Wednesday, August 30, 2006
Prominent polygamist denies interest in Jeffs' job
Greetings from Spokane, Washington. I'm on my way to Bountiful, British Columbia, to interview one of the most notorious polygamists in North America: Winston Blackmore. He's got about 20 wives and a hundred kids.

Some observers are speculating he might be the one to succeed Warren Jeffs as leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) now that Jeffs has been arrested.

Blackmore says he's not interested in the job, but perhaps no one is better positioned to take over. He was the head of the FLDS sect in Canada until Jeffs booted him from power a few years ago. Now, with Jeffs in custody, some people think Blackmore has the leadership skills and charisma to take over the whole church.

Despite what you may think of Blackmore's lifestyle, he's an engaging fella. He's friendly to reporters (unlike most polygamists) and is an ardent defender of the way he lives.

Today, we plan on talking to him about what he thinks of Jeffs' arrest, how he views the future of the church, and whether he might entertain taking over. I'm also curious to hear his thoughts about Jeffs having more than $50,000 in his SUV along with computers and iPods -- the very things he tells his followers to shun.

So here's my question: If you were interviewing Blackmore today, what would you ask him?
Posted By Dan Simon, CNN Correspondent: 1:17 PM ET
Does Blackmore believe in marrying off kids that are younger than 16? What makes Blackmore different from Jeffs?

How does Blackmore support 20 wives and 100 kids? Does he put the kids to work? Use whatever form of welfare Canada has? Or do they live in squalor, barefoot and pregnant?

In some respects, this is something of a non-issue, as long as nothing illegal is done. Why should I care about who leads the FLDS church? Just don't make me pay for their religion and lifestyle.
Posted By Anonymous Paul, Vernal, UT : 1:46 PM ET
I would like to know the scriptural basis for polygamy, and what the same scripture has to say about the rights of women. I'm not passing judgement, I just want to know why.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Battleground, Wa : 1:48 PM ET
Where do I sign up?
Posted By Anonymous Bryan, St. Louis, MO : 1:51 PM ET
Hey Dan:
I doubt that this Blackmore will have anything good to say about Jeffs if he booted him out of power, but I'd ask him how he feels about taking over the spotlight from a character that ended up on the FBI's Most Wanted list.
With all this publicity he's likely to get booted out of Canada as well. We like to think we're above all that kind of stuff. Truth is it's just kept out of the headlines so we can keep our squeeky clean image.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa Scarboro ONtario Canada : 1:54 PM ET
Hi Dan,
Well, what can any of us really say..It's obvious that FLDS will continue on, so I guess the best thing you could ask Mr Blackmore would be..With all the exposure he and his followers have received will they alter some of their practices? I think I know the answer..I think they should be reminded that it's 2006 and no one lives in a bubble..I say live and let live but laws and rules apply to everyone, even SUV driving, computer savvy, FLDS'S..Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton,Calif : 1:55 PM ET
I would ask him this:

If you have 20 wives, and over 100 kids; how can you even spend time with them? how could you love them like a real father? its hard enough for parents today with one or two kids to find the time to spend with them while trying to support them.

awnser that...
Posted By Anonymous Bill D, Erie, pa : 1:58 PM ET
"If you were interviewing Blackmore today, what would you ask him?"

To leave.
Posted By Anonymous Lily, Vancouver, BC : 2:00 PM ET
Hey Dan-
First of all, the fact that Mr. Blackmore was booted from power by Warren Jeffs says volumes for him. Also, it is a good sign that he is open and engaging to reporters.I think we need to know if he supports marrying underage girls which is no more than child molestation. Also, would he be trading wives like they were cattle? I can't imagine how he would have time to be head of the FLDS church with 20 wives and 100 children!!! That just boggles the mind. By the way, I want to point out that not all Mormons are like this. The ones I know are very normal and mainstream.
Warren Jeffs. What a hypocritical weirdo freak. He is a very sick man. This is apparent from his racist and chauvinistic sermons. And lets not forget his erie singing and the image of him nursing out of a baby bottle. Creepy stuff. I wasn't surprised that he was caught with 50k and computers and ipods. I am so glad he is in custody and I hope they throw away the key. Ok-thats what I think. I am looking forward to the interview!
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann Taylor Nacogdoches, Tx : 2:04 PM ET
Have him show in the Bible where it authorizes marriage to multiple partners after Jesus Christ introduced christianity. He will try to use the old testament to trick you. God allowed multiple wives at that time only to increase the population then. That is no longer valid.
Posted By Anonymous LIz Walters,Howell,NJ : 2:06 PM ET
Will you ask him what he thinks about John Krakauers "Under the Banner of Heaven" and the HBO show "Big Love"?
Posted By Anonymous Clare, Jacksonville, FL : 2:09 PM ET
How'd they get that 2007 Cadillac Escalade without raised eyebrows?
Posted By Anonymous Marion, Houston TX : 2:09 PM ET
I would ask him how he thought he could be a nurturing and caring father to all of those children.
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Puyallup, WA : 2:10 PM ET
In today's society it is difficult for one man/woman to find a single suitable mate. In their polygamists'circles, if one man weds twenty or so women, where do they expect to find so many women for their men, or do they intend to lure more women into their fold to make their numbers? Anyways, no sane modern woman will want to be part of this.
Posted By Anonymous Narmada Baltimore MD : 2:11 PM ET
What happens to the girls who were born into this lifestyle who want no part in it? Are the girls allowed to refuse marriage to an older man? Can anyone just leave if they do not agree with the religion and it's (disgusting) illegal practices?
Posted By Anonymous Carrie, Greenhills OH : 2:25 PM ET
I would ask him quite a few things, such as:

Are all the revealations in the Doctrines & Covenants as stringently followed/defended as this one? What personal revealations has he received that have changed the lives of his followers for the better? When does a girl become a woman in the FDLS society? Why is it okay to take money from those that oppress you as is the case with US government funded welfare systems?
Posted By Anonymous Brenda Fellows, Colorado Springs, CO : 2:28 PM ET
In answer to Narmanda, they don't lure women in, they create more women through not using birth control, then trade women from sect to sect. There are three major sects, one in BC, one in the US, and one in Mexico.

These people are brainwashing and enslaving women. It's totally sick and wrong, and totally hypocrtical of Americans to look down upon fundamentalists in Islam, for example, when we have this going on in our own backyard.

My question woud be: Do you think that women are born to be your sex slaves?
Posted By Anonymous Ashley Shreveport, LA : 2:28 PM ET
Justify the position of having a 'prophet' in the first place. Jesus never told us to blindly follow the whims of one person, so where does the philosophy that any church needs a central leader (like a pope or a 'prophet') come from? Isn't this just another way for one person to control others? Why do LDS and FLDS and Catholics believe that God is going to speak to them through someone else rather than to their hearts, personally? Does he believe that the curtain to the Holy of Holies being ripped in half was not a sign from God that he desired a personal relationship with each of us rather than one through religious figureheads?
Posted By Anonymous Bev Morris, Covington, GA : 2:32 PM ET
I would be intrigued to know Blackmore's views on if Jeffs' followers knew he was a hypocrite,what he thinks Jeffs' rational might have been for having all that electronic equipment, and if not him, then who would he speculate to become Jeffs' successor. (The last question of course being a follow up to how Blackmore sees the future of the Church.)
Posted By Anonymous Tracy: Somerville, NJ : 2:50 PM ET
What does Mr. Blackmore think is the reason(s) the US has outlawed polygamy?

Why does Mr. Blackmore think men in biblical times had only one wife?
Posted By Anonymous Doug, Tracy CA : 2:50 PM ET
Ask him to tell you the name of each of his wives, and the names and which wife is the mother of each of his children. Does he acknowledge all their anniversaries and birthdays? Then you can slip in the real question, what is his true reason for being a polygamist?

He doesn't need to take over the FLDS, he has his own group now, and his dedication of the memorial to the 1953 raid was a big enough gesture to let any FLDS member know they can come to him if they choose.
Posted By Anonymous Barbara Orchard Park, New York : 3:00 PM ET
I am of the "I don't care" philosophy with the following conditions:
Polyandry is encouraged as well.
The poly(you name it)ists educate ALL of their children, IF marriage is NOT allowed until the children reach 18. They have to SUPPORT all of their spouses and children without welfare. They can worship dirty socks and consort with blue billy goats as long as they don't try to make me do it or pay for it and ALL parties are consenting adults, including the billy goats.
Posted By Anonymous Marilyn Davis, Longview, WA : 3:03 PM ET
I would ask him how he feels about Poligamy the other way round, women marrying multiple partners that is.
Posted By Anonymous Lily, Takoma park, Md : 3:09 PM ET
If Blackmore arranged marriages for underage girls with older men, then he should be put away just like Warren Jeffs.

My question to him would be - how does he live with himself? Does he think he's a saint in the eyes of God?
Posted By Anonymous Laura, Toronto, Ontario : 3:10 PM ET
I think Blackmore is a good Candidate hes not a tyrranical kind of guy. He's a business man. But I dont think he will take over Jeffs job.. Polygamists see thier leader as a prophet and Blackmore has said that he is not a prophet, but I think it would be good for them to have Blackmore as the Bishop
Posted By Anonymous Katie, Alberta Canada : 3:13 PM ET
Would it be alright if one woman had 20 husbands?
Posted By Anonymous Jess in Indianapolis, IN : 3:15 PM ET
Read the book "Under the Banner of Heaven" by Jon Krakauer. It will give answers to all of these questions in a quite different perspective that you'll most likely get from Winston Blackmore. Very, very interesting book.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Austin, TX : 3:28 PM ET
I know many people who were born into the FLDS. Most of those I know have left or been kicked out. Some are still in. From those I have spoken with who are with Blackmore they seem to follow him more by choice than those who follow Jeffs by force. I do want to say that those I know and have met who are in are very nice people. As in any culture don't judge the mass by what a few horrible leaders do. Also don�t forget those especially in Jeff's group were mostly born into it. It all they have been taught since birth. I am not an FLDS and do not agree with their doctrine. I have just been there to help several of them in getting out. The worst thing to do is break them up like 1953. When they come out of this they need help. They don't know how to take responsibilities in the real world and generally replace Jeff's Control by allowing someone else to control them. Usually a bad thing. The best way to help is by being there when they chose to leave. In regards to underage marriages and sexual conduct with minors we do need to intervene. This needs to be stopped. Once they become consenting adults and chose to marry that�s their problem. It is all of our problem when they trap minors into this.

Question for Mr Blackmore:
Should Jeff's and the FLDS UEP be held finacially respondsible for the cost of taking care of all those who have recently been kicked out and forced to the streets. There is great cost to taxpayers and individuals in taking care of these people.
Posted By Anonymous John, Mesa,AZ : 3:30 PM ET
I have several questions.

Where do the FLDS groups preform their sealings since the LDS Church will not allow them to use their Temples?

How does Mr. Blackmore feel that praticing priestcraft and unrighteous dominion over young girls and other members of his group is sanctioned by the Lord?

Do the women in FLDS have a vote like the women in the LDS Church, and are the FLDS women allowed to participate in decision making insofar as the Church and their families are concerned?

I would like to see women in the FLDS Church interviewed also.
Posted By Anonymous KF James, Northbrook Ill. : 3:31 PM ET
Why would anyone want to be a polygamist? My husband can hardly stand one wife. There is no way he'd want to throw any more on the pile.
Posted By Anonymous Lori, Fort Worth, Texas : 3:47 PM ET
What is a prophet? Mormons believe that Joseph Smith restored a broken chain of prophets, and the restoration would last until Jesus himself retakes the helm. Mainstream Mormons believe that Hinkley is currently carrying the torch, with a long line of old men standing behind him to catch it.

From what I understand, the FLDS people believe that Jeffs carryies the torch directly from John Taylor ( the 3rd LDS prophet ), rather than the mainstream line from Wilford Woodruf ( LDS 4rth prophet ).

If Blackmore believes neither gentlemen carry the torch, does he see himelf or believe it is time for another kid to into the forest to talk to God? Someone better be talking to God somewhere, right?
Posted By Anonymous Matt Page, Sandy, UT : 3:57 PM ET
I would ask Mr Blackmore just exactly how old a girl has to be to get married! Here's the Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms essentially allows many variations of marriage, such as now-legal Canadian same-sex unions. It also allows for protection of religious practices, and since Polygamy, or "plural marriage" has been a doctrine of the Mormon church for over 150 years there is real concern that having multiple wives may very well be protected by Canadian Law. Also, the age of sexual consent in Canada is 16 (just used to be 14!), so perhaps having a FLDS "Prophet" in Canada is just what these people need to legitamize their practices. So...all you fundamentalist Mormons should pack up and move to Canada, it sounds like a polygamist's paradise.

It's also interesting to note that although the mainstream Mormon "LDS" church claims not to practice Polygamy anymore, they still allow men to be "sealed" or "married for time and all eternity" to multiple wives in certain Temple marriages, but women can only be "sealed" to one man. For example, if an LDS man is a widower (or legally divorced!), he can be "sealed" to another woman and essentially have multiple wives in the "Celestial Kingdom" (Heaven), where as if a woman becomes a widow she can NOT be sealed again unless she petitions the LDS church to cancel her first sealing, which would rarely ever be allowed. Women who are divorced in the Mormon LDS Church also face real challenges getting their Temple marriages "cancelled" so they can be
"sealed" to a new man, unless they can prove their ex-husband's serious impropriety. So, even though the mainstream Mormon LDS Church claims not to practice polygamy, the doctrine is alive and well.
Posted By Anonymous C. Richardson, Atlanta GA : 3:58 PM ET
Where do you receive your authority to lead?
Posted By Anonymous Marilyn, Visalia, CA : 4:00 PM ET
Do you believe in Revelation and if so, have you received Revelations from God?
Posted By Anonymous Mike, Miami, FL : 4:07 PM ET
I would ask him how if he has 100 children he can give each one of them the time, care, nurturance and guidance that children so desperately need. How can one man be enough? Children need the consistent, care from both parents and if he has 100 children is he not then like an absentee father. How can he be there for them and provide for their needs when he probably can't even remember all their names. How can he be a leader in the house and home or any kind of leader at all in these children's lives.
Posted By Anonymous Christine Hunt, Aurora Ontario Canada : 4:08 PM ET
Ask him, if he were indeed to take over, how would he stop the terrible crimes against women/children that have been happening within his own community for many many years?
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 4:08 PM ET
Is real-life polygamy like what we see on cable-tv "BIG LOVE"; do you have a roster for nights with each wife, do you live in a "compound"?
Posted By Anonymous Godwin, Atlanta GA : 4:27 PM ET
I would ask why do they need to marry young girls. Most people could not care less if they have more than one wife. The law would only recognize the first for legal purposes. But if you want to live as husband and wife with more you aren't hurting anyone. The problem is that they are abusing young girls. If a grown woman wants to participate in that lifestyle no one can say a word. What is it in their religious beliefs that insists that they marry underage girls?
Posted By Anonymous Juli, Lubbock Texas : 4:30 PM ET
What Bible scripture is the church using to justify multiple marriages?
Posted By Anonymous Kym Boroughs, Chelsea, Alabama : 4:32 PM ET
Give me a break, this is no church. It is a cult that relies on brainwashing to keep control by deny basic human rights to its members, using all kinds of questionable, if not illegal methods to gain wealth. The question is: Since we are in a global war against similar 'religous' beliefs, why are we playing the good ole boy game of accepting its existence?
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista, ar : 5:14 PM ET
How the FLDS church plans to deal with all the bad publicity or if they hould deal with the bad publicity at all
Posted By Anonymous Cody Weagant, Laramie, Wyoming : 5:16 PM ET
It is ironic to see polygamist women shopping at the Walmarts in Utah dressed like "Sara, Plain and Tall" only to hear that Jeffs is driving an Escalade. Bling, bling, Jeffs! Don't let them see you or they might start wearing pants and makeup.
Posted By Anonymous Juliette Bauer Provo, UT : 5:25 PM ET
Why is there no attention paid to the "Pinesdale" sect near Hamilton Montana. It seems that a lot of these communities fly under the radar because the press has paid so much attention to Colorado City and the sect in B.C.
Posted By Anonymous Terry Coleman Hamilton Montana : 5:25 PM ET
-I would ask Mr. Blackmore if he had any concept of how he was hurting his 100 children. The mental problems alone and the very real occurace of birth defects from all of the "in-breeding". If the adults want to enter into this "creepy cult lifestyle" that's their choice. But...the poor kids...what choice do they have?
Posted By Anonymous Mark Johnson, Laguna Niguel, CA : 5:27 PM ET
I suppose I would ask him the philosophical basis for his lifestyle - why he believes it makes sense on moral grounds (as opposed to purely religious or Judeo-Christian grounds).
Posted By Anonymous AJ, Dayton, OH : 5:36 PM ET
I would ask what age his youngest wife was at the time of marriage. (Then I would probably listen to him lie to me.)
Posted By Anonymous Karolyn Sully , Ontario : 5:52 PM ET
All those women and leadership skills? The cult of FLDS is probably in very good hands and can go on being odd outsiders that the media blankets with attention for their fantastic beliefs.
Posted By Anonymous Noah Dunlap, Japan : 5:56 PM ET
Ask him how many of his wives are on social assistance.
Posted By Anonymous Nicki, Calgary, Alberta : 5:57 PM ET
I would like to know if he loves his boys as much as his girls. It seems obvious that if a man is to have 20 wives then girls must be of more value. I'm also curious if he is hesitant to step into a role that could land him on the FBI's most wanted list.
Posted By Anonymous Teresa, San Franicisco, CA : 6:04 PM ET
I would like to ask him how he views Jeff's leadership...since, he was booted I would assume he has different views. Would he change any significant factors in the current state of FDLS and what would they be?
Posted By Anonymous Brooke, Houston, TX : 6:04 PM ET
Dan: I would ask him if he does not want to succeed Warren Jeffs, who else does he think should? Also, does he have the same views as Jeffs regarding women having to be all submissive and stuff....yuk!!!
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 6:08 PM ET
how does he support his 100 kids and what are his views on their (and other polygamist families) drain on the environment-both w/in their community and outside of it
Posted By Anonymous Lisa, Honolulu, HI : 6:31 PM ET
20 wives and 100 children? Manalive! What's he going to do when 10 of his kids grow up to be gay?
Posted By Anonymous Leo, San Francisco : 6:36 PM ET
I would ask the beflunderous Mr. Blackmore: "What happens when we die??"
Posted By Anonymous Santiago, LA, CA : 6:37 PM ET
what kind of women are lured into this type of practice? sedated? hypnotized? or just plain illiterate?
Posted By Anonymous Rosemarie, Allen TX : 6:40 PM ET
Since most polygamists legally marry their first wife only, then do not legally marry the others (they call them spiritual wives and marry in ceremonies they themselves perform), the other women and all those children are on welfare, as the women are not permitted to work. They do not put the man's name on the birth certificate for fear that government officials will use these records to crack down on their crimes of welfare fraud, polygamy, child sex abuse and forced marriage of minors.

I would ask why it is ok for a supposed prophet of God who is supposed to be pure of spirit to LIE to and STEAl from taxpayers and the government and what justification he has for those crimes?

I would also like to know why our own government allows these communities to flourish on sovereign US soil, where we supposedly have the right and the means to control these people and prevent their crimes. We permit them to operate when we do not oppose them and arrest them for known crimes. What does "Mr" Jeffs believe is the reason they have not acted against him before now?

I also want to know what Jeffs has to say about forcing many young men out of the community after excommunicating them on trumped up religious charges, to allow the older men of the church to have the best choice of younger wives for themselves (which these other young men would naturally be competing for if they were permitted to stay). Lying about "crimes" these men supposedly commit, to get access to young girls, is a sin in and of itself. These are not the acts of a holy man.

And I want you to do a follow up with FBI and/or law enforcement in that area: ask them why they, and therefore, we, allow the crimes of polygamy, abuse of women and children, welfare and tax fraud, all of which are taking place in the open in those communities. Many more illegal activities could be taking place there under cover of their "religious freedoms" such as gun running, illegal gun possession, etc. We could have another Waco, or worse, on our hands if they don't act now.
Posted By Anonymous TL Coleman, Pittsburgh, PA : 8:03 PM ET
PLEASE PEOPLE! Learn to separate polygamy from arraigned marriages (they happen in monogamy), child brides (happens in monogamy), rape (happens in monogamy), relying on welfare (happens in monogamy), and spouse abuse (happens in monogamy). Many of us who pratice polygamy have loving, voluntary and consensual, adult, committed relationships and live pretty well without welfare.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, a polygamist in Sacramento, California : 10:34 AM ET
So, if you get married, support your wives and kids, and don't bother anyone, that's illegal, but if you irresponsibly impregnate multiple women and leave them to raise the children on their own, (as happens here in the US in many places)that's OK?
Posted By Anonymous Brad R Waco Texas : 11:27 AM ET
How is polygamy justified, especially having many wives, when that leaves many worthwhile men in the sect with no chance for a married life? It seems so obvious this is just to satisfy the desires of whomever is in the lead position. I wonder why anybody follows this.
Posted By Anonymous J. Barber, La Plata, MD : 1:00 PM ET
"I'm also curious to hear his thoughts about Jeffs having more than $50,000 in his SUV along with computers and iPods -- the very things he tells his followers to shun."

So it's not about prophet, it's about profit?
Posted By Anonymous Em, Toronto, Ontario, Canada : 5:03 PM ET
I'd ask Blackmore how he feels about that SUV, ipod and other objects he's not supposed to have. And the money! What's up with that?
I'd also ask him why others shun questions. Are they actually sick of us telling them they're wrong? Or are they taught to be afraid? (I think it's been said they're taught to be afraid, but I'd like to hear him say that.)
Posted By Anonymous Sue NYC, NY : 11:56 AM ET
There's one practical question I have about polygamy. There are about equal numbers of men and women in any society. So how can you have a society in which a man is supposed to have at least 3 wives? What happens to all the left over men?
Posted By Anonymous Marcia, Ramsey NJ : 2:45 PM ET
If you were to head the church (FLDS) would you allow and or arrange the marriage of minor females to older men? Also, do you have any respect for a womans free agency and right to make her own choices?
Posted By Anonymous Khristos Corzano, Manti, Utah : 5:03 PM ET
A behind the scenes look at "Anderson Cooper 360°" and the stories it covers, written by Anderson Cooper and the show's correspondents and producers.

    What's this?
CNN Comment Policy: CNN encourages you to add a comment to this discussion. You may not post any unlawful, threatening, libelous, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. Please note that CNN makes reasonable efforts to review all comments prior to posting and CNN may edit comments for clarity or to keep out questionable or off-topic material. All comments should be relevant to the post and remain respectful of other authors and commenters. By submitting your comment, you hereby give CNN the right, but not the obligation, to post, air, edit, exhibit, telecast, cablecast, webcast, re-use, publish, reproduce, use, license, print, distribute or otherwise use your comment(s) and accompanying personal identifying information via all forms of media now known or hereafter devised, worldwide, in perpetuity. CNN Privacy Statement.