Main | Thursday, January 08, 2009

Mormon Polygamists Arrested In Canada

Marriage is one man + one woman alert: Canada has arrested two leaders of a Mormon polygamous sect.
Two top leaders of a polygamous community in western Canada have been arrested and charged with practicing polygamy, British Columbia's attorney general said Wednesday. Attorney General Wally Oppal said Winston Blackmore is charged with marrying 20 women, while James Oler is accused of marrying two women. Oppal, who said the charges carry a maximum penalty of five yeras in prison, said the case will be the first test of Canada's polygamy laws. "This has been a very complex issue," he said. "It's been with us for well over 20 years. The problem has always been the defense of religion has always been raised."

Blackmore, long known as "the Bishop of Bountiful," runs an independent sect of about 400 members in the town of Bountiful. He once ran the Canadian arm of the Utah-based Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but was ejected in 2003 by that group's leader, Warren Jeffs. Oler is the bishop of Bountiful's FLDS community loyal to Jeffs. Even though many of the town's residents are related or have same last name, followers of the two leaders are splintered and are not allowed to talk with each other. FLDS members practice polygamy in arranged marriages, a tradition tied to the early theology of the Mormon church. Mormons renounced polygamy in 1890 as a condition of Utah's statehood.
Blackmore brags that he has dozens of children by his 20 wives. The polygamists say they expect that the charges will be dismissed under Canada's freedom of religion laws.

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