Express Yourself

About anything and everything on the planet

January 8, 2009

Winston Blackmore, leader of Bountiful in British Columbia arrested on polygamy charges

After nearly 3.5 years, there may finally be a chance for justice for the victims of the polygamous commune of Bountiful, British Columbia. Following much investigation and preparation, the BC Crown has decided to charge Winston Blackmore, leader of Bountiful, and another male associate with practicing polygamy. Blackmore, as a rebuttal, is claiming religious persecution on the grounds that they practice polygamy as a member of the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints church, an off-shoot sect of the Mormon church.

The mainstream Mormon church denounced polygamy 300 years ago; die-hard believers formed their own sect (FLDS) and went underground in places like Utah, Texas, Mexico, and British Columbia. Despite polygamy being illegal in all these places, it is difficult to battle legally because of the religious hot-button.

The question is simple: Does religious freedom connote freedom to break Canadian law? While it’s true that the Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms promises freedom from religious persecution, section 1 makes it quite clear that such freedoms have limitations. Called the “reasonable limits clause” or “limitations clause,” section 1 allows the government to supercede rights and freedoms outline elsewhere in the Charter in the interest of curtailing extremely undesirable and harmful behaviors.

The second question is not as simple: Does polygamy as practiced by Blackmore and his followers constitute extremely undesirable and harmful behavior? Before forming an opinion about that, there is something of which the readers should be aware: the “wives” of men like Winston Blackmore don’t tend to be women of legal age to get married; often times, not even close. It’s well-documented, often by survivors of polygamy themselves, that women in the FLDS tend to be married off in their very early teens, often to men old enough to be their fathers. They are rarely given a choice in the matter, and the marriage is usually consummated immediately after, meaning not only are the men in question committing polygamy, but they are engaging in sexual activity with a minor.

The families are maintained on compounds, kept away from the outside world. FLDS members are taught to fear outsiders, and they receive little to no information about anything that goes on outside their commune. The “wives” are treated like walking wombs, encouraged to bear a child a year. The children, especially girls, are often prevented from obtaining an actual education; instead, they attend FLDS schools, where the curriculum is filled with religious teachings and little else. Wives and children answer to the men in their family, their “priesthood head” who makes all the decisions, including when his own daughters will be married off, likely as the surplus wife as one of his friends.

Is polygamy an extremely undesirable and harmful behavior? I believe the answer is yes. I believe the religious rights of an individual do not give one the right to engage in sex with a minor, marry off young children without their consent, and prevent children from obtaining an education. Canada, as a nation, should not stand idly by and allow such atrocities to happen. Our troops are engaged fighting against evil and inequalities in the name of religion on foreign soil; it is time to fight them on our own. The trial ahead will be long, painful, and will show an ugly side of our country. I can only hope that the legal powers that be will do everything in their power to shut down Bountiful, BC, for good. The women and children are waiting for freedom.

Similar Posts:

Post a Comment