Saturday, December 17, 2005

Salt Lake Tribune Gives Utah Beehive No Quarter

Update 9:15 a.m: Thanks to "danithew" for the Times and Seasons sidebar link.

The separation of Church and state has gone from the ridiculous to the absurd. Today's Salt Lake Tribune editorial has come out against one of the Utah designs for their quarter (the 25 cent piece) commemorating each state in the union. The editorial is entitled: Utah Quarter--Mormon symbol doesn't belong on coin. The editorial argues that the beehive is an enduring symbol of Mormon culture and should therefore be disqualified:

The beehive is a beloved and enduring symbol of Mormon culture. Which is why it is inappropriate for use on Utah's commemorative quarter.

The federal guidelines for the U.S. Mint's popular 50 State Quarters Program prohibit depictions that are specific to one religious organization. If you know anything about Utah history and the symbols of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you know immediately that the beehive should be disqualified.

The beehive, the Tribune editors claim, is specific to one religious organization, and has to be disqualified from appearing on Utah's commemorative quarter. What? Specific to one religious organization? No doubt the beehive has its genesis in the early settlement of Utah--but, in case The Tribune has forgotten, Utah was settled by the Mormons in 1847--Get over it!

It gets better:

The beehive symbol derives from the Book of Mormon itself, expressing the virtues of collective action and hard work. Among countless other places in Mormon iconography, it is carved into the podium of the LDS Church Conference Center.

The word Deseret, which the Latter-day Saints chose as the name of their new polity after they settled in Utah, is said to mean honey bee in the Book of Mormon. True, the beehive also is the official state symbol. It is the principle motif in the state flag and the state seal.

Gee. Where do you suppose that comes from?
(Note, I added the actual Book of Mormon citation into this version of the editorial).

I can certainly understand how the Tribune would not want a symbol
expressing the virtues of collective action and hard work to appear on the back of Utah's commemorative quarter. The Trib is almost apologetic in its own admission that the beehive is "not specific" just to the LDS Church. The beehive is not only the state symbol, but also in the State Seal and on the State Flag. The Utah state song is Utah, This is the Place--a paraphrase of Brigham Young's (An LDS prophet) exclamation upon entering Salt Lake Valley. It certainly seems that some Utahan's somewhere must think the beehive is not copyrighted by the Church.










The Utah State Flag with that pesky LDS specific symbol.












The Great Seal of the State of Utah a symbol of State, mingled with Scripture.

It must indeed be a slow news day at the Tribune today. I can't wait to read the responsive letters to the editor. I would stay tuned to this one. In fact, if you're interested in giving your opinion to the Tribune, send their enlightened editorial board an email: letters@sltrib.com.
You may not want to let them know you are LDS . . . they may not want to print it.

15 Comments:

Blogger Ronan said...

I don't have much invested in Utah or its currency, but what silliness!

(Should the US remove the masonic all seeing eye from the dollar bill?)

Saturday, December 17, 2005 9:50:00 AM  
Blogger john f. said...

What bothers me about this is that the story of the Latter-day Saints is a legitimate part, perhaps the most important aspect, of the history of the state of Utah. There is no good church/state reason to ignore historical fact.

Saturday, December 17, 2005 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger Clark Goble said...

What's interesting is that the symbol, while given some Book of Mormon connotations was, as with so many early Utah symbols, largely lifted from Masonry. If it is wrong to use it in Utah symbols, then those Masonic symbols on our currency perhaps also ought go?

Here's one old masonic picture (there are many)

http://members.fortunecity.com/tacoates/masonic/beehive.gif

Saturday, December 17, 2005 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Ronan: Silliness indeed! Both you and Clark raise good questions about the masonic symbols on our currency. Of course we all know about the assault on the pledge of allegience and the "under God" language. What about "In God we trust?" We seem to be out of control here.

John F: Exactly. One cannot divorce the Mormons from Utah's past. I could understand how the phrase "The Glory of God is Intelligence" being off limits on the quarter . . .but not the beehive symbol. Perhaps the next Tribue editorial should explore doing away with the Days of '47 parade.

Clark: Thanks for the background information on the Masonic and Utah symbols. I didn't know the beehive symbol had Masonic origins.

Also, in reviewing the Ether 2:3 source, it actually refers to Deseret as the honey bee, not the beehive. Perhaps the Tribune should have been just a bit more accurate in its reporting.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 6:43:00 AM  
Anonymous mack patten said...

i wrote and suggested a cricket or a seagull or the great salt lake or the salt flats.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 3:58:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Mack: Good suggestions all . . .but that cricket and seagull thing . . .that was a Mormon miracle wasn't it? Probably disqualified

Sunday, December 18, 2005 5:27:00 PM  
Blogger Bookslinger said...

To maintain consistency, the beehive symbol must be removed from the state flag and state seal.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 9:48:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Bookslinger . . .somehow I don't see that as a likely option.

Sunday, December 18, 2005 9:56:00 PM  
Anonymous will said...

I vote we add a Book of Mormon verse to the quarter, just to tick off the Tribune.

Monday, December 19, 2005 9:56:00 AM  
Anonymous John Mansfield said...

How would the Salt Flats be depicted on the back of a quarter? Leave the whole face smooth and blank?

Monday, December 19, 2005 10:15:00 AM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

Will: Yes, I'd vote for the one in Ether discussing Deseret.

John: Good question. Sounds like an incredible design doesn't it?

Monday, December 19, 2005 9:53:00 PM  
Blogger Justin B. said...

I think the beehive is a much better choice than winter sports or the completion of the transcontinental railroad (I suggested more than 30 ideas in a post located here).

According to the Mint guidelines:

Suitable subject matter for designs include state landmarks (natural and man-made), landscapes, historically significant buildings, symbols of state resources or industries, official state flora and fauna, state icons (e.g.. Texas Lone Star, Wyoming bronco, etc.), and outlines of the state.

State flags and state seals are not considered suitable for designs.


The beehive is a state icon and a symbol of state industries. As for the last restriction, the beehive is only one element of the seal and flag (the Lone Star is also part of the Texas flag and seal).

Continuing with the guidelines:

Consistent with the authorizing legislation, the states are encouraged to submit designs that promote the diffusion of knowledge among the youth of the United States about the state, its history and geography, and the rich diversity of our national heritage.

The beehive is representative of the state, its history, and the rich diversity of the nation's heritage.

Back to the guidelines:

Priority consideration will be given to designs that are enduring representations of the state....Inappropriate design concepts include, but are not limited to, logos or depictions of specific commercial, private, educational, civic, religious, sports, or other organizations whose membership or ownership is not universal.

The beehive is an enduring representation of the state. As the Tribune admits, the beehive is not a symbol specific to the LDS Church.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 1:37:00 PM  
Blogger Guy Murray said...

jb: Thanks for your link to your post on this subject. I liked your suggested designs. One that stood out to me was your Dutch Oven suggestion . . I really liked that one.

Thursday, December 22, 2005 6:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pioneers on the Quarter would be appropriatte for one reason. Yes they where Mormon. But they where not all mormon. There where followers.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006 8:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heaven forbid anyone disagree with the mormon church. The beehive is a religeous symbol as much as the cross is a Christian regigeous symbol.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 10:00:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home