Sutherland Newsletter – September 17, 2009


On Tuesday evening, September 29, 2009, the quarterly Sutherland Institute Blogger Briefing addressed the topic, “Civility in Politics: Where Do We Draw the Line?”  The Institute was pleased to welcome bloggers from across the political spectrum.  Speakers included Rob Miller, former vice chairman of Utah’s Democratic Party and Dave Hansen, current chairman of the Utah Republican Party.


Among the factors motivating the selection of the topic for this Briefing were the recent outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) as President Obama was addressing a joint session of Congress, and a recent Deseret News article suggesting that Utahns believe political discourse has become less civil.


Miller spoke first, noting that what Rep. Wilson did was uncivil and that there’s a difference between writing something in a newspaper column and yelling it in the U.S. Senate Chamber. “What matters to me is when someone does make a mistake, they apologize,” Miller said.


Hansen then addressed the subject with the observation that the politics of today aren’t necessarily more uncivil than years ago, they’re just different because of the way we consume information.   He went on to explain that we get news more readily because of cable news and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.  “You are always going to have harsh words … it’s politics … we just see more of it now,” Hansen said.


After sharing their views about the importance of preserving civility and then responding to questions from attendees, both Hansen and Miller concluded the session agreeing that it is important to remember that we all care about Utah and that those seeking respect need to treat others with respect.


The next quarterly Blogger Briefing is currently scheduled for December.  Those wishing to participate who are not already on Sutherland Institute’s Blogger Briefing invitation list should send their email and blog addresses to


New posts added to Sutherland Institute’s YouTube channel include segments from this Blogger Briefing, “Civility in Politics: Where do We Draw the Line?” To watch go to:



On Thursday evening, September 24, 2009, Sutherland Institute hosted Family and Faith Matter: Why Utah Holds to Sacred Ground at the Provo Tabernacle.  The session marked the 100-year anniversary of U.S. President William Howard Taft’s visit to Provo.  He, along with then-Senator and future Supreme Court Justice George Sutherland, spoke at the historic building.

Thursday’s event, part of the Institute’s Sacred Ground Initiative, featured Joe Cannon, editor of the Deseret News; JoAnne Roberts, a mother and resident of Provo; and Paul Mero, president of Sutherland Institute.

Mr. Cannon started the evening off by discussing highlights from a series of nine columns he wrote for the Deseret News this summer on the topic of faith, secularism, and the modern age.

Mrs. Roberts then spoke to the attendees about her experiences while trying to research the topic of same-sex marriage after her son came home from school with questions on the issue.  She said that she and her husband found the information to address his questions after attending Sutherland Institute’s previous Sacred Ground Initiative event at Thanksgiving Point where they purchased the book, Preserving Sacred Ground: A Responsible Citizen’s Approach to Same-Sex Politics.

After reading and studying Sutherland’s book, the Roberts then decided to have group discussions with their family about each of the chapters.  In her remarks on Thursday evening, Mrs. Roberts said, “We cannot silenlty sit back while the world adopts attitudes and behaviors that most of us do not approve of.”  After telling her family’s story, she encouraged audience members to also study the issues of same-sex marriage and “gay rights” with their families and friends and to stand firm in their efforts to protect marriage.

Mr. Mero concluded the evening by addressing the question of why we protect marriage and family within our laws.  He reminded the audience that our founding fathers knew that freedom required order and that a free society must have some rules.  He added that the unwrittenConstitution of the United States of America has happiness as its sole objective, and that happiness within a family means having children.

“America’s founding fathers did not fight and die for a theory of happiness.  They fought and died for their posterity – for families yet to come.  That was their ‘pursuit’ of happiness,” said Mero.

He concluded by saying that if anything can be called marriage, we lose a free society’s reason to exist.  “A marriage is between one man and one woman bounded by the hope of posterity….  If an inherently childless or non-complementary relationship can be called marriage, anything can be called marriage.”


Recently added to Sutherland Institute’s YouTube channel are segments from the Sacred Ground Initiative event in Provo.  To watch go to:


Read Paul Mero’s full address here.


Read JoAnne Robert’s full address here.