The city of Cardston in the extreme southern part of the Canadian province of Alberta was founded by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1887 after traveling the Macleod-Benton Trail to Alberta in one of the 19th century's last wagon migrations. The Cardston Temple, dedicated in 1923, is the sixth oldest operating LDS temple. And Mormons continue to predominate in the community; as of 2012, an estimated 80 percent of the city's 3,500 residents are LDS members. As expected, some of the local laws reflect Mormon cultural preferences as well as the LDS Word of Wisdom favoring abstinence, including a longtime ban on the sale of alcohol within the city limits.
However, a growing number of community members believe that legalizing the sale of alcohol will bring in more revenue; Darren Atwood, the founder of Cardston Citizens for Positive Progress, says he thinks it’s time people had some options for buying alcohol in the town. So on October 6th, 2014, Cardston residents will vote on a plebiscite to determine if the ban on alcohol sales will be overturned, although Mayor Maggie Kronen says the results will not be binding upon the city council since it's up to the province to amend Cardston's liquor laws. A CJOC audio interview indicates that Mayor Kronen not only is LDS (she refers to "our" faith), but that she is personally open to changing the law for the sake of non-Mormons. The ban would only be lifted on the sale of alcohol at restaurants with a meal, at the golf course, or the recreation facility; it would not legitimize liquor stores. Despite the community's LDS majority, the LDS Church has not officially weighed in on the debate.
A second related question on the ballot is whether sports tournaments should be allowed on Sundays. The current ban on Sunday sports also reflects the city's Mormon heritage, since Latter-day Saints take honoring the Sabbath more seriously than many other Christians.
The debate over alcohol has been simmering on the Cardston Values Alliance website for nearly a year. Both sides weighed in. First, the following quote attributed to Grant Hunter:
“We moved our family to Cardston because of the strong family values that we felt this community represented. This community is not 100% LDS but there are a majority of LDS members present in the community. This was a huge drawing point to us as we felt our values would be front and centre, and not be slammed on every front. Unfortunately, there seems to be pressure to change those points that make Cardston wonderful, (ie, no Sunday sports, alcohol free town). I will support any organization that promotes maintaining these wonderful aspects of Cardston. I have heard both sides of the argument, how serving alcohol in Cardston would help restaurants make it here, or how it would make the golf course profitable. I don’t want to see these core aspects of our community changed. I have seen how detrimental these aspects are to other communities that I have lived in. Keeping things as safe and LDS friendly in this community are a high priority for me and one that I am willing to fight for. I support with all my heart the Cardston Family Values organization. I am so happy that they desire to bring to light and stop issues that will destroy the high standards Cardston presently espouses.”
This attracted a counter-response by Tonnia, which I broke into paragraphs to improve readability:
"I think what this group fails to see is that you want to make your religious views the law which is wrong. Natives have enough problems with the 'Mormons' here even though not everyone is. And do you know why? One reason is they feel 'Mormons' are acting superior to them by implementing their religion as law onto them. How can we expect to bridge the gap? Would you like living somewhere where another religion’s beliefs controlled the laws? I agree this is a great place to live, but in order for our children and our citizens to feel they have choices, we have to allow choices. Taking our choices away create more rebellion. Believe it or not, Cardston is not immune to drugs, sex and alcohol.
I solemnly believe if Sunday sports and alcohol were not banned, NO ONE would choose to use either anyways! No liqour business will see a profit, any restaraunt serving would get boycotted, and no one wants to play organized sports on Sunday anyways! Do you see what I mean? But it’s the principle that’s important! We need to show that we are accepting of others beliefs, religion, values, etc.
Being a true LDS member you will understand that we have certain unalienable rights and free agency! It is up to the individual and families, parents, etc to teach their children right from wrong and let them choose! it is not governments’ responsibility to create “values”. It is their responsibility to protect our rights to live and worship how we wish without infringing upon other people’s rights!"
Tonnia's remarks about "Mormons acting superior" have also been echoed at times in another Mormon-dominated area; namely, Utah, and it serves as a reminder that we must better strive for the middle ground between faith and fellowship. Defend our faith without sacrificing fellowship with non-Mormons. But Tonnia also needs to understand that religion impacts culture; a Mormon-dominated area will invariable have the type of laws reflecting LDS values to some degree. Residents of Cardston would do well to avoid appeals to anti-LDS demagoguery when going to the polls on October 6th.
It's one thing to permit alcohol to be sold with meals at restaurants and country clubs. But Cardston needs to avoid the plague of liquor stores vexing so many other communities. Liquor stores, by their very existence, attract too many unsavory elements. This should not be allowed to become a Trojan Horse for the ultimate establishment of liquor stores.