January 20, 2011, Day 25, Polygamy Reference

TODAY IN COURT            

Mary Bachelor was led through her affidavit by the Amicus.

In essence, Mary Bachelor is very sincere about her belief in polygamy. Like Alina Darger, she is an Independent Fundamentalist Mormon. She was in a plural marriage as the second wife for three years. The first wife, Vicky Prunty, opted out of the marriage; and, went on to co-found Tapestry Against Polygamy; an organization dedicated to helping women and children coming out of polygamy.

Mary Bachelor co-authored Voices in Harmony: Contemporary Women Celebrate Plural Marriage The book is a collection of essays by women who are currently in plural marriages or have been in plural marriages. To gather material for the book, 700 letters were sent out to women who fit the requirements for the material the authors wanted in the book. There were 95 direct responders and five additional responders who had not received the letter but were interested in contributing to the book. The names of the authors of the essays in the collection are anonymous.

Bachelor was very sincere as she described the difference between salvation and exaltation. She believes that salvation is available to all through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. She believes exaltation is available only through living the principle of plural marriage; and, that is available only to those who accept the doctrine of plural marriage. Mary is the mother of seven children, one has Downs. All of her children have been educated in the public system.

Mary said the plural marriage ended in 1989 “when the other wife had an affair.” After Vicky divorced out of the marriage, Mary legally married and they have lived monogamously for twenty years.

During her testimony, on cross-examination, Mary Bachelor said details in the chapter, “Vicky”, in Andrea Moore Emmett’s book God’s Brothel quote, “did not happen.”  Mary said, “It broke my heart” when Vicky divorced out of the plural marriage arrangement. Regarding Andrea’s book, Mary said details about Mary and her husband did not happen.  “There is a reason our names are not there,” she said. “We would sue.”

Bachelor also co-authored a pamphlet on polygamy and has worked hard in the community to bridge the gap between cultures.  

Bachelor is very much in favour of decriminalization of polygamy.  Yet, on cross, she admitted she and her husband knew Tom Green and some of his wives but “. . .at the age of 21, I was not aware of laws to report underage marriages.”

Karen Horseman, attorney for the AGBC, questioned Bachelor about some passages from Moore-Emmett’s book chapter, “Vicky.” Plural families were blasting out stone from a mountain in Moab, UT called The Rock. Is this where your husband lived when you met him?

B. She, meaning Vicky, was living at The Rock. He was living in an apartment.

K.H. quoted from a page in the chapter that explained how fundamentalist men were writing scripture and “Greg” (pseudomym for Mary’s husband) wrote that “a wife is subject to her husband’s law”. . .that “polygamous women lose their right to vote”. . .and, “do not voice your opinion if it is contrary to mine.”

B. “Greg” did not write that.

K.H. quoted more regarding Mary and “Greg” praying for Vicky’s blood atonement for leaving the marriage, and, how “Greg” spanked Vicky’s children during court ordered visitation and once made the baby’s mouth bleed with his ring when he was trying to stop it from crying.

B. Said that did not happen.

Robert Danay, attorney for the Canadian AG, cross examined Bachelor on a questionaire that she helped draft and send out. B. said it was not meant to be scientific at all.

R.D. One-hundred eleven women responded. 45% were between 14 & 20 when they married. 47 % were in plural families of four or more wives. 60% had 6 or more children.

Cheryl Milne, attorney for the Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children & David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights also asked Bachelor some questions, but her voice was so soft, I could not hear her.

Bachelor had also testified that she is a member of the Safety Net Committee set up by Utah AG Mark Shurtleff during the review of her affidavit by the Amicus.

My observation: After seeing videos from those harmed by polygamy, hearing and reading about testimonies given in court, and having been personally attacked on various blogs by fundamentalist Mormon women and men, even having been compared to Hitler and Nazism because I was accused of saying I wanted polygamists eradicated when, in fact, I said I wanted the practice of polygamy eradicated in Canada, I just happened to run into Mary Bachelor at the foot of the stairs as I was leaving court and I told her how I felt. She denied having done or said any of the above, but she is part and parcel of a group of Alpha females who enjoy polygamy simply because of their privileged status in their marriages.

I have just finished reading Control and Sexuality: The Revival of Zina Laws in Muslim Contexts by Ziba Mir-Hosseini and Vanja Hamzic sponsored by Violence is Not Our Culture, published by Women Living Under Muslim Laws. It is a study of five Muslim countries: Indonesia, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan and Turkey. What an eye-opener of countries that have signed and ratified international agreements but their laws, customary laws and courts subjugate women and treat women terribly.

One of the rallying cries of the fundamentalists who want to see polygamy decriminalized is “freedom of religion.” On the last page of this book there is a poignant paragraph titled Resisting the Oppressive Interpretations of the Right to Freedom of Religion Quote:

“The ‘cultural’ and ‘political’ dimensions of the right to freedom of religion, which is often used against women’s rights, needs further examination and more concentrated resistance. It necessitates the sustained civil society opposition to mentalities and embedded patriarchal norms that regard women as second-class members of their family, society and polity. Campaigns of education and consciousness-raising have proven their worth and are needed to target religious leaders, governments, media and the key actors in systemic patriarchal oppression, including that related to the implementation of zina laws. Further strategising should, however, particularly focus on the misuse of human rights concepts–such as the right to freedom of religion–for a variety of chauvinistic purposes. This focus could significantly strengthen the efforts to revolutionise the idea of human rights.”

If we replace “zina laws” with “the decriminalization of polygamy laws” we see the same mosaic of actions needed in Canada to stop any idea of decriminalization. When we allow a segment of our society to be so neglected that they are uneducated, poor, mistreated, abused, and misled, then we are not a country of rights and freedoms–we are a country of bondage and shame.

Alina Darger and Mary Bachelor have demonstrated for us that for the Alpha-female legally married to the Alpha-male, polygamy works; and, they are blind to the injustice they heap on others. We must not be blind to the changes that must be made before another generation of victims of polygamy and all its harms are born.

And, in defense of Vicky Prunty and Andrea Moore Emmett who have been loyal supporters of Stop Polygamy in Canada since 2004, other very credible writers have told Vicky’s story: http://www.salon.com/life/hot/1998/07/29hot.html

Nancy Mereska, President
Stop Polygamy in Canada

P.S. Note to Ray Argyle.  I hope you are working on another book that will take my mind off polygamy for a while.  You always pick such interesting topics to write about  www.wildaboutwriting.com

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