Polygamy: Not 'Big Love' But Significant Harm
Women's Rights Law Reporter, Rutgers University School of Law (2014 Forthcoming)
64 Pages Posted: 24 Feb 2014 Last revised: 3 Mar 2014
Date Written: 2014
In this article, we analyze the British Columbia Supreme Court decision, Reference re: Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada, 2011 BCSC 1588, which decisively found that polygamy as practiced by The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) constitutes a crime of harm. We focus on polygamy in the FLDS religion; to that end, we incorporate and analyze religious scripture, court testimony, interviews conducted with former FLDS members and relevant scholarship. In exploring the relationship between polygamy and the FLDS culture, we also examine child brides and lost boys; the former constitutes statutory rape and the latter is child endangerment and abandonment in the name of religious extremism. We concur with the British Columbia Supreme Court decision that polygamy constitutes a crime of harm, and in that vein we call on law enforcement officials, prosecutors and courts to recognize their responsibility to protect crimes victims. Polygamy is not abstract, but it is a concrete crime with clear consequences for those forced to participate in it.
Keywords: Polygamy, FLDS, Child Brides, Lost Boys, Child Endangerment, Crime of Harm, Warren Jeffs, Freedom of Religion, British Columbia Supreme Court, Religious Scripture, Statutory Rape
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