year after year, I witnessed the public viewing of more Native American graves dug up by Audoban High School and University of Utah students under the supervision of the park’s Mormon staff. I endured many negative comments made by visitors while also learning of private individuals looting more burials located on our public lands.
In January 1990, I finally wrote a letter to the park demanding immediate closure of the display and requested reburials. I then endured villification by the Division of Natural Resources leadership until another letter to Govenor Bangerter forced closure of the burial display in July 1990. I continued pressing for reburials of the dead, and finally after 28 years, 48 individuals were reburied at the state park by the Hopi Tribe in October 2018.
It is with the same perseverance I recently requested Kane County to finally end “Prayer” as an agenda item, which was ruled to be illegal over 25 years ago by the Utah Supreme Court. Kane County Attorney Van Dyke refuses to speak with me even after I provided case law, so I am now forced to attend this meeting to publicly confront you in order to repair your illegal actions about religion.
The county continues to violate the law today by again listing “Prayer” as an agenda item instead of immediately halting it. Just like digging up graves, the county commission ought to already understand it is wrong legally and morally.
The county also has an agenda item for an “Invocation” resolution, which is merely another word for prayer and an attempt to circumvent the intent of case law. It is also against both the U.S. and Utah Constitutions that you supposedly revere and pledge to uphold. Your continued blatant disregard of the rule of law concerning government support of religion makes one wonder what other county matters you might be handling corruptly. The Utah Constitution states: “There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State.”
Recently, Utah’s dominate Mormon church has said it prefers members be referred to as “Saints” rather than Mormons. So instead of Mormonism, it is now “Saintism.” Referring to oneself as a saint smacks of arogance no matter how long this has been occuring. Even though the Mormon Saints might dominate Utah by their sheer majority in numbers, and politically through the Republican party, the minority rights of other citizens must be legally and morally respected.
The only reason I can see for holding official public prayers in government meetings is to allow elected Mormon Saints to dominate politically and religiously in a public spectacle. Forcing your personal religious beliefs on your fellow citizens, whether Republican, Democrat, Unaffiliated, in-active or non-religious, is misguided and detrimental to your “one and only true church.”
Everyone in America is considered equal under our democratic government, no matter if your personal religion proclaims that you are somehow better than everyone else. Your god(s) should already be well satisfied by your many prayers and supplications in your churches and temples prior to attending the government function without any need for a stamp of approval. You should inform us all why there needs to be yet more prayers to your god(s) in our government meetings.