The LDS Church is not waiting for the courts to decide if a downtown Salt Lake City strip club is illegal.
It is pushing the city to investigate claims it recently made in a lawsuit over the Crazy Goat Saloon’s sexually oriented business (SOB) license. While the church didn’t ask the city to revoke the saloon’s seminude-dancing license, that is the church’s ultimate goal.
LDS Church attorney Alan Sullivan wrote a letter last week to city zoning and business license enforcement officers alleging the Crazy Goat, formerly the Dead Goat Saloon, is violating the city’s SOB ordinance because, among other purported problems, it is within 1,000 feet of a place of worship. And he isn’t talking about the LDS Church’s Salt Lake Temple, which is a little more than 1,000 feet away from the Crazy Goat, 119 S. West Temple.
The place of worship might seem an unlikely ally: The Main Street Coffee House, 149 S. Main St., which on Wednesday displayed a sign that said its coffee is so good, “you’ll join our church of latte-day saints.” Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are not supposed to drink coffee or tea.
Sullivan said Wednesday he wants either the city or the court to decide if the city wrongly granted the saloon an SOB license. He said he discovered the alleged violation while working on the lawsuit.
“We wanted to make sure the city had a chance to deal with this through its administrative agency,” Sullivan said.
City Attorney Ed Rutan said the city would investigate the church’s newest claim. “Until we know what the facts are, I’m not going to speculate what we might or might not do.”
The city ordinance says SOBs cannot be located within a 1,000-foot radius of a place of worship, park, school or residential zoning district. A “place of worship” is defined as “a church, synagogue, temple, mosque or other place of religious worship, including any accessory use or structure used for religious worship.” As the minister of the Summit Church, Clint Roberts conducts services at the coffeehouse on Sundays. The church is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention and is considered a satellite church for the Holladay Baptist Church, according to Roberts’ affidavit.
Roberts considers the coffee shop a place of worship on Sundays, but notes that “no one” would mistake the building for a church, though it has also hosted Bible studies.
“Naturally, because we’re a Christian organization, we’re not fans of adult businesses in general,” Roberts said, noting that he would not have gotten involved in the suit if the LDS Church had not approached him. “We wouldn’t feel compelled that we need to drive adult businesses out of downtown.”
Daniel Darger, co-owner of the Crazy Goat, maintains the coffeehouse is not a church. He says the LDS Church is “grasping at straws.”
The LDS Church has sued the city and the Crazy Goat over the SOB license. Darger has countersued, believing that both entities are trying to put him out of business.