VANCOUVER — It would be an “abuse of power” if a woman was forced into a plural marriage, a Mormon scholar told a B.C. court Wednesday, as the case testing Canada’s law against polygamy resumed following a three-week break. Dr. John Walsh…testified that Mormon theology decrees that people not be forced into polygamy and that “God would not recognize” the marriage if a woman was forced into such a situation. “It would be an abuse of power and a deviation from Mormon standards,” he said.
Walsh admitted his comments were restricted to the theological doctrines of Mormonism, and did not necessarily reflect what is actually happening in communities that practise the religion….the issue was referred to the court after two leaders in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Bountiful, B.C., — Winston Blackmore and James Oler — had polygamy charges against them stayed in 2009.
Walsh testified Wednesday there is no dogmatic statement in the Mormon religion on the age of marriage for women and men. He admitted under cross-examination he had heard of a girl marrying at the age of 13, but insisted that was a “deviation” and that most Mormons would frown on marriage at such a young age. Walsh — who has a PhD in religious studies, but described himself as an “independent scholar” who does not work at a university — was allowed to testify as an expert in Mormon theology after his qualifications came under close scrutiny from several lawyers at the trial. (Leader Post, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, January 6, 2011)
Now I don’t care about the polygamy laws per se – not my issue today. What I am concerned about is young impressionable ladies being ‘forced’ into marriages of a plural sort without any real action they can take to say ‘no’. Do these women have any recourse to say ‘no’? If not, then it is for all practical reality a ‘forced’ marriage.
The problem is these girls are part of a religious sect that believes in order to achieve a higher state in paradise plural marriage is part of that pathway/livelihood to achieve it. Wiithout plural marriage the believer is somehow stripped of this higher state. I am not sure these women are being given a choice inside of that peer pressure to please family, man, and God. This is basically the denial of rights to women in this community since they cannot neccesarily stand up for themselves on this issue, they are the pawns in the game.
This is the problem with religion not modernizing – the denial of equal rights to women and believing archaic ideas about the greatness of plural marriage leads to confinement, decreed by Joseph Smith some 140 years back. We see that not modernizing in this case is actually leading to the abuse of nice people and causing them to be hurt by the very people they love.
Religion gone wrong? Yes. It’s aiming for a mark that is leading to the degredation of women.