A century-and-a-quarter ago, Utah’s Mormon culture yielded to a quest for statehood, culminating in 1896. Once formally admitted to the Union however, the dominant religion returned to its “dance” with the secularism it had chosen to adopt. This “truth dichotomy” continues into the present. To out-of-state visitors, Utah’s culture warfare may appear as a “dust-up” that pits the State’s two flagship universities and their constituencies, one against another.
The University of Utah in Salt Lake City is state-chartered and secular. Brigham Young University, a one-hour drive South along Interstate 15, is a religious institution, and more passionately resourced. BYU is sustained by member-donated, tax deductible tithes given by those seeking to remain in good standing with the institution known formally as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Now as then, Utah is a microcosm of the culture wars raging across America. What follows then, is this: A set of “rules of the road” or principles that if followed, could tamp down cultural conflict, statewide. If these simple “rules” might lower culture-heat in Provo and SLC, then why not nationwide, also?
[Jim Sawyer’s Proposed] “Rules of the Road” for Tamping Down Culture Conflict in Utah and elsewhere:
- Reject authoritarianism. Don’t get “scooped.”
- Public knowledge should supersede private belief when the two collide in civic spaces; e.g., the Internet, the courts, the police, nonprofit medical centers, and so forth.
- At a personal level, go with this. Rather than beginning with tenets of one’s religious faith, try this instead. Reverse the order. First begin with what is known publicly (e.g., that global climate change is human-caused), then question how this truth and other truths ought to inform one’s own privately held wisdom.
- Support diversity of association, not cultural insularity. As a standard, cultivate one-half of all deeply held friendships to be outside of one’s “in group.”
- Tolerate divergent points of view.
- Focus less on “following the leader” and more on holding followers accountable for outcomes perpetrated by scoops who follow along uncritically.
- Strive always for honesty and integrity.
- Don’t proselytize. The public relations strategy of any public organization ought to be based upon attraction, not promotion.
[So, how did you do? What’s YOUR score…?]
Utah Sees Mormon Membership Slowdown
Whistleblower Alleges 100B Hoarding Scandal by Mormon Church
How does “Utah, the Other Four-Letter Word” link with Capitalism in Crisis dot Org?
Blog 3: Don’t Litter or We’ll Send You to Utah!