News Seeking: The Joy of Sects (and Bountiful’s Well-Hidden Shame)

January 16, 2009

“I tell you in the name of God, that if we are wicked and ungodly we shall not escape His hand.”

If you had to pick the source of these words, you might hazard any number of guesses.

The Torah? The Qur’an? Maybe even Dostoevsky’s Elder Zossima?

But you’d be wrong. These words are not an ancient prophecy or hermit’s aphorism, but a musing from six years ago in the inaugural issue of The North Star, the monthly newsletter of Bountiful B.C. polygamist Winston Blackmore.

While recent media coverage has splashed Blackmore and Bountiful across national headlines, one of the many fascinating background stories is how Blackmore has crafted an online self-portrait of a humble benevolent patriarch. And while his blog and website may not be a hit on Technorati, both have received notice from Maclean’s and the Tyee.

The blog is a crude WordPress Q&A forum. Blackmore’s The North Star newsletter, however, reveals one side of the goings-on in Bountiful. Issued every month or so from January 2003 to December 2005, the 4 page newsletters include basic community news, spiritualized editorials, history of the community, and quotes from ancient Mormon leaders Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and Uncle Roy, their FLDS’s spiritual mentor.

Throughout issues of The North Star, Blackmore assumes the guise of spiritual advisor:

“Mormonism has always been about brotherhood.  You know, the kind that defends each other, protects each other, and stands fast for the vision that allows all mankind to hold his human treasures strictly to himself.  No true brother will covet his brothers wives or children, ox or ass, or anything else.  Mormonism strictly forbids it, and brotherhood demands that it be so.  Since the days of John Y. Barlow, Mormonism has produced lots of men, but recent times have proven that it has produced few brothers.” (March 25, 2004)

The Fundamentalist Spirit of Mormonism is the salvation of the human family.  It is about forgiveness, morals, free agency.  It is about the sanctity of families, of men and women loving each other in a family unit.  It is about busy minding the Mormon business of being honest, moral and strictly truthful in the gospel cause.  You can’t blame anyone if you fail. (May 15, 2004)

While urging honest hard work and brotherhood (and protecting his own interests), Blackmore is occasionally menacing in what failure might mean:

“Yes, if you believe a lie that you know is a lie, you will be damned.” (March 29, 2003).

With an increasingly heightened sense of public scrutiny, he advises people to be careful with outsiders:

Be very careful what you say to the media.  They do not want to hear the truth or they would have tried to print some of it.” (November 6, 2004)

Throughout the newsletters, Blackmore hints at the many events affecting the community. Alongside livestock diseases and construction of farms, there are estrangements, excommunications, and betrayals. In each and every case, Blackmore assumes a stance, not of an authoritarian or exclusivist, but a genuinely concerned father or older brother. He frequently defies naysayers by arguing that if his words don’t match up with the Book of Mormon, they should be ignored.

Strangely but not surprisingly, Blackmore is convincing. Which is why media scrutiny is so crucial to Bountiful and yet unlikely to penetrate its heart.

The arrests of Blackmore and James Oler came only one day after the paperback release of The Secret Lives of Saints, Daphne Bramham’s expose of the horrible goings-on in Bountiful. The Vancouver Sun columnist is undoubtedly struck by the timing. Or she would be, if it wasn’t so tragic.

Hopefully, Blackmore’s prophecy is right.



  1. The Canada Courts stated the compelling need to protect women and children could override what is permitted under the umbrella of religious FREEDOM.

    From Winton’s own blog comes the story of Vanessa Rohbock so sinful Warren wanted to claim “blood atonement” for her. In the RCMP investigation as it occured,
    Winston denied that the practise was ever taught by the FLDS, nor was this same girl ever threatened by it.

    Here are the links;

    http://www.sharethelight.ca/north%20star21.pdf below

    “1. The Vanessa Rohbock story.”

    “Vanessa was on two different antidepressant

    drugs, and should be considered potentially suicidal”

    ” in that she very narrowly missed being sacrificed for a heathen





    “There is nothing left for her to do but to come and have her blood shed for the

    remission of her sins”

    “You and Ron, (her father) are instructed to pray night and day for the

    Lord to destroy her from off the face of the earth”

    I think that given Winston’s own details of a minor at risk, suggests that the government of Canada should protect such children as Vanessa Rohbock.

    At the time of these rumors, I had filed a complaint with the Boundary County sheriff, who contacted the RCMP, who was told by Winston in his interview that neither the girl was at risk, nor was this tenent of faith ever taught! The coverup and truth, detailed by Winston in his own blog, suggests that children do need protection and that even religious leaders LIE!

  2. Thank you for your comments, Jay. Been looking into your investigations… very impressive work for protection of child brides.
    I’m admittedly a neophyte when it comes to all of this… familiar with LDS but not overly familiar with FLDS.
    I would love to talk more after I do more research into it all.
    You should check out the song “Brother Brigham, Brother Young” by Corb Lund.

  3. I have been at it over 8 years, I have 550 of Warrens audio cassettes, had over 10,000 pages of the FLDS theology. Most of the books are on loan to different attorneys related to this. I am opinionated, I was the FOR KIDS SAKE rep. of Utah, Nevada & Arizona from 1996 to 2001.

    I know 4 of the 5 court appointed trustees to the current United Effort Plan. Winston Blackmore arrested last week dialoged by email with me for over 2 years. Had he not kept lying to me, we would of likely continued. Being got in obvious lies, didn’t seem to matter to him.

    Debbie Palmer married to his father is an activist and friend. She was Winston’s step mother, her sister Jane, was Winston’s first and legal wife, she ran the birthing center. Jimmy Oler also arrested last week is Debbies younger brother.

    Before Flora Jessop was doing rescues, I did a few and lived 25 miles from Jeffs home. I have friends in Colorado City that I stay with when in town.

    Arizona used me for their 30 day preliminary investigation in December of 2000, Leesa Morrison was my contact with then AG Janet Napolitano.

    I have at least a thousand emails to and from the staff of the Attorney Generals Offices of Arizona & Utah. In Arizona it went from Janet Napolitano to Terry Goddard. In Utah it began with Mike King of Janet Grahm’s Office and transfered to Mark Shurtleff when he took office in Jan. 2001.

    In Canada I began with BC AG Geof Plant, that AG prior to Wally Oppal. My contacts to Gordon Campbell as the Premier also occured, along with Ann McClenan in Otawa. The Major Crimes Unit of the RCMP in Crambrook, recorded calls with both the RCMP and Canada INS.

    I know some of the Guardian Ad Litems in Texas, most found me from my YouTube Videos on Warren Jeffs. My user names are fincenMIB, Shame on the Tribune!, the OBSTRUCTIONIST and afew others I am not yet ready to admit too.

    What can I say, I am opinionated by my own history in this.

    send me an email address and tell me whats of interest to you.

  4. fincenMIB I am very interested in the research that you have done in regards to polygamy. I am currently working on a documentary about polygamy for the National Geographic Channel and would love to get in touch with you. My email is peter.jones@colorado.edu

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