UTAH QUARTER: Mormon symbol doesn't belong on coin
Drop the beehive
Salt Lake Tribune
The beehive is a beloved and enduring symbol of Mormon culture. Which
is why it is inappropriate for use on Utah's commemorative quarter.
The federal guidelines for the U.S. Mint's popular 50 State
Quarters Program prohibit depictions that are specific to one
religious organization. If you know anything about Utah history and
the symbols of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you
know immediately that the beehive should be disqualified.
Nevertheless, the Utah Commemorative Quarter Commission has
recommended it to the U.S. Mint as one of three alternative designs
for the back of the coin that will be released in 2007. The other two
possible subjects the commission chose are the completion of the
transcontinental railroad and winter sports.
The beehive symbol derives from the Book of Mormon itself,
expressing the virtues of collective action and hard work. Among
countless other places in Mormon iconography, it is carved into the
podium of the LDS Church Conference Center.
The word Deseret, which the Latter-day Saints chose as the name of
their new polity after they settled in Utah, is said to mean honey bee
in the Book of Mormon.
True, the beehive also is the official state symbol. It is the
principle motif in the state flag and the state seal.
Gee. Where do you suppose that comes from?
Another guideline from the Mint says that designs should have broad
appeal to the citizens of the state and avoid controversial subjects
or symbols that are likely to offend. Given the religious divide that
helps to define Utah, you would think that the state's commemorative
coin commission would have steered clear of the beehive.
Frankly, we're not crazy about one of the commission's other
choices - winter sports - either. Winter sports are not exclusive to
Utah, the afterglow of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games notwithstanding.
We also wonder why the commission sidestepped the obvious choice:
Delicate Arch. It is beautiful, widely recognized, the crown jewel of
a national park and found nowhere else.
Utahns will have a chance to comment once the designs for the three
proposed subjects come back from the Mint next year, but we're already