Sunday, April 26, 2009

Utah != Mormon

It amuses me when people equate Utah quite so intensely with Mormonism as some tend to do. Utah’s liquor laws, for example, are frequently attributed to Mormons’ influence on the state legislature—and Utah’s liquor laws certainly are byzantine,* and i suspect that the local preponderance of Mormons does have something to do with that, but maybe not as much as people like to think. I mean, when i lived in Utah, it used to blow my mind every time i walked into a grocery store and saw that beer was freely available on the store shelves. After all, i’d just moved from Pennsylvania, where that would have been completely illegal—beer had to be bought at warehouse stores scattered across the state.**

Of course, we all know that Mormons actually secretly control the Pennsylvania legislature, so…

* Though they are currently in the process of becoming less so, as the pursuit of the elusive tourism dollar becomes ever more intense.

** I don’t know if this is still the case—when i left Pennsylvania there were rumblings about changing the system.

Also, a note on the title: Several years ago some net.friends of mine started calling the equation Utah != Mormon “Bowie’s Inequality Constant”, in honor of my incessant work on doing everything i could to quash those arguments that spuriously (that is, most of them) attempted to base their claims on some factoid about Utah that they then extended to Mormons and Mormonism generally.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

I have never seen just how different Utah Mormons and the rest of us are as in Crystal City/Alexandria II wards. There was a total us/them mentality there since at least half the wards at any given time are people in the DC area only for a few months. The typical UT Mormon is scarily not like the rest of us.

David B said...

My speculation: I think these differences are often heightened in Northern Virmarington,* which is one of the secondary geographic centers of Mormonism outside of the jello belt (the other secondary center would be southern Alberta). Since historically the numerical strength of Mormons in the DC area came from temporary transplants from the Mormon Dominance Area** to the DC area for government jobs, there wasn't a process of "going native" among many of the Mormons who arrived—they knew they weren't going to be there more than a presidential or senatorial term or two, so why try to fit into the local culture? That may be changing, though, and so in some areas within the DC area i'd expect to see some boundary-setting on the part of both geographical-origin groups (with the poor souls from, say, Atlanta caught in the crossfire).

* A blended phrase for the Washington DC area: Northern Virginia, Maryland, and Washington. I heard it on the radio in the mid-80s but (to my disappointment) it never caught on.

** The more scholarly term for the jello belt.