I read in the Globe & Mail this morning that Polygamy charges were thrown out against 2 religious leaders in British Columbia. Winston Blackmore and Jim Oler were the two men charged in the case. First let me say that I am not a proponent of polygamy, but at the same time what two consenting adults do is their own business. If underage children are involved, then the appropriate laws should be vigorously enforced. So what to do?
My imperfect solution: decriminalize polygamy and then institute a mandatory religious social study class in the Province of BC, similar to what Quebec and England have instituted. The religious social study class would definitely not be a forum for religious indoctrination, but simply a class for learning about the beliefs and practices of world religions. How would this help?
- Decriminalization would hopefully lessen the siege mentality that the polygamist leaders encourage in their community, and allow community members to be more open to ideas from the outside.
- A religious social studies class would hopefully open the school children’s eyes to the world of faith and belief outside of their own community. This might help them, as they mature, to look more critically at their own faith, and make a more informed decision as to whether or not they want to stay in a polygamist community.
My 2 cents worth…
[In the interest of full disclosure you should know that one of my great grand mothers was a polygamist in the early 1900’s]
Yep, you have totally hit the nail on the head. It’s time to stop pretending that one or another religious dogma should dictate public policy. Educating ALL kids in BC about ALL religions (and non-religions) and enforcing existing laws re:underage sexual activity would make for good public policy.
I agree that an “ethics and religious culture” class should cover all religions and non-religions in a non dogmatic fashion. Below is a link to an article that talks about a Quebec judge that did not allow some Catholic parents to withdraw from their children from “ethics and religious culture” classes.
I’d hate to have to make an “ethics and religious culture” class mandatory, but at least in the case of the BC polygamists, it is probably the children of the polygamists that are most likely to be pulled out of the class, and are the ones who probably need it the most.