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The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus
Christ of Later Day Saints (FLDS)

Polygyny, racism & child abuse allegations
in the Canadian branch in Boutiful, BC.

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Initial bigamy allegations:

In 1990, some women who had fled Bountiful demanded an investigation into why the police were ignoring the polygyny marriages in the town. Two years later, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) conducted an investigation in Bountiful and recommended that charges of polygamy be laid against two men. 1 The Attorney General of the province of British Columbia decided to not proceed. The office had obtained two independent legal opinions. Both agreed that the courts would probably find the federal anti-bigamy law to be unconstitutional. It conflicts with the Mormons' religious freedom as guaranteed by Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms -- the country's constitution. If brought to court, it was felt that the Province would probably lose the case. This would have the effect of legalizing polygamy -- either polygyny or polyandry -- across the entire country.

Racism/white supremacy allegations:

In recent years, the Ministry of Education in the province has become concerned about the quality of education in Bountiful. They give about $500,000 in Canadian funds (about 380,000 to 500,000 U.S. dollars at the time; about 500,000 US dollars in 2010) annually to schools there. The ministry is concerned about allegations that the local schools teach racism and white supremacy. The Fundamentalist Church is believed to follow the original teachings of Mormon founder Joseph Smith on God's curse against non-whites. According to sociologist Amand L. Mauss, a president of the Mormon History Association, the Mormon movement's racist beliefs originated within Protestant denominations from which many Mormons converted. He said: "Every major Protestant denomination in history has taught that blacks are descendants of Cain and Ham." 2These beliefs were repudiated in 1978 by the LDS -- the main denomination in the LDS Restorationist movement, centered in Salt Lake City, UT. The church received a second major revelation from God at that time. LDS leaders announced that, for the first time, "all worthy male members of the Church may be ordained to the priesthood without regard for race or color." Racism within the LDS church was instantly terminated. Male African-Americans are now regarded as full members. The LDS continues to be a sexist institution because women of all races are still excluded from ordination, no matter what their leadership talents are. Since the FLDS was founded before the LDS repudiated its racist doctrine, it is quite possible that the FLDS continues with Joseph Smith's original racist teachings.

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) sent a letter to Gordon Campbell, the Premier of the province. It said, in part:

"Critics allege that the schools' teachings are inconsistent with the provincial curriculum. The high and early dropout rates of these schools indicate that Bountiful students are not receiving an education that will allow them to function outside the community or to be knowledgeable about their rights as citizens. The high dropout rates and alleged failures to meet provincial curriculum standards raise serious questions about the ability of this community to run its own schools or to educate its children on its own. A careful investigation must be undertaken to respond to these questions....Schedule I, section 1 of the Independent School Act also states that in order to receive certification by a provincial inspector, an educational program must not 'promote or foster doctrines of… racial or ethnic superiority… [or of] religious intolerance'." 3

BCCLA President John Russell suggests that "Bountiful's two...schools' religious curriculum is sexist and racist." 4

The child abuse allegations:

According to Daniel Girard of The Toronto Star:

"Bountiful....has long been the subject of allegations of sexual abuse and of teenaged girls being made concubines or 'celestial wives' of men who are much older and already have several other wives." 5

A new RCMP team was organized to investigate allegations of child abuse at Bountiful. Attorney-General Geoff Plant said in an interview on 2004-JUL-23:

"The groundswell of public concern has reached a point where government and the police, in my view, have an obligation to act. It's a priority to investigate the many allegations being made....What truly offends the majority of people who hear about these allegations goes beyond the question of multiple marriages. It includes suggestions there are children who are being sexually exploited, girls being transported across the [U.S./Canadian] border, and so on."

Plant had received a letter in 2004-MAY from Debbie Palmer, a woman with eight children from three successive assigned marriages. She fled Bountiful in 1988 and has since become a crusader against what she calls the "illegal cross-border trade in Canadian and American female children for sexual and breeding purposes." 5 Her letter contained her personal account as an alleged sexual abuse victim.

Jancis Andrews, an activist working for women's rights, helped Palmer write the letter. She welcomed news of a police investigation, saying that it is "welcome and very long overdue." She described polygyny as "the poisonous root" -- the source of the various problems that the police will be investigating. She continued:

"This is a cult, a totally medieval, screwed up, grotesque philosophy. And, I truly believe that when the public realizes the gross injustices and contraventions of human rights that are taking place there, it will have to be done away with." 6

A total of nine women fugitives from Bountiful have filed a complaint with the Attorney General. They alleging that polygamy exists in the town, and that girls as young as 13 are being sexually abused. The Attorney General says that he has:

"... indicated [to police that] the existence of a constitutional opinion on the enforceability of [the law on polygamy] is not a reason for the entire public criminal-justice system to sit on its hands."


The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought," 1998-Summer, Page 14.
  2. D.M. Quinn, "LDS Church authority and new plural marriages, 1890 - 1904," at:
  3. "Investigation of Bountiful schools," British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Newsflash, 2004-JUL-14, at:
  4. "Civil liberties group calls for investigation of Bountiful schools,"  British Columbia Civil Liberties Association Newsflash, 2004-JUL-20, at:
  5. "Leaving Bountiful: A documentary film," at:
  6. Daniel Girard, "Sex abuse allegations spur probe by RCMP. B.C. commune is home to sect. Polygamist group investigated earlier," The Toronto Star, 2004-JUL-24, at:

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Copyright © 2004 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2004-JUL-25
Latest update: 2010-DEC-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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