Polyg­a­mous Mor­mons would get mar­ried twice in one day

The Daily Courier - - NEWS - By GEORDON OMAND

CRANBROOK — Dozens of mar­riage cer­tifi­cates, some cit­ing two wed­ding cer­e­monies oc­cur­ring on the same day, were en­tered as ev­i­dence Wed­nes­day at the trial of a fun­da­men­tal­ist church leader charged with polygamy.

Win­ston Black­more is the head of a re­li­gious group in Boun­ti­ful, a com­mu­nity in south­east B.C. where res­i­dents are known for prac­tis­ing a faith that con­dones plu­ral mar­riage.

Black­more is ac­cused of mar­ry­ing 24 women and is stand­ing trial with James Oler, who an in­dict­ment says has four wives.

Each is charged with one count of polygamy at the trial in Cranbrook.

Both men served as bish­ops in Canada for the Utah-based Fun­da­men­tal­ist Church of Je­sus Christ and Lat­ter-Day Saints, which is of­ten re­ferred to as the FLDS.

Mar­riage records pre­sented in court were seized in 2008 when po­lice raided the church’s Yearn­ing for Zion Ranch in Texas.

Nick Hanna, a Texas ranger in­volved in ob­tain­ing about 700 boxes of ev­i­dence from the ranch, pre­sented the mar­riage cer­tifi­cates in court.

The cer­tifi­cates in­clude a space where “du­ra­tion” is noted, af­ter which the ma­jor­ity of them read “time and eter­nity.”

Brian Hales, an ex­pert in the his­tory of the Mor­mon church, told the court Mor­mons be­lieve that in some cases mar­riages can last for­ever.

The FLDS broke away from main­stream Mor­monism over the lat­ter’s move to re­nounce polygamy around the turn of the 20th cen­tury, af­ter en­dors­ing the prac­tice about 50 years ear­lier, Hales said. Main­stream Mor­mons dis­pute the FLDS be­ing an off­shoot of the dom­i­nant Mor­mon church, which is based in Salt Lake City.

Hales, who has writ­ten sev­eral books on polygamy and Mor­monism, tes­ti­fied that fun­da­men­tal­ists who prac­tise polygamy would have to leave all but one of their wives if they wanted to join the main­stream Church of Je­sus Christ of Lat­ter-Day Saints.

A for­mer po­lyg­a­mist could re­main friends with his pre­vi­ous wives but could no longer live with or have sex­ual re­la­tions with them, he said, though they would be ex­pected to sup­port any chil­dren they may have had with their wives.

“So, in the par­lance of to­day they could be friends, but not friends with ben­e­fits?” asked Blair Suf­fre­dine, Black­more’s lawyer. “In to­day's par­lance, yes,” Hales replied. The judge-alone trial is ex­pected to last sev­eral weeks and in­clude tes­ti­mony from Black­more’s first wife.

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