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Salt Lake City Weekly Prostitution vs. Polygamy

Olympic scandal proves useful to the Church.

By D.P. Sorensen

FEBRUARY 8, 1999:  It had been a grueling day at the Temple. I had been baptized for 439 of my dead ancestors, including Sven Samaranch, Doris Day, Oliver Cowdrey, Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas, Amerigo Vespucci and Joe DiMaggio.

You know what happens when you spend too long in the bath? Your fingers get all wrinkled, and what's more, my left ear was all plugged up with water. I felt like I had just swum the English Channel. So LeGrand W. Pratt--he's next in line to become an apostle--and I headed down to the Rio Grande for some nachos and a pitcher of beer.

"Why don't we try some lager tonight," said LeGrand. "I like the pale ale, but I'm in the mood for something with a fuller flavor and the distinct aroma of hops."

I was eager to find out what the brethren were thinking about the Olympic scandal, but I didn't want to jump right in and start pumping Brother Pratt for the inside dope. Instead, I asked him about the persistent rumors about Monica Lewinsky joining the Church.

"Well, I know that woman, Miss Lewinsky, has been having discussions with some missionaries in Beverly Hills. By the way, did you know that her uncle is Frank Joklik? It was Frank who taught her the Polish toast that she in turn taught to our president who in turn toasted the Pope in Polish at the Super Bowl."

LeGrand attacked the nachos, and then downed his second stein of lager. "That hits the spot! There's nothing like a beer after a day dog-paddling in the baptismal font."

After our waitress, a handsome middle-aged woman named Deedee, who looked vaguely familiar, brought us another pitcher of beer and another plate of nachos, I finally got around to asking LeGrand about what the brethren thought about our city's Olympic scandal.

Brother Pratt looked right and left, then leaned across the table and spoke in a whisper. "You know, it's been great. A few of the apostles get together every Wednesday for a friendly game of poker. Ever since the scandal broke, all the guys have been on an emotional high."

I was confused. Hadn't the Church, just a few days before the story of humanitarian bribes and therapeutic prostitution came to light, hadn't the Church, hadn't the prophet himself encouraged the faithful to spread the Olympic Spirit?

LeGrand looked a little embarrassed. "True enough, true enough. But all of the guys feel like the Church has dodged a bullet. Oh, yeah, there have been the standard Mormon-bashing stories. But you know, here's the great deal. This scandal has been all over the news. Even The Salt Lake Tribune, the Official Newspaper of the 2002 Games, has had to stop being an Olympic cheerleader and start doing some real journalism. Have you noticed that the scandal story has knocked all those negative polygamy stories off the news?"

LeGrand took a healthy swig of lager. "Hey, Deedee, pour us another!" The assistant apostle turned back to the table. "Where was I? Oh, yeah. Polygamy. As I was saying, the Olympic bribery scandal has pushed the polygamy off the front page. The General Authorities are pleased as punch. Now Salt Lake is associated with something else besides the Mormons! It's always Mormons, Mormons, Mormons! Now the focus is on smuggled suitcases full of cash, so-called scholarships, and secret dossiers on the sex life of IOC poohbahs. It's been nice to have the heat off of us for a while." LeGrand paused briefly to catch his breath.

"But I have to say that some of the guys were worried when background stories came out about what good Mormons Brother Welch and Brother Johnson were. But most of the media picked up on Brother Johnson's career selling cars rather than his stint as a missionary baptizing converts for the Church. And we were a little worried when Brother Welch said that Olympic bribery was just business as usual. I bet Smith's Food and Drug wasn't too happy about Tom talking about how he did business for them. At any rate, the brethren were afraid that the outside media might start looking into how business is done in Utah. Brother Leavitt did a nice job of convincing outsiders that we are a good people who have been victimized by the corrupt old codgers on the IOC.

"The thing is, we all know that the Utah Family operates just like the Olympic Family. It's who you know, and who you help, and whose brother-in-law you hire, and who gives you greenbacks for your political campaign or your new house up on the Avenues."

Brother Pratt wanted to order another pitcher, but I needed to get back for Family Home Evening. But I made sure I gave our waitress Deedee a generous tip.

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