ACLU expresses concerns about possible sale of Manti street to Mormon Church

City leaders here are considering the sale of part of a street near a Mormon temple — a public thoroughfare that has become a popular place for religious demonstrations, particularly during the weeklong "Mormon Miracle Pageant" in June.

The Manti City Council last week heard public comment concerning the sale of a one-block stretch of 100 East, from about 400 North to 500 North.

"Several years ago the city of Manti approached The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about acquiring a parcel of land adjacent to the church's Manti Temple," spokesman Scott Trotter said in an e-mail Wednesday. "The property is now a dead-end road and no longer useful to the city. The church and city are currently in discussions to determine the viability of moving forward with a sale."

But the potential deal has drawn the attention of the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah.

"We have grave concerns about the effect any such sale would have on the First Amendment rights of citizens of the state of Utah and the city of Manti," the ACLU wrote in an Aug. 18 letter to city leaders. "As you may be aware, the ACLU of Utah has litigated these issues in the past. We are happy to meet with you at any time to discuss the important First Amendment rights at stake."

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