Sunday, August 6, 2017

Polygamy convictions in Canada

The CBC has the story:

Winston Blackmore and James Oler found guilty of polygamy by B.C. judge
Former bishops of Bountiful both have numerous wives and children

"Two former religious leaders in B.C. have been found guilty of polygamy after marrying more than two dozen women over the course of 25 years.

"Winston Blackmore and James Oler were convicted of practising plural or "celestial" marriage in the fundamentalist community of Bountiful, B.C.

"In B.C. Supreme Court on Monday, Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said Blackmore "subscribed to beliefs and practices of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints," a Mormon sect that believes in plural marriages.

"James Oler, another former leader from the same community, was accused of having five wives and Blackmore 24 wives.

"Both men are former bishops of the sect in the province's southeast. Neither denied having multiple marriages and Blackmore has fathered more than 145 children from his marriages.
"Blackmore's lawyer, Blair Suffredine, previously said he'd launch a constitutional challenge to the validity of the polygamy laws if his client were to be found guilty.
"The legal fight began in the early '90s when police first investigated allegations that residents of an isolated religious community were practising multiple marriages.

"A lack of clarity around Canada's polygamy laws initially led to failed attempts at prosecuting Blackmore, followed by several efforts to clarify the legislation, including a reference question to the B.C. Supreme Court.

"The court ruled in 2011 that laws banning polygamy were constitutional and did not violate religious freedoms guaranteed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, based in Utah, officially renounced polygamy in the late 1800s and disputes any connection to the fundamentalist group's form of Mormonism."
Prosecution of polygamy in the U.S. has focused not on polygamy itself, but on the fact that some of the brides are underage.  Here's an AP report of the present case via ABC news, which includes the following:
"Oler was chosen to lead the Canadian community just north of the U.S. state of Idaho following Blackmore's excommunication from the sect in 2002 by Warren Jeffs, considered the prophet and leader of the group.

"Authorities have said Jeffs still leads the sect from a Texas prison, where he is serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting underage girls he considered brides."

See my earlier posts on polygamy

No comments: