Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mormon Polygamy on Trial: Day 6 Summary and Media reports

After a full day of legal wrangling, Dr. Angela Campbell was allowed to testify regarding her polygamy research and her two short visits to Bountiful that she made in 2008 and 2009. Under Amicus direction, she testified of her understanding of the importance of marriage in both the LDS and FLDS churches. She also gave a brief summary of the history of plural marriage and the split of the mainstream and fundamentalist Mormon churches.

She spoke about her research work relating to a large scale literature search of the effects of polygamy on women's well being that she conducted for the National Council for the status of women in 2005 and how this led her to begin small scale research projects at Bountiful. She also spoke to her experience in two visits to Bountiful made in 2008 and 2009 and answered questions relative to the interview transcripts that she has submitted to the court.

Under cross-examination, Dr. Campbell stated that she has come to the conclusion that more research is needed, however, she is currently of the opinion that the criminalization of polygamy under Canada's existing laws does more harm than good in the Bountiful Community. The women she spoke to know that polygamy is illegal, but they see the issue as one of honoring the laws of God over the laws of man. Criminalization tends to isolate people in the community from the wider community, breeds fear and prevents people from seeking help when it is needed.

I also believe she correctly perceived that the Blackmore side of the group has made major improvements since the split. However, Winston certainly does not deserve all the credit.

In my personal opinion, Dr. Campbell did not show an in-depth understanding of many issues in Bountiful. Particularly, she seemed to greatly underestimate the problems related to young men who have been pressured to leave the community and the harms that teenage women have experienced in arranged marriages.

I greatly respect her opinion that effective public policy and law should be based on knowledge rather than assumptions - and I respect her willingness to challenge her assumptions and travel to Bountiful.

I also agree with her statements about criminalization and the practice of polygamy. I believe history shows that this path has not been effective, and I don't believe it will change. And again, I respect Dr. Campbell for traveling to the community and speaking to the residents on a person-to-person basis. More dialogue and greater understanding is needed from all participants before the situation will ever improve.

Personally, it was fascinating to see that after a day of effort trying to block Dr. Campbell's testimony, the attorneys conducted an insightful, polite and helpful cross-examination - and court still ended only 30 mins after returning from lunch break. Perhaps we could have saved an entire day?

Women of polygamous Bountiful happy and healthy, academic testifies

Expert to testify at B.C. polygamy case after intense scrutiny over qualifications

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