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After a long dance , the polygamy trial of Winston Blackmore et al begins. This will have an effect on the group. I did hear some interesting info on the law regarding polygamy in Canada. It seems that there is no requirement to have a ceremony or even to prove that intimate relations took place. Technically a person living in the same house with 2 or more of the opposite sex can be charged under the current law. Seems overly broad. Legal battles will likely move to the supreme court eventually.

you  can look up the myriad news articles at your leisure.

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“Not guilty pleas entered for accused in Canada polygamy case,” Associated Press, April 18, 2017, online at https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/the_americas/not-guilty-pleas-entered-for-accused-in-canada-polygamy-case/2017/04/18/fa813ca8-246e-11e7-928e-3624539060e8_story.html?hl=1&noRedirect=1&utm_term=.40e99084a649 .

CRANBROOK, British Columbia — The trial of two Canadian men from a fundamentalist sect that allows men to have multiple wives opened Tuesday with not guilty pleas being entered on charges of practicing polygamy.

Winston Blackmore and James Oler each face one count of polygamy. Both men have served as bishops for the religious settlement of Bountiful, British Columbia which follows the teachings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter-Day Saints, often referred to as the FLDS.

Oler is accused of having four wives. He pleaded not guilty. Blackmore remained mute and Justice Sheri Ann Donegan said a not guilty plea would be entered on his behalf. Blackmore is accused of marrying 24 women over 25 years.

Blackmore’s lawyer, Blair Suffredine, said outside court his client chose to say nothing for religious reasons.

“He doesn’t want to deny his faith. He doesn’t feel guilty,” Suffredine said. “The technical way around that is don’t say anything and they’ll enter the plea not guilty.”

Special prosecutor Peter Wilson told the court his case includes marriage records seized from the church’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in Texas, which were used in 2010 to sentence leader Warren Jeffs to life in a U.S. prison for sexually assaulting two young girls.

FLDS members practice polygamy in arranged marriages, a tradition tied to the early theology of the Mormon church. The mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints renounced polygamy in 1890, but several fundamentalist groups seceded in order to continue the practice.

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, 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.

At the start of the trial, the judge released her reasons for rejecting an application from Blackmore to be tried separately from Oler, saying a substantial overlap in evidence against the two men means it is in the public interest for them to be tried together.

Blackmore has long claimed religious persecution and denial of a constitutional right to religious freedom

The case has a long history dating back to the early 1990s when police first investigated allegations that residents of an isolated religious community were practicing multiple marriages.

A lack of clarity around Canada’s polygamy laws led to failed attempts at prosecuting Blackmore, followed by several efforts to clarify the legislation. The court ruled in 2011 that laws banning polygamy were constitutional and did not violate religious freedoms guaranteed in Canada’s version of the bill of rights.

The judge-alone trial is scheduled to last several weeks.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.

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Grew up in Creston about 15 minutes away from Bountiful. Have interacted with Winston multiple times along with his family (a lot of his kids are my age). My best friend's grandpa was a founder of Bountiful and is Winston's nephew (his grandma took his mom and aunts and uncles out and rejoined the Church, so he never grew up in it).

Ask me anything about the group, Winston, the associated Warrenites who share the community, etc.

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My aunt and uncle lived for several years in Yak  BC. That is down the road from Creston where I think they went to church ( LDS ) . They did have some dealings with the Blackmore group. Not much though. Didn't the Blackmores start off from the Cardston area many years ago?

  Blackmore's current troubles come from taking a young lady across the border down to Jeff's bunch  , I think.

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20 hours ago, Calm said:

What makes this different from Jeffs' group?

They used to be the same group. They split when Warren Jeffs became the president of their church. Winston believed him to be too dictatorial. There are many split families, with some aligning themselves with Jeffs, others with Winston, and some are not aligned with either.

Religiously, they mostly believe the same things, though Winston believes himself to a bishop of the church, not its president. How he reconciles that with priesthood keys is a mystery to me.

The major difference is cultural. Both hearken back to an older interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as a guideline rather than commandment, so they drink coffee, tea, and alcohol. They share the same community, but its relatively easy to tell who belongs to which faction. Warrenites are largely exclusionary. They don't talk with outsiders or even look them in the eye really. There is a sense of timidity and fear there, and they don't really go into town except for necessary tasks like grocery shopping, banking, etc. The women dress like the Jeffs group down in the States.

Winston's group is far more liberal in comparison (keyword being comparison. They're still closed off and conservative in some areas). The women tend to dress in more mainstream clothes (jeans, blouses, etc) and some have adopted mainstream hairstyles, though a majority have a mix of the two (distinct hairstyle with jeans and clothes). They hold jobs in town, have formed friendships with religious outsiders, and maintain contact and relationships with family who have left the group. Some of their kids go the public school as well whereas most of the Warrenites put their kids in a small private school they have out in Bountiful (the Warrenites have rechristened the town "Mormon Hills").

Without any arrogance, my dad was somewhat of a factor for opening up Winston's group. He was both the Bishop of our ward and the principle of the public school closest to Bountiful when the split was occurring. He hired people from Bountiful as teachers and teaching assistants so long as they were qualified and experienced, whereas other schools wouldn't touch them. He welcomed their kids to the school and protected them from bullying from non-Bountiful kids. He also performed some marriages for people who had left the group and had been married religiously, but now wanted a civil wedding. I really saw the reality of his keys over the whole area especially in his outreach to them. He counselled with many who showed up to his office at the school in tears or upset over some of the splits, excommunications, arbitrary trading of spouses, etc. He was also careful to maintain the distinction between our faiths at the same time. When the YM's President started holding combined mutual activities out there due to his familial relationship with some of the people in Bountiful (long story) my dad had to put his foot down. Basically he encouraged kind and charitable relationships with individuals and families in the community while discouraging formal group associations.

TL;DR  - That last paragraph was probably a bit more than you asked for, but the gist is that Winston's group is more liberal culturally and open to outside interactions. The guy is weird, but I've been at funerals, weddings, and other community events where he was in attendance, and he was fine talking with everyone there. There is still ugliness in the community, and it shouldn't be ignored, but all together it's not nearly as totalitarian as Jeffs' group is.

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15 hours ago, strappinglad said:

My aunt and uncle lived for several years in Yak  BC. That is down the road from Creston where I think they went to church ( LDS ) . They did have some dealings with the Blackmore group. Not much though. Didn't the Blackmores start off from the Cardston area many years ago?

  Blackmore's current troubles come from taking a young lady across the border down to Jeff's bunch  , I think.

Yeah, Yahk is in Creston ward, about 20-30 NE of Creston.

Yeah, the Blackmores, Palmers, Olers and Boehmers (the main families there) were originally from Cardston before moving to BC.

Interestingly though, they have an accent that is distinct from the Canadian accent in the area. It has sort of a Texan/Southwestern US drawl to it. My guess is that it comes from many of the women being originally from that area in the US.

Edited by halconero
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49 minutes ago, halconero said:

Yeah, the Blackmores, Palmers, Olers and Boehmers (the main families there) were originally from Cardston before moving to BC.

Being descendants probably played a part.
Cardston is one of the areas that post-manifesto polygamists were sent to continue plural marriage.

The first Cardston Temple President Edward J. Wood was a post-manifesto polygamist who served from the temple's dedication in 1923 until 1942.
In my studies of fundamentalism one of the most famous polygamist leaders actually claimed his father was sealed in the Cardston temple in a plural marriage in 1923.

So it would come as no surprise to me that the Canadian FLDS branch has roots in the Cardston area.

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2 hours ago, halconero said:

They used to be the same group. They split when Warren Jeffs became the president of their church. Winston believed him to be too dictatorial. There are many split families, with some aligning themselves with Jeffs, others with Winston, and some are not aligned with either.

Religiously, they mostly believe the same things, though Winston believes himself to a bishop of the church, not its president. How he reconciles that with priesthood keys is a mystery to me.

The major difference is cultural. Both hearken back to an older interpretation of the Word of Wisdom as a guideline rather than commandment, so they drink coffee, tea, and alcohol. They share the same community, but its relatively easy to tell who belongs to which faction. Warrenites are largely exclusionary. They don't talk with outsiders or even look them in the eye really. There is a sense of timidity and fear there, and they don't really go into town except for necessary tasks like grocery shopping, banking, etc. The women dress like the Jeffs group down in the States.

Winston's group is far more liberal in comparison (keyword being comparison. They're still closed off and conservative in some areas). The women tend to dress in more mainstream clothes (jeans, blouses, etc) and some have adopted mainstream hairstyles, though a majority have a mix of the two (distinct hairstyle with jeans and clothes). They hold jobs in town, have formed friendships with religious outsiders, and maintain contact and relationships with family who have left the group. Some of their kids go the public school as well whereas most of the Warrenites put their kids in a small private school they have out in Bountiful (the Warrenites have rechristened the town "Mormon Hills").

Without any arrogance, my dad was somewhat of a factor for opening up Winston's group. He was both the Bishop of our ward and the principle of the public school closest to Bountiful when the split was occurring. He hired people from Bountiful as teachers and teaching assistants so long as they were qualified and experienced, whereas other schools wouldn't touch them. He welcomed their kids to the school and protected them from bullying from non-Bountiful kids. He also performed some marriages for people who had left the group and had been married religiously, but now wanted a civil wedding. I really saw the reality of his keys over the whole area especially in his outreach to them. He counselled with many who showed up to his office at the school in tears or upset over some of the splits, excommunications, arbitrary trading of spouses, etc. He was also careful to maintain the distinction between our faiths at the same time. When the YM's President started holding combined mutual activities out there due to his familial relationship with some of the people in Bountiful (long story) my dad had to put his foot down. Basically he encouraged kind and charitable relationships with individuals and families in the community while discouraging formal group associations.

TL;DR  - That last paragraph was probably a bit more than you asked for, but the gist is that Winston's group is more liberal culturally and open to outside interactions. The guy is weird, but I've been at funerals, weddings, and other community events where he was in attendance, and he was fine talking with everyone there. There is still ugliness in the community, and it shouldn't be ignored, but all together it's not nearly as totalitarian as Jeffs' group is.

I love the greater context.

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