There has been a lot of talk in the media about doing away with private club requirements in Utah. If you want a drink at a club, not only are you paying for your drink but you’re also required to purchase a membership before you can even order a drink. These memberships generally expire after 6 months or a year. I have heard the argument that this negatively impacts tourism for our dear state because visitors are forced to pay a fee to drink at a club they might not even visit again before their membership expires.
The argument that these laws hurt the tourism industry here in Utah is weak at best. Lets take a look at the top tourist sites in Utah (according to the Deseret News, 2003):
1. LDS Temple Square, 5 million to 7 million visitors*
2. Salt Lake City Main Library, 3.077 million**
3. Zion National Park, 2.5 million
4. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, 1.8 million.
5. (tie) Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area, 1.1 million*
5. (tie) Lagoon Amusement Park, 1.1 million
7. Bryce Canyon National Park, 904,000
8. Wasatch Mountain State Park, 800,000
9. LDS Family History Research Centers, 794,000
10. Arches National Park, 758,000
11. Hogle Zoo, 718,000
The top tourist attraction in Utah is Temple Square. The majority of tourists coming to visit this site are LDS and are therefore probably unlikely to have a few beers after their visit to Temple Square.
Another reason people come to Utah is to visit the beautiful national parks. I can’t say what percentage of people visiting the parks will also be frequenting the local bar scene. I would suspect the campers and hikers are more likely to purchase their own alcohol from a liquor store or just abstain all together.
That said, I don’t see an overwhelmingly good reason not to do away with the private club fees. I don’t think they discourage people from consuming alcohol. They simply make it more expensive to drink at any establishment forced to charge these fees. They mostly inconvenience the people who live here and frequent the clubs.
I don’t understand why any LDS person or church leaders would be against doing away with these laws. Indifference I can understand, but blatant opposition seems silly. Yes, our gospel teaches that alcohol is bad for the mind and body and should not be consumed by those who share our faith. This does not mean that the LDS church believes you shouldn’t have the free agency to drink. It simply means that if you are a baptized member of our faith you have made covenants with God that you will not consume alcohol.
I guess I just don’t understand why lawmakers are meeting with LDS officials regarding this issue. I guess it just doesn’t seem like a big enough deal to me. Although it’s hard for me to grasp why government officials would be meeting with church officials for any reason other than issues relating directly to the LDS church and their business. If someone has a good argument for this please explain…
Of course you never know how much of what the media says is true, including weather or not church leaders are meeting with government officials, and why, and what is/isn’t said. I know a lot of what you see on the news is the media trying to create hype and drama which may or may not be reality. I watched a lady interviewed on the news say how she was against changing the private club laws because it would make alcohol more accessible to minors. PULEASE. That is probably one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever heard. Of course the caption under her name read “Mary so-and-so, LDS.” Thanks for making Mary So-and-so the official spokesperson for the LDS people, Channel 13!
Anyways, that’s my two cents.
Love, Your Ignorant Mormon Friend