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Friday, January 09, 2009

Polygamous Persecution is "Right" Thinking

Earlier this week two men from a Church of Christ polygamist sect in Southern British Columbia, Bountiful, were arrested on charges of Polygamy. This group has been the subject of numerous investigations in past, including accusations of child abuse. None of those investigations has ever produced a conviction partly, authorities claim, because of a lack of witnesses willing to speak.
Let me be clear, if there is child abuse going on in Bountiful, the perpetrators of it should be prosecuted. However, for the BC government to go after people in the community for polygamy, because they failed to successfully prosecute child abuse allegations, smacks of deliberate persecution.
Every day in Canada courts subject parents to court ordered polygamy. How many folks do you know who are supporting more than one family? I know of several men and women, right here in the small town where I live, who are supporting more than one family, often families they themselves are virtually estranged from. It seems, our courts are willing to allow people to finance more than one wife, husband and family, but our justice department has an issue with a man being married to more than one woman! It seems a might hypocritical.
I also know of several unmarried people, who have multiple partners, support more than one family, and contribute to more than one household. And I can't count the number of people I know personally who are engaged in more than one "love" relationship. Yet I know of no instance where any justice official is prosecuting these people for being involved in more than one relationship.
So why are we going after the folks in Bountiful?
Our top provincial solicitor, Wally Oppal, says it is because "right thinking" British Columbians are against polygamy! This raises several questions. First and foremost is, who gave Wally Oppal the right to decide for other people what is "right thinking?" And who says these right thinkers are right?
From polls I've seen, most people don't care if the folks in Bountiful are participating in polygamy, although they do have grave concerns about allegations of child abuse, and want the government to focus on that issue.
Wally Oppal also states he wants a ruling from the court as to whether the BC law against polygamy is constitutional. Meanwhile, most constitutional experts, including two who have previously advised the government, say the law is not constitutional. But that's apparently not good enough for Mr. Oppal! Why?
Why is the BC government spending taxpayer money pursuing a court ruling on an issue most agree is unconstitutional? Why is the BC government focussing on the issue of polygamy, when allegations of child abuse are not being pursued?
Is this an example of "right thinking"?
Perhaps what Mr. Oppal means by "right thinking" is "right" politically. Perhaps what he really means is "right wing" thinking, which persecutes anyone, or any activity, the political right finds strange or foreign or different!
Unless someone currently living in a polygamous relationship in Bountiful comes forward, with a complaint they are involved in a polygamous relationship against their will, then the government has no business taking this issue on, period!
If however, Mr. Oppal's intent, is to prosecute polygamy as a means of getting information on allegations of child or spousal abuse, then he is off base. Basically, if this is his intent, then he is engaging in deliberate persecution. If the issue is abuse, then that is what he should be prosecuting, not polygamy.
Mr. Oppal's other argument, that he is pursuing these charges, to prevent abuse of children and women, is also hypocritical. He represents a government that has cut services to women and families in need, has cut welfare for single mothers and low income families, has done nothing to create housing for the poor, and has failed miserably at decreasing the incidence of child poverty in this province. If Mr. Oppal's intent is to help abused women and children, then why isn't he lobbying his party to do something about these issues in the greater population?
The issue of polygamy predates modern marriage by many centuries. Even our most ardent Christians must acknowledge that a majority of their biblical heroes were engaged in polygamous relationships. And besides, even if marriage is between "one man and one woman", as the right so often contends, what business is it of the government to get involved? The marriages in Bountiful are between the men and women involved, and as far as I've heard, none of the women involved are coming forward saying they want out, and when they have, they have left!
Meanwhile, there's the whole issue of religious freedom. Who is to say the government has any right at all to involve itself in the tenants of any religion? No one! In fact, our charter of rights and freedoms prohibits it!
Personally, I'm appalled by this government's "right thinking" and think it may be time for the voters to elect a few "clear" thinkers to replace them.

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At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Robin Smith said...

Thank you so much for your clear (if not "right") thinking. So few notice that there is no stigma attached to a man who leaves one wife and her children and moves in with a new honey, but if a man has the agreement of the first wife and also supports the second wife and family, suddenly it's a felony. It seems that in order to be legal and moral, lives and hearts must be broken. Go figure.

At 10:31 PM, Anonymous Mitchell said...

Perhaps it's a ploy to purposely "lose" the battle of religious persecution, so that that argument won't obscure the "real" charges of kiddie diddling?
Or am I giving the Attorney general too much credit for foresight?


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