Members from the polygamous community of Centennial Park were recently featured in a special called Polygamy USA which aired on National Geographic. We have not seen it yet but understand it to be well done. We are excited to watch the first episode and subsequent episodes to follow. Centennial Park has participated in many media specials and they have a high standard of doing exceptional things in their community.
Since we do not belong to any church or religious group, we inevitably get questions about the differences between us and a community like Centennial Park, or us and the Brown family of Sister Wives. Doctrinally we are probably not as different as we are culturally. Until the early 1950’s Mormon Fundamentalists were largely one group; differences arose in questions of who held priesthood authority and many of the current churches that practice plural marriage were established. Many of us share common roots.
For those of you who watched our television special, My Three Wives you probably know that our daughter Amanda married a young man from, and currently lives in Centennial Park, Arizona. She is in love not just with her husband, but with the community. We have met so many good people there; it is easy to see why.
One of the more obvious differences between us is the mode of dress. Centennial Park is more conservative in tradition. In their culture the women predominately wear dresses and the men long sleeve shirts. There are many other cultural differences we continue to discover, such as the work missions that many of their young men participate in.
Also, we do not live in a polygamous community like Centennial Park, but in a suburban neighborhood. Like us, Centennial Park is committed to the education of their children. They have a highly ranked charter school and a high school within their community. Our children attend local public and charter schools.
Another difference is that Centennial Park practices a form of placement marriage. In most cases men do not solicit marriage that decision is left up to the women. In our family there are no placement marriages but we as parents try to be involved with guidance and counsel as our children choose their mates for life. Amanda and Rob did not practice placement marriage. In their case they met through some mutual friends.
Doctrinally Centennial Park subscribes to a “Priesthood Council” leadership. In the early 1980’s among the group that lived in Colorado City Arizona, there was a dispute concerning leadership. Some members believed in “one man rule” while others believed the group should be led by a priesthood council. Eventually, the group split, those who followed the “one man rule” system came to be known as the FLDS. Those who followed the idea of a council for leadership left Colorado City and founded the town of Centennial Park. Today there is no formal relationship between Centennial Park and the FLDS.
We do not feel we have any leader or prophet on the earth at this time and that their church is not sanctioned by God, as such we do not belong to their group. Hence, we are known as “Independents” meaning we have no church or community affiliation. The Browns are part of a different sect known as the Apostolic United Brethren, and we feel the same about their church as we do about Centennial Park. However, there are many fine people in the different polygamous groups.
It is our belief that we are more alike than different, and so long as these communities do not espouse abuse, neglect or force in their practice of polygamy we should unite in decriminalizing polygamy for all of our families.