Church, State and the Legal Interpretation of Polygamy in Canada
Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
University of California
Using the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Canada as an example, Beaman argues that religious minorities who are deemed to be harmful to society are controlled through law, either directly by legislation, through judicial application of legislation, or, more insidiously, through the discursive practices of government agents such as immigration officials. Both the legal controls imposed and the types of resistance or compliance offered by religious minorities shift and change over time. Definitions of religious freedom also shift and change over time. While the primary focus of this article is a case study of the Latter-day Saints and polygamy, it is prescient of other contemporary issues of social control of religious minorities. In these post-September 11 times, there has been a shift in rhetoric from nation-building to nation-preservation. Polygamy still plays a role in the construction of citizenship in Canada through the filtering of immigrants, but current social, political and economic circumstances differ from those the Latter-day Saints faced in the 1800s.