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They may get their chance in the isolation of Big Water, Utah. "This is where the pavement ends and the West begins," says Alex Joseph. "Freedom and wide-open spaces are what it's all about."
From Big Water to Salt Lake City, the tradition of resistance to government authority, engendered in Mormonism by its theology and forged by the persecution of generations of Saints, lives on. It is not always readily apparent; much of the rebellion is still hidden below the surface of the face that Utah, and Mormonism, presents to the nation. But the signs of change are evident in both the formal church and the fiercely individualist underground.
The harder the government pushes on the underground, the more sympathetic media attention it is likely to receive. The general Mormon population of Utah is already sympathetic, if not openly supportive, of the rebels. As the underground fights on, and new LDS president Ezra Taft Benson urges a renewed appreciation of the doctrine of free agency, the prospects for personal liberty in the Mormon kingdom are looking brighter every day.
Gerald M. King is a free-lance writer. His article on John Singer's murder appeared in REASON in July 1979. This article is a project of the Reason Foundation Investigative Journalism Fund.