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Meet the Polygamists

Centennial Park Aerial Shot

Aerial view of Centennial Park.

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Founded in 1986 as a Fundamentalist Mormon community, Centennial Park is a town that practices their own religion. Today, there are roughly 1,500 men, women and children building a town for themselves and their future families. Some misconceptions about polygamy are proven wrong in Centennial Park. They do not adhere to the same laws and practices as Warren Jeffs’ Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints’ church. To the outside world, though, Centennial Park and the FLDS are one in the same – a notion that the community is now trying to overturn. Get to know the polygamists of Centennial Park.

Isaiah, Marleen, and Becca

Isaiah, Marleen, and Becca represent the younger generation of polygamists in Centennial Park. Isaiah spends more than half his time working away from home leaving Becca and Marleen to take care of their five children. With every return home, Isaiah spends as much quality time as possible with his family by taking his wives out to dinner and engaging in special projects with his kids.


Ezra and Arthur

As one of the elders of the community and the leader of the Missionaries, 64-year-old Arthur has three wives and more than twenty children. Arthur’s son, Ezra, wants to live his life contrary to Centennial Park norms by not joining the Missionary program and having a relationship with a girl, Tiffany. Dating is frowned upon in Centennial Park. Tiffany is new to Centennial Park and not fully accustomed to the ways and behaviors expected of her.


Hyrum

Hyrum, 22, is the town’s Senior Missionary. He has been in the Missionary program for over three years. Strictly adhering to Centennial Park’s way of life, he hopes to attract the attention of females – and is eagerly waiting to be chosen for marriage and start a family. 


Michael Cawley and Rose-Marie

Michael Cawley defines himself as a Mormon fundamentalist who lives the principle of plural marriage. He explains that he can love three women all at once, and that marriage, for him, is an investment towards building for future generations. Michael eldest daughter, Rose Marie, is preparing herself for her own plural marriage. In this community, women wait for a name through inspiration from God. In a home with 18 children, she has learned how to feed, manage and care for a large family, and is ready to start her own.

30 comments
D H
D H

Too much like 'A Big Fat Gypsy Wedding'. Wasn't sure if the producers wanted us to understand, or ridicule them.  I'd put it back in the cutting room for a second edit and sway it one way or the other.

Looked good visually tho' and nicely cut.

Gov pavlicek
Gov pavlicek

For me as Dutch guy (Northern European) the USA is a kind of an enigma when it comes ot religion. TO me, there seem to be so many fundamentalists it is almost scary.  To us, most do not think there is something like a GOD and the Bible is like a myth. Not too many I know believe in God. Just a a nice fairytale. Then I see this...Incredible! What on Earth happened to them....And we have The BRanch Davidians, and we have Jim JOnes and so many others....All Patriarchs. All into sex with more women but not vice versa. Talking about scary. That Arthur guy to me comes across as rather evil. There is no genuin kindness in hem. There is control, there is deceipt, there is a dark side strongly present in him and for me it is easy to spot. Just very bad news such a person.


brian johnnybird
brian johnnybird

how would someone apply to have a wife selected for them? we have tried many sights and prayed. but no luck. brian200380@yahoo.com

brian johnnybird
brian johnnybird

how would someone apply to have a wife selected for them? we have tried many sights and prayed. but no luck. brian200380@yahoo.com

A. Kramer
A. Kramer

My only thought about the Polygamist situation is not that a man or a woman are not capable of polyamory.  I think a person is capable of loving more than one person, despite the issue of jealousy possibly looming.  I was a young widow with 2 children to raise, and this has left me to wonder how polygamist wives with 6, 8, 10+ kids, and living amidst other wives with also numerous kids would deal with such a situation.  Say the husband passes away suddenly at 36 or slightly older.  How do they plan on supporting their massive families and raising their children without becoming welfare mothers?  I am not sure how the Social Security benefits would stretch to the children of a deceased polygamist father.  I would think this would have to be something their church must consider, as this is a liability that could result in enormous financial burden to either the church or the public debt.

Charlotte Matlock
Charlotte Matlock

I was a member of the LDS Mormon Church and although we never practiced polygamy as we were instructed it was no longer required.  I DO NOT see any reason that we shouldn't legalize polygamy.  We allow the Gay's and Lesbian's rights for marriage and if the only reason they are breaking the law by being a Polygamist then we need to change the law.  I personally applaud them for living what they firmly believe in their religion.  I am sure that there are a lot of other more important things to enforce in the law than people who are doing nothing more wrong then having more than one wife.  As long as they are 18, and following all the other laws LEAVE THEM ALONE.  I tell you this I support the people of Centennial Park and applaud what they are doing.  I'm just saying I will raise my voice and support you.  I got your back!

Kathy Simpson
Kathy Simpson

While I don't know the teachings of Mormon and therefore cannot say that I understand or believe in the principles of plural marriage, I do know that the residents of Centennial Park are clearly living the life they believe to be spiritually correct. They have a passion for their beliefs, and a sense of community, that is to be commended. I don't know if the legalization of plural marriage is the right thing. I would be concerned that a group like the FLDS would find some way to manipulate the law in a way that harmed women. But if there is a group that deserves to have their way of life sanctioned by law, it is the people of Centennial Park.

Becca Berra
Becca Berra

With our country openly supporting a variety of marital unions there should be no reason these unions should not be legalized. In regard to their religion- this is a cult and they are sadly deceived.

Jeff Spain
Jeff Spain

I find this show and the people depicted extremely fascinating.  Most Americans like myself have not be exposed to the "normal" people who are fundamentalist mormons but have only heard about the child molesters like Warren Jeffs.  I guess the fact that they are so much like the rest of us is the most compelling part of the series.  The people in Centinnial Park seem like fine, hard working, Americans, who are following their faith and arent hurting anyone.  Polygamy should absolutely be legalized.  Why should the government tell these folks who they can marry?  As long as they are consenting adults, plural marriage is a choice and a decision for the individual to make as they see fit.  Simply because you dont like aspects of their religion, such as your perception of "equality", doesnt give you the right to tell them how to live.  I find these people more faithful to their beliefs than any other religion.  And they do so under penalty of arrest and incarceration.  Let them live in peace and stop criminalizing personal choices like right to marry.

To the people of Centinnial Park, you guys are very courageous and live your faith in the face of so many ignorant haters.  I salute you and encourage you to continue to practice your faith the way you want.  Dont be discouraged by the narrow minded and bigoted folks who see anything different from themselves as wrong or sinful.  We might not understand all of the aspects of your culture, but as American citizens, you should be free to enjoy the liberties that the rest of us so often take for granted.  Peace!

Keith Belk
Keith Belk

I do like and appreciate the fact that they are self supporting.  They build schools and houses. They have jobs/careers and not on public assistance. Instead of shunning them, we should accept them as we do all cultures.

Fu Va
Fu Va

Also, is it me or are most of the kids girls? (Self-fulfilling prophecy?)

Fu Va
Fu Va

By guaranteeing each person a mate, this structure may be good for those who want one...
But, with all due respect, if the women have to do the housework and tend to the kids AND work outside the home too, what justifies the man's dominance?
Also, how does each family make money (other than doing tv series)? What is the financial structure?
...As you can imagine, viewers have many, many questions. Do/will you have a FAQ page?
Thanks

HipHop Says
HipHop Says

coming from a community (african american) that values a multigenerational approach to child rearing I can get the idea of a non-nuclear (1 mother and 1 father) way of envisioning family. Understanding protestant traditions i can get the idea of the religious convent being decentralized. And honestly I am malleable on the things I don't get as long as the kids are physically healthy, emotionally enriched, and psychologically supported and all adults have equal footing in the decision process and standing in the family with other adults. What is troublesome to me is the lack of women having the same standing as their male counterpart. Not surprising, but like in many religions women don't get to 'talk' to god and relay his 'message' -- but men do. With fundamental mormonism I don't get why women are not allowed to have multiple husbands...it just reads as if the woman are to be possessed and while they are taken care of I can't imagine there's an enriched experience from this type of relationship....hopefully, polygamy USA will give me some insight into why I should see there's some equity for women in this religion and in this expression of family.

Dorothy Swart
Dorothy Swart

The Cawley family is having financial problems. They have lots of babies. Disposable diapers are expensive. No cloth diapers? My kids wore them.

Allynn Myers
Allynn Myers

My sister married into the Latter Day Saints, while I was in High School, caused a bit of a ruckus in our family. I decided that for my research paper I would choice her religion. After about a week, I was terrified for her. I remember writing her a letter letting her know I know I would take any child she had, find a way to help fight for her and her unborn children ( I left out that I was 14, so everything was over dramatic). My sister and brother-in-law sat me down and discussed with me the differences in the "branches" of the religion. They belong to the "normal" group, and I along with most of my family pictured everything that covered the new a while back. Child brides, dad marrying there daughter. I watched this show along with my husband to get a look at the other side. I follow what I believe the Bible tells me to, these people are doing the same. The children seem to be happy and well taken care of. I am not saying that all laws should be changed, but if you are allowed to have many children with many different women, and not be married to them, why is it so bad for people to want to get married to many different people, and have children with them?

Tracy Carrillo
Tracy Carrillo

Hello to All in Centennial Park,

I am not writing to put down your way of life, just to say that I think the world of haters need to keep their opinion to themselves. I grew up with Mormon faith, I don't practice Mormon any longer, ( personal reasons ). My heritage is Mormon, my family goes very far back in Salt Lake City ( Kone ). I believe in the fact that if we all worship the same man, GOD himself, then why do people have to put a "label" on how others live their lives. I an just a normal person trying to make my way through this world so that one day I can live with God in Heaven above. I pray to the same man as you all do. I know that without God in my life, then my life is no worth a plug nickel. He make life worth living, I am so thankful everyday for everything that I have, not the materialistic things in life, but the simple things in life, but the most important things that are in my life are my girls and my grandchildren, and that I get to love them, talk to them, and laugh with them everyday day. If others would see the simple things in life, then they would not "worry" about business that is none of theirs. I say live your life the way you feel is right. I see it is way, if we do wrong in this life, and when we stand in front of God, we stand alone, and we need to tell the truth to Him, of why. I say more power to you for they way to stand up for what you believe in. God gave us the power to make our own decisions, others need to leave other people alone and let us live our own lives the way we see fit and what is good for us. I'm sure those that are pointing fingers, don't " walk on water" themselves, and sure they have fallen a few times in life. All my best to you and your community.  By the way, yes I have been Baptized. I have been saved, and feel so blessed to have God on my side. 

Yvette Hastings
Yvette Hastings

Isaiah, Marleen, and Becca were on a a Lisa Ling special back when Becca had her first a baby. In my opinion Marleen and Becca seemed much closer then, now their relationship appears to be very forced and almost fake. They appear to be very uncomfortable around each other.

They are both beautiful and very different. Marleen looks great for having 4 kids and seems a little more mature but that's to be expected considering she is 10 years older than Becca.

Yvette Hastings
Yvette Hastings

Hyrum is gorgeous, how he hasn't been chosen yet seems odd to me??? Something must of went wrong in the past or maybe he isn't such a nice guy. If I was Rose Marie he would be on my radar for sure!!!

Jay Micd
Jay Micd

Rose-Marie = drop out of polygamy imediately

Ilaria Brown
Ilaria Brown

@Gov pavlicek  What on earth makes you say that Arthur doesn't have any genuine kindness. All you saw in the show might not have been every aspect of him. Did you see him with his children on an occasion that wasn't more on the formal side, did you see his attitude toward his other children then Ezra. You have no idea of every aspect of him. So why are you judging just by what you see try to read between the lines.

Richard Mika
Richard Mika

@Mary-Kate French Is there a way to joint the community? I worked as realtor, drove trucks, lived in US for 11 years, got abused by CIS. Currently in England. Best Karl,  e: vtrust@yahoo.com

Fu Va
Fu Va

@Keith Belk We hope they are self-supporting. But, actually, we don't know, because each family's financial situation is not explained. Seems that it should be, as many viewers have questions about this controversial aspect...What we do know is that the women do the vast majority of the housework/childcare AND work outside the home AND are subservient. There are valid questions about this too.

Maryna B.
Maryna B.

@Fu Va I think I can answer that. In my church, the couples do have multiple children and I've always wondered why one couple might have 3 girls and a boy and another might have 4 boys and one girl. My mom told me it's probably because of the husband. The male genes or DNA or whatever picks the gender of the baby so if they are all making babies with that one guy then more will be girls or boys depending on the man.

Lea Clements
Lea Clements

@Yvette Hastings   I think much of it has to do with the film crew being there.  It's kind of hard to act as a person usually would with the crew there all the time.