SALT LAKE CITY, DEC. 9 -- Opposition to the Aryan Nations in Utah took on an official stamp today as Gov. Norman Bangerter (R), Salt Lake Mayor Palmer DePaulis and the Mormon Church issued separate denunciations of the group's racist doctrines.
The governor said he has become increasingly concerned over the Idaho-based group's interest in Utah.
The group's leader, Richard Butler, announced several months ago that he planned to open a regional office in Ogden, Salt Lake City or Provo next spring. Since then, there have been demonstrations around the state against the white supremacists.
"It is very unfortunate that a small group of people would use their constitutionally protected freedom of speech to promote hatred and bigotry," Bangerter said at a news conference at the Capitol. "The vast majority of Utahans reject racism and welcome diversity."
He said he has instructed leaders of the state's black, Hispanic and Asian advisory councils "to work with me in assuring government agencies are responsive to the needs of ethnic minorities."
DePaulis had a terse message for Butler, who visited Utah last Saturday to help kick off the new "Aryan Nations Hour" radio show.
"You are not welcome in our city," the mayor said.
"Salt Lake citizens represent all races and religions. We are proud of our diverse heritage. We are proud of our ability to live and work together as a unified community. We will not tolerate racist propaganda," he said in a statement.
A statement released by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quoted remarks about racial equality made by church President Ezra Taft Benson in 1985 and another by the faith's director of public communications, Richard P. Lindsay.
"We repudiate efforts to deny to any person his or her inalienable dignity and rights on the abhorrent and tragic theory of the superiority of one race or color over another," Lindsay wrote.
Until 1978, the Salt Lake City-based church denied membership in its all-male priesthood to blacks, a policy changed by then-President Spencer W. Kimball, who said he did so after receiving a divine revelation.
During his news conference, Bangerter also announced the appointment of Betty O. Sawyer, general community development coordinator with the Ogden Area Community Action Agency, as director of black affairs in Utah.
Sawyer said she planned to carefully watch the activities of white supremacists in Utah.