Wednesday, 5 January 2011
The Canada Case Starts Up Again
Things are about to get very interesting at the constitutional reference hearings to determine whether Canada's polygamy law is legal.
When the hearing resumes Wednesday, the first witness for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints will testify before Chief Justice Robert Bauman in B.C. Supreme Court.
The FLDS is the largest religious group to practise polygamy in North America.
John Walsh is being put forward as an expert and he will outline the religious basis for what is called either plural or celestial marriage within the Mormon tradition as he has done on several occasions in Texas when FLDS men were on trial for bigamy and charges related to sex with under-age girls.
His affidavit doesn't indicate that Walsh has any personal opinion about polygamy.
However, in a piece published on an internet site called All About Mormons, Walsh makes it clear that he does.
“There is no doubt in my mind that your attitude toward plural marriage will determine your place in eternity,” he writes.
Those who choose 'plural' or 'celestial' marriage have a chance at the highest realm of heaven – the celestial kingdom – while those who don't may find themselves alone for all eternity.
Walsh calls it “the natural order of things” that men would have multiple wives (polygyny) and women would not have multiple husbands (polyandry) because polyandry would not result in the greatest number of children.
“When a man is limited to only one wife, some women will have the choice of marrying a worldly, carnal man or remaining unwed,” Walsh writes. “If men were eternally limited to only one wife each, some women would never have the opportunity for exaltation.
“Plural marriage remedies these penalties by enabling every woman the opportunity to have a righteous husband, enjoy the blessings of motherhood and fill the measure of her creation.”
He goes on to dismiss suggestions that women should have multiple husbands.
“If sexual gratification were the primary purpose of marriage and sex (i.e. Satan's perspective), then a woman having multiple husbands would be the preferred method from a biological perspective.”
Over the next four weeks, it's mostly polygamists and former polygamists who will testify. Many of the FLDS witnesses will not be seen and their names will not be disclosed because of Bauman's order allowing anonymity so that what they say can not be used in future prosecutions.
However, James Oler, the bishop of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has waived anonymity.
Oler was charged in 2009 with one count of polygamy along with former FLDS bishop Winston Blackmore. Listed on Oler's indictment were the names of three women. Blackmore's indictment listed 19, although in a video affidavit filed in this case one of Blackmore's former wives says that he has had 26 in total and has 136 children.
It was after those charges were stayed because the court ruled that they had been improperly laid, Attorney General Mike de Jong asked the court to determine whether the law itself is valid.
In addition to hearing from current FLDS members, Bauman will hear from Carolyn Jessop who has written two books about her experience within the FLDS, her dramatic middle-of-the-night escape and life outside the group.
Also testifying last this month will be Brenda Jensen, whose father founded the community in Bountiful.