Polygamous leader in B.C. agrees to stop using names linked to Mormon church

The Canadian Press/January 14, 2017

By James Keller

Vancouver -- A religious leader in a small polygamous commune in southeastern British Columbia has been forbidden from using trademarks belonging to the Mormon church, which has long condemned such fundamentalist splinter groups that continue to practise multiple marriage.

The Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints filed a lawsuit in B.C. Supreme Court last year after learning Winston Blackmore had registered the corporate name Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints Inc. in the province.

Blackmore, who was charged last year with practising polygamy, is one of the leaders of Bountiful, a community whose residents follow a fundamentalist form of Mormonism that condones polygamy.

The mainstream Mormon church renounced polygamy more than a century ago and it has taken pains to make it clear it is not connected to Bountiful or a number of similar groups in the United States.

Blackmore consented to a court order earlier this week that bans him from using any variation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and forbids him from interfering with the church's use of the word Mormon.

The order also compels Blackmore to change his group's corporate name to the Church of Jesus Christ (Original Doctrine) Inc.

The church argued in court documents that Blackmore wrongly attempted to suggest his community was affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Church spokesman Eden Engen said the court order is a significant victory.

"It is important to us that people recognize that there is no affiliation — none whatsoever — with any of these other organizations," he said.

"When people are using a name that's even similar to ours, it does create confusion and people ask questions."

Blackmore's lawyer declined to comment on the case.

About 1,000 people live in Bountiful, located south of Creston, B.C., a short distance from the U.S. border. The community has links to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or FLDS, and its jailed leader Warren Jeffs.

Blackmore and James Oler, who became leaders of separate factions within Bountiful when the community split a decade ago, were each charged last August with practising polygamy.

Blackmore is accused of 24 marriages, while Oler is accused of four.

Oler is also charged along with two other people with unlawfully removing a child from Canada for sexual purposes.

Blackmore and Oler were each charged with polygamy in 2009, but the case was thrown out over how the province chose its special prosecutor.

That prompted the B.C. government to launch a constitutional reference case, which ultimately ended with a judge concluding that the law doesn't violate the religious protections in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The men's next court appearance is set for Jan. 29 in Creston.

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