LDS Church opposes change to current liquor laws

SALT LAKE CITY — With the legislative session a week away, The LDS church says Utah’s current liquor laws have benefits and should stay the way they are.

In an interview posted on an LDS church website, Elder D. Todd Christofferson says, while Utah’s liquor laws may be the brunt of jokes at times, the church feels they’re rational.

“It’s very important to avoid an alcohol culture,” said Christofferson who’s an apostle with the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

He said Tuesday the LDS church opposes any attempts to privatize Utah’s alcohol beverage control system or an increase in the number of liquor licenses.

“We’ve got a reasonable system and it seems to be working and I believe the efforts to chip away at this over the years are counterproductive,” Christoffson said.

Last year there were attempts to remove the so-called Zion Curtain, the 7-foot-2 wall that blocks you from seeing alcohol poured in restaurants.  That failed and the wall remained with the help of Sen. John Valentine.

“For about the last five years I’ve been making many of the same arguments that were made in the statement today,” Valentine said.

The church credits federal and state statistics that say Utah has the lowest number of DUI deaths per capita in all 50 states.

Plus, statewide averages show lifetime and recent 30-day alcohol use among eighth, 10th and 12th graders is half the national average.  And in 2010, the Beehive state had the lowest number of incidents of 18 and over binge drinking than any state in the country.

“Why would we want to run the risk of losing any of those benefits?” Christofferson asked.

Church officials add that some fail to realize Utah doesn’t have dry counties while other states do.  Plus, some states have laws just as tough as Utah.

But some bar owners feel church officials are overstepping their bounds by taking a position. David Morris owns Piper Down and is a member of the Utah Hospitality Association.

“It’s frustrating to hear someone who’s not in this business that this business is OK and we don’t need to change anything in this business,” Morris said.

Morris believes many of Utah’s liquor laws are fair but says the Zion Curtain and wait time for liquor licenses make doing business in Utah frustrating.

28 comments

  • ivan

    Lol the LDS church would put Brigham Young out of the whiskey selling business if he was around today and did not get his permit. What about Jesus turning water into wine he would have to get a license for that and sell it through the state run liquor store. There is nothing wrong with responsible use of alcohol. The church is free to say what they want to their members but stay out of my business.

    • Jennifer Snow

      yeah, well in Utah you get the goon squads busting down doors over a whiff of smoke – but they can’t arrest an obvious killer like josh powell! amazing justice! RIP veteran Matthew David Stewart – these fools deny even God’s ancient tree and herb to comfort and sustain natural life, no wonder their air is so filthy with it’s leaded replacements

  • Jennifer Snow

    maybe they should concentrate less on the sinners and clean up their own back yard from its filthy, toxic air inversions – oh, the state only can sell the liquor and reap the profits thereof, I get it! Ka-ching, Ka-ching!,

    • Eric Anderson

      The First Amendment applies in Utah. Free Speech, and the government cannot regulate the Free Exercise of Religion.

      “Separation” doesn’t appear in the Constitution anywhere, in any context. It’s a myth. The First Amendment merely prohibits the government from establishing an official State Religion. Last time I checked there were other religions in Utah.

      What part of “democracy” don’t you understand?

      Besides, if you can’t get drunk in Utah you’re not trying. Our liquor laws should be changed merely because they’re weird and pointless, not because they prevent anyone from drinking.

      Try moving down South. They have dry counties, dry Sundays, etc. Utah is nowhere near the most restrictive.

    • Trevor

      Next time they say they’re politically neutral, you can call them on their BS. Supposedly they will not “Attempt to direct or dictate to a government leader”, coming from their own political neutrality web page. I really wish someone would call them out on that. I hoped the uproar over Prop 8 would have done it, but it doesn’t seem like it.

  • laura

    What is the LDS church the ONLY religion to oppose the liquor laws? Or is it the only one that matters!! I haven’t heard from any other religion about how they feel about the liquor laws. There should be fairness on the news and should include all religions in this matter. Oh ya I forgot the LDS run everything here. and the separation of church and state doesn’t apply . I am so sick of the LDS church being shoved down our throats and that no other religion matters. I think they should stay out of it. If they don’t participate in drinking then who are they to say anything?

  • Eric Anderson

    Do we really want to live in a country where religions are prohibited from expressing opinions? North Korea awaits.

    By show of hands, who here has ever been unable to get falling-down drunk in Utah because of the “liquor laws”? You can drink yourself to DEATH in Utah, quite easily.

    My only objection to our liquor laws is that they’re weird and pointless, and I’m opposed to any meaningless red tape.

  • brady

    Who cares if the LDS church doesn’t like the liquor laws. Eric expressing opinions is one thing, but putting their hand in politicians pockets are another. and if you say they don’t control how this state is run you are just as ignorant as the rest of the LDS sheeple. this isn’t about getting fall down drunk, its about being able to have a drink without having to be hidden like we are doing something wrong. or having a drink and not have to order food.

  • Bill Williams

    The LDS Church in Utah, as other churches in other states, are only a less powerful lobby than NRA and the Oil industry.
    You can’t fight heavy pocketbooks and everyone know they all have that!

    • John

      Yes, I would love nothing more than to see the LDS Church… and well any other church the meddles in politics pay taxes.

  • Trent Rogers

    @corey smaller. Did you actually read the first amendment? No where does it use the term separation of church and state. This was a phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in 1802. The first amendment states Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

  • Jeff

    The LDS church has a constitutional right to express their opinion on political matters. If you want freedom you have to allow freedom for those with whom you disagree…and yes that applies to the LDS church as well.

    The LDS church has influence in Utah because a majority of Utah residence are members of the church and share the opinions of the church. This includes duly elected officials who represent the interests and opinions of their constituents. This is how democracy works and does not violate any aspect of the doctrine of “separation of church and state.”

    If you feel elected officials are not representing your views, it is up to you and those like you to elect new representatives.

    • Trish Ramirez

      The LDS church is neither a business nor a private citizen. It is a religious organization and it enjoys many economic benefits as such. If it wants to be treated like a private citizen or a business, it should pay taxes as such and then enjoy its fair share of the political policies it helps to fund. If individual tax-paying members of the LDS church wish to say their piece regarding the legislative process, let them do so. But the church as a whole is A CHURCH, not a citizen with the rights enjoyed by citizens. The church. as an entity, has no Constitutionally protected right to free speech or to meddle in the political processes of this secular nation and secular state. It is overstepping its bounds.

      • jpmuofu1

        @Trish

        The constitution of the United States and the Supreme Court both disagree with your assessment.

        “The First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects a church’s right to speak out on the moral issues affecting society. In addition, while the Internal Revenue Code prohibits churches from assessing the qualifications of specific candidates for public office, it does not infringe upon a church’s inherent right to speak out on the morality of specific political issues.

        The Supreme Court has unequivocally found that religious speech is at the apex of protected speech under the First Amendment. Capitol Square Review and Advisory Bd. v. Pinette, 515 U.S. 753 (1995). The Supreme Court stated that “in Anglo-American history, at least, government suppression of speech has so commonly been directed precisely at religious speech that a free-speech clause without religion would be Hamlet without the prince.” Id.at761.

        The Supreme Court also noted in upholding tax exemptions for churches:

        Adherents of particular faiths and individual churches frequently take strong positions on public issues including, . . . vigorous advocacy of legal or constitutional positions. Of course, churches as much as secular bodies and private citizens have that right.

        Walz v. Tax Comm’n of N.Y., 397 U.S. 664, 670 (1969).”

      • jpmuofu1

        @Trish

        Here are a few non-profits that are much more politically active than the LDS church, would you be in favor of revoking their constitutional right to free speech as well?

        – ACLU
        – NAACP
        – The United Way
        – MoveOn.org
        – The Human Rights Campaign – hrc.org
        – Planned Parenthood
        – PETA

        I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that you are not opposed to all non-profit organizations having free speech rights, only those with whom you disagree. If you take away one entity’s right to free speech you must take away all.

        Non-profit organizations represent the opinions of real people, who deserve a voice in our political process. The fact that people organize based on shared beliefs, values, morals and goals does not change their inalienable rights.

    • shaun

      Jeff right on. And i may add the separation of church and state. it was a comment jefferson used. not an actually law. So go check your history books. and read the real intent to that saying. As for the prop8 it wasn’t only the lds church who was for it. there was many other denominations involved. but they take the blame. The church has done lots a great things in this state.

  • Skyler Harrison

    Why should anyone be surprised about this? Everyone knows that LD$ Inc is pro prohibition, and that the Utah State Government is just an arm of the LDS church.

    Whatever the church says, our representatives and governor will follow like the sheep they are.

  • Lauren

    Separation of Church and state in Utah only applies to the State staying out of the church’s business, not the other way around unfortunately.

  • Lauren

    And all those statistics the church used as a means against changing the law? We may have the lowest death rate of alcohol related vehicle deaths but in turn we have the highest pain-killer, antidepressant addiction problems. Hmmm, maybe there is a reason for that.

  • Ding-Dong Bling-Ding-Dang

    What a joke the LDS Church is, why do we even care what they have to say on the issue? There’s SUPPOSED to be a separation between church and state. But that doesn’t really matter, because religions have the best of both worlds: either way they’ll influence their followers who are politicians and leaders to do the church’s bidding.

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