The FLDS rally at the Salt Lake Courthouse, July 29, 2009

By July 29, 2009


This morning, several hundred members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints gathered on the steps of Salt Lake City’s Matheson Courthouse and on the lawn of the Salt Lake City and County Building across the street to express their dismay that District Judge Denise Lindberg was considering ordering the United Effort Plan trust, which contains a great deal of church property, dismantled and sold.

I’m not going to engage in much more commentary. Three JI’ers – myself, Christopher, and Jared – arrived on the scene just as the rally was dissolving into trickles of families, quietly and carefully gathering up their coolers, signs, and trash and making their way across State Street to the courthouse parking lot. Here are some photos.

What appeared to be several dozen non-FLDS joined the protesters, bringing signs and banners of their own.





For a protest, even the tail end of one, the rally was remarkably peaceful; the FLDS talked quietly among themselves and, in best Boy Scout tradition, left the lawn cleaner than they found it. Men shook hands, women hugged what were presumably old friends. Some sat placidly in lawn chairs in the shade, and greeted cameras with bemused and weary smiles.




This should probably not be surprising anymore, but we were surprised to see some young girls with Heely’s roller shoes, dozens of women with elaborate hairstyles, long dresses, and cell phones – and even a few FLDS tourists, taking photos of our world as we did of theirs.




With an assist from Ardis Parshall, we decided to bring the MHA Presidential Seerstone to witness this small collision of history.



This was an unusual group of protesters. It was composed of families of three generations – grandparents holding small children, pre-teenagers chasing each other around, mothers with infants, fathers hauling lawn chairs. The whole event had a distinctly Utah feel to it – as though it were the great wrapping up of some 24th of July parade, families fleeing the lawn for their SUVs and escape from the wearying summer sun.


Mediocre photography by Matt Bowman and Christopher Jones

Article filed under Cultural History Current Events Material Culture Miscellaneous Ritual


  1. Awesome. Thanks for sharing, guys.

    Comment by Ben — July 29, 2009 @ 4:28 pm

  2. The number and variety of your pictures really gives some excitement to your post an a sense of what was really going on. And thanks for taking along the MHA Presidential Seer Stone and kicking off Ron Romig’s project — not just a colorful backdrop, but one appropriate to MHA.

    Comment by Ardis Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 4:32 pm

  3. I’m so glad I went to that. Best spur-of-the-moment 35 minute break from research I’ve had. I got me a nice “Families Not Felons” tote bag for free.99 courtesy of Yudu screen printers who were giving them out to the attendees.

    As mentioned, I was impressed by the effort to clean the area and make sure it was left spotless. I tried to ask a random young man who it was that spoke at the demonstration, but was met with silence and finally, “I don’t know their names.”

    Even had one lady take a picture of US.

    Comment by Jared T — July 29, 2009 @ 4:37 pm

  4. Interesting. Thanks for posting.

    Comment by Edje — July 29, 2009 @ 4:59 pm

  5. See also the SL Trib article which is linked on our sidebar and occasional JI guest blogger Bored In Vernal’s post if you want more background.

    Comment by Jared T — July 29, 2009 @ 5:10 pm

  6. Awesome, guys. Thanks for taking the time and pictures to help those of us from afar to participate.

    Comment by David G. — July 29, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

  7. Thanks for the write-up, Matt. This was indeed a fun excursion.

    Comment by Christopher — July 29, 2009 @ 5:26 pm

  8. Thanks for this. And the seer stone photos were kooky fun.

    (Note: you should change the date in the OP title from June 29, to July 29.)

    Comment by Hunter — July 29, 2009 @ 5:47 pm

  9. Good eye, Hunter.

    Comment by David G. — July 29, 2009 @ 5:50 pm

  10. I find myself sympathetic to their situation. I’m fairly uneducated on the finer details of what’s going on, but on the surface, it just feels wrong. Am I naive of something dastardly? Because really, it looks like families trying to stick up for what the believe, and well, I support that…

    Comment by Tracy M — July 29, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

  11. Nicely done, gentlemen. Jared, thank you for protecting my maidenhead from the would-be advances of FLDS suitors.

    Comment by Elizabeth — July 29, 2009 @ 7:39 pm

  12. Haha, any time…but we’ll have to see about the FAIR Conference!

    Comment by Jared T — July 29, 2009 @ 7:58 pm

  13. Tracy, I can’t speak for others, but I very much share your own sentiments.

    Comment by Christopher — July 29, 2009 @ 8:41 pm

  14. One would hope that trademark law would make it relatively straightforward for the “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” to prevent another denomination from adopting essentially the same name. Apparently not though.

    I don’t think that religious trademarks should extend to one word descriptors like “Methodist” or “Mormon”. But “The Southern Baptist Convention” and the like ought to be protectable, such that a break away group could not adopt something like the “The Reformed Southern Baptist Convention”, so long as the original is a viable entity.

    Comment by Mark D. — July 29, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  15. 10, 13: Ditto.

    Comment by Edje Jeter — July 29, 2009 @ 9:21 pm

  16. Where’d that come from, Mark D.?

    In a similar vein, I’ve always thought that the best way to make a rootbeer float is to put the icecream in first and then pour the soda on top. The disadvantage is that the soda bubbles up so much that you have to pour slowly and wait for the foam to subside before completely filling your mug. The advantage is that the rootbeer then becomes very creamy.

    Comment by Ardis E. Parshall — July 29, 2009 @ 9:41 pm

  17. Mark D.,

    One would hope that comments here would stay on topic. What the hell are you talking about?

    Comment by Christopher — July 29, 2009 @ 10:10 pm

  18. Ardis (#16),

    You just made my day. Thanks.

    Comment by Chris H. — July 29, 2009 @ 11:02 pm

  19. Amen on the root beer float, Ardis!! FTW!!

    If the polygamists really wanted to maximize their time at the capital, they should next time have a fashion show. I’m hopeful next year’s fashions are bit more daring and less demure. While we may never see strapless dresses, perhaps we may yet see hair without bun. Who knows? Where are Clint and Stacy when you really need them?

    Comment by Brian Duffin — July 30, 2009 @ 8:19 am

  20. Very fun pictures. It makes me miss living in Utah. Protests in Virginia are much less fun. The upside, Christopher, is that our architecture is considerably better.

    Comment by Nate Oman — July 30, 2009 @ 9:12 am

  21. W & M people should not be allowed to comment on other people’s architecture.

    Comment by Mark Brown — July 30, 2009 @ 10:22 am

  22. The architecture will definitely be an improvement over what Provo has to offer, Nate. I’m looking forward to it.

    Comment by Christopher — July 30, 2009 @ 10:50 am

  23. Ardis knows how to make a root beer float!

    Comment by Tracy M — July 30, 2009 @ 11:02 am

  24. These pictures are great! Thanks for putting them up!

    Comment by Joy — July 30, 2009 @ 2:51 pm

  25. I happened to drive by right as this was happening and I was wondering what the deal was.

    Comment by StillConfused — July 30, 2009 @ 4:27 pm

  26. I too am with #10 and others. The photos seem so I am having an irrational dream, and not sure what you should be doing in it.

    Comment by Bob — August 1, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

  27. Add me to #10, 13, 15, 26, etc.

    Comment by Jared T — August 2, 2009 @ 7:14 pm


Recent Comments

wvs on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “Looking forward to this. Thanks J.”

Daniel Stone on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “Thanks much for posting this, Joey!”

Mel Johnson on JWHA CFP 2020 (St.: “This JWHA will be outstanding, maybe the best ever. I encourage all Restoration historians and cultural studies people to attend along with their friends. The setting at…”

Gary Bergera on George F. Richards' journals: “I remember reading through the microfilms of the Richards's journals in the mid- to late-1970s. Nothing was redacted. They were amazing.”

Jeff T on George F. Richards' journals: “Thanks, Stapley!”

Hannah Jung on George F. Richards' journals: “That is exciting! I had no idea this was in the works! Any idea when the plan is to release the next twenty years of…”