Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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23

Apr

2017

Religion doesn’t offer ‘get out of jail free’ cards

Author: Jim Taylor

The polygamy trials have started in B.C. On Tuesday April 18, Winston Blackmore and James Oler were arraigned in court in Cranbrook, on charges of polygamy.

             The prosecution will argue that there is no doubt about Blackmore and Oler’s actions. Blackmore has boasted about having 27 wives, some as young as 15, and 147 children. Almost the entire student body at the school in the community of Bountiful, near the U.S. border in southern B.C., consists of Blackmore’s children and grandchildren.

           The defence will claim that polygamy was a legitimate expression of their religious faith. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms in the Canadian Constitution specifically identifies religion as the first of its “fundamental freedoms” for all citizens: “Everyone has… freedom of conscience and religion…”

            That will be the crux of the case – does freedom of religion take precedence over the laws of the land?


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12

Feb

2017

The problem in polygamy is power

Author: Jim Taylor

At long last, a Blackmore has been convicted of a crime.

            To refresh your memory, the Blackmores are, quite literally, the “fathers” of the community of Bountiful, an idyllic patch of farmland in B.C.’s Kootenay region, close to the U.S. border. Winston Blackmore alone is father to 147 children, by 27 wives.

            Most of the 130 or so students who attend the school in Bountiful are Winston’s children or grandchildren. The B.C. government turns a blind eye to his polygamy, providing $637,000 a year in school funding.

            On February 3, Justice Paul Pearlman found Winston’s older brother, Brandon Blackmore, guilty. But not of polygamy. Rather, of child trafficking. In what seems to be have been a common practice, various Blackmores took underage children from their community across the border into the U.S. to become child brides for Warren Jeffs, head of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

            Jeffs, now serving a life sentence in the U.S. for child sexual assault, instructed Brandon Blackmore and his wife at the time, Gail Blackmore, to bring their 13-year-old daughter to him.

            They were “married” on July 3, 2004. Six days later, 49-year-old Jeffs recorded for posterity his consummation of the marriage.

            Yes – sex with a 13-year-old.


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