ACLU Backs Freedom of Speech in Brigham City, Utah. Mormonism Does Not.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) is currently hosting an open house for their newest temple in Brigham City, Utah. The open house is almost a month long (August 18th – September 15th) and is an opportunity for the public to see the insides of a Mormon temple.

Since the Mormon Church refuses to give explicit clarification of its teachings, some Christians feel compelled to politely engage the public with the intent of making a distinction between Mormonism and Christianity by handing out newspapers explaining some of the differences. For these Christians, this distribution of religious literature is evangelistic in nature. It is an act of worship.

Unfortunately, Brigham City passed a law right around the same time as the announcement was made regarding the construction of the temple. This regulation limits free speech. Part of the ordinance states, “Protest means any demonstration, picketing, speechmaking, marching, vigil, and all other like forms of conduct which involve the communication or expression of views or grievances. ‘Free Speech Zone’ means the area in which protesting is allowed. ‘Unlawful protest’ means a protest held outside the boundaries of a designated free speech zone.”

First, let me say that I reject the definition of the word “protest” in the city ordinance. It is semantic gymnastics to label a difference of opinion a protest.  Under this definition, Mormon missionaries are protesting on private property each and every time they express a religious difference of opinion with a householder not of their faith. I know of no Mormon who would accept this definition of protest if it were applied to them.

The term “free speech zone” is itself a contradiction to the first amendment which reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

This law makes it potentially illegal for anyone to express an opinion, ANY opinion on any public sidewalk in all of Brigham City. “Free speech zones” really aren’t free speech at all. More accurately, they are an anti-speech zones created within a free speech zone. To create a zone for free speech is to assume that there is no free speech and zones for speech need to be created. This is an Orwellian tactic of naming something opposite of its purpose. More on that shortly.

The city ordinance also dictates, “For each event in which the Free Speech Committee establishes a free speech zone, Brigham City shall make available to the public… boundaries of the event, location of the free speech zone, boundaries of the free speech zone, the hours of the regulations on free speech, and any other restrictions.”

If this wasn’t so similar to concepts found in George Orwell’s book, 1984, I would think the term “Free Speech Committee” would be humorous. For those who are unfamiliar with Orwell’s book ( I may send a copy to the Brigham City Mayor, City Administrator, City Attorney, Chief of Police and the Temple President for early Christmas gifts), it is filled with similar references.

The government controls the thought process of its subjects by naming different parts of the administration in self-contradictory terms, yet people accept the definitions simply because the authority figure tells them it is true. For instance the purpose of The Ministry of Peace is to keep the country in a constant state of war. The Ministry of Truth controls the falsifying of history. The Ministry of Plenty oversees the rationing food, supplies and other goods.  Lastly, the purpose of the Ministry of Love is to enforce love and loyalty to the government, also known as big brother.

Does any of this sound familiar? The Brigham City ordinance defines the responsibilities of The Free Speech Committee as dictating the location, boundaries and hours of free speech. In other words, the Free Speech Committee is designed to limit speech. What could free speech cost you? Violations of the free speech zones can cost up to $750 and 90 days in jail. Free indeed. I am curious how all of this squares with the LDS 11th article of faith which declares, “We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.”

The Constitution, which Mormons are taught is an inspired document, guarantees that the United States of America is a free speech zone. There are no free speech committees, boundaries, locations, hours or any other restrictions which should abridge the rights of Americans who simply want to worship God according to the dictates of their own conscience. Many Mormons have expressed their opinions on this matter in the comments sections of just about every newspaper which has reported this story. Undoubtedly some will here too. I find it interesting how patriotic Mormons are until they realize that their patriotism is in conflict with the desires of the Mormon Church. The vast majority are in favor of Christians being disenfranchised from their rights to free speech. This is disgusting and un-American.

In conclusion, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that the LDS Church really is true. I can picture the scene right before the war in heaven. Lucifer and his armies are lined up against the armies of Jehovah. In a last-ditch effort to avoid war, Lucifer approaches Elohim with a compromise.

“All I want is for all men to return to live with you.”

“Yes, but you desire to rob them of their free agency in the process.”

“What if we were to create ‘free agency zones?’ We could organize a Free Agency Committee to set aside certain areas of the planet where men can exercise their free agency.”

“That would presume that the whole planet is an “anti-agency zone” and we are allowing free agency in limited parts of the world. Lucifer, the whole planet is a free agency zone.”

I can hear the voice of Elohim speaking to the President of the Mormon Church now. “Thomas Monson, the whole country is a free speech zone. I set it up that way in the inspired document called the constitution of the United States of America. What harm can a newspaper do to truth?”

16 Thoughts on “ACLU Backs Freedom of Speech in Brigham City, Utah. Mormonism Does Not.

  1. Mike Jones on September 14, 2012 at 7:36 pm said:

    “…the hours of the regulations on free speech,…”. Regulations on free speech? You’ve got to be kidding me. What’s next? Regulations on free exercise of religion? Regulations on freedom of the press? What if the feds wanted to make Brigham City a free troop quartering zone? It’s hard for me to imagine that the Brigham City city council thinks this will stand. I like your way of thinking, Keith.

  2. Keith, this is Jim Catlin, the pastor of Main Street Church that filed the lawsuit against the city. First let me say I loved your blog. Your facts are accurate. Your analysis is insightful. Your closing story is a crack-up! Loved it! Just to alarm you a little more about this law, some attorneys with whom I am in contact pointed out that the law makes no distinction of public or private spaces. That is to say, it’s not only sidewalks and parks that fall under the city’s restrictions but any PRIVATE property as well. So the police could enter a church on Sunday morning and shut down the expression of ideas until a permit is sought from the city. Even then, the city managers have total discretion who, where and when the permitted “Free Speech” can occur INSIDE YOUR CHURCH BUILDING. I’m not being alarmist here. This is just an example how broad this sloppy law applies. My ACLU lawyer called it “breathtaking”. I think he needs a bigger word.

    • Thanks for the compliment, Jim. I’m honored to be able to help in any way I can. Perhaps reading this blog entry will give your lawyers some ideas. It will at least entertain them, I’m sure. I wish I could have come up to help with the outreach personally, but we are working on other projects. I thank God for a pastor like you who stands up for the truth, regardless of how unpopular it may be.

      The arrogance of the Mormon Church should never cease to amaze me, but it does. That ordinance is absolutely ridiculous. As Bill McKeever is fond of saying, if they don’t want to be known as a cult, they need to stop acting like one. May God bless you for His glory.

      • I am electing to refrain from public exposure in this because we are still headed towards a constitutional showdown in the courts in the next few months. The city just ducked going to court to face our Temporary Restraining Order by not enforcing the statute for the rest of the open house but it is still “full speed ahead” on our part to challenge this law and take it off the books. In the meantime I am commenting very sparingly. I just had to let you know how much I liked your analysis. If you want to do any “fact checking” with me, feel free to contact me.

      • Vince on March 28, 2013 at 2:45 pm said:

        I got one question here… Well actually more than one;

        How is the LDS Church involved in this lawsuit?
        In fact, do you even know what the LDS Church’s position is on this?
        How is it that you claim to know what is in the mind of the majority of Mormons?
        What is the religious make-up of the members on the city council?
        What was in the mind of the individual city council members when they enacted this law… were they thinking they were being obedient to their Church’s wishes (whatever that is)?
        Don’t other cities which have a different religious make-up than BC, also have similar laws (including Washington DC)?
        Would you consider the people in that city unpatriotic if they did?
        Do you have any facts at all, aside from your own wishful thinking?

        And as an aside,
        I find it ironic that you find it offensive to be labeled as a protester, when you are in fact, a Protestant.
        Does it make a difference because you are now protesting Restorationist beliefs as opposed to Orthodox beliefs?

  3. Edy Meredith on September 15, 2012 at 11:34 am said:

    The LDS church has gotten away with this by buying the streets in Nauvoo & Palmyra and closing them to free speech by making them private property. They have tried to do this in Manti as well. I guess they are trying a different tactic in Brigham City because it is so so so fundamentalist mormon. Keep up our freedom of religion & speech with eternal vigilance.

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  5. “Many Mormons have expressed their opinions on this matter in the comments sections of just about every newspaper which has reported this story. Undoubtedly some will here too.”

    I guess I’m the first one, then?

    You might be surprised how much I agree with you. I’m a Mormon who is very pro-First Amendment (I work for a media company). I don’t want to see anyone of any other religion (or those who profess no religion) “disenfranchised” or prevented from expressing their views. I would be in favor of allowing the Main Street Church representatives to pass out their flyers. Too many of my fellow Mormons (including some city leaders) don’t understand this.

    Thank you.

    • RT,
      I guess you are the first Mormon to comment on this post. Thanks for commenting.

      From personal experience, returned missionaries and those who have had extensive contact outside of Mormonism like yourself ARE more likely to agree with my position. That being the case, I am not surprised that you being in the media agree with me. Now if you were in the media FOR the LDS Church, THAT would surprise me. 😉 Michael Purdy is a spin master.

  6. Dear Jim, I am not a member of the mormon church, but i am a christian and I think your giving other christians a bad name by protesting the mormon temple, and whats worse you filed a lawsuit. What is wrong with you? The mormons arent at your tiny church protesting your beliefs. Have you noticed that the mormons never put out anti christian literature or ever put down other faiths? Why is that? I think its because they have nothing to hide, and they have nothing to fear. They have their beliefs and let everyone else have theirs. Take a seat and get a real job. God didnt call you to start a church, your running a business and paying your bills. Thats one of the many problems with christianity its to easy to make money and prey on god fearing people.

  7. John, you demonstrate your lack of knowledge or even disregard of factual evidence by seeming to speak as a “christian” and saying that mormons aren’t putting out anti-Christian literature. Obviously you are unaware of their claim to be the one & only true church of God, and therefore ALL other churches including Christian churches are false.
    Mormons have a lot to hide: anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy & polyandry, about 6 or more different versions of the first vision, how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the racism that still remains in the Book of Mormon, the false “translation” of the Book of Abraham, the Mountain Meadow Massacre, etc. etc. etc. Do some research before you claim to be a christian, and find out what mormons really believe. Free speech for a mormon is to shut up and do what their general authorities say.

  8. (Mormons have a lot to hide: anachronisms in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s practice of polygamy & polyandry, about 6 or more different versions of the first vision, how Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, the racism that still remains in the Book of Mormon, the false “translation” of the Book of Abraham, the Mountain Meadow Massacre, etc. etc. etc.)

    Edy, I first came across the LDS Church in the 70’s and tried to prove it wrong. All of these ‘hidden’ things you speak of were open and easy to find answers back then; and that was before computers and the internet. Now it is a snap to find the truth, if you are willing to look past the wrongful teachings of those who want and need to prove this Church wrong.

    fred

  9. Edy Meredith on March 9, 2013 at 10:38 am said:

    I left the mormon church in the early 70’s after being raised in a pioneer family & going to mormon schools from 7th grade through jr. year at BYU. If I could find the loopholes, what is the excuse “faithful” mormons will have during this time of easy access to information when they face a truly faithful and just God? They need to receive His mercy and grace in the Biblical gospel now.

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