Like many of you, I’ve had the opportunity to be born and raised in Utah. Also like many of you, I’ve had occasion to rub elbows with my kin at family reunions, most recently this summer in Vernal with the descendants of Matthew Caldwell—Mormon Battalion member, handcart pioneer, friend of Brigham Young, Utah County and central Utah settler and unabashed polygamist. It was he who scurried LDS President Wilford Woodruff to the relative safety of St. George just ahead of the federal officers sent to take him to jail. Woodruff would later pen the Manifesto of 1890, which discontinued plural marriage.
By then, though, Matthew had already fathered around 30 kids. And his kids had lots of kids, too—so many that by the reunion, I learned I had nearly 10,000 living cousins descended from Mathew Caldwell. Add in the extended families like Layne, Searle, Gillespie, Hatch and Barlow, to name several, and I could easily be related to 25,000 to 50,000 people living in this region. Most of them are Mormon, and if so, they comprise a significant percentage of Mormondom.
But, I’m not a Mormon. I’m Greek Orthodox. Along the way, one of Matthew’s granddaughters married a Greek from the island of Crete. For doing so, she at first received worse treatment than her own uncles who rode and robbed with Butch Cassidy. Nevertheless, their daughter, my mother, married a Greek whose family originates in Megara, Greece. You’ll never read it in the local history books, but both my Greek grandfathers were as pioneering in spirit and effort as Matthew Caldwell.
To be sure, I’m proud of both sides of my family. And to be equally sure, I’ve experienced the tensions between Mormons and non-Mormons my entire life. To be doubly sure, there is nothing as repugnant in my experience as being labeled a “non-Mormon.”
As you read this, you are holding what some people feebly proclaim an “anti-Mormon” newspaper. That’s a bunch of rot. We get that tag because we take an honest and truthful approach to Utah news—including reporting on issues sensitive to the LDS church—and because we take a lighthearted approach to the many foibles and hypocrisies of Utah culture. That’s what newspapers do.
Why all this? Because the LDS church wants to buy or control the “non-Mormon thus anti-Mormon” Salt Lake Tribune. Sure, it looks like a great business deal. But really—silencing the Tribune with a checkbook is fairly likened to silencing the Nauvoo Expositor with a sledgehammer. I hope you—and all my Mormon cousins—can appreciate the irony and the folly of such a deal.