August Miller, Deseret News
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf says the prayer at the 2009 Utah Legislature's first session.

With the Utah Legislature set to convene Jan. 23, a Mormons-and-politics issue — public prayer — will pop up right off the bat. The Legislature's home page contains journals for the past 15 years showing that in opening sessions, 30 prayers have been offered in the House and Senate, all by LDS Church leaders.

With roughly 40 percent of the state non-LDS, having 100 percent of opening session prayers offered by Mormon leaders may elicit frowns. Because Utah has been a state since 1896, 116 years, lawmakers could mathematically turn those frowns upside down by prohibiting LDS prayers in opening sessions for the next 77 years. In deference to nonbelievers, some years could go prayerless.

Steve Warren

West Valley City