A world largely unknown and unseen to the general public, for the first time, the people of Centennial Park have allowed cameras unprecedented access to their rites, rituals and lives. Here, women choose their husbands through an inspiration from God, while husbands try to prove themselves worthy and wait to be chosen.
Polygamy, USA, which debuted on the National Geographic Channel earlier this month [Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET/PT], follows the fundamentalist Mormons of Centennial Park, Arizona, population 1,500.
The creation of Centennial Park is an outcome of events that have occurred over nearly 130 years. The community strives to function in the original tradition of the Mormon fundamentalist movement that began in 1886. That era marked the height of Congress’ movement against the LDS Church over the Church’s practice of plural marriage. Through these years, offshoots from the movement’s original group of people have occurred, many of them claiming to be the genuine movement. We believe that the practices of Centennial Park are more true to the original movement than any of these other groups, including the FLDS, or Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which during the leadership of Warren Jeffs became the most prominent of these offshoots represented in the media. The intent of gathering in Centennial Park is to preserve and practice the principles established by Joseph Smith, when he originated the LDS Church.
Their leader Claude Cawley explains his reason for opening their doors to cameras as follows:
Two things have occurred which have caused Centennial Park to open its doors to interaction with the outside world and allow exposure in the media: first, the appeal from community service organizations such as Child Protective Services for the people of the polygamous communities to be more transparent, so that they can understand how to make their services available to those who need them, and second, the debacle that Colorado City and the FLDS have become in the public eye. We do not wish to be portrayed with the broad-brush picture taken from coverage of the FLDS.
Rebecca Thomson describes the joys of having 47 siblings growing up.
Make sure to read: Will Polygamy Be Legalized Next ?
Teresa Cawley explains why plural marriage for her and her family it is the only way.