To the Editor:
I applaud the ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court on upholding the ban on polygamy; however, I do not see how the continuing harassment of the fundamentalist Mormon community serves the cause of justice.
By all means, all persons have the right of protection under the law, and all should live without fear of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. No person should be forced to marry against their will and none should be forced into a marriage-like relationship below the age of consent. No person under the age of 16 is capable of giving consent to marriage or to agree to transportation to a different country without a parent or guardian. Any person who is a member of a community such as Bountiful who desires to leave of their own free will should be provided with social services to help them adapt to a life outside the community. As in the separation of any marriage or divorce, the law should protect the assets of the partners, legally married or not. Child labour laws, worker safety and rights should be protected.
The Bountiful community has been in the Creston Valley for a long time. They are not newcomers to the valley. In general, they are law abiding citizens: I do not see them drunk in public, I do not see them causing public disturbances, they do not appear to have domestic disputes requiring the services of the RCMP, and the children appear to be happy, well fed and kept neat and clean. There is no barbed wire or walls around Bountiful. I see many successful businesses operated by these people, and they offer services to the community and spend money in local businesses. I see them as a valuable asset to our community.
Their beliefs are different than ours but no more bizarre than some of our respected Christian organizations. They dress different but no more strangely than some members of our community. It is alleged they have multiple wives but many of us have married more than once although we generally discard our previous wives in favour of new relationships.
In my opinion, I think we should concentrate on more serious crimes and leave these people alone.
We can choose to prosecute if we keep the ban on polygamy and prevent a more serious threat from other groups such as Muslims and other cultures, where polygamy is just another name for a lifetime of slavery and abuse. We tolerate and protect the rights of homosexuals, we permit polyandry, and have become very liberal with our views on how others should live their lives, I am sure we have room in our society for a few hundred Mormon fundamentalists. These people are our friends and neighbours. Along with the other pioneer families, they built this valley.
Before those people in Victoria try to “fix” the problem, perhaps they can do something about the high divorce rate, crime, education, health care, unemployment, drug and alcohol abuse, gambling addiction and other social ills not apparent in Bountiful. I do not see that we are in a position to offer a better way of life and perhaps we can even learn something from them.