The Department of Justice (DOJ) is stomping its jackboot down on two little towns that straddle the Arizona-Utah border. The Civil Rights Division has brought an unprecedented and vague federal religious discrimination lawsuit against the cities and their utility companies (PDF).
In its June 21 announcement, the DOJ stated, “This is the first lawsuit by the Justice Department to include claims under both the Fair Housing Act and the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act.”
Hildale, Utah (population ca. 2,700 in 2010) and Colorado City, Arizona (population ca. 4,600 in 2006) may be Davids against the federal Goliath, but they are hardly underdogs for whom many will cheer. They are strongholds of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), with an estimated 10,000 members living in or around the adjoining towns. An FLDS trust known as the United Effort Plan (UEP) owns most of the property in those communities.
(The FLDS is a Mormon fundamentalist sect that broke away when the main Mormon church ceased to practice polygamy and excommunicated any members who continued to do so.)