Defense begins case in trial against polygamous towns

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The mayor of a polygamous town in Utah says he has never discriminated based on religion.

Hildale Mayor Philip Barlow made the assertion during a day of testimony Wednesday in a federal civil rights trial involving his town and Colorado City, Arizona.

Defense lawyers for both cities are fighting allegations by the U.S. Justice Department that the communities operate as an arm of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and discriminate against non-believers.

Philip Barlow says church leaders never approached him about influencing who should serve in city government.

Prosecutors, however, tried to get Barlow to admit the religion played a role in decisions involving city business.

The mayor was the first witness called by the defense.