LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight, he is one of the most powerful polygamist leaders in North America, reported to have more than 20 wives, more than 80 children.
In fact, he says half the kids you see here are his. And now that polygamist leader Warren Jeffs is in jail, could Winston Blackmore be the next prophet of a controversial religious sect that practices something that’s illegal?
A rare one-on-one with a man who claims he and his many wives are following god’s law. Winston Blackmore is next on LARRY KING LIVE.
We welcome Winston Blackmore to LARRY KING LIVE, former member of Warren Jeffs’ church, the church that later became the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, or FLDS.
He lives in the polygamist community of Bountiful, British Columbia and joins us here in Los Angeles.
By the way, we had a crew spend some time with Winston this week in and around his home in Bountiful. He gave us a rare guided tour of his community and invited our photographer to shoot a lot of video, including video of some of his many children.
Throughout the night’s broadcast, you’ll be seeing that video, along with other shots of life there.
It’s a great pleasure to welcome Winston to LARRY KING LIVE.
We have shots of your kids but not your wives.
Any reason we couldn’t shoot them or?
WINSTON BLACKMORE, POLYGAMIST LEADER: Well, they weren’t around there…
BLACKMORE: When we showed up in the community, the kids were playing off.
KING: But you don’t have a problem with us seeing the wives?
BLACKMORE: No, I don’t. There’s also some footage of that, too, isn’t there?
The FLDS is also considered to be a cult of Christianity. Sociologically,the group is a high-control cult.
KING: Why are you a polygamist?
BLACKMORE: I was born, you know, I was born in our belief structure and, you know, I have 30 brothers and sisters. My father was a polygamist and I grew up that way. And I don’t know any other life than that.
KING: In British Columbia? You grew up in British Columbia?
BLACKMORE: Yes, in British Columbia.
KING: Are there many polygamists in Canada?
BLACKMORE: I, you know, it depends on whose definition, the Canadian definition of polygamy or, you know, which definition you’re looking at.
KING: What’s the two definitions?
BLACKMORE: Well, Canada’s definition of polygamy that is illegal is that if you have more than two relationships ongoing at the same time, which makes for tens of thousands of polygamists in Canada.
KING: Are you a polygamist in the sense that you have many wives or do you have one wife and a lot of relationships?
BLACKMORE: Actually, right now I h — my relationships are church sanctioned and church blessed unions. So — but as far as having marriage licenses, you know, as far the definition of marriage, well, I don’t even have any of those at present.
KING: So, do you consider yourself an original Mormon?
KING: And do you consider the Mormons of today The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, that they’re the breakaway church?
BLACKMORE: Well, they certainly departed from the original tenets of the Mormon faith in 1890.
KING: Why are there so many more of them?
BLACKMORE: Well, you know, they have a good organization. I have some of my family members, brothers and sisters, that are a part of that organization and, you know, they do, you know, I’m envious of them in a lot of ways, you know, what they’re able to do — structure for their young people and you know they have a — they just have a good organization.
But, you know, as far as the basic fundamental tenets, they have a really nice book called “The Doctrine and Covenants” and…
KING: That’s not your book?
BLACKMORE: Well, it’s my book, but it came from the LDS Church. And it, you know, it establishes the fundamentals of our faith.
KING: Is the essential difference, then, polygamy? BLACKMORE: Probably. You know, polygamy was — was one of the founding principles and there’s a lot of people that argue that. But, you know, there are so many historians who documented so many things about it that, you know, they can argue it, not me.
KING: What’s the comfort of it? Why would you want — why would anyone want so many wives, so many relationships?
It seems a burden.
BLACKMORE: Well, you’ve got to understand, our faith structure system. It isn’t how many that a person wants, it’s just what ends up to be in your life. Like I never courted any of my wives.
KING: How did you wind up with them?
BLACKMORE: Well, that’s a good question in lots of ways. But they, you know, the program in our faith is if there was someone who wanted to get married and they had their parents’ consent and they went and saw their bishop or their president or whoever their religious authority was, we were directed. And I was directed.
KING: So, in other words, you were told marry Jane?
KING: What if you didn’t like that?
BLACKMORE: Jane literally was my first wife and it was easy for me to marry Jane.
KING: All right, what if you didn’t like Jane?
BLACKMORE: Well, I did.
KING: What if you didn’t?
BLACKMORE: Well, you know, I can honestly say for myself — I can’t answer for everybody else — but I gave it my best effort to do the very best I could for my family.
KING: How, Winston, do you bounce all of the balls? I mean how do you know who you’re going to be with at 4:00 and who you’re going to be with at 8:00 and who’s having dinner? And how do you…
BLACKMORE: We’re all busy. You know, we just — we have such an entirely different family structure.
KING: Explain it to me. Give me a day.
What happens at dinnertime?
BLACKMORE: Well, most dinner days I’m not there. I mean, but I can have breakfast with my children then I go to work and my family goes to work about their various things and we have, you know, when our children go to school, they go to school. When they come home, there’s people that tend them and we struggle along with a multi- parented family group just as hard as anybody else to try to get…
KING: How do you support them all?
BLACKMORE: Well, we all help in that support.
KING: It’s like a — it takes a village.
BLACKMORE: Well, it takes — yes. Our family is practically a village. So, it takes a group effort for all of us to do what we can to support our family.
KING: You can’t know all your children.
BLACKMORE: Ohm, I certainly do.
KING: You do?
BLACKMORE: I don’t know all of their birth dates. They keep me posted. So it’s like, you know, I don’t do long division in my head, either.
KING: But if someone comes running up, you know that that’s Johnny?
BLACKMORE: Oh, I certainly do.
KING: And you know all the names of your wives?
BLACKMORE: Oh, I certainly do.
KING: What do you do for a living?
BLACKMORE: Well, I have been very involved in business, in the forest industry and in farming, the trucking business and what I presently do right now is I farm and I have a wood processing treating plant.
KING: Do you go to church?
BLACKMORE: Do I go to church?
I certainly do. And I preach.
KING: Oh, you preach.
Are you a prophet?
Polygamy and the Birth of Mormon Fundamentalism
BLACKMORE: (LAUGHTER) You know, I’ve got to — I’ve got to say this to you, and that is that on the news I watched the Iranians display their missile, this 2,000 mile missile. And they had it affectionately named “The Prophet,” you know? And I could — and then there was a magician who claimed to be a prophet and there’s — prophets are at a premium.
KING: And the head of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter- Day Saints, whoever… ”
BLACKMORE: He’s those people’s prophet.
KING: … not reverend, doctor — Gordon Hinckley is called Prophet.
BLACKMORE: Yes. And he’s a prophet to those people. But, you know…
KING: Are you a prophet to your people?
BLACKMORE: Well, you know, that is a very undesirable title, as far as I’m concerned.
KING: You don’t want it?
BLACKMORE: No, I don’t want that title. And — and yet, fundamental to our faith is the fact that every person who is trying to — trying to develop the attributes of god in their life, you know, should have enough inspiration to listen — listen to the inspiration.
KING: We’ll be right back with Winston Blackmore and more on his life as one of the leaders, and maybe the western leader, of the polygamist aspect of the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, FLDS.
We’ll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: Hi, sweetie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We’re going to go find a swim.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It’s her birthday.
BLACKMORE: Is it your birthday? How old are you?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I’m three.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Winston Blackmore is considered one of the most powerful polygamist leaders in North America. With Warren Jeffs seemingly out of the picture, some believe Blackmore might be the man to take charge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You’ve heard some of the speculation, that some people think that you’re poised to take over the church.
BLACKMORE: Well, you’d have to have a will to do that, which I, you know, I lack the will to do that. (END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We just heard that clip.
Are you succeeding Warren Jeffs? How do you view the whole Jeffs story?
BLACKMORE: Boy, that’s a big story.
Do we have time?
KING: Well, he’s in jail awaiting trial.
BLACKMORE: Well, it — when I was flying down here, I got a copy of the United States constitution and read it on the plane. And, do you know the first amendment right says it’s not illegal to start your own church?
And that’s, in my view, just exactly what Warren Jeffs did. His — the church that he is the second president of that has his teachings and his new tenets, principles and ideas on just about everything, it’s not illegal for him to do that according to the term…
KING: Are you a member of his church?
BLACKMORE: No, I have never been a member of his church.
KING: So you’re not a Fundamentalist Latter Day — you’re not FLDS?
BLACKMORE: I am LDS Fundamentalist, in parentheses.
KING: Just different wording, right?
KING: It’s semantics, right?
Do you expect to succeed him?
BLACKMORE: I don’t know how anybody could succeed him. I have no — I have no foundation in the thought process that he has taught to the group of people that are following him. And I don’t think that — that in any way, size, shape or form I would ever be positioned properly to be able to take those people. Many of those people don’t even know anything different other than what he has taught them.
KING: Do you know him?
KING: Have you attended his services?
BLACKMORE: Yes, I have.
KING: Has he attended yours?
BLACKMORE: Oh, yes.
KING: Does he — what interest does he spark? What is his thing that so many people follow him?
BLACKMORE: Well, I think the biggest reason that he has — that he was able to get the following of our people per se with the fact that he took possession of his father after he had a major stroke in 1998 and was able to — I mean he made the statement to me and others, I am my father’s memory.
But the things that he was remembering for his father were something that was totally different than the man we knew that was his father. And that’s where, you know, that’s the difference that I had with him.
The fundamental principles of our faith, which revolve around strong family values, which have to do with justice and good judgment, which have to do with — with families of whatever cast, whether they’re single families or two, three or whatever amount of wives and children, were never meant to be shuffled and divided as he has done. And yet that has become a tenet of his faith.
KING: Do you expect to rise to a position of prominence with him in jail?
BLACKMORE: With his church and his people?
Do you think they might come over to you?
BLACKMORE: Oh, I’m — I’m not trying to have anybody come over to me. What I’m trying to do is I’m trying to just simply be Winston Blackmore, the family that lives the fundamentals of our faith.
KING: Do your children become missionaries?
BLACKMORE: No. But I would like some of them to.
KING: Why not?
BLACKMORE: Well, fundamentally in our — in the group that we belong to, that I belong to, in 1886, their mandate was not to form a shadow church of the LDS Church. The Church is doing a great missionary work. They’re getting the Book of Mormon message out there and they’re, you know, they’re doing, in my view, a very good missionary work.
Our mandate in 1886 was to see to it that the principle tenets of our faith were continued.
And you’ve got to remember that if you looked at any of that history, that around that time, the 1888, the 1889, ’90s, it was a real tough time for the Mormons. You know, they were…
KING: Oh, yes.
BLACKMORE: They were in trouble.
KING: Are you going to support Mitt Romney?
BLACKMORE: How do I do that?
KING: Announce that you support his candidacy.
BLACKMORE: Well, I’m a Canadian.
KING: So what?
You give a viewpoint down.
BLACKMORE: I think he would probably be a good choice, then.
KING: You think he’d be a good choice, for America to choose him?
BLACKMORE: I think so. So long as he has those good, basic Mormon values. They’re good ones for anybody to have.
KING: How do you — by the way, what do you think of gay marriage? If you have the right to marry many, shouldn’t gays have the right to marry each other?
BLACKMORE: Well, gay marriage is now legal in Canada. And it has no problem. I have no problem with — we have this fun-little charter and you guys have, you know, the first amendment rights, which every person is entitled. And ours, I think, was made after yours.
Every person is — has these basic rights, fundamental rights and freedoms. And one of those is they can worship how they choose and they can associate how they choose. And so far as people associate how they choose, I’m not the judge. And, you know, one of the — one of the commandments that god gave all mankind is judge not that you be not judged. He’ll be the final judge.
KING: Does Canada pressure you at all?
BLACKMORE: Well — (LAUGHTER)…
KING: I mean are you under governmental pressure because of polygamy?
BLACKMORE: Well, I don’t — I’m not so sure that it’s the government as much as it is the activist groups. And, you know, they’re — they’re always anxious that the government do something to stamp out, you know, these wicked polygamists. KING: Has the Mormon Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints active in British Columbia?
BLACKMORE: Oh, yes.
KING: And do they try to protest about you?
BLACKMORE: Not that I’m aware of.
KING: Up next, how do you raise dozens and dozens of children? And what if the kids don’t want to follow in your religious footsteps?
We’ll get the answers, just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: Bountiful is just our community. And it’s basically based on united effort, plan and property of our church, the church landholding trust that I was a trustee of for many, many years and because it wasn’t defended well, very soon it was taken away and there’s a fiduciary who, you know, who manages the print (ph) of the church’s property.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: Becka (ph), be careful. You have two skates that are on the same foot, sweetheart. Where do get that?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Right there.
BLACKMORE: Let’s see.
Can you open your eye?
UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yes.
BLACKMORE: OK. Stand up. OK. You’ll be OK.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We’re back with Winston Blackmore.
How many children do you have?
KING: How many?
You must know.
BLACKMORE: Yes, I do, but that’s — that’s my generic answer. And there’s a whole big explanation for it. Spare me the explanation and let’s (UNINTELLIGIBLE)…
KING: No, minimize it for me. Give me a brief explanation of why you need 70 children.
BLACKMORE: Well, actually, I’m really thankful for every one that I’ve got. And it’s not like that I need 70 children, but their mothers had a part to play in that, too.
KING: Oh, sure.
KING: And you named them?
BLACKMORE: My children?
And I’m not going to list you a whole name of a whole list of children.
KING: But you could?
BLACKMORE: But I could.
KING: All right, how do you — how do you bounce that ball?
BLACKMORE: What do you mean?
KING: What do you do? I’ve got trouble with two.
How do you — how do you — not trouble. They’re great kids. But how do you deal with all of the you go here, you go there, look it, he’s screaming, he’s yelling and watch this. Hold him. He was just born. He’s got diapers. Hold it. He’s going to school. Hello, this is the school calling, he didn’t come in today. OK, what’s the matter? He had a fight at school today. OK, I’d better get down there.
How do you do that?
BLACKMORE: One day at a time. And I have a lot of good help that…
KING: You have 4,000 nannies.
BLACKMORE: Yes, well, you know, every day in our country a schoolteacher is expected to go and teach 20 to 30 schoolchildren and give them all the basics of education. And our family, with — with as many parents as we have there, you know, have far less than that.
KING: Back to Warren Jeffs, did you know his father?
BLACKMORE: Very well.
KING: Did you like him?
BLACKMORE: Yes, I loved him dearly. KING: You did?
What about Warren?
BLACKMORE: I knew him, I guess, as a schoolteacher. And, you know, up until the time that his — his father had his stroke, I didn’t really have that much to do with him. But then for a couple of years after that, I had quite a bit to do with him.
KING: Do you think he’s been harassed?
BLACKMORE: Well, he’s — he hasn’t been convicted of anything.
KING: No, but he’s in jail.
BLACKMORE: Yes, he’s in jail. I don’t know. I think that he should have just faced — faced up and not tried hiding from his problem, because those kind of problems don’t go away.
KING: What’s the essential difference between your church and his?
BLACKMORE: I don’t have a church, for one thing. I am just one of a lot of people who believe in the basic, simple fundamentals of our LDS faith and who are trying to live that way with our families. And Warren has a church. He organized a church. He’s its president. He created him some new scriptures. He does all those things for the people that follow him.
KING: He calls himself a prophet, right?
BLACKMORE: Well, whether he does or not, a lot of people do.
KING: You don’t have a church per se?
KING: So when you go on Sunday, you go to a physical building, a church?
BLACKMORE: Yes, we go to a building and 200 or 300 people end up assembling there. And we — we conduct a normal church service.
KING: But you don’t have an organized church?
BLACKMORE: No. No. Our — our faith structure has never been organized, really, only loosely, from the late 1800s.
KING: Do you lead the services?
BLACKMORE: Yes. That’s only because I can’t get anybody else to. KING: What book do you read from?
BLACKMORE: Well, we study the “Book of Mormon,” but mostly, I mean, if you’ve gone to a Mormon church service, there’s lots of just free speaking and…
KING: There is no minister per se, is there?
KING: There’s no…
KING: … priest, minister, rabbi?
KING: Are you a bishop?
BLACKMORE: Yes. I was commissioned a bishop by our president prior to President Jeffs, Warren’s father. And I never did join the FLDS Church when they called for our — us to fill in their membership forms. We never filled them in.
KING: Are the wives ever jealous?
BLACKMORE: Oh, of course they are. I mean they’re people, too.
KING: How do you deal with that?
Myrna is mad that you were with Elizabeth yesterday.
BLACKMORE: Hmmm, well, you should be talking to Myrna and Elizabeth (UNINTELLIGIBLE)…
KING: Well, how do you deal with it?
BLACKMORE: Oh, well, the best I can.
KING: I mean that…
BLACKMORE: How do you deal with jealousy?
KING: Jealousy is a difficult thing to deal with, because it usually is lack of faith in one’s self…
KING: … if someone is jealous. But I don’t have 43 wives walking around, you know what I mean?
KING: But if you’ve got that many and there’s bickering going on, how do you handle it? BLACKMORE: Well…
KING: Or do you just dismiss it and go to work and let them work it out?
BLACKMORE: I don’t just dismiss it and go to work, but I don’t try to referee anyone and, you know, in my family structure, I’m the head wife. So — so we don’t have anybody that has any…
KING: Are you a grandparent, too?
KING: Any underage wives?
BLACKMORE: Didn’t — didn’t we explain that already? The process where in anybody — I don’t have any underage wives now in my life, you know? But the process — our process is like this. In Canada and many other jurisdictions, that if a 16-year-old person, a woman that’s under 18 that has both parents’ consent, can go into the governing agent office — not my office, not anybody else’s office — and with the consent of their parents, they can get a marriage license and marry anybody that they choose to.
And not only that, they can marry a same sex partner, as well. So they can take this marriage license if they’re 16 years old with both parents’ consent, and they can go marry a same sex partner or anybody else.
And so, in our — in our church, that could happen the same way.
KING: Winston, what are the rewards of polygamy, of a polygamist life? In other words, if you ask Catholics, they’ll give you the rewards of the Catholic life; a Jew, the rewards of a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) I’m sure the Mormons, the First, the Church of Jesus Christ, they’ll give you the rewards.
What are the report rewards of a polygamist life?
BLACKMORE: I think the rewards of a polygamist life should be the same as the rewards of any life. I mean, I get a huge amount of satisfaction out of not only seeing my children do well, succeed at something, but everyone else’s, as well. You know, when they — when they accomplish something. When they go on and meet the targets that they set for themselves, those — those rewards, you know, as a minister, they don’t — you know, I don’t hold those precious just to my own family.
KING: You have grandchildren, too?
KING: Any kids leave the church?
BLACKMORE: Yes. Yes, they do. But, you know, there’s a — there’s kind of an agreement that a father makes with his children, just from them being his children, and that is, is that you try to be as supportive as you can with your family. And I would hope that that’s what you do, as well as everybody should.
KING: When we come back, more of our interview with Winston Blackmore about life as a polygamist.
Don’t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Were any of the women under 16 when you married them?
BLACKMORE: Yes. Just barely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just barely?
BLACKMORE: Just barely.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blackmore didn’t exactly say how many of his wives were under 16 when they married.
BLACKMORE: There was one that was and one that — that lied about her age. But that’s not unusual for women, is it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Blackmore might be laughing now, but he knows there’s a real possibility he could be thrown in prison. He says the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Canada’s equivalent of the FBI, has been interviewing him and his wives about their age when they married and first had sex. The agency declined to confirm it’s investigating Blackwell and his wives. It did say: “We do have an active investigation, but there’s no firm time line.”
(END VIDEO TAPE)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It’s a town that’s a lumber town. Has been for, oh, since the turn of the century, I think. But it’s a great town. Good people here. And I love working in this town. And Preston, as well. They’re both — have been very, very fortunate and blessed to be able to live our lives in companies where they’re such good neighbors and good people to work with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We’re back with Winston Blackmore, arguably the most powerful polygamist leader in the United States and Canada today, a former member of Warren Jeffs’ church.
Why did you leave Jeffs’ church?
BLACKMORE: Actually, I didn’t leave it. I didn’t join it. And when he organized, you know, the FLDS Church, which was organized somewhere in the ’90s, the mid-90s, and it was — it was registered several years before I even knew it was registered.
But it wasn’t until after his father, basically — you know, after he took possession of his father that the prominence of the FLDS Church began to appear in our lives. And when there was a membership, you know, when they sent around for people to fill in their membership forms…
KING: You never did?
BLACKMORE: I never joined. I never filled mine in for me and my family.
KING: When you say took possession of his father, what do you mean?
BLACKMORE: His father had a stroke. And his father was a wonderful person, wanting, willing and able to visit with anyone and everyone. He’d do 70 or 80 appointments a day, seven days a week. And he was — he was interested in having a hands-on working relationship with the people. And, when he had his stroke, that all changed. No one could get to him. No one could — I was fortunate…
KING: He took control of him?
BLACKMORE: Took control.
KING: We’ve had so many guests on during the height of the Warren Jeffs controversy. Young women, all of whom claim they had to escape from the church, that he had. That they went in the middle of the night and that they were brutalized into coming back.
How do you explain that? Why would they have to do that?
BLACKMORE: I don’t know if that was what their particular experience was, but I know that we have no borders or walls around Bountiful. And no one has to really escape very far. You know?
KING: So somebody wants to leave, they can just leave?
BLACKMORE: And they can, and they do. They leave and they come back. Lots of them. And I’m glad that they do.
KING: And some don’t, however?
BLACKMORE: And some don’t.
KING: You were saying when you are raised in this culture, it’s easier to handle?
KING: Because it’s all you know, right?
BLACKMORE: Yes, it certainly is easier. And I don’t know how to explain it so that anyone can understand. But if you have, like I was, raised in the same kind of family that I’m living in, and my — you know, my companions were raised in the same kind of families as that. It’s far easier than you would think. You know? We’ve — we have grown up knowing what to expect.
KING: How many followers do you have?
BLACKMORE: I hope I don’t have any followers but my family. I hope that the people who — who do the same thing I do are doing it because they have a belief in the fundamentals of our great faith.
And I don’t want any followers. I — well, with the exception that I want my family to know those basics and to make a good choice themselves. And I certainly want my — my companions to follow that lead.
But I — I’m not interested in a big following. And yet there’s a lot of people that feel the same as I do.
KING: You don’t want to be a leader?
BLACKMORE: I’m a minister. And, in the service of our people. And I’ve tried to be that for all of my life. And so, so I mean, a servant is not greater than the people.
KING: How about those critics who might say, “Winston, you’re getting a nice, free, sexual ride?” Got a whole bunch of women that you can have a relationship with, and a lot of men would like that scene.
BLACKMORE: Well, I would say they’re certainly entitled to their opinion.
KING: Why is that not true?
BLACKMORE: Well, because our family structure is far more — is about far more than just sex. So, it’s about…
KING: OK. It’s about what else?
BLACKMORE: It’s about families. The old basic Mormon fundamentals of — of, you know, having a family and raising your family and having a family as diverse as we have. You know? History is full of old, big, successful families.
KING: Like the Old Testament has…
KING: … many, does it not?
BLACKMORE: Yes, it does.
KING: Does your faith in God ever waver?
BLACKMORE: I’m human. But I certainly — I certainly do have a — you know, a hope that my faith in God will not waver.
KING: We’ll be taking phone calls. And when we come back, divorce in the polygamist community. Stick around.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: In this square is a cemetery just over the corner. And my father’s buried in there, as well as many others, you know. So, it’s quite a versatile corner. You can be born here, you know. You can — you can be baptized up there on the hill in the pond. And you can be buried. So you can kind of live your whole life in this corner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Winston Blackmore is a man who says he has at least 10 wives and as many as 100 children. He was once a leader in Jeffs’ church but was excommunicated and now lives in British Columbia.
He’s believed to be detested by Jeffs. And therefore, persona non grata among Jeffs’ supporters.
BLACKMORE: Let me give you a little preamble of our history in this place.
TUCHMAN: But amid a tense atmosphere, he came back to Colorado City, Arizona, to dedicate a monument to families separated during a polygamy raid by police.
BLACKMORE: We’ve been robbed.
TUCHMAN: By his own account, Blackmore could find himself in legal hot water, too. He admits he has married underage girls and believe Canadian authorities may arrest him one day.
KING: We’re with Winston Blackmore.
How’s that investigation going? Do you know?
BLACKMORE: In Canada? I think it’s complete.
KING: And you haven’t heard anything?
BLACKMORE: No. They’re sent off their boxes of information.
KING: Is there divorce in your church or whatever it is called?
BLACKMORE: Well, you know, for years and years, we never — divorce was never a part of our life and our lifestyle. But you know, as a minister, as a bishop in our — in our faith I have actually presided over a couple of divorces that needed to happen. And it — you know, in any society, when things are — I mean, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work.
KING: Have you been divorced ever?
BLACKMORE: Yes, I have.
KING: You have? From how many?
BLACKMORE: Just — well, from my first wife. The only wife that I had a divorce.
KING: I see. You said to me during the break that you’re not in favor of polygamy. Or that the — what do you mean?
BLACKMORE: I didn’t say that. I said…
KING: What did you say?
BLACKMORE: I said that “The Book of Mormon” actually denounces.
KING: “The Book of Mormon” denounces…
BLACKMORE: “The Book of Jacob”.
KING: So why then did they have polygamy?
BLACKMORE: Well, it — “The Book of Mormon” basically — I mean, it’s legal for a person to have one wife. And that’s basically what the old prophet Jacob in the “Book of Mormon” said, unless it’s directed by God. And so — so for someone to just go out and hunt them up a bunch of women just so that they can be a polygamist is not according to the fundamentals.
KING: So why then do you practice polygamy?
BLACKMORE: Well, I already told you that I didn’t go out courting me up a bunch of wives. I mean, these people came into my — into my life under the direction of our…
KING: So what did Joseph Smith say, the founder? Did he say, don’t court, be courted?
BLACKMORE: No. I think that things were quite a bit different for those guys. They were — the general authorities of the church were and there’s lots of evidence — I mean, in history, they were instructed by not only Joseph Smith but Brigham Young to actually enter into the principle and practice of plural marriage. And, you know, many of them did and some of them didn’t.
KING: To — let’s take some calls.
Hirsh, Texas, hello.
KING: Go ahead.
CALLER: What would happen if one or more of your wives took other husbands?
BLACKMORE: Well, they wouldn’t be my wives if they did. Like — you know, if they wanted to go and — they’d have to leave our society.
KING: Polygamy is only from the man’s standpoint?
BLACKMORE: Yes, it is. I think that’s biblically, you know, sound.
KING: A little unfair, isn’t it?
KING: What if a woman wanted eight husbands?
BLACKMORE: I imagine they could have them. I think there’s probably lots that have. Even an account in the Bible where Jesus talks to this woman and he says, you know, you’ve had five husbands.
KING: But not in your church?
BLACKMORE: No. Not in our church.
KING: To Victoria, British Columbia, hello.
CALLER: Hello. Mr. Blackmore, do any of your wives work?
BLACKMORE: Just about all of them do.
KING: They all do?
KING: And while they’re working, who’s watching the kids?
BLACKMORE: Well, they take — they take turns. I mean, there’s nurses; there’s schoolteachers. There’s some going to school to become, you know…
KING: Do you ever gather with all of them?
BLACKMORE: As often as we can.
KING: With all the wives?
KING: And all the kids together?
BLACKMORE: Yes. KING: Sequim, Washington, hello.
CALLER: Hello. I would like to ask Mr. Blackmore a question. When I see the pictures of all these beautiful children, I see boys and I see girls. If all the boys grow up to be polygamists, how will that work out mathematically or how does it work out for each boy to be able to be a polygamist?
BLACKMORE: I don’t think that it was ever intended for everybody to be a polygamist, honestly. And you know, thanks for that call, because I’m dealing with some of my teenage girls right now who basically are saying to me, “Dad, you know, we don’t even want to marry any of the guys we’re growing up with.” And, you know, we kind of need to think about that.
So, so, you know, as far as our faith, the structure of our community, it was just about impossible to get some people married off.
KING: So, all the men in your church are not polygamists?
BLACKMORE: Oh, no, no.
KING: Winston Blackmore is our guest. This is a fascinating program tonight.
Let’s check in with Anderson Cooper in New York. He’s the host of “AC 360”, coming up at the top of the hour.
What’s tonight, Anderson?
ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, “ANDERSON COOPER 360”: Larry, a developing story out of Oregon tonight. We are seeing the first pictures from the actual site where James Kim and his family spent their horrific days before Mr. Kim walked away to get help and, of course, later to die.
The video is truly chilling. You can only imagine what that family went through when you see these pictures.
We’re also hearing tonight that the road they turned on was supposed to be locked. It seemed some vandals broke the lock, and that sadly sealed Mr. Kim’s fate. A lot of new developments in the story. We’re going to bring them all to you, Larry, at the top of the hour.
KING: That’s Anderson, right on top of the scene at 10 Eastern, 7 Pacific. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: Tim, come over here. I’ll help you do up your skate. You can’t — you can’t play hockey with a skate undone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know.
BLACKMORE: Well, why are you doing it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because every time I tried doing it back up, it just comes undone.
BLACKMORE: OK. Does that feel better? OK. Go play hockey.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: And over there is our clinic. So, that’s a well set up clinic that we — the nurses patch up scratches and cuts and bruises. The public health nurse comes and actually sets up — has an office in there. That’s a delivery center and kind of just a public place where people can come and meet, and they come and go. And we also take care of that place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Those are wonderful pictures and shots were done by our production crew, which spent a couple days with Winston up in Bountiful in British Columbia.
Let’s take another call. Rochester, Minnesota, hello.
CALLER: How are you?
KING: Fine. What’s the question?
CALLER: I have a question on how he pays the bills for the kids, you know?
KING: Good question.
KING: How do you pay your bills?
BLACKMORE: Well, the whole effort of all of us do. We all pitch in, and we all earn our living. And we do the very best that we can do.
KING: I mean, the wives work, you work, you all pool it?
BLACKMORE: Yes, we do. Well, we take care of the needs of our children. And, you know, in our country, we live in a kind of commune setting with the united effort planned property. We’re not entitled to welfare. So, we don’t — we don’t have that as an advantage, so we have to do the very best we can do.
KING: What about thoughts on the Lost Boys. These are young men who say they were kicked out of the fundamentalist Mormon communities so that the male church leaders could have more wives?
BLACKMORE: Well, I don’t think that a whole bunch of those guys were kicked out for that reason. And, you know, I know a bunch of those boys, and I really feel bad that that experience happened to them. But the real lost boys, Larry, are the ones that are still there.
KING: You got against intermarriage with family members?
BLACKMORE: That certainly should not happen.
KING: That should not. Should not and does not?
BLACKMORE: Well, I heard of one case that did. I think that was before the court.
KING: Has the government hit you with a $1 million tax bill?
BLACKMORE: Yes, they have.
KING: For unpaid taxes?
BLACKMORE: No. It’s for — see, we live in a commune, a community style living. And we are — our whole effort has been to take care of the community. And for the years of my life, I have built — built up the united effort plan, the Bountiful school, the society and spent my efforts, as well as the efforts of everyone else.
We lived. We — we worked seven days a week, except for the time that we spent in church. And, we built that place up. Well, an auditor come along and they — they are assessing me because we have lived in a community style living.
KING: You do realize, of course — you’re a bright guy — that most Americans, most Canadians look at you askance. They don’t like this idea. Runs against the grain. You do realize that?
BLACKMORE: Oh, I know. I know. I have lots of them — I get all kinds of strange e-mail. But at the end of the day, I try to live my faith and my religion. It’s not something that I invented. And try to do the best that I can with my lifestyle.
This is the way I was raised. It was what I was born into, way I was raised. Same with my family. We are trying to continue on with our family, with the old fundamentals which had to do with good education and good advantages, and the freedom of choice.
KING: What kind of schools do the kids go to?
BLACKMORE: We have two different schooling systems on our community. I’m just talking about the group that I’m a part of. We have a one to nine, grade one to nine, and it’s — it has certified staff. And it’s under the — under the umbrella of the independent schools.
KING: Church? BLACKMORE: No. It’s sort of a church school but mostly, it’s a community school.
KING: It’s accredited?
BLACKMORE: Yes. And then we have kindergartens and 10, 11 and 12 are part of the Home Links public school system.
KING: The other kids go and get report cards?
KING: Go on to college?
BLACKMORE: Yes. Hopefully. More of them than in days gone by.
KING: Many of your children gone to college?
BLACKMORE: Well, some are. But not as many as I want to have go. I have some that are interested in being foresters. And, you know, we’re trying to make a job not so easy for them to get.
BLACKMORE: Because we want them to finish school and want them to go to school.
KING: Back with our remaining moments with Winston Blackmore on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Stay there.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKMORE: Stand up. Push. Here. There’s what was in your skate, three rocks. No wonder — no wonder why that was hurting you. Does that feel better? Yes. I bet it does.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We’re back with Winston Blackmore.
It must be asked, how can you sexually please all these women?
BLACKMORE: We have — we have a whole totally different lifestyle.
BLACKMORE: Well, I mean, marriage is — to us marriage is about more than that.
KING: So you don’t have to have someone every night or…
BLACKMORE: Oh my goodness, no. And that — and in our society and our lifestyle, that’s been hugely frowned on over the years. KING: That’s frowned on?
BLACKMORE: Yes. That is usually frowned on. I mean, the idea of having a whole bunch of — you know, of an extended family like I’ve got is way more about that.
KING: You don’t go orgies?
KING: Salt Lake City, Utah, hello.
CALLER: Hi. I’d like to ask how he can — how he feels he can be a good father to 80 children.
BLACKMORE: Well, I have some very good mothers for my children, as well. And like — like anyone else that has — that has a large family, it — it requires an effort from everybody.
And but, you know, I’m going to tell you, many times I don’t think that I’m a great father. I’d like to do lots, lots more things with my family and children than I do. And like every other father out there that’s trying to make a living for his family, you know, there’s lots of things I could do way better.
KING: You celebrate Christmas?
BLACKMORE: We did up until my father died in 1974. And after that, we don’t really do much for Christmas. But we have a holiday and we have a good time.
KING: You have a tree?
BLACKMORE: No, well, we live in a forest. And, we don’t…
KING: Don’t chop down one?
BLACKMORE: Yes. We chop down too many.
KING: But you don’t sing carols, exchange gifts, Santa Claus, the whole scene?
BLACKMORE: We do that all through our year. We sing carols. And we — you know, we just don’t celebrate Christmas in the same way. I don’t think I can afford to do that.
KING: Doubt that you could.
Thanks so much. Winston Blackmore. Maybe the most important polygamist leader now in the west.
Before we go, a sad farewell to an exceptional American: Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who died yesterday. President Ronald Reagan named her as U.S. ambassador to the U.N. As the first woman ever to serve in that position, she shaped history. As President Bush put it today, “Jeanne’s powerful intellect helped America win the Cold War.” A staunch conservative but a Democrat, smart as a whip, she honored this program with her presence a lot more than once.
Jeanne Kirkpatrick, dead at age 80. And we shared the same birthday. And I will always honor the fact that I just got to know her.
Anderson Cooper is next with “AC 360”. A lot more on that recovery starting right now — Anderson.
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