Olympics Highlight Religious Diversity of Utah

February 23, 2002

Source: Star Tribune

On February 23, 2002, The Star Tribune reported that "the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the main religion in Utah, but other faiths - among them Judaism, Buddhism and even Hare Krishnas [ISKCON] - have found a place in the mountains... the Sri Sri Radha Krishna Temple... This Hindu temple, with 350 families actively worshipping, is flourishing... In the shadow of the Delta Center, home to Olympic figure skating, sits the Buddhist Temple of Salt Lake City, one of 16 Buddhist centers in the state... It's a short walk from there to Salt Lake's central mosque, Masjid al-Noor, home to the Islamic Society of Salt Lake City... In the southeast suburbs of Salt Lake stands Congregation Kol Ami, a combined Reform and Conservative Jewish congregation of 450 families... To be sure, the minority religions in this Mormon-founded and dominated state are tiny enclaves. But there is freedom, too, religious leaders said... The dominance of Mormonism forces people of other faiths to more deeply examine their own beliefs and lifestyles, said Brian Davis, a professor at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, and director of the Utah Pluralism Project... [And] indeed, the LDS church has been supportive of the smallest religious groups... The church's foundation contributed $25,000 to help... build the $1 million ISKCON temple... Mormon patriarch Brigham Young personally donated land to the Jews for their first cemetery in 1862... More recently, Mormon president Gordon Hinckley, in a speech after Sept. 11 ... told a large gathering of church members to 'value our Muslim neighbors.'"