2 Feb 2011

Video testimony by Mormon fundamentalist in Canadian court says polygamy provides happy life and harms no one

The Globe and Mail - Canada January 13, 2011

Bountiful sect believes in faith’s polygamy doctrine, court told

by James Keller | Canadian Press

Residents of a fundamentalist Mormon sect in the small British Columbia commune of Bountiful believe they are adhering to the original word of the religion's prophet, says a former plural wife and advocate of polygamy.

The B.C. court case examining the constitutionality of Canada's anti-polygamy law watched a video Thursday of an interview with Anne Wilde, a member of the Salt Lake City-based group Principle Voices.

In the video posted on Wilde's website, she detailed the origins of polygamy within the Mormon church and the split within the community after the mainstream church abandoned polygamy in the late 1890s.

Several polygamous groups have emerged since, including the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or FLDS. Residents of Bountiful, B.C., and several communities in the U.S. are members of the FLDS.

The mainstream church has rejected any connection to the FLDS or other fundamentalists, and insists those groups don't have the right to call themselves Mormons.

The video wasn't recorded by B.C. government lawyers, but by a Mormon podcaster and posted to Wilde's website.

In the video, Wilde explained that followers believe Joseph Smith, the religion's founding prophet, asked God why several biblical figures such as Abraham and Jacob had multiple wives.

They believe God told Mr. Smith to practise plural marriage, and by the 1850s, the church under Brigham Young officially sanctioned polygamy. That same version of events is also described on the official website of the Mormon church.

But as the territory of Utah lobbied for statehood, the church issued two declarations, first in 1890 and again in 1904, officially rejecting polygamy. The church says it now excommunicates polygamists.

Wilde said members of the FLDS believe those declarations were political, not religious.

“Because of lots of threats from the government, they issued a manifesto, it was really a press release, and fundamentalist Mormons don't consider it a revelation (from God),” said Ms. Wilde, who isn't a member of the FLDS and instead describes herself as an “independent” fundamentalist.

“So they issued this press release to the government with the idea that they would know that, as a church, we would discontinue that practice so the persecution would stop and we (Utah) could eventually become a state.”

Ms. Wilde said fundamentalist Mormons don't believe the church leadership had the power to renounce polygamy at all.

“We feel like we have the right and the authority and the permission to keep on living that doctrine,” she said.

“Eternal, by definition, means unchanging, never stopping. ... It's an eternal principle, it's always true and people can choose whether to follow it.”

Ms. Wilde was born in Detroit into a mainstream Mormon family, and later moved to Salt Lake City. She studied at Brigham Young University, and said she started thinking about polygamy after reading about the origins of the church in her youth.

She became her husband's second wife in 1969 at the age of 33, and later several more wives joined the family. She already had children from a previous marriage, and didn't have any more with her new husband. He died in 2002.

“I got a definite answer to prayer and I have never questioned for a minute that I was to live in plural marriage and was to be in that family,” said Ms. Wilde.

She painted a picture of a happy polygamous life, with each wife living in separate houses and married to a husband who was “the closest thing to a perfect man I had ever met.”

Ms. Wilde said polygamy should be decriminalized, and allegations of abuse, such as forced marriage, should be investigated and prosecuted.

“We feel like if it's between consenting adults and all the parties are in agreement, we're not doing anybody any harm,” said Ms. Wilde.

“And certainly with all the alternative lifestyles that are out there today, this is one that ought to be considered as legitimate.”

One of the questions at issue in the B.C. case is whether polygamy is a protected religious practice under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The B.C. and federal governments are arguing any claim to religious protection is outweighed by the alleged harms associated with polygamy, including teenage brides, forced marriages and abuse. They argue those are inherent in all forms of polygamy.

A court-appointed lawyer and the FLDS are both arguing against the law, saying it violates the charter's religious guarantees, and any abuses that occur in polygamous communities are isolated incidents that have nothing to do with polygamy itself.

Later this month, the case will hear from several women from Bountiful, who are expected to testify they are happy in their plural marriages and don't feel abused. They have been granted permission to testify anonymously, after a lawyer for the FLDS argued they could face criminal charges if they spoke out publicly.

The hearings have already featured testimony, on video and in person, from former residents of polygamous communities who have recounted lives of physical and emotional abuse, as well as experts who have offered contradictory opinions on whether polygamy is inherently harmful.

The case was prompted by the failed prosecution in 2009 of Bountiful's two leaders.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler were each charged with practising polygamy, but the charges were thrown out on technical legal grounds.

Mr. Blackmore, who is suing the province for wrongful prosecution, is boycotting the hearings. Mr. Oler was initially expected to testify, but he has now decided against appearing.

This article was found at:



Stop Polygamy in Canada website has notes taken by observers in the courtroom as well as links to most of the affidavits and research the court is considering in this case.

Survivor tells Canadian court extreme abuses including water torture of babies common in Mormon polygamist communities

 FLDS bishop of Bountiful will not testify in Canadian polygamy case so his affidavit will not be read into record

Legal expert tells Canadian court polygamy prohibitions and monogamy tradition pre-date Christianity

The issue of women's rights in the Canadian constitutional review of the polygamy law

Before holiday break in constitutional case judge hears conflicting expert testimony on harms associated with polygamy

Expert in polygamy case says society should assume all members of sects have free choice, but what about children?

B.C. government expert in polygamy case sets out long list of social harms, societies that abandon polygamy do better

Court views video affidavits from Mormon fundamentalist survivors detailing pedophilia, incest, child trafficking and forced marriage

Polygamy expert tells court in constitutional case that it reduces women's freedom and equality and leads to forced marriage

Affidavits from survivors and psychologist's testimony in constitutional case show abusive nature of polygamous lifestyle

Expert witness in constitutional case on polygamy claims Bountiful women freely choose their own religious oppression

Judge allows controversial expert witness to testify in Canadian polygamy case, no decision yet on publication of video affidavits

Pro-polygamy intervenor groups make opening statements as first week of Canadian constitutional case ends

FLDS lawyer in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy claims members freely consent to plural marriage, abuse survivors disagree

Lawyer appointed to argue for striking down Canada's anti-polygamy law in constitutional case makes opening arguments

Canadian constitutional case on polygamy begins with BC government's opening statement

Unique Canadian constitutional case on polygamy set to begin November 22, 2010

Timeline of events leading up to Canadian constitutional case on polygamy which is set to begin

Survivor of abuse by Mormon polygamists documents accounts of sex crimes in the FLDS and other fundamentalist groups

Mormon fundamentalist leader asks court to exclude evidence against him in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Fundamentalist Mormon spokeswoman says polygamy doesn't hurt anyone

Mormon fundamentalist claims of religious persecution in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy not supported by the facts

Polygamist leader says BC attorney general guilty of religious persecution

Polygamist leader calls charges religious persecution

More persecution than prosecution

Second Mormon polygamist found guilty of child sex assault, jury doesn't buy defense claim of religious persecution

Claims of persecution ridiculous in societies where Christians have special privileges to indoctrinate children

More pro-polygamy affidavits by Mormon fundamentalists filed in Canadian constitutional case set to begin in November

Judge will allow anonymous testimony from Mormon polygamists in Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Mormon polygamists seek immunity from future prosecution before giving evidence in Canadian constitutional case

Canadian constitutional case on polygamy triggered by Mormon fundamentalists, but will also examine Muslim communities

Utah law professor uses Mormon polygamists as example of how religious extremism leads to deliberate child abuse

Polygyny and Canada’s Obligations under International Human Rights Law (pdf)

Research paper submitted to B.C. court in constitutional case documents harms associated with polygamy

Man from Bountiful says girls in Mormon polygamist communities "treated like poison snakes", taught to obey men and have many children

Bountiful evidence that polygamy harms women and children - constitutional case likely to reach Canadian Supreme Court

Review of the positions 12 intervener groups are expected to take in upcoming Canadian constitutional case on polygamy

Some religious practices, such as polygamy, are inherently harmful and should not be tolerated in modern society

Women's adovcates: polygamy is an “oppressive institution” that abuses and enslaves women and children

Prosecuting Polygamy in El Dorado by Marci Hamilton

Senate Judiciary Committee Holds Hearings on Polygamy Crimes: What Needs to Be Done at the Federal Level to Protect Children from Abuse and Neglect

Senate hearing: "Crimes Associated with Polygamy: The Need for a Coordinated State and Federal Response."

Texas Will Attempt to Show That Polygamist Culture Itself Harms Children

FLDS defendants complain their religious freedom violated, while denying religious freedom to their children

Children in Bountiful have religious rights too, but are denied them by parents claiming religious freedom

Some Canadian children are protected from religion-related abuse, while others are not

Polygamy is not freedom

Israeli politicians and women's advocates call for immediate change to polygamy law to protect rights of women and children

New study on polygamy in Malaysia finds evidence of harm to everyone involved

Indonesian Women's Association divided on whether polygamy, which is legal in Indonesia, is harmful to women and children

No comments:

Post a Comment