Behind the Zion Curtain

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Kate Ayer, staff writer


Utah’s Legislature is taking on the liberalization of liquor laws—again. And the LDS Church made it clear—again—that it is strongly opposed to the amendments, which propose increasing the number of liquor licenses, privatizing liquor sales, demolishing the “Zion Curtain” and removing the “intent to dine” requirement.


These proposed amendments are on the docket this year mainly due to Utah’s multi-billion-dollar per year tourism industry. Tourists want to drink and to accommodate them the Legislature is considering these changes.


That’s all good and well—but what about us local Utahns? These amendments should be passed for us. We want to drink. And we don’t want to cater to the unreasonably restrictive liquor laws currently in place.


Recently an assertion was expressed by D. Todd Christofferson, a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, that approving more liberal liquor laws would cultivate an alcohol culture in Utah. He also noted that Utah has the lowest rate of binge drinking and ranks among the lowest states in DUI arrests. Christofferson continued that there is a possible correlation between those statistics and the state’s current liquor laws.


I say Utah has the lowest rate of binge drinking because it also happens to have the highest Mormon population in the country. Mormons don’t drink and that has nothing to do with liquor laws. It has to do with their doctrine, and that doctrine will not change—even if I am able to purchase my wine in a grocery store.


Until someone can produce data confirming there is a direct correlation between conservative liquor laws and a low DUI arrest rate, then I’m going to assume that Utah’s low DUI arrest rate also has something to do with a large non-alcohol-consuming population found here.


For those of you who don’t know what a “Zion Curtain” is, it’s a 7-foot-2-inch barrier at a restaurant placed between the bar and restaurant patrons. The “Zion Curtain” was put in place to protect diners, mainly children, from seeing alcoholic drinks being prepared.


This is the same logic used for the clause preventing wine, liquor and full-strength beer from being sold in grocery stores—people want to protect their families from things they don’t support—and because of that the rest of us can’t purchase wine at the grocery store.


That results in all the wine, beer and liquor sold in the state of Utah being sold by the state of Utah. Yes, this means Utah State Liquor Stores are government agencies and there are no private liquor sales in the state at all.


Here’s how illogical these argument sound to everyone else, “I am on a gluten free diet. I do not eat gluten, my children do not eat gluten, and we should not be subjected to watching others eat gluten when we are at a restaurant. Also, we should not have to walk into a grocery store where gluten is brazenly sold to those who do eat gluten. Ban private gluten sales, ban gluten sales at the grocery store, and ban gluten from being served in front of my children.”


Seems a bit unreasonable, right? I agree.