SLOC [Salt Laken olympiajärjestelykomitea] ja MAP-kirkko
vähättelevät kirkon sekaantumista olympialaisiin
Christopher Smith & Bob Mims
Muutaman tuhannen muun maailman olympiakisatoimittajan tapaan Winnipeg
Free Pressin jääkiekkokommentaattori Scott Taylor sai
hiljakkoin postitse ensimmäisen kehotuksen kirjoittaa MAP-kirkosta.
Lähetys oli barbienuken tarvikekokoa oleva leikkisalkku, johon
oli leimattu kohokuviona kirkon vuoden 2002 logo, ja se sisälsi
haitariesitteen MAP-kirkon suhdetoimintaosaston ehdotuksia tarinan
Muutamaa viikkoa myöhemmin kirkko lähetti hänelle
kiiltävän värikuvakalenterin, joka kattoi jakson
tammikuu 2001-helmikuu 2002. Sen otsikkona oli "Välähdyksiä
Utahista: 15 kuukauden näkymät vuoden 2002 talvikisojen
tapahtumapaikan historiaan ja kulttuuriin" ja se oli kokoelma
näyttämöllisiä valokuvia, mm. Suolajärven
temppelistä, Mormonien Tabernaakkelikuorosta ja lokkimuistomerkistä.
Taylor sai myös esitteen, jossa tarjottiin mormonien opastamia
kiertokäyntejä multimedian muodossa.
"Millään muulla paikalla Amerikassa ei ole sellaista
tarinaa kerrottavanaan kuin Salt Lake Cityllä se on
Yhdysvaltain omien rajojen sisällä eläneiden uskonnollisten
pakolaisten perustama turvapaikka", sanotaan johdannossa. "Eikä
kukaan osaa kertoa sitä tarinaa paremmin kuin Myöhempien
Aikojen Pyhien Jeesuksen Kristuksen Kirkko."
Sen jälkeen tämä kanadalainen urheilutoimittaja
on saanut "kolme tai neljä pohjustavaa postitusta, jotka
ovat olleet hyvin kohteliaita ja viehättäviä. Mikäli
haluan kääntyä uskoon, he ovat valmiita ottamaan
minut vastaan", hän sanoo. "Nauraa hykersimme sille
toimituksessa. Siis, tiesimme, että näistä tulisi
'mormonikisat'. Ei se minua loukkaa."
Vaikka joitakin toimittajia on huvittanut kirkon pyrkimys markkinoida
mormonismia tiedotusvälineiden kautta vuoden 2002 talvikisojen
aikana, muutamat ovat nolostuneet kampanjan kiihkeydestä.
MAP-kirkon virkailijat väittävät kivenkovaan, että
he vain osallistuvat olympialaisjärjestelyihin yhteisönsä
hyvinä jäseninä. Mutta jotkut tarkkailijat kysyvät,
eivätkö mormonien PR-osaston aloitteet ylitä rajaa,
joka kulkee tavallisen päältäkatselevan kansalaisen
vahvistuksen ja alitajuisen ellei julkisen saarnaamisen välillä,
mikä toteuttaa uskon lähetyskäskyä viedä
uutiset "palautetusta evankeliumista" koko maailmaan.
"Tämä saattaa olla ensi kerta", sanoo Mainen
yliopiston urheiluhistorioitsija William Baker, uuden kirjan If
Christ Came to the Olympics [Jos Kristus tulisi olympialaisiin]
kirjoittaja. "Evankelioimista on tapahtunut joka kisoissa vuodesta
1964 asti, mutta mormonit tekevät jotain, joka on paljon monimutkaisempaa
kuin vain todistaminen ihmisille uusien käännynnäisten
voittamiseksi. Se on niin laskelmoitua, melkeinpä myyntiä
tietoa tarjoamalla, kun he pyrkivät saamaan reportterit puhumaan
Kuitenkin tuputtaminen voi johtaa uskollisten mormonien ja heidän
pakananaapuriensa kiusaantumiseen ulkomailla ja jakaantumiseen kotimaassa,
sen sijaan että se toisi mormonismin esille suotuisassa valossa.
Esimerkiksi kun urheilutoimittaja Candus Thomson The Baltimore
Sun-lehdestä soitti Salt Laken olympiajärjestelykomitealle
tammikuussa järjestääkseen vuosikierroksen v. 2002
tapahtumapaikoista, häntä kehotettiin ottamaan yhteyttä
Utahin tiedotuskeskukseen, verovaroilla rahoitettuun Utahin matkailuneuvoston
projektiin, jota johtaa Spence Kinard, MAP-kirkon "Musiikkia
ja puhetta"-ohjelman entinen juontaja.
Helmikuun 5. päivän vastaanotolla vuoden 2002 tiedotusvälineiden
"tutustuttamiskierroksen" ensimmäisenä iltana
Thomson ja reporttereita muista lehdistä kuten The Seattle
Times, Boston Herald and Philadelphia Inquirer
esiteltiin William ja Sidney Pricelle, "tiedotusvälineiden
isännyyden johtajiin" Myöhempien Aikojen Pyhien Jeesuksen
Kristuksen Kirkon suhdetoimintaosastosta. Utahin muiden uskontojen
edustajia ei ollut kutsuttu kokoukseen.
"He antoivat meille kaikki nuo kalenterit ja tiedotusoppaat,
ja kertoivat meille, että he olivat paikalla kertomassa mormonikirkosta
ja vastaamassa kysymyksiimme," sanoo Thomson, tunnustettu olympiatoimittaja,
joka käy Utahissa säännöllisesti. "Jos
he yrittävät epätoivoisesti sanoa, että nämä
eivät ole 'molympialaiset', niin tämä ei ollut hyvä
kikka tehdä ensimmäisenä iltana. He saivat meidät
MAP-kirkon virkailijat sanovat, että he yrittivät vain
toimia hyvinä isäntinä ja saada aikaan parempaa ymmärtämystä
mormoniuskoa kohtaan. Ja he ovat päättäneet välttää
historian kirjaamasta vuoden 2002 talviolympialaiset "mormonikisoina".
"Olemme hyvin innokkaita tekemään näistä
kisoista todella Salt Laken olympiakisat, Yhdysvaltain olympiakisat,"
sanoo Bruce L. Olsen, kirkon suhdetoimintaosaston pääjohtaja.
"Jos ihmiset tulevat luoksemme, me vastaamme heidän kysymyksiinsä.
Tartumme tilaisuuteen ja kerromme heille alueen historiasta ja kulttuurista,
mikä on aina kuulunut olympialaisiin tavalla tai toisella."
Olsen painottaa, että mormonilähetyssaarnaajat eivät
ole kisojen aikana kaduilla käännyttämässä
ihmisiä. Kuitenkin kirkon suhdetoimintaosasto lähetti
uutispaketteja yli kolmelle tuhannelle olympialaistoimittajalle,
ja suunnittelee erityistä MAP-kirkon mediakeskusta, jossa toimittajat
saisivat käyttöönsä tietokoneita ja puhelimia.
Kirkon virkailijat kehottavat toimittajia kiertämään
läpi Salt Laken olympialaisten tapahtumapaikat ennen kisoja,
ja kirjoittamaan juttuja mormonismista. He tarjoutuvat järjestämään
haastatteluja tyypillisten mormoniperheiden kanssa tai käyntejä
Deseret-laitoksiin tai Welfare Squarelle. Kirkon virkailijat auttavat
toimittajia jopa etsimään juuriaan. Sanottakoon sitä
nyt sitten käännyttämiseksi tai hyväksi suhdetoiminnaksi,
niin imagostaan tarkka MAP-kirkko aikoo täysillä hyödyntää
olympialaisten mukanaan tuomaa valokeilaa edistääkseen
"If you think of other world events in Utah history -- the
arrival of Mormons in 1847, the arrival of the federal army to install
a non-Mormon governor in 1857, the 1880s controversy over polygamy
-- there have been a lot more events focusing world attention on
Utah that were negative than positive," says University of
Utah history professor Dean May. "But the predominant attitude
has been, 'If people only knew us, they'd like us.' The Mormon leadership
is thinking exactly that now."
Utah Mormons have always proclaimed with pride they are a "peculiar"
people, although in a 1996 "60 Minutes" interview, LDS
President Gordon B. Hinckley clarified, "We are not a weird
people." The statement was intended, according to CBS interviewer
Mike Wallace, to reflect Hinckley's wish to portray Mormons as "mainstream,
The LDS Church's Olympics public relations strategy seems crafted
toward the same end, although it runs the risk of backlash.
"The chance for national and international press coverage
of Utah's storytelling efforts is precisely what makes the 2002
Olympics rather dangerous dynamite in the hands of the Chamber of
Commerce functionaries, local and state political hacks, and Latter-day
Saint Church leaders who hold the power to shape Utah's Olympic
presentations," wrote Penn State University sports historian
Mark Dyreson in the International Journal of Olympic Studies. "It
is along religious fault lines that divisions will become most evident."
Fuel to the Fire: Add the Olympics to the long list of religious
debates between Mormons and non-Mormons -- from beer billboards
poking fun of Mormon culture and a dry medals plaza on church property
to the Main Street expansion of Temple Square and the church's attempts
to shape the management of The Salt Lake Tribune -- that are part
of what has been called the state's "Irrepressible Conflict."
Now, with mass mailings of paraphernalia declaring to visiting
reporters that no one can tell the story of Utah during the Olympics
better than the LDS Church, Utah's cultural wars continue to escalate.
"I think what the church is doing is going to backfire,"
says Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson. "I don't fault anybody
for trying to get their point of view over to the media, but given
the sensitivity as to whether these are going to be the 'Mormon
Games,' it seems to me there needs to be some wise restraint exercised."
Anderson says he has "great respect for the LDS heritage and
my own family's history with the church," but he contends his
job during the Olympics is to "show everything else and include
His belief that the Utah story of the Olympics should be inclusive
rather than exclusive contrasts with his predecessor, Deedee Corradini.
During the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Corradini illustrated the Mormon-centric
mind-set of many Utah officials when she exclaimed after viewing
the pageantry celebrating Japan's imperial past, "I don't know
what we're going to do. We only have 150 years of history."
Seek and Ye Shall Find: Yet trying to focus the media spotlight
entirely on Utah's Mormon heritage could be perilous to the state's
overall image for attracting new business and residents. "The
church thinks it can stage-manage these Games and that's a real
risk," says Dyreson, a former Weber State University faculty
member. "Reporters from around the world are not exactly the
most uncynical folk and are not averse to going to the bar and having
a smoke. They are going to be looking for these quirks."
For instance, take the unidentified reporter for The Economist,
a European newspaper, who took his or her own unguided media tour
of downtown Salt Lake to find gangs, tramps, prostitutes, "tattooed
youth asking for change" and a local cinema playing the cult
movie "Orgazmo," about a Mormon missionary recruited to
star in a porn flick.
"For years, Brigham Young's city in the Great Salt Desert
has been trying to get rid of its image as a holier-than-thou-Hicksville,"
is how The Economist profile of Salt Lake City began. "Now
it has managed it: the Olympics scandal has made it a byword for
bribery and corruption."
In the Sydney Morning Herald last year, notorious Olympic investigative
journalist Andrew Jennings began his recap of the 2000 Games and
preview of the 2002 Olympics with an interview of embattled Juab
County polygamist Tom Green.
"Mr. Green, now threatened with prosecution for statutory
rape of underage girls, or 'wives' as he terms them, was one of
many keepers of traditional local values assuring me that the Olympic
corruption in his state was worse than anything he ever got up to.
Welcome to Utah."
Elaine Lafferty, writing for The Irish Times newspaper, began her
profile of Salt Lake City relating how she reluctantly agreed to
go on a tour of Temple Square after being spotted "from 20
yards away" by a pair of Mormon women missionaries, one of
whom was toting an oxygen tank.
"When I agree to the tour, Sister Pope clasps her hands together
in apparent gratitude and Sister Wouden rasps a squeal," wrote
Lafferty. "In the next hour, I will learn something about determination
and zealotry and single-mindedness as these two women confidently
tell me all about God and His Purpose for our lives." No Such
Thing as Bad Publicity: University of Utah historian and author
D. Michael Quinn, a specialist in Mormon history, says courting
the Olympic media for positive stories -- not just about Mormonism
but Utah in general -- is a double-edged sword. "On balance,
the leadership has certainly considered what would be the possible
consequences, but the positive image of the church -- the proselytizing
consequences afterward of the Games -- will far outweigh the negative
consequences," says Quinn.
Dyreson suspects the church will benefit even from bad publicity.
"If the old scabs are opened and the world makes fun of Utah,
then the church can say, 'See, we're still oppressed, no one understands
us, we were accommodating and they snubbed us,' " he says.
"It can play at home in the same way it did for Germany in
the 1936 Olympics in Munich, when much of the world was impolite
in its coverage and it fed into the German persecution complex and
allowed the ruling party to continue to push its policies."
At the same time, Quinn recognizes how difficult it will be for
an institution steeped in cultural isolation to grow a thick enough
hide to endure inevitable less-than-charitable assessments. "I
don't think the church will ever break out of its persecution complex,"
he says. "The headquarters of the church is only two steps
away from a siege mentality. It's imbedded within the psyche of
The LDS Church ramped up its public relations efforts in 1995 to
counter what it perceived as increasingly negative news coverage
of Mormons worldwide. The church hired a top New York City agency,
Edelman Public Relations Worldwide, and redesigned its logo to enlarge
the words "Jesus Christ" in its formal name.
In 1997, Edelman executives helped the church orchestrate the
media message that followed the sesquicentennial Mormon Trail wagon
train, an undertaking that began in Iowa with a nondenominational
group of history buffs but arrived in Salt Lake City as a full-fledged
undertaking of the LDS Church. Edelman has not been consulted on
the church's 2002 PR campaign, according to church public relations
officials. "We did this all in-house," says spokesman
Most recently, church leaders emphasized the faith's Christian
beliefs by urging reporters and members to call the institution
"The Church of Jesus Christ" on second reference, rather
than the traditional "LDS Church" and "Mormon church."
The coming Olympics was regarded as "a good opportunity"
to announce the change, Otterson has said.
Some theologians view the public relations overtures as a concentrated
effort by church leaders to sanitize the church's separationist
past and portray modern Mormonism as mainstream Christianity.
"There is the poignant and persistent insistence of Mormons,
'We really are Christians!' " wrote the Rev. Richard John Neuhaus
of the Institute for Religious Research (IRR), an organization whose
editorial advisory board includes Bruce Hafen, a member of the LDS
Church's First Quorum of the Seventy.
"Sometimes that claim means that they really are Christians
and the rest of us are not," Neuhaus wrote in the IRR's journal
last spring. "Increasingly, at least among some Mormons, the
claim is that they are Christians in substantively the same way
that others are Christians."
The path from setting the young church clearly apart from mainstream
faiths to the modern church's current efforts to be unquestionably
placed into the category of "Christian" has struck some
"The church that shocked polite society by sanctioning marriages
in which an older man could take a dozen wives or more -- some of
them half his age -- is now a public guardian of strict family values
no more experimental than Beaver Cleaver's," reporter Timothy
Egan wrote in The New York Times last year.
"The founders of perhaps the most successful attempt at American
socialism have given way to the competent capitalists who run an
empire worth more than $25 billion. And the descendants of political
radicals who proudly defied the constitutional separations of church
and state with their theocracy in the desert now hold up those once-scorned
democratic ideals as divinely inspired." 'Most Moral People
in the World': Before the eruption of the Olympic bid scandal, there
was a belief expressed among some prominent Mormons that the 1995
awarding of the Games to Salt Lake City after five failed efforts
was divinely inspired. Those beliefs had even greater currency when
church-owned KSL subsequently became an affiliate of NBC, which
holds the U.S. network broadcast rights to the 2002 Games.
When the news broke that Salt Lake City bid boosters -- many of
them prominent LDS Church members -- had spent millions on gifts,
scholarships and cash payments to IOC members and relatives to bolster
Salt Lake City's chances of winning, reporters around the world
pounced on the irony.
And church public relations officials responded to such questions
with frustration, a departure from their usual soft-spoken diplomacy.
"Nobody calls the Vatican and asks why most of the Mafioso
are Catholic," Otterson, the church's main spokesman, told
The Washington Post. "These are not the Mormon Olympics."
Still, the image of devout Mormons bearing gifts on bended knee
to influence Olympic royalty was too much of a hook for the media
"Somebody said, 'How can this happen in Salt Lake? I thought
you had the most moral people in the world,' " KTVX reporter
Chris Vanocur told a forum of journalists at Harvard University
after he broke the scandal story. "My argument is no, not the
most moral people, but maybe the most self-righteous."
National Public Radio Salt Lake City correspondent Howard Berkes,
whose reporting elevated the local story into international news,
told the same forum he believes the LDS Church's interest in the
Olympics is aimed at facilitating the placement of missionaries
"That is a huge driving motivation, and part of it is to stop
being treated as a cult and aberrant religion, and so holding the
Olympics means we've arrived in Utah," said Berkes. "We
are not so weird after all, we can do something, we can prove something.
Which is why those people were so desperate to get it." Be
Careful What You Wish for: In February 2002, a century since the
first tourist kiosk opened at Temple Square, Utah will get what
it has seemingly pined for since the 1960s -- the Winter Olympics.
The state and the LDS Church will put their best foot forward. But
to what end?
Dyreson notes how Utah native Bernard DeVoto, the 20th-century
author and historian, wrote in 1926 that he was dismayed the state
was trying to assimilate into popular culture, attempting to become
like the rest of the American mainstream. " 'We are a peculiar
people,' long Zion's boast, becomes the plaintive, 'We are no different
from other people,' " wrote DeVoto.
Quinn sees a similar risk in the church's Olympian public relations
effort: inviting too much of mainstream America here so that it
tips the scales of power in Zion.
"The positive image projected throughout the world of Utah
will encourage people to move here who might not otherwise consider
doing so," says Quinn. "That's the downside. If Utah appeals
to the non-Mormon audience of millions as a nice place to live,
that would create an influx of non-Mormons that [LDS Church] headquarters
would not want."
From SLOC Leadership to Liquor, Church Has Long Had a Powerful
BY LINDA FANTIN, BOB MIMS and CHRISTOPHER SMITH
It was a sunny autumn Saturday in 1997 when a select group of Olympic
leaders were summoned to the Governor's Mansion to mend the Salt
Lake Organizing Committee's frayed edges.
SLOC President Tom Welch had resigned amid spousal abuse allegations,
egos were bruised from the battle to anoint a new board chairman,
skepticism was growing over SLOC's budget numbers and questions
lingered about bid-era expenditures.
The time had come to close ranks. And who better to help calm the
waters than Elder Robert Hales, an apostle of The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints and the church's top Olympic liaison?
While SLOC Chairman Robert Garff said Hales was "a participant,
but not a leader" at the meeting, Hales' participation speaks
volumes about the church's stake in the success of the Games and
the pervasiveness of the state's predominant religion. It also is
the kind of behind-the-scenes collaboration that gives rise to concerns
that the 2002 Olympics are and always have been "The Mormon
The subject is a sore one for organizers. SLOC President Mitt Romney,
a Mormon, held a news conference on Friday complete with champagne
-- LDS Church doctrine prohibits alcohol consumption -- to refute
the Mormon Games label, calling such characterizations "divisive
and de- meaning." Longtime Involvement: Church authorities
initially were split about the potential benefits and pitfalls of
bringing the Olympics to Utah. Officially, the church says it took
a "neutral position" on whether the Games should come
to Salt Lake City. But its leaders have never been disinterested
bystanders. Throughout Salt Lake's Olympic odyssey, briefings and
consultations between bid boosters and church functionaries have
been commonplace. Bid-era meetings were mostly courtesy calls that
allowed organizers to maintain the approval of the church that was
crucial to business and popular support of the bid. Once the bid
was won, the church's involvement in the Games increased exponentially.
Today, the church's influence reaches to the pinnacle of the organizing
The church acknowledged to The Salt Lake Tribune that it had a
hand in hiring Romney, a Boston businessman who took the helm of
the organizing committee in the wake of the bribery scandal. Gov.
Mike Leavitt, also a Mormon, asked a number of community leaders,
including Hales, "for a short list of names -- people who could
possibly do what was needed to re-establish confidence and handle
the extraordinary challenge of staging an Olympic Games," the
church said in a written response to reporters' questions.
Romney was one of three people Hales recommended. United Campaign:
Even in the earliest efforts to win the Winter Olympics, Salt Lake
business leaders understood how critical having Mormon united with
gentile would be in procuring the Games. The team that sought to
win the 1972 Winter Olympics for Utah included Jack Gallivan, then
publisher of The Tribune, and E. Earl Hawkes, then editor and general
manager of the church-owned Deseret News.
"At that time, the president of the church was an old man,
David O. McKay, and his two counselors were very close to me and
I would keep them advised to any major movements in the effort,"
says former Gov. Calvin Rampton, a member of the 1966 Salt Lake
bid team that won the U.S. nomination but earned just four votes
in the final balloting. (Sapporo, Japan, won with 32. ) "It
didn't occur to any of us that it was a church project," Rampton
said, "but we got their support and the Deseret News frequently
editorialized in favor of our efforts."
Still, bid leaders took great pains to emphasize that Utah's heavy
Mormon presence would not influence the staging of the Olympics.
"The dominate [sic] church in our city is a small church among
the great religious institutions of the world," bid leaders
wrote in the official International Olympic Committee bid book for
the 1972 Games. "Their members account for approximately 40
percent of our citizens. The 60 percent of our population that do
not belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints do
not, we assure you, feel that they have lost any of their identity
or have been deprived of any loss of friendship for their particular
Three decades later, Salt Lake City was the favorite to get the
2002 Games, and an indication of the church's support came in a
May 24, 1995, letter from the publisher of the church-owned Deseret
News to IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch.
"You have a monumental decision to make on June 16, and all
of us at the Deseret News urge you to select Salt Lake City,"
wrote then-publisher James Mortimer. "This is the right place!"
To help promote inclusiveness and discourage negative preconceptions,
the LDS Church considered joining the U.S. Olympic Committee in
the mid-1980s as a "group B" member -- a tier reserved
for organizations with amateur sports programs, such as the LDS
ward basketball league. In letters archived at the University of
Utah's Marriott Library, Clark T. Thorstenson, then director of
the church's athletic program, reported on his meetings with USOC
and IOC officials in Los Angeles, Reno, Nev., and Lausanne, Switzerland.
Thorstenson listed the benefits of USOC membership, not the least
of them to help mainstream the Mormon faith and "further break
down the walls of prejudice toward the church." He believed
the "international recognition and good will" that would
result from USOC membership would enhance Mormonism's worldwide
image and provide "another avenue of support for the mission
of the church to preach the Gospel throughout the world."
The church ultimately decided against USOC affiliation. As Salt
Lake became a serious contender, concern increased among some IOC
members, especially those from European countries, that the LDS
Church would exploit the Olympics. For this reason, bid leaders
say, visiting IOC members never met with the church president until
after Salt Lake City was awarded the Games.
Other IOC members were eager to learn more about the LDS faith.
Africa's Jean-Claude Ganga accompanied Bennie Smith, the bid committee's
lone African-American and a Mormon, to an LDS sacrament meeting.
Despite keeping a low profile, church officials were regularly
kept apprised of Salt Lake City's ongoing efforts to win the host
Before heading off to Birmingham, England, in June 1991, bid officials
gave the governing Quorum of the Twelve Apostles a private viewing
of Salt Lake City's bid book for the 1998 Winter Games. The general
authorities also received a courtesy preview of the final presentation
to the IOC. Considered a favorite, Salt Lake City lost that bid
to Nagano, Japan, and the defeat prompted the more aggressive wooing
of IOC votes with gifts, scholarships and cash.
For bid officials such as Welch and Dave Johnson, steeped in the
ways of Mormon missionaries lending a helping hand to potential
converts, the inducements seemed a natural progression.
"Look at the aid the U.S. gives every year; look at the aid
the Mormon church gives every year," Welch, who held several
LDS ecclesiastical positions, said in a 1999 interview. "These
people had incredible needs that you could never meet. It was like
trying to feed India. To me it was a no-brainer. It never crossed
my mind that one day it would be construed as bribery."
After the scandal broke, the LDS Church readily acknowledged its
businesses had given $210,938 to the Salt Lake City Olympic Bid
Committee between 1985 and 1995 in a "spirit of good corporate
But there was a blurring of the line between corporate support
and church service at times within the bid effort and in the early
days of the organizing committee. Welch sometimes attempted to act
as the church's global lookout for opportunities and potential problems.
Global Lookout: In July 1995, a month after the 2002 bid was awarded
to Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Organizing Committee leader wrote
to Craig Zwick, a member of the church's First Quorum of the Seventy,
alerting Zwick to concerns regarding the lawyer representing the
LDS Church in Lima, Peru.
Welch said that in visiting with IOC member Ivan Dibos, assistant
mayor of Lima, he learned that the LDS Church's designated attorney
-- a man named "Montufar" -- had perpetuated an "unethical
act" on Dibos by preparing a will that secretly conveyed an
interest in the family business to a cousin. Dibos, Welch noted,
"has been very helpful to the Church in obtaining building
permits and other matters relating to the city," and that relationship
was in jeopardy.
"Mr. Dibos asked that I let the Church know it will get no
support from the city if the Church continues to be represented
by Montufar," Welch wrote in the letter released by SLOC to
The Tribune. "I pass this along because I believe Ivan has
been a good friend to the Church and would not want to see the Church's
efforts in Lima stymied because of personal differences."
At times, church missionaries in the field were drafted to help
court IOC members and their families. In 1991, Temple Square missionaries
reported to bid officials they had spent several hours with visiting
IOC member Fidel Mendoza of Colombia and his family, and in a letter
on church stationery, exclaimed, "it appears that we are not
only going to get a vote for Salt Lake City, but also a conversion."
In October 1995, Johnson, the Salt Lake City bid committee vice
president, wrote to Export Import Bank President Bold Magvan, son
of IOC member Shagdarjav Magvan of Mongolia. Johnson relayed the
news that his in-laws had been called on an LDS service mission
to Mongolia. His wife, Kim Johnson, is now an anchor for church-owned
Johnson asked Magvan to "watch out" for his wife's parents,
adding they were leaving soon and "if there is anything we
can send you ... please let us know." Church Contacts: After
the Games were awarded to Salt Lake City in 1995 and as the committee
matured, contact between Olympic leaders and church operatives became
more frequent. At least three LDS apostles -- Hales, Henry B. Eyring
and M. Russell Ballard -- began keeping tabs on Olympic preparations.
Before long, SLOC officers were added to the list of political,
civic and religious VIPs who receive front-row seats to the faith's
If SLOC officials wanted to arrange a special meeting with church
President Gordon B. Hinckley, they called on the late Alan Barnes,
Hinckley's son-in-law and SLOC's interfaith director. Such occasions
were IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch's visit to Salt Lake City
and when IOC Vice President Dick Pound came to town.
For their part, church leaders were interested in two key issues
that would directly affect the church's image in 2002, The Tribune
has learned from former SLOC officers: To retain the status quo
on Utah's liquor laws and to designate a church-owned parking lot
with a picturesque view of the Salt Lake LDS Temple -- rather than
the secular visage of the City-County Building -- to serve as the
medals plaza. SLOC obliged.
Likewise, SLOC did not hesitate to call on the church's generosity,
whether it was a road easement across LDS property near the Utah
Olympic Park or a call to arms for volunteers. Organizers also sought
advice and consent on a range of issues. Olympic Standards: When
Welch resigned amid charges of spousal abuse -- he pleaded no contest
in court -- the LDS Church declared through the Deseret News that
the SLOC president was "not aligned with the standards valued"
by the Olympics and Utah.
An editorial approved by LDS leadership decreed: "Everyone
associated with the Olympics at all levels must also meet extremely
high expectations" and SLOC must take action to ensure the
image of the 2002 Games "truly represents the principles Utahns
Paying heed to the church's dictate, new SLOC President Frank Joklik
asked for the church's help in selecting a new public relations
Joklik, a Roman Catholic, went out of his way to solicit from LDS
apostle Hales and the church's public affairs department a list
of church-recom- mended candidates for the job. The church responded
by arranging two "breakfast meetings" at which potential
applicants discussed Olympic issues with church PR profes- sionals.
Joklik, the church explained, "felt he did not know enough
people in that field." The church pointed out that the panel
included Latter-day Saints and people from other faiths. The job
eventually went to Shelley Thomas, a non-Mormon who had once worked
as a television news-anchor for KSL. Thomas resigned 11 months ago
and now works for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Today, SLOC is surrounded by Mormon image-makers. Former LDS Church
spokesman Steve Coltrin handles national media contacts under a
public-relations contract that involves more than $1 million in
pro-bono services. And when CEO Romney needs to bounce an idea off
someone, he often turns to Mormon advertising guru Gordon Bowen,
the man responsible for the LDS Church's famous family-values-laden
television ads. Bowen, who is not on SLOC's payroll, came up with
the 2002 slogan, "Light the Fire Within."
SLOC's No. 2 administrator is Fraser Bullock, a business colleague
of Romney's and fellow Latter-day Saint. But SLOC's most visible
spokesman-- and LDS lightning rod -- is Romney, who spent two years
in France on a Mormon mission, held various leadership positions
in his Boston LDS ward, attended Harvard with Hinckley's son, Clark,
and whose own sons have all attended BYU. Friends and Counselors:
Romney initially said he had no contact with church officials prior
to taking the SLOC job. He later acknowledged talking with apostle
Ballard, a close family friend who was once an automotive dealer
in Romney's father's company.
"I spoke about my career and a whole series of personal matters,
and I'm sure that at some point I would have discussed the Olympic
scandal and so forth," Romney said this past week. "But
Elder Ballard made it very clear to me that he had no counsel or
no direction whatsoever as regards to the Olympics and my potential
Other Mormons weren't so reluctant. In addition to Hales, Salt
Lake City developer Kem Gardner and SLOC Board Chairman Robert Garff,
whose daughter is married to Ballard's son, were intimately involved
in wooing Romney. Gardner befriended Romney in Boston while serving
as an LDS mission president in the 1980s. Garff's father, Ken, was
good friends with Mitt's father, the late Gov. George Romney of
Garff, a Mormon who likewise sought church guidance on his 1997
appointment as board chairman, said Romney was hired for his business
acumen, political experience and ability to charm the media.
"It would not be lost upon any of us that Mitt was a Mormon
but it was not part of our discussions," Garff said. "In
fact, one of the very finest things that came from the scandal was
that we picked someone outside our community who had an understanding
of the state's history and culture but didn't have all the baggage"
of community leaders from Utah.
"The choice was a wise one. Look how far we've come."
Since taking the helm, Romney has trimmed $132 million from the
$1.45 billion budget and coaxed Utah companies to contribute millions
more in cash and goods to the Games. 'No Recollection': Gov. Leavitt,
through his spokeswoman, disavowed knowledge of the 1997 meeting
at the Governor's Mansion with trustees and Hales. "We have
no recollection of the meeting, so we don't have any recollection
who would have invited him to the meeting we don't recollect,"
Vickie Varela said. Asked why the governor would enlist the help
of an LDS general authority in picking the head of the organizing
committee, Varela said: "Didn't happen." When told the
church had corroborated the story, Varela said the governor ran
Romney's name past "many, many, many community leaders."
She could not, however, name any other denominations or religious
groups that were consulted.
LDS Church officials, in a written response to Tribune questions,
defended Hales' involvement, saying he "has a long history
of considerable business experience in the United States before
his calling as a general authority." They said it was not necessary
that the new Olympic boss be Mormon. "It was of paramount importance,
however, that the CEO of SLOC be a person of high integrity [with]
well-docu- mented credentials and the ability to unify the community."
That last could be Romney's tallest task given Utah's Mormon, non-Mormon
lines. Less than six months into his new job, Romney and Leavitt
faced a torrent of criticism from petrochemical billionaire Jon
Huntsman Sr. In a July 10, 1999, interview with The Tribune, Huntsman
lashed out at what he perceived to be Mormon male cronyism within
"We've got a chairman who is active LDS, now we've got a present
CEO who is active LDS. They claim they're going out and really scouring
the world to find the best person, so Mitt brings in one of his
cronies to be the COO [chief operating officer]. Another broken
promise. Because we've got three LDS folks who are all cronies.
Cronyism at its peak," said Huntsman, himself a Mormon and
Utah's wealthiest man. "They told the world and told Salt Lake
that we're going to go out and find the most professional, the best,
and to have some diversity -- spiritual and ethnic. Diversity in
the Olympic Games is what it's all about. These are not the Mormon
Romney and Huntsman met a week later and Huntsman has not made
a disparaging comment about the Olympics since. Potent Issue: Romney,
however, got another dose of community division during the Sydney
Games. He told The Tribune he planned to ban alcohol at and around
the 2002 medals plaza, a church-owned parking lot in downtown Salt
Lake City, and in doing so lighted up the talk-show lines with people
convinced Romney was doing his church's bidding.
Romney initially said the ban had nothing to do with church ownership
of the property, but eventually acknowledged otherwise. He vented
his feelings to SLOC trustees in a Sept. 28 e-mail.
"Holy cow! This boy from Boston and Detroit had no idea how
hot a topic alcohol is in Utah," Romney wrote to trustees.
"The last thing I want is to fuel a controversy that could
lead one segment or another of our population to feel they have
'lost' ... I assure you, had I known what a hornet's nest I would
be whacking in answering a question about alcohol, I would not have
gone near it."
Non-LDS Religious Leaders Cite Minimal Input
Other religious leaders in Utah say they have not been consulted
on Olympic preparations to the degree LDS Church officials have.
At the same time, many are not surprised at the large Olympic role
being played by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I haven't had anything like that, and I wouldn't expect it,
quite frankly," said Bishop George Niederaurer, spiritual leader
of Utah's 160,000 Roman Catholics. "To be honest, the LDS Church
does represent 70 percent of the people of Utah and we [Catholics]
represent 7 [percent] or 8 percent."
Niederauer said he, several other non-Mormon religious leaders
and community representatives have been asked for their input on
the Games' Opening and Closing ceremonies, but otherwise the Diocese
of Salt Lake City has focused its contributions on its membership
in SLOC's Interfaith Roundtable and hospitality and ministerial
services related to it.
Bishop Carolyn Tanner Irish of the 6,000-member Episcopal Diocese
of Utah echoed Niederauer, noting she also was consulted about Olympic
LDS influence is "a fact of life here," Irish said. "But
the LDS Church also has bent over backward to be hospitable, and
they've certainly been able to offer things [to the Games] the rest
of us cannot.
"I don't think anybody has to consult me about anything. I
am only concerned that the larger story of Utah's faiths be told
in some fashion," she added.
Marvin Groote, executive presbyter for the 4,750-member Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.) in Utah, said the only involvement his denomination
has had in SLOC's planning is within the Interfaith Roundtable.
"Speaking only personally at this point, the area that bothers
me is that the LDS Church at least gives me the feeling -- real
or perceived -- that their values will be imposed on me during the
Games," he said. "For example, the alcohol issue. They
seem to say, 'We're not going to be like anywhere else in the world,
but this is the value system of Utah so that's the way it will be.'
But you really get the feeling that these are really the values
of the LDS Church."
In Park City, home to many of the Games venues, Rabbi Joseph Goldman
said no one from SLOC has contacted him for feedback on Olympic
issues. "Not so much as a whisper," he said. As for revelations
about the LDS Church's influence over the Olympics, he said: "It
seems to me that it could only happen in Utah."
"[LDS leaders] feel it is good for their church, and they
also have to think it is good for the state. I suspect, though,
that they would be first inclined to say they feel it is good for
the church." -- Bob Mims
Special Treatment for the Church?
Special Treatment? An LDS Church calendar, which uses the Olympic
catchphrase "Home of the 2002 Winter Games" on its cover,
has been distributed to thousands of journalists apparently with
the blessing of the Salt Lake and U.S. Olympic committees. Yet similar
words, when used by Salt Lake City leaders in an economic development
brochure, triggered legal threats from SLOC that forced the city
to reprint the brochure without Olympic-related references.
"It's amazing they would call the host city on that but allow
it to go out for any other entity," said Salt Lake City Mayor
Rocky Anderson. "Also, to present that as a guide to the host
city when it's all church-related unfortunately feeds into that
one-dimensional stereotype that too many people outside of Utah
SLOC spokeswoman Caroline Shaw said: "Not-for-profits distributing
materials free of charge with the approval of SLOC does not violate
our brand protection policy."
The city, however, is a nonprofit and its brochure was free. SLOC
President Mitt Romney called Salt Lake Tribune questions about the
calendar "bizarre." SLOC receives "hundreds"
of requests from Utah nonprofits, he said, including many churches.
"In the case of the Mormon church, we have turned down many
of their requests, modified others and approved some outright."
As long as the calendar is not used to link the creator to the Games
for commercial gain, there isn't a problem, said USOC spokesman
Mike Moran. He added that the USOC allows Colorado Springs, its
businesses, chamber of commerce and visitors bureau to use "home
of the U.S. Olympic Committee" on promotional materials.
Kirkko yrittää luonnollisesti kumota nämä tiedot
Olympialaiset eivät ole "mormonikisat"
In response to several major news organizations calling the Salt
Lake Olympics "The Mormon Games," The 2002 Winter Games
Organizing Committee President Mitt Romney held a press conference
to dispel this notion. "These are not Mormon Games. These are
Games for America, for Utah, and for the world. They're Episcopal.
They're Catholic. They're Muslim. They're Jewish. They're Mormon.
They're Baptist," Romney said. The term, "Mormon Games"
has turned up in about a dozen newspapers since 1996, including
USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, the New York Daily News,
and the Winnipeg Free Press as well as on the Associated Press news
wire. The Church issued a statement following Romney's news conference:
"We are pleased that Mitt Romney has repeated what SLOC and
the Church have been saying for years. The Church is one of many
community groups that are working to help make the Games successful."
Deseret Newsin artikkeli löytynee maksullisesta arkistosta (engl)
Ja vielä varmemmaksi vakuudeksi:
CHURCH LEADERS HOPE TO KEEP SPOTLIGHT ON ATHLETES
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does not want religion
to be center stage during the Olympic Games. "We know that
the Church is very large and very influential in this state, but
the games was awarded to Utah, not to the Church," Church spokesman
Michael Otterson said. "We will not be putting extra missionaries
on the streets or meeting people at the airport. People coming for
the games are not coming for a religious experience." Only
15 percent of the Church's 11 million members now live in Utah.
ABC News (link obsolete)