SLTrib's political cartoonist Pat Bagley, who also has a way with words, has an op-ed piece in the Washington Post today explaining to the nation Utah's love-hate relationship with alcohol. It's under the headline: "Mormon ban on alcohol not always absolute—Mormons have always been dead set against alcohol, except when they weren’t."
To his credit, former- ex- jack- cultural-Mormon Bagley attempts to explain one of Mormondom's great enigmas: The LDS Word of Wisdom. "A dietary code with many head-scratching restrictions, squishy provisos, and openly flouted prohibitions."
As anyone who spends five minutes in Utah knows, the WoW basically prohibits LDS members from ingesting tea, coffee, tobacco and makes selling a cocktail an incomprehensible tap dance for the hospitality industry.
Bagley also points out that Mormon church disapproved of making alcohol—except when it put money in Mormon pockets. Mormon pioneers built breweries and the church-owned ZCMI department store sold beer, wine and Valley Tan, a local hooch. "The crystal decanters I saw some years ago on a sideboard in Young’s summer home in St. George probably weren’t meant for lemonade," Bagley says.
This state legislative session has been kicked off by a statement by a high LDS official calling for no further liberalization of Utah's drinking laws. How it plays out will be interesting, considering the state's vast hospitality industry (which contributes minimally to air pollution and a lot to the pockets of Mormons), like ZCMI, wants a little leeway to continue fill the state's tax coffers.