From the tempestuous fight for statehood to the evolution of Utah voters from Democrats to Republicans, Rod Decker analyzes the intersection of politics and faith in the complex political culture of modern Utah. Beginning with the state’s roots as a communal theocracy, Utah Politics deftly examines how Mormon morality influenced and continues to shape conflicts on both the local and federal levels. Whether determining the role nuclear fallout played in causing cancer epidemics throughout the state or the influence of Mormon lobbyists, Decker demonstrates how the rose that blossomed in the desert was sometimes fertilized by conspiracy, debate, and political machination.
Some themes reoccur: governors become popular by fighting federal oversight— signaling a lingering distrust that Washington could alter the Mormon way of life—and liberals use the court system to circumvent conservative legislatures who see public morality as a defining feature of government. Through this lens, issues both deceptively innocuous and deeply complex underscore Utah’s dance with religious freedom and civil liberty.