When the Latter Day Saints Go Marching in
Environmentalists are up against an unusual adversary in a fight over the sale of a national historic landmark in Wyoming: Mormons. Seven representatives in the U.S. House — all of them members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints — are cosponsoring a bill to sell Bureau of Land Management land to the LDS Church, which treasures the area because Mormon pioneers died there in 1856. The bill is opposed not only by enviros but also by advocates for the separation of church and state. If the Martin’s Cove landmark became private, it would no longer enjoy the protection bestowed by the National Historic Preservation Act. Although the Mormon Church claims the area would remain accessible to the public if the sale went through, skeptics point to other land transfers that have resulted in restricted access by the Church — including banning rival religious groups from Church-owned property.