Freedom from Religion, Boulder, Utah

By July 26, 2009

img_84081 Freedom was closed the day I visited. A pity: I was curious to see what it was all about. It is located, in case you are wondering, in Boulder, Utah, just off the scenic Burr Trail,  behind a trailer home and a cattle fence plastered with “God is Just Pretend” and other anti-religion, militant atheist, and environmentalist bumper stickers.[1] I became privy to its location when viewing a local businesses map in the parking lot of the Anasazi State Park visitors center: Post Office, gas station, Kwik-e-Mart, Freedom from Religion’ Freedom from Religion–now this I have to see. Happily, there was little map on the sign indicating its location: first left on a dirt road just after turning onto the Burr Trail on the south edge of town. So we made our way to the other end of town-about a hundred yards-turned onto the dusty desert lane, pulled up to the closed gate, snapped a few photos, and drove away wondering what it was all about: obviously someone mad about something he or she identified as religion.

As it turns out, Freedom from Religion is a beer shop. (Amazing what a little google search turns up.) The place is run by one Julian Hatch, a distant relative of Senator Orrin Hatch, who at one time ran against him on behalf of the Green Party of Utah. He appears to be a bit of a rabble-rouser, delivering atheist sermons in place of prayers at public meetings, mouthing profanities at his opponents during county meetings and then pressing charges them when they want to brawl (though apparently that ruse didn’t work out in his favor and he had to take some of his signs down).

Of course, that ungenerous portrait is not how Hatch sees himself. He seems to view himself as a martyr to the atheist cause, struggling to “save myself from the tyranny of the Mormon religious powers in the state courts of southern Utah.” That tyranny, as Hatch represents it, takes the form not only of coerced sign removal but also in the anti-environmentalist and racist attitudes of the Mormon ranchers he grew up with and is rebelling against. Now, I agree that Hatch has put his thumb on the pulse of a troubling monster–racism and environmental destruction are problems that ought to be addressed–but I still can’t help but feel that perhaps he has latched onto these ungainly vestiges a bit opportunistically. He wants to rant and his backward neighbors gives him something to rant about. Meanwhile, he is antagonizing rather than reforming the beast.

Casting stones seems a rather foolhardy remedy when removal of motes and beams are more in order.


[1] The central feature of the collage was a “2002” bumper sticker, protesting the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City-an obviously futile attempt, but, as per the increased lift prices that resulted, one I can sympathize with, even though I sort of enjoyed the Games.

Article filed under Miscellaneous


  1. Do they have teh interwebs in Boulder yet? If so, he must write 2/3 of the reader comments at the Salt Lake Tribune, under an awesome collection of pseudonyms.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 26, 2009 @ 4:47 am

  2. Interesting, Stan. I wonder if he was the first to leave the church in his family, or if his family’s been out for generations.

    Comment by David G. — July 26, 2009 @ 5:11 pm

  3. I think I saw a jury-rigged interweb sattelite receiver doohinkus on the premises; so, probably, Ardis.

    Good question David, I don’t really know anything about him other than what I gleaned from a very quick google search (hence my own judgments are surely a bit hasty, exposing, no doubt, the beam in my own eye!).

    Comment by stan — July 27, 2009 @ 7:33 am

  4. “Freedom was closed….”

    Our country must certainly seem that way to certain parts of the population.

    There is a gentleman with similar sentiments and manner of expressing those sentiments a couple of townships over from where I live.

    It makes for an interesting drive when we pass his property and it makes for interesting reading in the local newspaper, due to his regular run-ins with township officials.

    I find the stenciled signs oh-so-classy. Sometimes our local gentleman’s signs address national politics, sometimes ask a pointed question about property taxes or the video taping of local township meetings. And sometimes they just advertise his tree removal service.

    Comment by Researcher — July 27, 2009 @ 7:52 am

  5. Good post, Stan. I’m quite intrigued by the whole thing, and wonder with David what Julian Hatch’s history with the LDS church is. It would be fun to see if there’s other similar groups/organizations in other regions in the U.S. densely populated with one religion (i.e. portions of the American South).

    Comment by Christopher — July 27, 2009 @ 9:42 am

  6. Kinda reminds me of visting LaVerkin, UT and passing all the “UN Free Zone” signs.

    Thanks, Stan.

    Comment by Jared T — July 27, 2009 @ 9:50 am

  7. Haha, I wrote a paper as an undergrad on LaVerkin, the “UN Free Zone.” Wish I still had a copy of that thing; might be fun expanding into a full-length paper.

    Comment by David G. — July 29, 2009 @ 12:30 pm

  8. D’oh, I wish you had a copy too!

    Comment by Jared T — July 29, 2009 @ 12:59 pm

  9. I second the d’oh.

    Didn’t your mother tell you to never, ever, ever throw away anything that you write?

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 29, 2009 @ 1:22 pm

  10. I didn’t knowingly throw it away. A hardcopy may be buried in some folder somewhere, but I’m sure the electronic copy was stored on one of those floppy discs we used to use. And you know what they say about technology…

    Comment by David G. — July 29, 2009 @ 1:50 pm


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