SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The Salt Lake Tribune has chosen Mormon church president Gordon B. Hinckley as the newspaper's Utahn of the Year.
The designation by The Tribune's editors and publisher is based on a person's influence -- positive or negative -- during the past year.
During the 2002 Winter Olympics, the 92-year-old leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints showed the world that the Mormon church is a mainstream religion, the newspaper said.
''No other LDS leader, not even Brigham Young, has brought such visibility and prominence to his religion,'' the newspaper said.
By the end of the year, the city's attention had turned to the Mormon-owned Main Street Plaza. The church argued it had the right to control behavior there. But a judge said the walkway through the plaza was public, and First Amendment rights could not be restricted in the space.
The city and church continue to seek a compromise solution.
''The plaza issue has become, for many, a visceral symbol of church/state coziness and cultural domination,'' The Tribune said. ''For Mormons, opposition to a behavioral code on this sacred area is inexplicable insensitivity.''
The newspaper said Hinckley's ''veiled hand'' was apparent in both the Olympics and the Plaza debate.
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