The ACLU in Utah
by Linda Sillitoe
Hardback / 274 pages / 1-56085-076-0 /$24.95
The letters ACLU are spoken with contempt in Utah in a way that sounds like the “hiss of the anti-Christ.” Yet Spencer L. Kimball, son of a Mormon Church president, founded the local chapter out of religious motivation. Chapter president Stephen Smoot, descendant of another Mormon leader, felt that the ACLU promoted the same values of justice and mercy as his own church. Michele Parish—a Methodist minister’s wife—described her directorship of the ACLU as “an answer to a prayer.”
Sillitoe’s fast-paced, accessible history treats internal upheavals in tandem with ongoing skirmishes with outside forces. This is a tale of political clout and paranoia, law enforcement muscle, and varying moralities. Sillitoe gives an inside view of the push and shove of competing agendas. In taking on some of society’s most vulnerable groups and marginalized individuals, Sillitoe concludes, the ACLU espouses in practical terms the biblical creed to tend to those who cannot help themselves.
Linda Sillitoe is a former staff reporter at the Deseret News and features editor for Utah Holiday magazine. She is the author of non-fiction Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders), fiction Windows on the Sea and The Thieves of Summer, and poetry Crazy for Living and co-producer of a PBS-affiliated documentary on the Navajo.