Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More Polygamy Law updates - Anonymous Witness #2

From transcript of Jan 25, 2011
Testimony of Witness # 2 - Anonymous - given in another court room in presence of Judge, FLDS lawyer and court staff only. Viewed by video not on the witness in session court room for other lawyers.

Witness #2 ia a woman in her early 40's who was born in Lister, BC (just outside of Creston) and raised in the FLDS at Bountiful in a family where the father had five wives.

Witness #2 (W2) lived in a home with three of the wives and 30 children, 15 of which were full siblings. She has three siblings that have left the community and interractions with them are respectful but they have different values and fewer commonalities now. Education was very important in her family and she was encouraged to finish high school, attending school in Bountiful and achieved her grade 12. She went on to six years of post secondary education and a diploma there as well. She has held jobs both in the community and outside of the community for 19 years.

W2 was married at 16 years of age and is in a plural marriage with one other wife. She believes that plural marriage is required to attain the highest degree in the celestial kingdom but that plural marriage requires considerable amount of faith and determination and is thus not for everyone within the FlDS.

When W2 was 16 years old, she was interested in going to college and her parents suggested that marriage might help her get there. She thought about it and decided that getting married would be a good idea and so her parents went to the Prophet. A Elder of good standing in the church was presented as a potential spouse to her and she was given option to turn the match down. She didn't know him but knew of him and decided it was a good match. She was married three months later. During that three months she met with her future spouse every weekend.

She has lived in the a different house from her sister wife but currently they share the same home again. They are both committed to getting along and when conflicts arrise they are dealt with using discussion, negotiation and concilation.

W2 is says her husband supported her education and took care of the children when she needed to be away. Her one regret was that she had to be away from very young children for longer than she would have liked and thus might have waited to have her children in retrospect. Currently the policy in the community is that there are no marriages with people under 18 years of age. She agrees that this is best.

W2 has nine children and has encouraged them to make free choices about marriage partners. She has 4 that are over 18 years of age. Her daughter was married at 15 to a 19 year old boy that she was friendly with and wanted to have a relationship with. Her parents discouraged the situation but the daughter went to the prophet for permission to marry and it was granted. The daughter is now 26 and they have a very good relationship. Her concern was that the daughter would not continue her education but the daughter has begun to do that now.

Asked if she would allow her daughter to have married a much older man, she said no and that there were no consequences to that refusal. Asked if she believed that decisions of the Prophet must always be followed, she said no and that like Joseph Smith himself any man can make mistakes.

W2 has a step-son who was working in a town which is 90 minutes from Bountiful and he was influenced by peers to use alcohol and drugs. They tried to help him overcome these addictions but in the end he decided to leave the community and purse these habits.
The FLDS do not use drugs and alcohol at all. She and her husband have maintained contact and he has expressed interest in returning but cannot kick the habits although counselling has been accessed. He is currently living with the married daughter.

She believes in agency and that she can make choices to follow her faith or not. She says that the polygamy law gives mainstream Canada room to make assumptions and discriminate against members of her community who need to seek counselling and other assistance. She says that decriminalizing polygamy would give much relief to her community in terms of not having to finance legal costs.

Cross-examination by the BCAG:

Creston now incorporates the old town of Lister has been home to some FLDS. The FLDS communities of Bountiful, Canyon, and Arrow Creek border it. Neighbouring Cranbrook,Kitchener and Yahk have been home to many FLDS as well. BCAG asked if these would be places FLDS women might go to birth their children and W2 said yes but some have gone to Calgary and Vancouver as well.

Then followed some bizarre tactic of bullet questioning that attempted to get the witness to identify members of the community and succeeded in getting the witness to identify her career and then read into the transcipt from her education as noted in her affadavit - some of which was objected to by the FLDS lawyer and cautioned by the Judge as being close to violating his court order of anonymity. The tone of this cross was very aggressive and slightly snide.

W2 said that to achieve the highest level of celestial glory a man must have more than one wife. A woman's path was through her father and then her husband as they were her "priesthood head" or the head of the household and the one given responsibility to ensure household members were instructed on the ways to be most Christ-like. She said the she was not taught to give her husband absolute obedience and refers to them as co-parenting the children.

Regarding interaction of boys and girls, W2 said that she played sports with boys but they were taught not to have boyfriends or interract sexually with the boys.

Regarding dress - women tend to wear only dresses, long underwear is optional - custom is to swim in clothing.

Regarding family size - teaching is to have the number of children that you can take care of.

Placement marriage - prophet has an inspired suggestion which is presented to you at a meeting with you and your parents if possible or the prophet advised your father and he told you. Some girls daydreamed and talked about who they would marry and it was something that they looked forward to. She and her sister wife are biological sisters as well.

Education - only university or college has been for teachers and midwifes - she is quoted in her affadavit
you suggest that the reason that
"there aren't more secondary opportunities for Bountiful children is that they do not have the money to pursue higher education because it's all going to defending American church leaders."

W2 was very clear that financial assistance was not required but requested and that she herself also choose to help.

Both W2 and her sister wife, who had 10 children work outside the home full-time as does their husband. Asked if her youngest child (7 years old) was involved in organized sport or other activities outside of the Bountiful community, she said no but others of her children were. The youngest has doctor, dentist appointments in town and use of park and library.

She agreed that she was aware of girls who were married at ages between 15 and 18 years and of 8 or 9 teen girls who came from the US to marry Canadian men. The policy for not marrying under 18 years of age came in about a year and a half ago and there have been no marriages since its implementation.

She discussed giving an affidavit for this court hearing with her husband but not the content of it. She was interviewed by Prof Angela Campbell.

Cross-examine by AG of Canada:

Her sister married the husband when she was 16 and the husband was 23. W2 married him six years later and became second wife.
W2 had children with 18 mos to 4 year spacing. Birth control was not discussed openly but she was familiar with it and discussed it with her daughter. She indicated that divorce or separation was an option available and that it did not require either spouse leaving the community nor was the wife required to accept being placed with another spouse.

Regarding girls coming up from the US to marry:
W2 says that they enter as visitor visa or student visa and stay as long as they can keep renewing their visa. When the visa expires they leave Canada and go to Idaho until an application for common law status or other permanent status can be arranged.

Cross-examine by WestCoast leaf:

Asked if a woman could ever hold a leadership role (bishop, prophet, priesthood head) in the church community and W2 said no. She confirmed that one tenth of their income is given to the church as tithing and monies given to assist in legal fees is in addition to this regular tithing payments.

Angela Campbell interview - W2 confirmed that she did that interview without the knowledge or approval of any of the church leadership. She told her husband after the fact.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Catching up on testimony - Carolyn Jessop - ex-FLDS

Testimony of Carolyn Blackmore Jessop from transcripts of  her appearance in  BC Supreme Court session on Jan 12, 2011.

As well as appearing in court, Carolyn Jessop submitted an affadavit in these proceedings, a video taped interview, two books that she has written entitled "Escape" and "Triumph"and a copy of her testimony to the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding her experience with the FLDS Church.

Carolyn's father is Arthur Ray Blackmore was was originally a Canadian citizen and resident of Bountiful. He was adopted into Harold Blackmore's family.  He moved to the United States and married three wives and fathered 28 children and parented 8 more.  Carolyn is the second oldest of his children and her mother is Nurylon Bistline Blackmore.  Her mother is a sixth generation polygamist Mormon. She grew up in the Hilldale/colorado City community but visited with her father's relatives in Bountiful. She said that while the communities were very similiar in beliefs, dress and obedience to the council of Apostles and later one man rule of Prophet - there was little intermarriage between the Canadian faction and the Utah/Colorado faction.  The US group did not convert from the general population as a rule you had to be born into the community and there was much intermarriage amongst families.  The Canadian faction intermarried with the general Canadian population and converted to the faith.  Marriages were arranged by the prophet and love was unnecessary and discouraged. 

Carolyn's mother was first wife and had 13 children. Second wife was Rosy who was niece of Carolyn's mother. She was 22 at the time and well known to the children of the house as she had babysat and helped with the children.  "It wasn't that big of a shift."

She remembers her mother being very unhappy and her parents did not get along at all.  Her mother was depressed and vocal about suicide from her earliest memory.  Her mother was very emotional and her temperament "went in a lot of directions". Rosy's personality meshed with the husband's at lot better and she became the favoured wife.  Rosy worked as a nurse and that left Carolyn's mother with several preschoolers for long periods of time.  Child care fell to the older daughters including Carolyn.  Household responsibilities interfered with her social life as a teenager but more importantly she was pulled out of school after grade 8 and this created conflict between Carolyn and her mother because Carolyn wanted an education.  She found a homeschooling program and was able to complete three years in one year.  Her father consented to her attending high school for a maximum of two years and she was able to transfer credits and complete high school by age 17.

Education wasn't seen as necessary for women and more of a contamination of worldliness.  Carolyn wanted to be a pediatrician because this role was being fullfilled in the community by an aging midwife and there was too much work for her to handle. Carolyn was allowed to go to community college and worked at the school as a teacher's aid during the day.  Her father asked the prophet for permission for her to go to university to be a doctor.  This was denied but she was told that she could be a teacher if she would agree to marry Merrill Jessop.Her future husband might well say he didn't want more education for his wife but as the prophet had approved it, there was opportunity. Merrill was 50 and she was 18. It was done quickly and in secret because her older sister had run away from an arranged marriage and discredited the family and her parents were concerned that Carolyn might try that as well. She went to school with his daughters and was in a different clique from them. As a result they were appalled that she became their mother and there was some conflict. Merrill had quite a bit of status in the community where her father didn't and his 3 other wives were more her own mother's age and so she was not well received in the household at all. Within six months of her marriage to Merrill he married two of Leroy Johnson's wives as the latter had died and they were widows.

Perfect obedience to the prophet and the male head of household was enforced with whatever punishment was needed and violence against children and women was commonplace.  Evidence of battery such as a black eye were viewed as symptoms of the shame of the woman who had grieved her husband such that he needed to hit her.
Her own mother was quite violent and she had no bond at all with her.  Carolyn felt safer with her father because he was more stable and she connected with him.  She wasn't afraid to tell him  how she felt.  He was not violent at all and as she was an older child, her father had more time available to develop a relationship with her.  She felt that her father was very protective of his children and had conflict about the demands of his religion on his children. 

Carolyn has eight children and her first two were educated in the public school but then Warren Jeffs ordered them to pull the children out and had a private school set up. She was concerned because the readers they were using were impossible to teach a child to read using them.  All outside reading material was ordered destroyed and she had over 3300 children's books collected when she was working as a teacher. There could be no materials used in the school that were not created by the community. They were not even allowed to have Bibles in the home anymore.

She feared her husband and rarely spoke with him. Her husband had ultimate financial control.  Every cent earned went to him and he doled out money for groceries, childrens' needs and the wives had to ask for specific items beyond that.  He would use that control to ensure obedience.  She eventually had her employer direct deposit part of her pay to a separate account and issue a paycheque for the remainder.  Birth control was denied by her husband despite the fact that she had very difficult pregnancies and she managed to get a sister to take her to a clinic for a depo shot so that birth control pills were not found in her belongings.

(My Comments:  I have to stop here and say that Carolyn and Merrill's marriage sounds much like my first marriage.  My first husband was a very controlling man and abusive and the same financial and birth control applied to me as well.  My husband was very monogamous and an atheist.  Polygamy and Mormonism were not factors and yet the results were very similar. Even down to the other family members hating her.  I was the "foreigner" to his family and they only spoke English when speaking directly to me.  They supported him and I was a bad wife if I had a black eye. Cut off  from my own family and friends and very isolated by intent of the husband.  It was exactly the same deal as Carolyn describes. Classic domestic abuse.  I would suspect that most of these stories could be heard in any transition house or women's shelter in Canada and the US. where refugees of monogamy also fear their spouses and sometimes in the kick the dog theory of passing inappropriate discipline and internalized rage "down the line" - children fear their parents and children are used by one parent to intimidate and control the other. This crap is everywhere in our society hidden, not discussed and rarely reported. The reasons for not reporting are legion: fear of the perpetrator, family and community apathy and the huge effort it takes to get the courts/ police to enforce the laws on the books regarding abusive behaviour.  The Amicus listed some 20 laws in the criminal code that directly address these harms in his closing statement. If we prosecute polygamists we are discriminating against the thousands of monogamous women suffering these harms.  Let's just have a country where all citizens can live in loving relationships safely. )
Carolyn has a very dramatic story of escape inspired by a desire to get proper medical attention for her two youngest children and keep Warren Jeffs away from her oldest daughter. She speaks of the long process to help all her children heal and be comfortable in the general population of society. She had huge struggles and a real nasty ex-husband but she triumphed and her children rose above the psychological trauma of their family life and the separation from the culture and community that gave them their identity.  She deserves to be proud of those accomplishments. She speaks sadly of her oldest daughter returning to the group at age 18 and now lives on the ranch in Texas.

With all her negative experience, Carolyn speaks out against the harms she observed and was subjected too.  She speaks of resources to help women escape. Carolyn also calls for the decriminalization of polygamy. 

"And so my theory with decriminalizing [polygamy] would be just giving people some rights so that we have claim to property.  We have claim to help.  One of the concerns I have with that is I
don't know that in the polygamist setting I grew up if woman would have been allowed those rights way I way.  I don't know that men would legally marry their wives if they could and give them legal rights.  I don't think it would happen quite frankly and part of the ways to control people and have this power is you can't give them rights and have that kind of power."

Cross-examination by the lawyer for the FLDS:
In discussing the various leadership that Carolyn had experienced as a member of the FLDs, it was noted that Leroy Johnson was more moderate that Rulon Jeffs and Warren Jeffs was more restrictive.  The harms that she discusses in her books were directly attributed to her husband and/or Warren Jeffs. Carolyn indicated that Warren Jeffs was created by the lifestyle and that it has and will create others like him.  Carolyn said that no criminal charges were brought against her husband for abusive behaviour as he agreed to a abide by a protection order and the AG of her state felt that helping her to gain custody of the children and keep them safe was of greater issue.  There are  however charges pending against her husband in Texas for his behaviour there.

Carolyn wrote a 17 page letter in 2000 to Rulon Jeffs asking for protection from her husband and to be allowed to live separately with her children.  Warren Jeffs on behalf of his father was giving women release from one marriage and replacing them to another husband because of abuse in the former marriage.  Carolyn did not want to be placed with another husband. Asked if she had been given a release from marriage to Merrill and placed elsewhere in 2000, would she be still in the FLDS today, she said yes if she had been able to protect her children and particularly her oldest daughter who was 13 at the time of leaving.

Carolyn agreed that this oldest daughter has a different view of the FLDS and now as a 21 year old adult is making adult choices and Carolyn worries about her. She agreed that other people lived happily in the FLDS and did not experience the same harms.
"because they were not married to Merrill"

Discussing her appearance on Oprah, the lawyer introduced transcripts of that show where Carolyn called for decriminalization of polygamy.
"And so if there was a way to decriminalize it so people could live honestly and open and with dignity...Then the children would
 have more options they would see more of what is really available..."

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Polys in Court - Video testimony including Anne Wilde

From transcripts of January 13th of BC Supreme Court session re: s293 of the Criminal Code of Canada.
Video testimony of Don Fischer.
Don is a member of the FLDS church and his father had three wives. Don was the fourth of twelve children from the same mother. His family lived in Hildale, Utah in a house with 15 bedrooms and 15 bathroom in three different apartments with three separate kitchens.  Each wife had her own room and so did his father.  The children were three or four to a room until he was about 10 years old when the older children were moving out, getting married and having their own homes.  When he was 14 he moved to Canada.  Before that he attended a public elementary school and then Warren Jeffs implemented private home schooling in the community. They were taught some Math, English and Science but most of the study was on church history and how to be good, go to heaven, get lots of wives and build the kingdom of God.

He speaks fondly of having so many children in the house and says that it was a lot of fun. There was always someone to play with and all of their friends around as well.  There was very little time with his parents.  Both were always busy tending to the needs of the family. He stood up to his father and got on the wrong side of him and still doesn't get along with him.  Don's relationship with his own children is very different and he has a sense of having missed out on that with his own parents. 

He was sent to Canada because he would argue with his father and stand between him and siblings to protect them.  His father said he was interfering with God's will and a father's right to discipline his children.  Don saw that the discipline was supported by abusively excessive punishments including physical beatings and refused to accept it or allow it to be dealt out to his younger siblings.His father went to Rulon Jeffs for assistance and Don was sent to Bountiful to work for Winston Blackmore.  He didn't attend school but was with other boys who were on a reform camp project where they worked all day and night.  They were paid room and board and $120 per month. They lived with a family and participated in the regular church study, priesthood meetings and family prayer/study activities.

Don found it to be a positive experience.  He found Winston to be a much more reasonable father figure and he got to play hockey. He returned to the US  a year later when Warren Jeffs split up his father's family and his mother was reassigned to Allen Steed.  All the children had to be at the wedding ceremony so he went home for it.  His step-dad never yelled at him or beat him like his father had and it was a surprise for him.  He stayed there and lived with his mom in the new step-dad's house immediately acquiring 16 new mothers and 60 new siblings. He worked for Allen Steed's company and was supposed to turn his paycheques over to his step-dad but refused to do so and spent his money on CD's, cigarettes and movies.  He was told to gather his belongings and be off the property immediately one day along with a brother who was years older than he was.  An older sibling drove them to the next town and rented them a motel room for the night. They were allowed to work for another of Allen Steed's companies and one of his Uncles set them up in a trailer in a trailer park because they agreed to repent and pay their tithing. He was rebapitized and allowed to return to the community after about 8 months but his brother moved to Georgia.  Don stayed in the community until he was 18 yrs old and the Warren Jeffs/Winston Blackmore split occurred. He went back to Canada and joined Winston's group for about a year and then left the FLDS community entirely.

He was taught that girls were like snakes. He wasn't allowed to look, touch or talk to girls.  Even his own sisters were not allowed to play sports with them as no contact was allowed. He was allowed to talk to his sisters but no hugging or other contact was allowed.  The boys went out to work and the girls got married.  The girls' purpose was to have kids and the boys' purpose was to be a great man of God.

Most of the community went no further than grade 8 education when he was in the community but more recently more people have been finishing high school and going on to university.  The career choice and access to higher education is at the discretion of the Prophet.  One of Don's brother's is a Dentist, a sister is a Doctor and several brothers are paramedics and firefighters. One of his mothers is a school teacher. 

Don has been out of the community for over six years and is not allowed to be in contact with family members nor are they allowed to be in contact with him.  Twice since leaving Warren Jeff's faction, he has been driving through town and seen his mother out in the garden or walking down a street.  He has stopped and given her a hug and said hello.  One time he had his son in the car and let her see him and hold him.  She asked another son with her if she was allowed to hold the child and he just walked away. Both times she has been very afraid to be seen with Don and the contact was abrupt.

Video interview of Anne B. Wilde of Principle Voices
This interview was done by John P. Dehlin for a television series called Mormon Stories.  Anne was put forward by the Amicus as an expert by virtue of her long experience in various fundamentalist Mormon communities. The status of expert was contested by the other parties and so her affadavit and video evidence was submitted as an ordinary fact witness (anecdotal evidence).

Anne says that the doctrine of polygamy came directly from the Old testament where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and a lot of early prophets had plural wives and as Joseph Smith's purpose was to restore the orginal ordinances and principles to the world, plural marriage was one of them.  It is referred to as Celestial plural marriage as it determines that you live on a higher plane.
It became part of established beliefs of the LDS church as section 132 of the Doctrine and Covenants from 1852 to 1890. In response to persecution and threats that the fovernment would take away property of the church and its members, the church issued a press release or manifesto discontinuing the practice in 1890.  There were still some members practicing it until a second more restrictive manifesto was issued in 1904. Section 132 still stands as doctrine regarding the eternal principle. 

Joseph Smith received the revelation regarding plural marriage in 1831. His first wife was Emma and the second was Fanny Alltruth Louisa Beaman.  It was done in secrecy at first and there is a suggestion that Emma didn't approve of polygamy and may not have been fully aware that Joseph had taken another wife.  The wives lived in different houses so the neighbours just thought the husband was away a lot.  There was developed a pattern of 27 rules for plural marriage activity from the man going to the girls father and the church president to arrange things but after the manifesto these rules were not followed.  In 1886, then prophet John Taylor received a revelation that said that men must use their free agency in these matters in order to keep the principle alive after the church had given it up to government pressure.

Section 132 talks about the law of Sarah which is the consent of the first wife and the ceremony calls for the first wife to place the hand of the subsequent wife in the husband's hand.  There are cases where the first wife is so adamantly against it that the husband is given an exemption from the law of Sarah.

There is some historical evidence that polygamy was instituted because the men were being killed off by those persecuting the membership and leaving widows. Polygamy gave them spousal support. The interviewer says that Joseph married women who were 18, 16, 14 and not likely to be widows needing protection and disputes this theory.  Anne says the widow or abandoned woman with children was more often the choice.  The interviewer disputes this and says that teenage brides were common and suggested that the practice was inappropriate.  Anne said that 150 years ago young women matured earlier.  Generally she was the older sister and in charge of younger siblings and not hanging out in the mall as they do these days.  Currently people in this lifestyle are encouraged to wait until they are 18 which is legal age in the state of Utah (16 with parental consent) but it used to be 16 and 14 with parental consent.  The parental consent only applies to the legal marriage (the first wife) but subsequent marriages are priesthood sealings or religious commitment ceremonies which do not have this restriction. In the 1840's the legal age for marriage was much younger possibly 14.

Polyandry was also practiced by Joseph Smith as he was married to women who were also married to me who were still living. 

The early LDS were persecuted and driven from state to state because of their practice of polygamy.  Joseph Smith was very popular and had a huge following and their city of Nauvoo was the largest city in the state of Illinois.  Nauvoo had its own militia.  He was a candidate for President of the United States and this cause some fear amongs the general population. There was also a faction within the church that did not approve of polygamy and felt that Joseph was leading them astray.  So there were several reasons that he was martyred.

Some of Joseph's wives were in name only or spiritual wives but it is thought that he did cohabit with some of them  and there is an account where he had a daughter, Josephine.  Also there are journal entries noting that Joseph and one of his wives had stayed in a room in their house.  Publically he denied practicing polygamy and even after his death Emma denied that he had practiced polygamy.  The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints denies Joseph practiced polygamy and says that it began with Brigham Young.   Asked how she could reconcile them lying, Anne said that when you are the leader of a church you would likely not want the world to know everything and would keep things to yourself. Emma was noted as witness to his sealing to the Partidge sisters and the Lawrence sisters and for her to deny it was her decision.  She didn't want her children to know. Their oldest son,Joseph and youngest son, David made trips to Salt Lake and talked to some of his wives to learn that he did live plural marriage.  He is not recorded anywhere as saying that he practiced it but there is plenty of evidence that he did.

By the 1880's conforming to the law of plural marriage was a requirement to be granted a position of general authority within the church.  It was necessary to achieve exultation or go to the highest plane of heaven - celestial glory.  Six men were commissioned by John Taylor to keep the principle alive and the last living member of that group called six more men and so on until we arrive at Rulon Allred and Leroy Johnson.  There was a split and the Allred group became the United Brethren and the Johnson group became Short Creek community which later became the FLDS church. Then a group split off from Short Creek called Centennial Park and another in Davis County and various clusters of independent fundamentalist Mormons.

Between 1910 and 1940 the LDS were excommunicating members found to have more than one wife and the prophet was preaching firey sermons but performing plural commitment ceremonies secretly according to journal entries.

The LDS church wanted to distance itself from polygamy and worked hard at that but in 2002 when the world media came to Salt Lake City for the Olympics, they would into the venues and say where are the polygamists and associated Utah with polygamy.   FLDS and LDS share articles of faith, original doctrines and works that were used in the church in the 1840's and changes since are LDS and not supported by the FLDS.  Anne refers to it as the Political organization verses the Eclessiastical organization.

FLDS members do not have access to the LDS temples and performance of temple ordinances but Anne says that they wait for the promise of section 85 where God will set his house in order.
Some of the other groups have built there own temples. The interviewer wondered why there is no longer a prophet and God has withdrawn that and Anne indicated that a falling away of the church from the principle would be the reason.

Interviewer asks if she thinks Jesus was a polygamist.  Anne says that he was a Rabbi and they were required to take a wife a that time.  There is evidence that Mary Magdalene was married to him and their is evidence in writings of contemporaries of Jesus that the daughters of Kings were among his wives so she and her husband researched and wrote a book theorizing that Jesus was a polygamist.

Anne was born in Detroit and raised in the LDS church. Her mother was a Mormon but her father wasn't. Her parents moved to California and divorced.  She and her mother moved to Salt Lake city and her mother remarried a good Morman man when she was about 9 years old.  The family moved to a little community in California called Taft near Bakersfield.  Her step-dad became Bishop of the ward and she got a scholarship to Brigham Young University.  She graduated with a degree in business administration and worked for the university president until she got married and had a baby. The church was a very vital part of her life from childhood and her mother was very devoted.  she and her husband were married in the temple in Los Angeles in 1959 and eventually moved to Provo, Utah where he completed his degree, a a master's degree and got a job.  she had three children when they divorced. She and her husband were troubled by the changes in the church doctrine and felt that if the early church had the true doctrine then it should still be true. They had friends who were asking the same questions.  She met a man, August Dunn, in this group who she married in 1969 as his second wife and was happily married to him for 33 years. She accepted the principle after much prayer and fasting.

August Dunn's wives all lived in separate homes.  She wanted to have more children but wasn't able to so she and August considered the 65 books they published on their own printing press to be their children.  She did not find being a plural wife lonely as she likes her space and had time for one on one with her children and time with her girlfriends as well as good time with him.  She did not tell her mother and step-father about being a plural wife until just before they passed away in 1991 because they were mainstream Mormons and it would have been hard for them to accept.  Her friends all thought that she was a gay divorcee that didn't want things to change and as she had no further children there was nothing to explain.

August was a scientific photographer and a kind, responsible man with a good sense of humour. He was honest, intelligent and had a terrific memory as well as some strong writing skills.   He had a lot of friends and was considered very likeable.  He converted to the LDS church in his late teens and was an avid reader of church history and doctrine.  He researched and wrote books and considered writing to be his mission.  Anne would help him with research and do the typesetting and printing.  He would bind the books.  They worked as a team. 

She got along okay with the other sister wives and wishes it could have been better.  She worked through both her marriages and was able to support herself and her children.  She sees plural marriage as the best of both worlds for the women as they can have a family and lots of children but can also go bakc to school to advance her career and now her kid are well provided for by a sister wife. The idea is that you work as a team to provide for the plural family unit. 

She told her children when they were old enough to understand the need for discretion.  None of them have chosen plural marriage but they respect her choice and got along well with August.  The kids maintained a relationship with their birth father but he died early on. 

In 2000, Anne wrote and published a book called "Voices in Harmony" with Mary Bachelor and Maryann Watson which compiled the stories of 100 women who were in happy plural marriages.  They were tired of the anti-polygamy media deluge and decided that it was time someone told the other side of the story. They sent out survey letters and provided anonymity. All of the respondents are women who chose to be plural wives and no one was forced to participate or an underaged bride. The average polygamist man had two or three wives and no more.  Leaders might have more but not the others.  August was very supportive of the project.  They sold 1000 copies in the first month.

Interviewer asks Anne about jealousy.  She said that its individual adjustment. You understand that it is for religious reasons and take it out of the bedroom and into the kitchen and living room whare most of the time is spent anyway.  She said that they lived in separate houses which helped.

"I knew how much I was loved by my husband and how much I loved him and I think if a woman knows that she is really loved sincerely and deeply by her husband she can make that adjustment.  And it's the key for the man to help each wife feel sincerely loved and appreciated.  And that her voice counts.And that somebody if he takes another wife it doesn't mean he loves the
 existing wives any less.  It's like a mother having children when she has the second and third child she doesn't love the first one any less.  She has a greater capacity to love them all."

Interviewer says that his wife wanted to know if a man could really love, fulfill and satisfy multiple women. Anne said absolutely. Interviewer comments that he must have been a remarkable man. Anne agreed but said that not all men or women are supposed to live this principle.

The book was the beginning of several years of media attention and being very public about her lifestyle.  Their goal is to have people understand and respect for her lifestyle and eventually hav ie decriminalilzed.  If it is between consenting adults and all parties are in agreement then we are not doing anyone any harms and it ought to be considered legistimate.  There is a lot of diversity in family structure in America such that there are more people living in alternative lifestyles than there are in nuclear families  (husband, wife and two children).

Anne says that the Attorney General in Utah has been consulting with her group on their culture and separating the abuses of some people from the activities of the whole community and enforcing laws specific to the behaviour - not polygamy itself. 

Polgamy gone wrong is defined by Anne as a situation where their in unrighteous dominion either by the husband of the family or a leader in the community.  When that happens things like abuse of welfare or family members will also happen.  Child abuse is breaking God's laws too.  The FLDS under Warren Jeffs is unrighteous dominion in her opinion. Only when the principle is chosen by exercising free will and a desire to follow God's laws is it appropriate.  The reason the Centennial Park group split from Short Creek in 1986 was because they wanted a committe to rule and Short Creek was determined to continue the one man rule.

Anne said that they are hoping to get the Reynolds law where you can believe what you want but you can't practice (refering to polygamy) overturned by the US Supreme court.  They firmly believe that adherence to the laws of God and the laws of man is important and want to have the principle of polygamy to not be in contradiction with the laws of man.  

Anne currently puts out a magazine called Mormon focus and highlights polygamist families and the way they resolve issues. She does presentations at the university and for social services and uses these articles to teach about the culture.  Her group is called Principle Voices.

Anne talks further in her interview about some statistics and the prevalence of polygamy in various Mormon factions and other religious groups in the US but I will skip that in my summary as due to the length of this interview and more current stats were presented by the experts. She also spends quite awhile talking about really intense Mormon theology of how the heavens are structured which is interesting but doesn't add anything relevant to our interest.

(MY COMMENTSIt is interesting that she's the only person with historical background in Mormonism to say that Joseph Smith practiced polyandry (one women have several spouses) which the BCAG and other "experts" note as a rare form and unheard of in the FLDS movement.  It would appear to me that polyandry WAS an accepted form of polygamy and that Joseph Smith intending to institute gender inequality is questionable.  (Similarly the requirement that priesthood only be male was a restriction imposed to keep membership from ordaining the wives of priesthood so they could travel under a priesthood discount on the trains with their husbands. It was not a statement of the value of women to the church.)  The second really enlightening thing for me was the point about the AG consulting with her group to get a cultural background and separate the abusive behaviour of some people from the concept of polygamy in general.  That is a good sign that it is possible and reasonable from a law enforcement perspective to suggest that as the Amicus and many of the interest parties on the anti-law side have done.  That was very exciting for me. And thirdly her reference to polygamy gone wrong or "harmful polygamy" as CPAA has coined it in their closing statement exists when "unrighteous dominion", Yyranny or gender inequality exists. Amazing testimony no wonder the BCAG didn't want her testimony weighed as expert. )

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Catching up - more video testimony

Video testimony from transcripts of January 11, 2011.

Mary Louise Mackert

- filmed on June 25th in Creston, British Columbia
- she lives in Bonners Ferry, Idaho and has for about six years.
- she was born in Short Creek now the Hilldale, Utah side of Colorado City community.
- she was her mother's first child and her mother was her father's third wife
- her mother (Myra Kunz Mackert) was from a family that had been Mormons since the time of Joseph Smith but her father (Clyde Chapman Mackert) was converted to the faith -  Myra used Chapman as a surname.
- her family lived in Colorado City until she finished second grade - she was her father's sixth child and he still had time for his children then but as the family grew he became increasingly distant and she found herself grovelling for attention - she suggests that each of her siblings would have a different perspective depending on their birth order in the family - when she was 15 her father married his fourth wife who already had children which made 31 children in the family
- she feels that polygamy makes men sperm donors and they can't even really make an adequate living to support their families  - her mother worked outside the home to support her children and paid for the absolute bare necessities and bills and then turned over the surplus to her dad to support the family as a whole.
- when the family moved to Salt Lake City the wives all lived in separate homes with their children which were all within a six mile radius of each other - the children attended different school but they saw each other for family Sunday School and various family activities.
- her relationship with her father was impacted by him violating her at a young age and having her keep their special secret which she found out later he had also arranged with several of her sisters - she has always sought out men who were abusive and emotionally unavailable.
- her mother was strong, independent and hardworking supporting and raising seven children and Mary learned to work hard and love to cook and have a clean home and love all those things that are domestic
- she said that her mother was her father's favourite wife and that the jealousy and competitiveness of the other wives impacted her own relationships with them. - they had to be content in not having their needs met and while it wasn't an open all out catfight there was still  passive aggressive reactions to the  tension.
- she grew up afraid of police officers who might take her dad away to jail.
 - she was taught as a child that getting married and having babies was what women were to do and the younger you got married the more spiritually mature you were said to be - she began to hear comments about her spiritual maturity at about age 13 when she also began menstruating.
- She fell in love at 15 with the son of her father's fourth wife who was a step-brother and her mother would not allow it as the boy's mother had been divorced three times and was converted out of the mainstream Mormon church to polygamy.  She felt that the boy would never take a second wife and likely abandon Mary and leave her to raise her children alone.  - she remembered talk of the women about a young woman who was a first wife and had to tend to her husband's sex drive alone which resulted in her being pregnant every nine months and that all she needed was for him to take a second wife to help her with him.
- at 17 she married Fred Alvin Draper (aka Uncle Bill) who was 52 and almost 3 years older than her father.
- her sweetheart (step-brother) was away on Mission  and her older sister who was married to Roy Johnson invited her to come visit over Christmas holiday - she was excited because she thought she'd be able to see her sweetheart but felt betrayed when she found out that they had sent him as he'd been very home sick. - she cried and cried but finally realized that they would not allow her to marry her step-brother and so agreed to an arranged marriage - she was told to go and pray for her own revelation - meantime she got into trouble for wearing too short of a skirt to school and was sent to see Uncle Bill for discipline.  She realized that marriage to him would give her prominence and wealth and so she took that as her revelation on marriage partner.
- he would not let her drive  or finish high school ( she completed grade 11)
- she had to use the ficticious surname Hill for herself and her children and identify her husband and Jonathan Hill to avoid detection of polygamy. - she had five children with Fred Draper and was his six wife of seven.
- she had to go to her husband to ask for money for personal shopping and return the change - she was told specifically what to wear to the point of the pattern for her dresses being chosen by him.
- the first time she went clothes shopping after leaving the community she remembers sitting on the floor of the dressing room crying because she had no idea what to choose without instructions.
"It wasn't about we're in love and this is wonderful. It was this is a business arrangement.  I do this and I go to heaven and the bonus is I got to have children and I wanted children."
- her husband was very secretive and the right hand man of the prophet so her marriage to him was secret even from her own siblings.
- she found being a plural wife lonely as her husband would not allow the women to discuss things amongst themselves - if you had a problem with someone else he would act as mediator and she discovered later that he was telling each party what they wanted to hear, making them distrustful of each other and himself.
- there was one wife after her that was the mentally challenged daughter of Rulon Jeffs and that the wedding ceremony was different for her in that all the wives stood together as bridesmaids and the first wife placed the new bride's hand in the husbands as a strong message of welcome for her - she had one child with the husband and wanted more but had a very rough delivery and decided not to have more - she has the mental capacity of a 12 year old and is in charge of the family's laundry processing.
- eventually her husband had 35 children and her children having been raised to be self-sufficient and well disciplined did not attract their father's attention as he ran from one crisis to the next.  - she was favourite wife because she caused him no grief and made no demands but this created problems for her children as they began to realize that an increase in mischief got them attention. - she asked for a home of her own and argued with her husband about being neglected. - she left to get a job and find an apartment for her and her children when her husband wouldn't provide it and stayed with a friend. -her husband sent his older boys to abduct her and locked her in a room for two days where she was interrogated and accused of having broken her marriage covenant. - when her husband couldn't make her confess he took her for an interview with the prophet Rulon Jeffs and said that if he couldn't convince her to settle into the proper ways he would let her go. - she left that day with $20 a friend had given her in her pocket and feeling empowered because it wasn't her husband's money - she got her High School graduation diploma and completed a secretarial program - then she got a job as a secretary but wasn't making enough to get off public assistance - she got financial assistance because she suffered from depression and was able to complete an associate's degree at community college and then a bacherlor's degree in business management
- the children had remained with their father as he said that the children belong to the father not the mother
 - she had known a lawyer and his family as neighbours but they had moved - she found them and asked for help getting her children back - the lawyer was corporate but paid all the court fees and represented herin court  - she was able to get custody of all of her children
- she discusses at length being an apostate or one who has left the faith and is unwelcome to the point of no one answering the door when she knocks and not passing on information like the birth of her grandchildren
- her husband's wives were reassigned after his death as it was discovered that he had molested several of his children including her sons and was unworthy of his family according to Rulon Jeffs - reassigning women while the husbands were still living came about under Warren Jeff's leadership as did a deepening of the estrangement directed at those who were no longer in the faith, not of the faith or of another faction of the faith.
-  Mary currently works to assist people leaving the FLDS and those who don't want to yet but are in a tough way - she would like the law upheld as she sees polygamy as the source of all harm to women and children
- she says "It's harmful. It's abusive doesn't even cover it.  This lifestyle is demeaning to women and harmful to children and does nothing but inflate the egos of men.  The FLDS religion isn't about nothing but power and money and sex."
- she says "And yeah I know these women choose it but they have limited choices and they are not given all their choices when they choose..."

MY COMMENT:  So far most of these descriptions are familiar to me as one who has experienced patriarchal monogamy and domestic abuse.  I don't hear anyone calling for an end to monogamy to ensure battered wives and abused children are helped.   Also I'm feeling like this Mackert family is pretty messed up all on its own and while I gather much of the influence comes from the Mormon dogma, I suspect that there are some serious personality issues going on as well. It's a shame that these video testimonies were not open to cross examination.  For one thing if she had to marry someone other than her step-brother sweetheart because her mother didn't think he was good enough why is it that two of her sisters (Rowena & Kathleen - see testimony here) daughters of the same mother married step-brothers - who had to be either this same guy or his brothers? Why were two of the daughters allowed to marry younger more appropriate men but she didn't see that as an option?  I wonder about assumptions and our interpretations of what other people think and want.  Communications skills are so very important to develop.  I'm so glad that I am polyamorous and have learned that you have to ask for the information you need to make informed choices.  You can't just assume things and then blame people for the wrong choices you make based on assumptions.  Yes, we do go on what we hear as being expectations generally expressed as we grow up especially under the guise of religious devotion and I understand the impact of that in enduring abuse and neglect.  I still don't see that polygamy has the market cornered on domestic abuse nor bad parenting.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Wrap up of testimony - videos

Two ex-FLDS members give video testimony:

Howard Mackert
- from transcript of Dec 16, 2010 court session
- filmed in Gig Harbour,WA on June 16, 2010
- Howard is one of 27 children born to Clyde Chapman Mackert
- His mother was Mildred Eades first wife and the legal one
- His parents were not Mormon nor polygamists until his mother was converted to the faith while her husband was in the army and insisted his father also convert upon his return
- they moved to Short Creek (now Colorado City) and helped to build the community there - his father was a teacher in the one room school house and worked at logging in the summer
- they had a communal kitchen and shared everything at that time- late 1940's
- they all lived in houses that were travel trailers with add on buildings as they didn't own the land
- his father also married Donna Kunz and Myra Kunz who were from the Allred clan who were five or six generation Mormon polygamists and had ten children with Donna and six with Myra
- his own mother had 4 boys and 7 girls (two girls were twins)
- he was born shortly after his father had gone to prison for unlawful cohabitation
- two of his brothers were born within eleven days of himself
- the family (all three wives) had moved to Salt Lake City by the time Howard started school
- they lived in three separate houses and kept it "real hush"
- the kids all learned to lie about the polygamy and hide it
- they were taught what to say if it came up because his father's accountant job was at stake if anyone ever found out - it wasn't a popular thing to be a polygamist even though many of the key positions in the community were held by Mormons
- his self-image was very poor and spent his school years feeling very much of an outcast
- he was an athletic kid and was the second fastest runner in the school with some definite talent in wrestling but was not allowed to play for the school team despite his coach really trying to convince his father to allow it - his father went to university on an athletic scholarship for football, played for Syracuse and was a heavy weight boxer - he taught his sons wrestling and other sports and all of the sons were athletic but they couldn't draw attention to themselves with three boys the same age from the same father - his father's job was at stake
- His family never celebrated christmas as they believed that Jesus was born on April 6th and christmas was a pagan holiday so when the kids went back to school after christmas break they had to lie about what gifts they got.
- the wives lived in separate houses until Howard was in the 8th grade and so his dad was in each house every third night but the kids really only saw him on Sunday mornings for their Sunday school class with him or if they were in trouble
- each house also had a Wednesday family evening that was held in each separate home where they learned to sing songs and perform in front of people
- one of the wives rented a farmhouse where she boarded horses and all the boys went there to work on the garden, irrigation and tend the horses - he speaks fondly of that time and working with his siblings as well as learning to ride on horseback.
- he has other very positive memories of his father, usually a very quiet man who didn't like noise, playing football with them as kids and he speaks with some longing of he and his siblings worshipping his father's athletic prowess and not being able to have much of his time with the hours that he worked
- at age of 13 or 14 he was ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood and office of Deacon which for him was cool because he didn't have to do dishes and other "girl's chores" anymore but it did mean he had to study the articles of faith and work to earn his father's approval and attention.
- marriage for his father involved courting but the Roy Johnson, the Prophet, instituted "the law of placing" which meant that when you thought you were ready to marry you went to see Roy Johnson and he quizzed you a bit and then waited to have a revelation about who you were to marry.  This curtailed any courting, dating or interaction between young people.
- about once a month or so there would be a dance held in Colorado city - square dancing and his father played fiddle and would call for the dancing and the idea of courtship after marriage and keeping your feelings in check was promoted.
- his oldest sister was married to the prophet Roy Johnson in 1961 when he was 72 and she was 17. - she asked to be married to him and Howard speculates that she was wanting the status of being married to the prophet and she wasn't interested in having children herself.  Her twin sister married a younger man and had
15 children
- he comments that one of his siblings has a child that has Downs Syndrome and that there is a lot of Autism and Downs Syndrome in the community.
- when he was in grade 8 is father bought a property that was auctioned and sat on 6.5 acres of land in Sandy, Utah.  He and his sons did renovation work on it and in the end there was 22 bedrooms, a huge livingroom and dining area.  Each of the wives had a bedroom and an attached nursery.  His father had his den and their were boys and girls dorm bedrooms.  When he had paid off the mortagage on the property he gave it to the church and when he retired they built him a small house in Colorado City and took possession of the Sandy, Utah property.
- Howard recounts memories of parental discipline with his own mother and each of her sister wives and doesn't see them as particularly difficult relationships. - He says that he was surprised to find out as an adult that there was friction and rivalry between the wives or that his siblings considered him one of the favoured children.
- most of the girls in his community married before they were out of high school and he viewed this as a way for the girls not to have to worry about employment and for the men to maintain control of the women
- girls were told about a week before the wedding who and when they would be married so they could get a dress and prepare - boys were told the night before - Howard received a call from Roy Johnson the night before his wedding to Lori Jansen - He was 24 years old, a high school graduate and working to save for college and  had ideas that would take him out of the community - his sister was married to Roy Johnson and he clearly heard her in the background coaching the phone call - - he met his bride the night before the wedding - she was 17 and hadn't finished grade 8 as her father had been killed in an accident and she'd had to work full time to support the family
- he was pressured to obey the prophet by his family and so he married her but was very unhappy with her as she was not attractive to him both in physical appearance and personality - she was very naive about her wifely duties - he divorced her with the marriage still not consumated  - this got him into hot water with the prophet and his sister and severed him from the church
- he was introduced to another girl in college by his professor who gave him a crash course in dating and some advice. - for their first date they went for dinner and a movie and talked until 3am in her dorm about theological differences and she lent him her bible - he studied and decided to change his affiliation to a fundamental christian faith but his parents remained in positive contact with him possibly because of their similiar history
- his mother went to Rulon Jeffs who was the prophet at the time after 55 years of marriage and asked if Howard's father was going to make it to the highest level of heaven, being told no she asked to be reassigned to another husband who would.  - she left his father and was sealed to the Mayor of Hilldale who was
significantly younger than she was. - Howard believes that his grief over this was what killed his
father and her mother expressed regret at her decision.
- most of his siblings have left the FLDS and aren't allowed to associate with family who is still in the community according to edict from Warren Jeffs but they manage to keep in touch.
- Howard digresses a bit here with a rant about Warren Jeffs and his tyranical control over his followers and then says that not all polygamist communities are like that as his oldest brother Clyde is at Centennial Park community and they are much freer make choices and own land etc.

Ruth Lane (Blackmore)
from transcripts of Jan 5, 2011 court session
- Ruth was born in Colorado City, Arizona to a man who had two wives at the same time - she remembers her childhood fondly as being one in a close community where she felt safe.
- her own mother had 12 children and the sister wife had 3
- she lived there until she was 17 and then she left the community but returned when she became pregnant as that was where she wanted to raise her baby.
- when her child was almost two she asked to be married to Winston Blackmore and moved to Canada to do that.
- she was taught as a child that God would tell the prophet (Rulon Jeffs at the time) who you were to marry when the time was right - placement marriage
- the average age of first marriage for a girl was 21 to 25 then but it had been 16 to 18 when her mother was young
- she attended a public school but was taught about marriage at home and at Sunday School
- at 17 she left the community and stayed with a sister in another city who had left the FLDS - she met a boy who had also left Colorado City and he fathered her child
- she said that she was fairly well received when she went home pregnant - she said that you didn't openly date in colorado City as a teenager but that they all had their boyfriends but if you got caught you either got married or got kicked out and if you got married it wasn't under the covenant (sealed for time and
eternity) and you had to prove yourself
- she was lucky to be married to anyone in light of her out of wedlock pregnancy she said but she knew one of Winston's younger wives before the girl married and they had stayed in contact - she had a spiritual experience that indicated to her this was where her child need to be raised so she asked Rulon Jeffs to be
married to Winston - she married him a week later not knowing that he'd married two sisters also from Colorado City the week before that and they all drove up to Canada together along with her child. Ruth was wife number 10.
- her parents were mad at her for asking for him - he was younger than most of the church leaders and very charismatic  - and because of her child out of wedlock he had to have the consent of his other wives to marry her.
- when she arrived in Bountiful (1994) she lived in one bedroom with her son and several of the wives also shared their bedrooms with one or two children - there were 17 children in the household and they built a bigger house and then another bigger house for the family.
- the first few years were very happy for her and they had a lot of fun as a family but then there were more  wives and more children and it was very cramped. - the 11th wife arrived a year later she was Ruth's biological younger sister. - over the next few years Winston married 14 more women usually
in pairs but not always biological sisters.  Two of them were 15 years old at time of marriage and that was very disruptive to the family as they were struggling for time with him and space to live.
- Ruth had six children with Winston plus her first son.  At the time of the split with the Warren Jeffs group several of the wives left and returned to colorado City to follow Warren Jeffs and others have left the family and the FLDS movement.
- Winston currently has 136 children and Ruth says that he loves them all but there isn't enough time in the day to spend quality time with each child.
- Ruth describes struggles of life in a big crowded family with conflicts in parenting styles and financial strains caused by the division of assets of Winston's company when the split between factions happened in Bountiful.
- In 2006 Ruth left bountiful as she was pregnant with her 7th child and wanted a more solid relationship with her husband who would not work on relationships with any of them - he sent her to
the Cedar City to school and she felt so neglected  and frustrated that she called it quits and moved to Hurricane.  - all of her children moved with her for the first year but the older two are now back
in Canada living with their dad as well as her first son.
- she would not choose polygamy for her children and none have expressed an interest in it.
- she prefers to be independent and make decisions and take responsibility for those decisions.
- she said that she would make decisions and have them questioned and reversed by her husband because he was head of household and that was the structure of the FLDS.
- she said that she had begun to question many of the FLDS rules especially those regarding how to keep control of teenagers who were expressing normal rebelliousness.
- Ruth thinks that most of the issues came from there being so many women and children in the family and indicated that she had seen men with smaller families do very well with their women and take care of them very well emotionally and physically.
- she said that Winston's capacity for love and ability to provide physically for his family was greater than average and that he had done well up to a point and she'd thought he might have been best to stop with ten wives.

"I would really like the answer to be that the law not be upheld.  Not meaning that I don't want under age marriages to be prosecuted or that I totally agree with the whole polygamy situation but saying that I really would like the people that want to do that lifestyle if my daughter does choose that lifestyle I would very much like her to be able to live within the law.  I would like her to have the ability to be proud and be a somebody not just a plural wife but a wife."

-Ruth was concerned that upholding the law would destroy what openness had been achieved in the past few years and that while some high profile prosecutions might result others would go further underground. 

-Ruth said that she left because he broke her heart not because he harmed her or her children but she did feel that some boundaries like the age of marriage for girls being raised to 21 needed to be instituted to make life better.