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Polygamist Winston Blackmore Finally Charged

Jan. 9, 2009
N.J. Lukanovich

Winston Blackmore, rumored to have somewhere between 20 and 27 wives, was at long last arrested and charged with polygamy on January 7th. Long known as the "Bishop" of Bountiful, the FLDS Christian sect near Creston, British Columbia, Blackmore has being vocal in asserting that the members of Bountiful can do as they wish, based on the "freedom of conscience and religion" accorded in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Bountiful split into two factions in 2002, when Warren Jeffs took over the FLDS Church in Utah and expelled Blackmore, who responded by taking 400 of the followers to form an independent sect. Jim Oler, the leader of the official FLDS branch of Bountiful, has also been charged with polygamy.

When freedom of religion was included in the Charter, the intention was not to protect men who marry a multitude of young women (who grew up within the community and have been brainwashed into believing that God wants them to enter into arranged marriages with old men), or to protect a community that teaches young girls they can only enter heaven at the invitation of their husband. Freedom of religion is meant to protect the individual's right to follow the religion of their choice.

Bountiful has been breaking the 117 year old polygamy law for over 60 years. Why has Attorney General Wally Opal finally decided to prosecute? There has been tremendous public pressure, and this pressure has forced Wally Opal to do something, anything, in spite of the legal reviews that warn the law against polygamy may not stand constitutional scrutiny.

If the law is shot down because it impinges upon so-called freedom of religion, then the definition of freedom of religion must be revisited in the Charter. Freedom of religion is a philosophical concept that was expounded by liberal theorists, such as John Stuart Mill, to counter discrimination by Protestants against Catholics and vice versa in Europe. It becomes a rather monstrous concept when it is twisted into a free pass to subjugate members within a religion group - notably women.

If we have the right to ignore laws we don't like based on our religion, then maybe it's time I create one that's convenient to my own wants and needs. I'll call it the "Church of Do What You Bloody Well Feel Like." A manifesto, sorry, holy book will be written, based on the word of God, who whispered into my ear the following:

"I, that is GOD, want you to live with the freedom of little children, as children are the purist of beings. So find your inner child and go with it. Since children don't pay taxes or parking tickets, neither shall you. Property laws no longer exist. Follow a policy of sharing... that mansion on the hill is now yours to enjoy. Take what you want, even if you don't need it. March right into Walmart and grab an armful of toys. Patience? That's for the foolish who have forgotten their divine nature. Scream when you're hungry and stamp your feet when you're mad. Don't bother standing in line for anything or anyone, it will damage your soul. I ask of you only one thing, to make a pilgrimage to Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory at least once a year."

Winston Blackmore is already in full whine, blathering about religious persecution, but the incessant drone from religious leaders that they know the word of God and this knowledge justifies their actions is more than tiresome. To use the Charter as a shield against the Charter's insistence upon gender equality is a loathsome twisting of legislation. If there was a religious community in Canada in which women were the polygamists, it's rather doubtful that the courts would shy away from prosecuting the offenders.

The reason behind the long delay in charging Winston Blackmore with polygamy is simple: men marrying multiple wives is not unique to the FLDS, it is still legal practice in many nations around the world. There's nothing novel or shocking about subjugating women based on the word of God. What's shocking are the numbers of Canadians who don't care in the least if a religion discriminates against women. What's shocking is that this kind of shit is going on in Canada and it's 2009.

I must commend Wally Opal for going ahead with the arrests despite the recent warnings from two special prosecutors. He has stated that the law against polygamy is there to protect women, and he is absolutely right. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms is quite clear in it's protection of equality rights, which are not to be superceded by other rights set out in the Charter. There is, however, a little problem with the Charter. It begins with: Whereas Canada is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law. The supremacy of God? Which God? Is our government run on secular priniciples or religious principles?

Bountiful in fact practices polygyny, where only men can have multiple wives (like the vast majority of polygamous communities in the world). For more on polygyny and the FLDS, you can read an article I wrote on the subject in May, 2008:
Not Really Polygamy

An article in the Vancouver Sun on the recent arrests by Daphne Bramham:
Polygamy Showdown

An article in the Salt Lake Tribune on the recent arrest of Winston Blackmore:
Arrested: Leaders of FLDS-linked Canadian Polygamous Sect


COMMENTS:

Church of Do What You Bloody Well Feel Like? Where do I sign on? And if I get in early enough maybe I can have my own gospel according to St. Maggie.
Maggie Fraser
Jan. 10





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