30 May 2008

Secrets of Bountiful

The Whistler Question - May 30, 2008


By Jan DeGrass/Arts and Enterainment Writer

There are two reasons why the latest book from Vancouver Sun columnist Daphne Bramham, The Secret Lives of Saints, is a riveting read. One is the sheer power of the story itself: an investigation into the complex machinations of the sect known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) who live in Bountiful, near Creston, B.C. The book’s sub title is Child Brides and Lost Boys in Canada’s Polygamous Mormon Sect, and the stories cover similar territory to newspaper articles from the award-winning journalist.

Bramham’s stand is clear. Though her account employs a journalist’s training — it is detailed and factual and she has checked her sources and done extensive research into the roots of polygamy — her repugnance lies close to the surface.

Bramham recounts tales of child brides of 14 or 15 “assigned” to husbands by the self-proclaimed prophets of the sect. She describes stories of rape and abuse from those who have left the group, and of the despair of boys forced to work on construction projects owned by the sect’s leaders at slave wages or banished from their community because they are rivals for the gene pool of young women.

Families are torn apart with wives and children “reassigned” to other men and homes taken away because husbands did not comply with the revelations of the prophets. It seems no one wins: women, children, young men or disobedient husbands — except for the prophets themselves, which in Bountiful means Winston Blackmore with his dozens of child-bearing wives or Warren Jeffs, the accused in a U.S. rape trial, both of whom own companies that have made them wealthy and powerful.

Bramham will visit Sechelt to speak about her book on Saturday at the Sunshine Coast Arts Centre. And that brings me to the second profoundly interesting reason for reading this disturbing book. Many of the audience will already be knowledgeable on this subject, thanks, in part, to one local activist author, Jancis Andrews. As described in Secret Lives, in 2002 Andrews read about how fundamentalist Mormons were fleeing the States to a safe haven in Canada in the belief they would not be prosecuted for polygamy. That day she fired off an email to the federal justice minister with copies to the prime minister and her MP. She is quoted as saying, “With all the trust of a babe in arms, I waited for a reply, naively confident that the government would correct this wrong immediately.”

When nothing happened, the fiery campaigner took the issue to a meeting of the Coast’s chapter of the Canadian Federation of University Women, armed with what she had learned about the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other policies to eliminate discrimination against women. Her speech turned into a letter writing and email campaign from many women of Sechelt who became instrumental in calling public attention to the issue.

Why is nothing done about the abuse of young teens and children? Political apathy, suggests Bramham, relating the numerous attempts to bring the issues of polygamy, rape and abuse to the attention of lawmakers and politicians in Canada and the U.S. Or, perhaps it is a choice by the good people of Creston not to rock the boat even though the sight of young teens pushing baby carriages has become commonplace. After all, the Bountiful sect purchases locally and boosts the economy.

Mostly, it is a squeamishness about interfering with the civil rights of any group practising their religion in a free country.

No one wants to take on the Mormons, it seems, even though it is made abundantly clear in the book that this fundamentalist sect bears no relation to the mainstream Mormon Church which has, in fact, excommunicated the FLDS.

Bramham will read from her book and answer questions at 7 p.m. Admission is free, sponsored by a local group, the Quintessential Writers.

This article was found at:


No comments:

Post a Comment