Polygamy in British Columbia

27 July

Leviticus 18:18; “Neither shalt thou take a wife to her sister, to vex her, to uncover her nakedness, beside the other in her life time.”

Deuteronomy 17:17; “Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.”

The Lord obviously had a few things to say about polygamy, and the reasons why is long. A good synopsis of the results of such a messy lifestyle are now encapsulated in a new Canadian law penned by their Chief Justice Robert Bauman.

“…women in polygamous relationships are at an elevated risk of physical and psychological harm. They face higher rates of domestic violence and abuse, including sexual abuse… children in polygamous families face higher infant mortality. … They tend to suffer more emotional, behavioural and physical problems, and … lower educational achievement than children in monogamous families. … early marriage for girls, frequently to older men, is common.” – Chief Justice Robert Bauman, British Columbia

Today we want to bring attention to the news of our neighbors to the north. The polygamy situation in Bountiful, BC has been an ongoing saga for decades. And finally (!) we saw some justice roll forth, as little, and as late as it was..

A conviction for Winston Blackmore and James Oler was a long time in coming…

The first time Canadian officials began investigating the polygamy compound in Bountiful, BC few, if any, knew about the internet. Case investigations were performed by pounding pavement, and notepads were filled with scribbled information collected from eyewitnesses and floppy disks. In many ways, the early nineties was the last decade law enforcement had to rely upon old school methods to bring people to justice.

Although the internet and cell phones made the world of communication a little easier for most, there are still some things in life that move at a snail’s pace. Case in point: the conviction of Winston Blackmore and James Oler.

Two  former bishops of the Fundamental Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Winston Blackmore, and his former brother-in-law, James Oler, were found guilty of polygamy on July 24, 2017. From court proceedings stemming back to 2002, and a twelve day trial held earlier this year, the two men finally learned of the guilty verdict late that Monday.

Both men are now facing up to five years in prison for violating Section 293 of the Canadian Criminal Code outlawing polygamy. Sentencing will be set for sometime later this year.

Up until 2002, Blackmore and Oler were both bishops in the FLDS, still run by Warren Jeffs despite the fact he’s serving a life term in a Texas prison.

Oler was chosen to run the BC chapter of the FLDS after Jeffs ex-communicated Blackmore in 2002. A disagreement over the amount of power Jeffs was wielding caused the BC group to split in half. Today Blackmore’s group is known by the name of Church of Jesus Christ Original Doctrine (Inc.), the other half followed Oler, retaining the name FLDS.

Various reports cite Oler as being excommunicated as well since that time.

Investigations against the BC polygamous group originally wrapped up in October 1991 after 13 months, with findings of child abuse, underage brides, and child trafficking between the US and Canadian borders. This continued on for years before both countries began working together to try and put a stop on their illegal activities.

Both men were charged with, and found guilty of, one count of polygamy. This author is unsure if they’ll pursue the other charges of child trafficking, and domestic abuse at a later date.

Winston is accused of having  24 wives, and as many as 145 children. Oler was accused of having five wives. The number of children he has is unknown at this time. The town of Bountiful, BC has roughly 1,600 residents today. Originally founded by Blackmore’s father in 1946, its growth has been quite substantial, however, most of its residents are descended from roughly a half dozen men.

To muddy the depravity even further, Winston’s wife is Oler’s sister.

As a side note the BBC reported on the following news about Warren Jeffs’ brother Lyle Jeffs, who is of course another ne-er-do-well…

“This June, his brother Lyle Jeffs was arrested in South Dakota after fleeing house arrest in 2016 while awaiting trial with 10 other sect leaders for alleged food stamp fraud and money laundering.”

Resources and References:

BBC.com

Time.com

ReligiousTolerance.org

HuffingtonPost.ca

VancouverSun.com

International Cultic Studies Association

NationalPost.com

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