“Polygamy USA” follows Arizona Fundamentalist Mormons

Polygamy USA Ryan Berenz

“Polygamy USA” on National Geographic Channel follows a community of Fundamentalist Mormons in Centennial Park, Arizona.

Polygamy USA

Premiering Tuesday, May 7, at 9pm ET/PT on National Geographic Channel, Polygamy, USA goes inside the daily lives of a Fundamentalist Mormon community in Arizona, in which plural marriages are widely practiced as a religious tradition. The series focuses on the lives of three men in the community and their families:
Arthur Hammon One of the founding fathers of Centennial Park. He helped build the town 30 years ago after he and others separated with a nearby community over a religious dispute. Arthur now heads up the Centennial Park missionary program. Arthur struggles with his son Ezra’s desire to make his own way.
Hyrum Burton Served as a missionary for nearly four years, and is waiting for God to bring him a wife. He organizes athletic competitions and participates in community social events, waiting to see if his interactions with young women in the community will lead one of them to select him for a husband.
Isaiah Thomson A sixth-generation polygamist with two young wives and five young children. They plan on expanding the family with more children and possibly the addition of a third wife.
Michael Cawley Has three wives and 18 children. His eldest daughter, Rose Marie, has reached the age where she can be married, but has not received her sign from God.

Summaries of the first three episodes from National Geographic Channel’s press release:

Polygamy, USA: Meet the Polygamists
Tuesday, May 7, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
What does it mean to be a practicing polygamist in America today? Nearly 30 years ago, a group of polygamists formed their own community in Arizona called Centennial Park. Among the town’s nearly 1500 residents are people at different points in their religious journey, starting with young unmarried men in the town’s mission program. Isaiah is in his thirties with two wives and five young children, struggling to keep his young family afloat financially while also looking forward to the possibility of another wife. Forty-four-year-old Michael Cawley has three wives and 18 children, the oldest of whom is preparing herself for her own plural family. Finally, Ezra, son of the leader of the mission program, has chosen independence over the strict teachings of his family. As the years go by, the survival of Centennial Park rests in the passing of traditions from one generation to the next.

Polygamy, USA: The Winter Ball
Tuesday, May 14, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
Living in the fundamentalist Mormon community of Centennial Park, young men and women do not have many opportunities to socialize together. That changes when the town holds its New Year’s Eve celebration. Arthur puts his missionary boys to work decorating the hall and cutting down the trees that will be the centerpiece of the celebration. When the hard work is done, the boys, including Hyrum, put on their best airs for the single women in the community. The oldest Cawley daughter, Rose Marie, is nervous to attend the ball. She’s been waiting to receive her inspiration from God about whom she should marry, and the ball provides another opportunity — if she can get over her shyness. While the rest of the community prepares for the ball, the Thomson home is preparing for the return of the husband, Isaiah, who has been away working for five weeks. It’s Becca’s turn to pick him up in Las Vegas and spend a night away from home while Marleen stays home with the family’s five kids. It’s another challenge for the young women who must balance feelings of jealousy, duty and faith.

Polygamy, USA: The Baptism
Tuesday, May 21, at 9 p.m. ET/PT
In the polygamous community of Centennial Park everything is about growth — children, families, even the town itself. But, with growth, comes plenty of growing pains. The Cawley household is preparing 8-year-old Fiona for baptism, a major crossroads in her spiritual journey and one that has never before been filmed. As part of their family tradition, she will be baptized after demonstrating a thorough understanding of the tenets of their Mormon faith. Arthur accompanies his son, Ezra, to Salt Lake City to recover the broken-down truck Ezra purchased against his father’s wishes. It’s a tense road trip as both attempt to navigate the rift that has grown between them. One of Arthur’s missionaries, Hyrum, shows off his leadership skills by organizing a basketball tournament. He hopes it will serve two purposes: showing the town’s Brethren that he’s ready to lead a family, and possibly impressing some young women.

Photo: Credit: National Geographic Channel


  1. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believes in modern revelation as one of its major tenents. As a member of the LDS Church we are expected to follow the current prophet The Lord has chosen to lead the church, as the living prophet has more authority over one of the past. The Lord has revealed things in the past that are not lived today and while the members fully accept Abraham, Issac and Jacob along with those of the last dispensation as living the law of plural marriage, they also accept and live the current revelation to live by the preferred method of history to have one man and one wife in marriage.

    The vast majority of times when The Lord commanded the people to live a polygamous life are during times of war (when there are fewer men to marry and women needed support) and when The Lord wanted to bring more children into the world. This has nothing to do with sexual fantasies or desires.

    Those who decide to live against the teachings of the current leadership of the LDS Church but claim they are following some other authority, are in great spritual danger. They are not following the spirit. There is no such thing as devout “fundamentalist mormons” as those who really follow fundamenal teachings are those who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The fundamental teachings of Church are to follow the living prophet.

    Jesus himself warned that “narrow is the gate that leadeth to salvation and wide is the path that leadeth to destruction” (paraphrasing, of course) and this show is an example of those who have decided to stray from the path of modern truth. Some will feel that it is only a few degress off, but I am here ot tell you that they are much farther off than is shown in this show. A few degrees can easily reach miles or light years apart after some time and distance.

    This show is here because of controversy as that is what sells on TV. It may be a search for “truth” as to the way they live, but why don’t they do a show on a normal LDS family and how they live? Because no one (almost) will care because it would be considered boring. Yet because of shows like this, members like myself will be judged by them and somehow seen as the same as them. We will be persecuted for something we don’t do. We will be judged for something we don’t follow.

    If anyone wants to find and follow the real truth, I encourage you to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it is true. Attend a local church meeting at a chapel near you. Watch anything on LDS.org or Mormon.org (especially General Conference) to see what the current prophet has directed the world to do. That is the place to find out what we teach today. It isn’t on shows like this or at the other extreme, a blasphemous broadway play about a book I truly love.

  2. When the mainstream Mormon church says they have nothing to do with polygamy, they would be more honest if they added, “not any more” and “not at this time.” Mainstream Mormon doctrine defends its early polygamy as God-mandated, allows for multiple wives in the hereafter, suggests that God may be a polygamist, and reserves God’s right to reinstate polygamy if and should He so please. The book “It’s Not About the Sex My A**” by ex-polygamist wife Joanne Hanks does a good job explaining much of that. (Google the title, it’s an enjoyable read and easy to find.) Also read the Doctrine and Covenants (which the Mormons regard as scripture), Section 132; it is the original “revelation” to Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith wherein God states that taking multiple wives is a commandment.

Comments are closed.

About Ryan Berenz 2103 Articles
Some things I like (in no particular order): Sports, Star Wars, LEGO, beer, 'The Simpsons' Seasons 1-13, my family and the few friends who are not embarrassed to be seen with me. Why yes, I am very interested in how much you like 'Alaskan Bush People.' #LynxForLife