BOUNTIFUL, B.C. – The former bishop of the polygamous B.C. community of Bountiful has announced he will host a conference this month in an effort to counter criticism of the group.
Winston Blackmore said a “Summit on Polygamy” will be held in a nearby town on April 19.
He says he and others from Bountiful will make presentations about the religious group to give its side of the story.
“The media aren’t doing their job, in at least presenting our side of the issue,” he says. “And we’re tired of it.”
Public attention on Bountiful has intensified since last summer, when B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant ordered a police investigation into allegations of abuse in the community.
Those allegations include the forced marriage of teenage girls to older men and claims of racist teachings in the schools.
Blackmore said many of the allegations in media reports are based on old rumours, and he hopes people from neighbouring communities and local politicians will attend the meeting.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to give them a good update and some dialogue on where we are and what we’re doing, so we don’t always have to read this churning information in the media which makes no sense.”
He’s also inviting critics such as the B.C. Teachers’ Federation and a local anti-polygamy activist, Audrey Vance, to come to the event.
Vance said she disagrees with the idea of the conference but that she will attend.