Accusations of Anti-LDS Bias Unfounded

Dear Editor:

In recent discussions about the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, I have stressed the desirability of presenting to the world the diversity of Salt Lake City and its people. The response by some, who apparently want only a one-dimensional portrayal of our City, has been curious. Apparently, my call for a more inclusive reflection of Salt Lake City has been construed as being somehow anti-Mormon. Nothing could be further from the truth.

For instance, I was depicted in a Jonathan Brown cartoon (Des. News Nov. 22) as seeking to eliminate the L.D.S. Temple from the presentation of our City's skyline during the Olympics. That depiction is contrary to everything I have ever said on the subject. On numerous occasions, including statements reported in the Deseret News, I have publicly - and consistently - stated that, of course, the LDS Temple is a major landmark in Salt Lake City, which should be one of our City's primary icons seen by people throughout the world during the 2002 Games. The Temple not only signifies the fact that Salt Lake City is the world headquarters for the LDS Church, but it symbolizes much of the heritage of our city and state - a heritage I greatly respect.

We would be making a huge mistake not to show the world the LDS Temple, as it is one of the defining cultural icons of our city. In a November 4, 1999 Deseret News article ("Rocky Not Easing Off"), I was quoted as saying, "Hey, this is the headquarters of the LDS Church. The temple is the largest tourist attraction in the city. We're not proselytizing. [To hide the Temple from view would be] like going to Rome and saying we're not going to show you the Vatican."

I have consistently stated my opinion to the media and to SLOC that I object only to making the Temple the sole icon for Salt Lake City while billions of people throughout the world watch the Winter Games. The Olympics will be a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to billions of people that we are a diverse community, comprised of people of all religions, races, ethnic origins, and nationalities. Concentrating on the Temple as the only icon of our City would reinforce the erroneous stereotypes shared by many who have never visited Utah.

Let us acknowledge and appreciate the diversity that makes us a stronger and more interesting city - and who the world that we have the best a community has to offer: beautiful scenery; a skilled and well-educated workforce; tremendous recreational opportunities; a strong economy; and people of different cultures, beliefs, and lifestyles who live well together, respecting and learning from each other.