Mormon History

Mormon Persecution Story - 1845

Quincy Whig January 29, 1845


The Mormons held a meeting at the Court House in this city on Monday evening last. Two of the brethren from Nauvoo spoke, and if their speeches were evidence of their christian feeling and benevolence. Heaven help all such as are compelled to fellowship with them.

The object of the meeting and the exertions of the two Saints who made themselves conspicuous on the occasion, was to create sympathy, for the poor down-trodden, persecuted Mormons, and if possible to save their city charter.

They most positively denied the charges bro't against the Saints, of stealing -- declared the Mormons were the most heavenly and perfect people on the earth, &c., &c.

During the evening, the proceedings of a public meeting, held at Nauvoo, were read -- characterized by the most vindictive and bitter feeling.

One of the resolutions of this meeting, was very abusive of the Warsaw Signal, Alton Telegraph and Quincy Whig: -- it charged those prints with disseminating the principles of mobocracy, and their columns had been, and were occupied by the "pens of murderers" to "deafen the cry of innocent blood," but we have not the time and room to follow the proceedings through, and show their bitter malice and hatred of every thing, saving Mormonism.

This people preach up their benevolence and a great liberality towards mankind in general. But after reading their resolutions denunciatory of the presses, alluded to, what hope would there be for the safety of the presses -- The Alton Telegraph, Warsaw Signal, and the Quincy Whig -- were those wretches to exercise unlimited sway. The assassin's knife and the incendiary's torch would be the order of the day. Where they had the power they have destroyed one press already under a law of their own creation, and they would destroy every press in the Union, [saving] only such as upheld their doctrines, if they could secure the opportunity.

Away with all mock sympathy say we. They have violated the laws of the State -- they have thrown a whole community into anarchy and confusion -- they have abused privileges, which the people of this State in their simplicity have extended to them -- then let those privileges be taken from them, and they be put on an equality with other denominations and sects. We shall refer to this subject again.


B.C. sect leader calls polygamy charge persecution, political grandstanding

January 9, 2009

The Canadian Press

BOUNTIFUL, B.C. The defiant leader of a polygamous sect in British Columbia says the decision of the B.C. Crown to charge him for practising polygamy is religious persecution and political grandstanding.

Winston Blackmore said there are tens of thousands of polygamists from many different cultures living across the country but his religious sect, which openly practices multiple marriage, is being targeted.

Blackmore and James Oler, the leader of a rival faction within the community of Bountiful in southeastern B.C., were arrested Wednesday and face one charge each of practising polygamy.

Blackmore said Thursday that the Crown has disregarded his basic charter right to religious freedom.

"This is not about polygamy," Blackmore said in a statement to media Thursday. "To us this is about religious persecution."

At a brief news conference at the community school in Bountiful, in the Kootenay region of B.C. near the U.S. border, a sombre Blackmore read a statement and declined to take any questions, saying his lawyer had advised him against it.

A handful of teenaged girls, some of whom would bear no distinction from any other teenaged girl in the surrounding community of Creston, gathered in the room as Blackmore spoke to a small group of reporters. Also in the audience were a few women in the long skirts that have come to define the community to outsiders.

They watched as Blackmore told reporters the issue is a political one, not criminal.

"It is therefore no surprise to us that this spectacular grandstanding event has happened in the face of an up and coming provincial election," he read from his statement.

About 1,000 members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints live in Bountiful, a neighbourhood within the town of Creston.

The sect is a breakaway offshoot of the Mormon church, which renounced polygamy more than a century ago.

Blackmore is alleged to be married to 20 women, while Oler is accused of committing polygamy by being married to two women. In the past, Blackmore has openly admitted to having numerous wives and dozens of children.

The charges against Blackmore, 55, and Oler, 44, will test Canada's ban on multiple marriage. Blackmore said the law was written "specifically against the Mormons."

But "Canada also has a Charter of Rights and Freedoms that guarantees every person the right to live their religion, and I guess now, every person except those of us who are fundamentalist believing and practising Mormons," he said.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, it will most likely end up in front of the country's highest court because of the charter issue.

"I hope this government has calculated all the risks," Blackmore said. "Time will tell."

Creston RCMP began an investigation into allegations of polygamy and sexual exploitation in the fall of 2005.

That investigation was completed in September 2006 and a recommendation was made to Crown for charges to be laid.

Last June, B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal appointed a special prosecutor to look into allegations of criminal abuse at Bountiful, saying renewed public concerns compelled him to act.

That came despite two earlier legal opinions that it would be difficult to proceed with polygamy charges because of the charter issue.

Then last year child-welfare authorities in Texas apprehended more than 450 children from a sister polygamous community in that state, putting pressure on B.C. to act.

Prior to that, polygamist leader Warren Jeffs, the sect's prophet in the U.S., was jailed south of the border. He was convicted in Utah as an accomplice to rape for presiding over the marriage of a teenaged girl and faces trial in Arizona on other charges related to the marriages of members of sect there.

Blackmore said his own arrest has taken a serious toll on his family but "my family will be just fine."

He said he will continue to do what he's always done, raising his children and living his life.

"I am what I am, we are what we are," he said.

Although the mainstream Mormon church has renounced polygamy, he defiantly defended multiple marriage as a fundamental of the "Mormon" faith.

"We are descended from a long line of Mormon believing people. My family did not make up the our faith nor did we establish the fundamental teachings of Mormonism."