Posted by: becketfund | January 8, 2009

Canada: Polygamous Leader Cites Religious Persecution

VANCOUVER – Winston Blackmore, one of the two leaders of a polygamous community in western Canada, said on January 8 that his arrest was tantamount to religious persecution, the AP reported on January 8. Blackmore and James Oler, leaders of rival polygamous factions within the community of Bountiful, were arrested January 7 and charged with practicing polygamy. Blackmore, 52, is charged with marrying 20 women, while Oler, 44, is accused of marrying two women. Blackmore said in a statement to reporters in Bountiful. “This is not about polygamy. To us this is about religious persecution.” British Columbia Attorney General Wally Oppal said the charges carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and that the case is the first to test Canada’s polygamy laws. Blackmore and Oler are expected to rely on the Canadian constitutional right to religious freedom in the case that begins Jan. 21 in Creston, British Columbia. Analysts said the case will likely reach Canada’s Supreme Court.


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