Friday, September 02, 2011

Paul Mero Whines about What's In The Scriptures

So, Sutherland Institute President Paul Mero wrote a post titled "Confused Mormons whine about ‘Zion curtain’" and this is an attempt to answer his post.

The basis for Mero's whining is a Facebook group called "Utah Mormons Against The Zion Curtain". I know the person who started the group. He started the group under a fake Facebook account, because his employer does not like him getting involved with politics.

From the post:

The “Zion curtain” is what Utah’s pro-liquor lobby – and now, it seems, confused Latter-day Saints – calls the physical partition in some eating establishments between the mixing of alcoholic drinks and the serving of them. Not quite a cause worthy of the ominous “iron curtain” metaphor, but a serious subject for some people.

Actually, since the sponsor of the bill used the term in his interview on X96, and lacking a better term for it, this is now what it is called. I agree that it is a little strong of a metaphor. However, "The wall to hide alcohol like it's pornography" doesn't exactly roll of the tongue.

And, I wish to know why he calls Latter-Day Saints who use the term "confused."

Rather than arguing alcohol-sales policies – which it looks like Sutherland will be forced to do if state legislators move to “privatize” liquor stores during the 2012 legislative session – I think it’s worth discussing right now why this libertarian claptrap is, much like a drunken driver’s judgment, the result of clouded thinking.

I can't wait to see Sutherland argue with themselves on alcohol next year. After all, it says right on their web site "every Utahn should support public policies that keep our markets free from unnecessary government regulation, prevent governments from competing with the private sector, encourage private-sector solutions to community problems, create incentives to work, and protect against fraud and unfair practices." Let's keep that in mind as we continue here.

Mero then quotes from the information page of the Facebook group:

“We do not believe it just to amingle [sic] religious influence with civil government, whereby one religious society is fostered and another proscribed in its spiritual privileges, and the individual rights of its members, as citizens, denied.” (D&C 134:9)

We feel like the new requirement that Utah Restaurants hide all of their alcohol is against free-market principles that Utah supposedly espouses. We feel that if Utah residents don’t want their children seeing alcohol being served, then those residents shouldn’t patronize those businesses.

We also recognize that the Zion Curtain harms the image of our state and our religion.

Then quotes a "friendly posting" that was written by me:

From Utah Constitution, Article I Section 4: “There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any church dominate the State or interfere with its functions”

And now, Mero makes the giant leap of interpretation:

Doctrinally, based on their interpretation of Latter-day Saint scripture, it seems this group is under the presumption that religious-minded people shouldn’t be involved in politics. Or at least Mormons shouldn’t be involved in Utah politics – probably the most immature, least realistic, least constitutional, least democratic-oriented thought in this Facebook group.

Actually, that is so far from the truth that it borders on being a lie. However, what the scripture that is being quoted here is saying is that if you are passing laws solely to benefit one religion, you are setting a dangerous precedent. What's to stop a state from banning dancing? Or Ice Cream? R-rated movies?

"We believe that religion is instituted of God; and that men are amenable to him, and to him only, for the exercise of it, unless their religious opinions prompt them to infringe upon the rights and liberties of others;" -D&C 134:4

Mero then goes on to whine about libertarians, like they have anything to do with it. Most of the people in that group that I know are far from libertarians. However, they do understand a very important doctrinal point:

God "has given us this experience on the earth so we can learn and grow. We can show our love for Him through our choices and our obedience to His commandments." (Preach My Gospel p. 31) "When we obey God, we follow the influence of the Spirit and choose to conform to His will. Obedience to the commandments brings us peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come" (Ibid. 72) "Part of the experience of this life is to learn to overcome temptation and to choose right over wrong." ( Study by Topic -- temptation)

If you hide the sin from view, you hide the temptation. You hide the temptation, you hide the opportunity for people to grow by avoiding the Temptation.

Again, Sutherland claims that "every Utahn should support public policies that keep our markets free from unnecessary government regulation." If Paul Mero truly believed that, then he would join our group. After all, the Free Market should decide if alcohol should be mixed/poured in front of children (and adults who might be tempted). If Mormons don't want to see it, they shouldn't go there. I don't like breathing cigarette smoke while I shop. Rather than trying to get my Representatives to ban smoking at Gateway, I choose not to shop at Gateway. Nobody has become a better person by watching reality TV. Rather than wanting the Legislature to outlaw Reality TV, I choose not to watch it (except for The Amazing Race -- I'm not perfect). I wouldn't want my children to see the scantily-clad women at Hooters. I'm not going to ask the Legislature to require servers in restaurants to cover cleavage and wear knee-length shorts. I'm going to not take my business there. That's how the free market works.

In fact, I understand from people who have been to Hooters in multiple states that Utah's Hooters girls wear more clothes than they do in other states. Because that's what the market dictates.

If businesses are apt not to locate here because of anti-free-market principles, that is wrong. If local people who want to open restaurants fear that they are going to have to follow nonsensical regulations, that is bad for Utah.

And, by imposing regulations that favors one religion over the activities of those not in the religion, that makes Utah look like a Theocracy. Which is bad for Utah, and paints the LDS Church in a bad light. The church has recognized this in their not-to-subtle push to loosen liquor controls during the Huntsman administration. Hopefully, they don't need to get involved again.


1 comment:

Jeremy said...

Great post. I'm pretty conservative and really like Sutherland's take on most issues.

Supporting the "zion curtain" is just so obviously silly I'm a little surprised they decided to take this cause on.

Perhaps this is just one of those issues Paul Mero sometimes takes up as an opportunity to remind people that The Sutherland Institute, while it often adopts sound libertarian principles on economic issues, still loves relying on government as a tool for controlling citizens as much as possible on social and moral issues.