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Centennial Park Action Committee

 
    Lori Adamski-Peek for Newsweek
Centennial Park members Centennial Park, Arizona is home to about 1,000 believers of a fundamentalist branch of Mormonism who currently practice polygamy on the Northern Arizona Strip.   This group split off from the polygamists of Hildale and Colorado City over a difference in philosophy in 1986 and began a new sect about 2 miles down the road.  Most of the community's members are closely related to the members of the FLDS just across the highway and they follow a very similar religious doctrine.   Centennial Park residents want polygamy decriminalized.  They say plural marriage is ordained by God, and they should not have to live under a stigma because they follow His religious teachings.   They have formed the Centennial Park Action Committee, a group that lobbies for decriminalization of the practice of polygamy, and works with "Principle Voices", a pro-polygamy group based in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Below are news articles about this other group of polygamists living on the Arizona Strip.   These articles are in chronological order.
 
 
A House, 10 Wives: Polygamy in Suburbia
By FLORENCE WILLIAMS
The New York Times
Originally published December 11, 1997

ROCKY BAKER'S house is bigger than it looks. At the end of a dirt road on a treeless plain 40 miles south of Salt Lake City, the house is dwarfed by the steep, snow-covered Wasatch Mountains.  It appears typically suburban, with its backyard trampoline.  There's even a barbecue gazebo out back, where on a bright fall day Mr. Baker was showing his son how to use a circular saw.  What one wouldn't guess, from the road, is that the house has 10 bedrooms and 7 bathrooms, 2 fully stocked kitchens, 2 nurseries, 2 laundry rooms and a schoolroom.  A hospital?  A bed and breakfast?  A summer camp?  The answer: it is all three.  What one certainly wouldn't know from the road is that the Bakers are part of a quietly emerging American subculture: the polygamous bourgeoisie.  Polygamy remains a felony in Utah, but it is no longer prosecuted, said Eric A. Ludlow, the Washington County Attorney, in southern Utah where a number of plural families live.  Polygamists, he said, get around bigamy statutes by legally marrying only one wife; the others are recognized by religious leaders, or simply by the individuals themselves.  "They go under the table, and we don't track it," Mr. Ludlow said.  "It's a consensual relationship between adults."     Read more
 
 
In The West, Polygamy Of 1800s Is Thriving In 1980s
By Paul Nussbaum
Philadelphia Inquirer
Originally published May 30, 1988

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — When the Timpson brothers, Ray and Don, head for their homes tonight, tired after another busy day of running the Colorado City Academy, they will be greeted - like young men all over America - by their wives and kids.  Five wives and 18 kids.  Ray, at 35, is the father of 10 children and the husband of three women.  Brother Don, two years younger, has a smaller household: only eight children and two wives.  But they're still young, their families are still growing, and both men figure to marry again.  And again.  Like their father before them, and his father before him, and most of the men in this isolated, mile-high desert town on the Utah-Arizona border, the Timpson brothers are polygamists.  They and their neighbors are a remnant of 19th-century Mormon Utah, defying the law to practice a religion that requires "plural marriage" if believers are to reach the highest pinnacle of heaven.  Polygamy has survived, even flourished, in the West despite federal and state prohibitions and the renunciation of the practice 98 years ago by the Mormon Church.  Today, an estimated 40,000 to 50,000 people are living in polygamous households, most of them in Utah and Arizona.  Some live together in isolated polygamous colonies like this one in remote areas of Arizona, Montana, Idaho, Canada and Mexico.  Some live openly in suburban Salt Lake City, wives and children and husband together in a single house, with little to fear since anti-polygamy laws are no longer enforced.  Others lead secret double lives, placing wives and families in separate towns and visiting each on a rotating schedule.     Read more
 
 
One Arizona town puts on best face for polygamy critics
By Linda Valdez
The Arizona Republic
Originally published July 24, 2005

What grew in isolation and secrecy now wants a place in the sun.  News of the twin towns of Colorado City, Ariz., and Hildale, Utah, is about the efforts of law enforcement to dig into allegations of child sexual abuse and other brutalities that offend common decency.  It's not about religion.   Getting to the bottom of these allegations is a continuing process that has led to numerous criminal indictments and the first-ever offer of a cash reward by the Arizona Attorney General's Office for the capture of the polygamous cult's fugitive "prophet," Warren Jeffs.   But there is another polygamous community not far from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Colorado City/Hildale.  This other community raises questions its residents say are about religion.  And those questions will be far more difficult to answer.   Centennial Park, Ariz.is home to about 1,000 believers of a fundamentalist brand of Mormonism who also practice polygamy.   Unlike their brethren in Colorado City/Hildale - many are related - they wear modern, but modest, clothing.  They take pride in the quality of their schools, which include an eye-popping charter school and a private high school.   They tout the educational attainment and career accomplishments of women whom they say thrive in the "liberating" and "uplifting" lifestyle of plural marriage.     Read more
 
 
'Sister Wives' Describe Bright Side of Polygamy
Members of a Polygamist Community Say Their Marriages Work for Them
Primetime
ABC News
Originally broadcast March 2, 2006

March 2, 2006 — In 2004, "Primetime's" John Quinones interviewed 17 women from Centennial Park, Ariz., who are in what they call "plural" marriages.  All said their plural marriages work for them.  In their households, they live with one husband and anywhere from two to a dozen or more women they call "sister wives."  "And for us, it works 'cause we love it.  We want it to work," said a woman named Susan.  The women are teachers, nurses, businesswomen.  They are modern, savvy — and if you ask them — liberated.  Linda Earl lives in a multimillion-dollar, 30,000-square-foot mansion.  She says there's plenty of room for more than one wife and many, many children.  "I'm pretty independent," Earl said.  "I don't want to have to dote on a guy every night.  I don't want to make sure that he has a meal every night.  Let somebody else do it that likes it."  The kitchen is the size of a cafeteria.  After all, there are dozens of mouths to feed in Earl's home — from newborns to teenagers.  Thirteen-year-old Derek said he doesn't know how many brothers and sisters he has.  "Nobody really knows, 'cause we don't count the numbers," he said.     Read more
 
 
Polygamists, Unite!
They used to live quietly, but now they're making noise.
By Elise Soukup
Newsweek - Society section
March 20, 2006 issue

Marlyne Hammon knows what it's like to feel hated and hunted.  In 1953, when she was an infant, her father—along with dozens of other men in her tiny community of Short Creek, Ariz. — was arrested and sent to jail on charges of polygamy.   She, her mother and siblings were forcibly exiled from the community and sent to live with a family in a nearby city.  Her father was released after a week, but because the family feared further prosecution, they lived apart and corresponded in secret for the next six years.  "Our community had this idea that we should live our lives quietly to avoid trouble," she says.   "We were taught not to make a big ruckus."   Not anymore.  Hammon, who's involved in a polygamous relationship, is a founding member of the Centennial Park Action Committee, a group that lobbies for decriminalization of the practice.  She's among a new wave of polygamy activists emerging in the wake of the gay-marriage movement — just as a federal lawsuit challenging anti-polygamy laws makes its way through the courts and a new show about polygamy debuts on HBO.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy gaining media attention
By Amanda Belcher
Opinion
BG News - Bowling Green, Ohio
Originally published April 25, 2006

Polygamists unite!   Not something you'd expect me to be opening up with, is it?  Well it certainly wasn't something I expected to see atop a Newsweek article as I sat in the waiting room at my doctor's office.   Believe me - it's not something I would normally say, nor truly believe, but it's something that sparked my interest.   The movement that has, yet again, risen out of the small towns of Utah is the polygamist's movement.  Whether they call themselves the Centennial Park Action Committee or Principle Voices, they have one goal in mind: to legalize polygamy.   This movement hasn't only sparked the interests of Newsweek and myself, but of other accredited news sources.  A show offering a sympathetic look at a polygamous family airing on HBO, titled "Big Love," as well as upcoming anti-polygamy legislation has brought added attention to the issue.   Jumping on the gay marriage bandwagon, these activists have taken the stance that if a child can have two mommies, they also can have two mommies and a daddy.  They also point to Canada where, in January, work began to decriminalize polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Correspondents Discuss Stories Behind the Stories
ON THE STORY
CNN
Originally broadcast May 13, 2006

Gary Tuchman went to the Arizona-Utah border, where families ignore legal and religious bans on polygamy.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They won't allow us inside with the camera, but we can tell you it is very busy, as you might expect. There are many households and you can see there are some angry people here who don't want the camera to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No cameras allowed here.

TUCHMAN: (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sorry, this is private property. No cameras allowed.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

TUCHMAN: Would you like to have 10 more wives like your father did?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sure. Why not? the more the merrier.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VELSHI: CNN is ON THE STORY here at the George Washington University in the nation's Capitol.

And we are ON THE STORY in Arizona, along the Utah border, where polygamy is common. It's a lifestyle that's been glamorized in a TV series and back in the headlines this week as the FBI named a polygamist leader to its most wanted list.     Read more
 
 
Riding coattails of rights for gays
Polygamists seek decriminalization
By Linda Valdez
The Arizona Republic
Originally published July 9, 2006

Someday, we'll look back on this as a quaint time when the law prohibited same-sex marriage. With luck, we'll also look back on it as a time when some self-identified evangelical Christians got a firm and solid "no" from the conservative movement they look to for validation.   They want the conservative majority that controls our government to repeal laws against polygamy.   Mark Henkel is founder of TruthBearer.org, which he says is a nationwide non-denominational group that's busy "building a constituency" to give Congress the "political cover" necessary to decriminalize polygamy.   "We are the next civil rights movement," he says.   I have no idea how effective or large his movement is.  He won't give numbers except to say it is "smaller than 100,000."   Ten is a number smaller than 100,000, but he suggests it's much bigger than that.  His area code puts him in Maine, but he echoes sentiments I've heard from a polygamous community in northern Arizona named Centennial Park.     Read more
 
 
When Marriage is Illegal
Polygamy is notoriously hard to prosecute, but a recent legal victory may open the door for more cases
By Peta Owens-Liston
TIME Magazine - Nation section
Originally published July 18, 2006

When Kelly Fischer drove by in his white pick-up with his teenage step-daughter seated between him and his legal wife, his neighbor Isaac Wyler knew something was up.  Sure enough, the next time Wyler saw the girl, who was about 15 or 16 years old, she was pregnant.  Wyler, an ex-member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ and Latter Day Saints (FLDS), was no stranger to the signs of polygamy.  His suspicions proved true: Fischer had "spiritually" married his own step-daughter in a secret ceremony, a practice common among polygamists in the FLDS community in Colorado City, Ariz.   Testimony from Wyler and another former FLDS member, Richard Holm, coupled with birth certificates, swayed a Mohave County jury on July 7 to find Fischer guilty of sexual conduct with a minor and conspiracy to commit sexual conduct with a minor.  Wyler and Holm testified in court on how polygamous marriages work and gave eyewitness accounts of Fischer and the girl's "flirtations behavior."   But the verdict was unusual — and, to critics of the alleged abuses in polygamous marriages, especially significant — in that it came without the testimony of the alleged victims.   In the FLDS community that populates the twin towns of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., finding victims willing to speak out is rare.   "The nature of this community is opposed to the crimes themselves," explains Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff.   "Victims have been taught from the cradle up not to cooperate with the outside or to disagree with their leaders."     Read more
 
 
Children of 'plural families' to rally
Purpose of Aug. 19 rally in S.L. is to defend their lifestyle
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, August 10, 2006

They're making banners that say things like "Justice and Liberty For All," "Intolerance Hurts Kids" and "I Love ALL My Moms."  Hundreds of children from polygamous families plan to stage a rally next week to stand up for their families, their communities and their faiths.  "I hope that they'll see there's good people in happy families," said Maranda, an 18-year-old who lives in a plural family in the Salt Lake Valley.   Like most of the teenagers involved in the rally, she declined to give her last name to protect her family.  The pro-polygamy group Principle Voices is organizing the Aug. 19 rally at the Salt Lake City-County building.  It will feature mostly youth speakers.  "Our teenagers wanted to defend their lifestyle," rally organizer Anne Wilde told the Deseret Morning News on Wednesday.  "Often they're perceived as the victims.  They want to say no, they don't consider themselves the victims.   They feel like this should be a free choice."  Members of the Apostolic United Brethren, The Davis Co-operative Society, Centennial Park and independent fundamentalist groups are expected to be in attendance.  Organizers said the Fundamentalist LDS Church was also invited to participate, but there has been no response.  The rally is also in response to the heat that's been put on polygamous communities since fugitive FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs was put on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted list.     Read more
 
 
Arrest raises reactions in polygamist groups
By Rachel Tueller
The Spectrum
Originally published August 30, 2006

ST. GEORGE - The arrest of polygamist group leader, Warren Jeffs, the self-proclaimed prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, raised strong reactions Tuesday among others often grouped with, but not affiliated with, Jeffs and his followers.  Some believe the issues surrounding Jeffs have blackened the eye of polygamy culture.  "We're not like the FLDS, we are willing to talk to government officials.  We don't want abuse, neglect and domestic violence - we believe in being hard-working, paying our taxes and taking care of our children that come into our families," said Susie Timpson, who serves as chairwoman for the Centennial Park Action Committee.  CPAC conducts public outreach and education and represents the views of a group that broke away from the FLDS church years ago and now lives in the community of Centennial Park, Ariz., which neighbors Colorado City.  CPAC's mission is to combat the negative focus media most often center reports of polygamy on, Timpson said.  "We've realized that it's important for people to come into our community and to see our people, to see our schools, the culture - so that the only thing out there isn't negative things that are just swirling around in the media," she said.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy comes out of the closet
By Mindelle Jacobs
Edmonton Sun
Originally published September 3, 2006

Once upon a time, journalists had a tough time getting polygamists to talk because plural-marriage practitioners shielded themselves from the world's prying eyes.  But with the arrest of infamous polygamous leader Warren Jeffs, polygamists have become media darlings.  Suddenly, it's impossible for a curious Canadian columnist to get an interview with a pro-polygamist group in the U.S.  The Centennial Park Action Committee would love to talk to me.  But they can't.  ABC's Primetime is doing a documentary on the Arizona polygamous community and the network apparently doesn't want CPAC speaking to other media.  "For the month of September our whole committee is pretty nearly booked but if you don't mind sending your request at a later date we might be better able to spend the time," CPAC spokesman Marlyne Hammon explains apologetically in her e-mail.  Go figure.  Polygamists have achieved the same star quality as, say, Paris Hilton.  And with a lot less baring of skin.  They've become instant celebrities.  It's polygamy-mania.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy proposal called 'witch hunt'
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, September 14, 2006

Polygamous groups are upset over a Nevada senator's call for a Justice Department probe into their lives and activities.  "It is disconcerting to have a senator take a real strong position on that," said one Utah polygamist, who asked the Deseret Morning News not to use his name.  He said all of his wives are consenting adults.  "It appears to be a reaction to (Warren) Jeffs and the FLDS culture."  In a letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, Senate Minority leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., reacted to the capture of Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs and suggested creating a federal task force to look into polygamous communities in Western states.  "For too long, this outrageous activity has been masked in the guise of religious freedom.  But child abuse and human servitude have nothing to do with religious freedom and must not be tolerated," Reid wrote.  "Individuals who force minors into adult relationships and marriage must be brought to justice."  Members of the polygamous community of Centennial Park, Ariz., called Reid's request a "modern-day witch hunt."     Read more
 
 
Polygamy case in court
Trio asks 10th Circuit to overturn longtime Utah ban on the practice
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Monday, September 25, 2006

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver today will take up the case of three people suing for the right to become husband and wife — and wife.  Court briefs are due this morning in the case of Bronson vs. Swensen, a lawsuit that is challenging Utah's ban on polygamy.  It's a case that has people who practice plural marriage hoping it will legalize their relationships.  "Eventually, we will have the right to live our religion," said Laura Fuller, a member of the Davis County Cooperative Society, a fundamentalist community composed of members of the Kingston family.  "A person should have the right to choose their mate, not the state."  Fuller, who is also a law student, has followed the case closely.  So have other members of polygamous communities.  "It will be interesting to see whether the court addresses the freedom of religion issue in this case or whether they keep it strictly within the bounds of civil rights for multiple marriage partners," said Susie Timpson with the Centennial Park Action Committee, a pro-polygamy group in the border community of Centennial Park, Ariz.  "We will be watching and praying with interest," she said in an e-mail Saturday to the Deseret Morning News.     Read more
 
 
Mother Claims Father Snatched Children from School
John Hollenhorst Reporting
KSL-TV channel 5
Originally broadcast October 16th, 2006

A West Jordan mother says a faulty court order and careless school officials allowed her six children to be snatched away by their divorced father into a polygamist lifestyle.  School officials say they just followed the law and raised questions about whether a letter from the principal might have been partly fabricated.  One child was at Jefferson Junior High, five others were at Jim Bridger Elementary.  School officials handed over all six to a constable, placing them in the custody of their father, Nathan Burnham.  Randy Ripplinger, Granite School District: "The constable was the one bearing the court order.  We gave the children to the custody of the constable, as we were ordered to do."  The kids' mother, Laurice Jessop, says she divorced Burnham when he started moving back into the polygamist religion they both grew up in.  Laurice Jessop, Mother: "That's his main concern, to get another wife."  She says a judge who heard both sides granted her custody, but the husband got a custody order from a different judge who heard only his side.  She says she doesn't want her kids growing up in the polygamist culture she fled.     Read more
 
 
Mother Reunited with Children
KSL-TV channel 5
Originally broadcast October 17th, 2006

(KSL News) -- A woman who fled the polygamous lifestyle had a joyous reunion today with her children.  Laurice Jessop met her children in Colorado City, Arizona.  Earlier this month her ex-husband, Nathan Burnham, went to West Jordan where the children lived with their mother.  Even though she had custody, the ex-husband loaded the children up and took them away to Colorado City.  Laurice hadn't seen them since October 6th.  Laurice Jessop, Former Polygamist: "And now we just have to get them back up there to go to school and get 'em back into having a normal life and hope that it doesn't happen again."  Laurice Jessop vows to do whatever it takes to keep her children from the polygamous culture she fled.     See photo
 
 
I'm not a slave to polygamy
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published October 20, 2006

In response to the article, "Polygamy needs federal probe," I cannot in good conscience allow such untruth to stand uncontested.  Anyone who knows the story of the 1953 raid, the story of Vera Black, the stories of polygamous families torn apart by political office seekers and self-righteous do-gooders knows that Utah and Arizona were not dragged kicking and screaming into the fray.  I was raised in a polygamous family in Colorado City during an era when we were trying to put our lives back together after the devastation of the 1953 raid.  We learned to keep our mouths shut in order to protect our families and the homes we loved.  Because that was our habit, we have not spoken up in protest when vicious lies have circulated about polygamy.  We who have been still in the midst of the storms of accusation and lies are the victims whose voices have not been heard.  The voices that have been heard are from a few people who have suffered abuse in polygamous households, much like many children in monogamous household have suffered.  They claim that polygamy did it.  Any sane person knows that marriage does not commit the crime.  People do.  They have become emboldened by our lack of protest.  No lie is too bold, such as, a "graveyard for murdered children and a death rate of 50 percent of children."  There is hardly a shred of truth in that whole article.  Such claims are insane.  If it were even remotely true, you know the law would be swarming all over it.  Such people are crusaders who would incite a frenzy to destroy the very lives of those whom they claim to be trying to save, the children of polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy at center of custody battle
By Mike Watkiss / 3TV reporter
KTVK-TV - Phoenix
Originally published November 6, 2006

Laurice Jessop, 35, and her husband, Nathan Burnman, were once a happily married couple, wed for nearly 13 years and the parents of six beautiful children.  The four girls and two boys range in ages from 6 to 12.  The youngest are an adorable set of triplets who are now at the center of an ugly and bitter custody fight.  "Problems developed in the marriage because Mr. Burnham wanted to return to polygamy," said Michael Parks, Jessop's attorney at the time.   According to Laurice Jessop, her marriage to Burnham broke up in 2004 because Burnham wanted to start taking additional wives and practice polygamy.  In fact, since the divorce, Burnham has allegedly taken a 19-year-old bride and moved his home to the polygamist community of Centennial Park, Ariz.  More than 20 years ago, most of the residents of Centennial Park broke off from the more notorious and repressive polygamists in the community of Colorado City, which is just a couple of miles away.  Today, a new polygamist prophet named John Timpson guides most of the lives of Centennial Park's people.     Read more
 
 
Polygamists Fight to Be Seen As Part of Mainstream Society
By John Pomfret
Washington Post
Originally published Tuesday, November 21, 2006

SALT LAKE CITY -- In her battle to legalize polygamy, the only thing Valerie hasn't revealed is her last name.  The mother of eight has been on national TV; her photo along with that of her two "sister-wives" has graced the front cover of a glossy magazine dedicated to "today's plural marriages."  She has been prodded about her sex life: "He rotates.  It's easy -- just one, two, three."  Quizzed about her decision to share a husband with two other women: "You really have a good frame of reference when you marry a man who already has two wives."  Interrogated about what it's like to live in a house with 21 children: "Remodeling a kitchen, that's no small feat with three wives and a husband involved."  All the while, the petite brunette with a smile as bright as Utah's sky has insisted that she's just like you and me: "I'm a soccer mom.  My kids are in music lessons.  They go to public school.  I'm not under anyone's control."  Valerie and others among the estimated 40,000 men, women and children in polygamous communities are part of a new movement to decriminalize bigamy.  Consciously taking tactics from the gay-rights movement, polygamists have reframed their struggle, choosing in interviews to de-emphasize their religious beliefs and focus on their desire to live "in freedom," according to Anne Wilde, director of community relations for Principle Voices, a pro-polygamy group based in Salt Lake.  In recent months, polygamy activists have held rallies, appeared on nationally televised news shows and lobbied legislators.  Before the Nov. 7 elections, one pro-polygamy group issued a six-page analysis of all Utah's state and local candidates and their views on polygamy.  "We can make a difference," the group told supporters.     Read more
 
 
Exhibit redefining 'family'
Utah Pride Center extends invitation to polygamists, others
By Deborah Bulkeley and Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, December 10, 2006

Is your family "traditional"?  Maybe you have two moms or two dads.  Maybe you're a single parent.  You might consider your roommates to be your family.  Or maybe you have one dad and several moms.  Whatever the case, the Utah Pride Center is seeking families to be photographed and interviewed for an upcoming exhibit titled "FAMILIES ... It's All Relative."  The invitation includes a long list of family types — from traditional marriage to polygamy — to be displayed at the downtown Salt Lake City library as part of the annual Winter Pride festival, which celebrates the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.  Nathan Measom of the Utah Pride Center acknowledges that including polygamy could raise some eyebrows.  But, he insists, the exhibit isn't meant to be controversial.  "It's just to show there are different types of families that maybe aren't traditional families, but that are maybe just as much a family," Measom said.  "We want to give the people this idea that there are these alternative families in Utah."     Read more
 
 
Southern Utah won't be out of the spotlight anytime soon
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published December 17, 2006

It's not too often that Southern Utah steps into the national spotlight.  Sure, the St. George area is well known for being a retirement destination, and the Utah Shakespearean Festival has helped gain Cedar City notoriety.  Both of those are things to be proud of.  But our region hit the national stage again this week when the preliminary hearing for polygamist sect leader Warren Jeffs wrapped up with an order for Jeffs to stand trial beginning in April on charges of rape as an accomplice.  That's not so good.  It's important that Jeffs finally gets his day in court.  The rumors have been floating around for years about sexual abuse of young girls and welfare fraud running rampant among at least some members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  At least in this one case - in which a woman has accused Jeffs of forcing her to have sexual relations with her 19-year-old cousin when she was just 14 - Jeffs gets the opportunity to refute the charges and stand up for his faith.  His attorneys already have hinted that they intend to show that the prosecution of Jeffs is really persecution of his religion.  That appears to be a stretch.  First, Jeffs is innocent until proven guilty.  But if he is convicted of the charges, he will be convicted because criminal activity was proven, not because he was legally practicing his religion.  So, while religion isn't really part of this case, religion does surround it.     Read more
 
 
Seifert's statement on polygamy foolish
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
The Spectrum
Originally published December 28, 2006

In his column, Dec. 17, Editor Todd Seifert said, "Should the practice of polygamy be illegal so long as no crimes are broken?" Either he is trying to compete with President Bush in producing goofy statements or he intended to say "laws" rather than "crimes." But even that substitution results in a nonsense sentence since any action that breaks a law is, by definition, illegal.

Current law in Utah makes the practice of polygamy illegal, so polygamists are lawbreakers. Attempting to work around that fact results in foolish statements such as Mr. Seifert's.

Thomas J. Wright
St. George
 
 
WARRANT ARREST – CENTENNIAL PARK (AZ STRIP)
Mohave County Sheriff's Office
Press Release
Originally published January 3, 2007

Mohave County Sheriff's deputies arrested Norman Deloss Hammon, 55, of Centennial Park, Tuesday (1/2) morning on a felony warrant on two counts of child molestation issued by Moccasin Justice Court.  The arrest of Hammon is a result of an on-going investigation which began October 29, 2006, involving two young female victims that were molested in 2004.   Approximately 11:15 a.m., deputies contacted Hammon near Berry Knoll Boulevard and Taylor Avenue regarding his outstanding warrant.  Hammon was taken into custody without incident.  He was transported and booked into the Mesquite Jail.  Investigation is on-going and more charges may be pending.
 
 
Man Arrested; Charged With Sex Offenses
e-Press
Tri-State News Network
Originally published Tuesday, January 9, 2007

County resident has been charged with sex offenses involving two young girls.  Spokeswoman Trish Carter said deputies arrested Norman Deloss Hammon, 55, on January 2nd.  Carter said an investigation begun late last October led to charges that Hammon violated sisters, aged six and ten, in the community of Centennial Park in 2004.  Carter said additional charges are pending a continuing investigation.
 
 
Bill to regulate custody for polygamous parents
By Amanda J. Crawford
The Arizona Republic
Originally published February 2, 2007

Two women who fled polygamous marriages told legislators on Thursday that state custody law needs to change to protect children and encourage women to seek their freedom.  Laurice Jessop, 34, described her long battle to win custody of her six children after fleeing a polygamist community in Utah and the fears that haunted her of her own daughters being forced into marriages as child-brides.  Jessop and her cousin, Flora Jessop, executive director of the non-profit Child Protection Project, testified before the House Human Services Committee in support of House Bill 2325, which would bar courts from giving sole or joint custody to someone who engages in polygamy or child bigamy.  The committee unanimously recommended passage of the bill, with one member absent.  It still must pass the House Judiciary Committee before going to the full House for a vote.
 
 
2 X'S THEFT – CENTENNIAL PARK (AZ STRIP)
Mohave County Sheriff's Office
Press Release
Originally published February 5, 2007

Mohave County Sheriff's deputies arrested James A. Barlow, 19, of Centennial Park, early Saturday (2/3) morning on two counts of unlawful use of means of transportation, felonies.  Approximately 2:02 a.m., deputies responded to the Centennial Park area where two water trucks were taken.  Deputies were advised by a reporting party that two male subjects were riding around in water trucks.  Deputies contacted both subjects identified as James Barlow and Thomas Barlow, 17.  James Barlow was taken into custody without incident.  He was transported and booked into the Washington County Jail.  Thomas Barlow was released to his parents.  A juvenile referral has been submitted on Thomas Barlow to the Mohave County Juvenile Probation.
 
 
"PRIMETIME: THE OUTSIDERS" EXAMINES THE UNUSUAL LIFE OF POLYGAMY
the FUTON CRITIC
Originally published February 13, 2007

PRIMETIME
Air Date: Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Time Slot: 9:00 PM-10:00 PM EST on ABC
Episode Title: "The Outsiders, Part 2 of 7"

[NOTE: The following article is a press release issued by the aforementioned network and/or company. Any errors, typos, etc. are attributed to the original author. The release is reproduced solely for the dissemination of the enclosed information.]

"PRIMETIME: THE OUTSIDERS" EXAMINES THE UNUSUAL LIFE OF POLYGAMY

John Quiqones' Unprecedented Report: Inside a Polygamous Family

One husband with two happy wives and nine children might sound abnormal to most people, but in Centennial Park, Arizona, the polygamist lifestyle is commonly practiced in the 1,200 person community. John Quiqones takes viewers inside the rare world of an isolated polygamous community to report on the life of a young, fast-growing family there -- the Hammons. Quiqones' unprecedented report is the second installment of "Primetime: The Outsiders," the limited series examining people who live by their own rules and in their own worlds - worlds that the average person may find unimaginable. "Primetime: The Outsiders" airs TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 (9:00-10:00 p.m., ET) and will continue to air Tuesday nights through March 20.
Read more
 
 
Polygamists Practice Big Love In Arizona
They're An All-American Family -- Only With Multiple Wives
By Harry Phillps and Joseph Diaz
ABC News - Primetime
"The Outsiders, Part 2 of 7"
Originally published February 13, 2007

Feb. 13, 2007— Welcome to Centennial Park — population 1200 — a tiny speck in the vast Arizona desert.  A place where everyone considers themselves to be typical, All-American families in every way except one: the residents here practice polygamy.  Ariel Hammon, 32, his wife Helen, 30, their seven children, Ariel's second wife Lisa, 20, and their two children — all twelve squeeze into a tiny two-bedroom cottage with just 1400 square feet of living space.  As the kids grow and the family adds more wives and babies, the house will only get smaller.  But in the polygamous community of Centennial Park, overcrowding is a problem with a solution — volunteer work crews.  "We build each other's homes," says Ariel, who will pay for materials.  In a scene straight out of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition," the volunteers dig the hole, lay the foundation and frame an addition that will double the size of the Hammon house in just two days!  "It's definitely an answer to my prayers," says a teary-eyed Helen.  "I've been wondering how we're gonna accomplish it and here it is."     Read more
 
 
More on victims of polygamy
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published February 14, 2007

No one denies that victimization sometimes happens within polygamous cultures.  The perpetrators are identifiable and their actions match the profile of an abuser.  Some crimes are horrid and disheartening and very often when people talk about victims in polygamy they associate the victim with the worst kind of abuse.  Naturally, our first reaction is to the stop the perpetrator and demand punishment.  Every good person wants to lend to the solution and stop the abuse.  There is another side to the story!  The polygamous people have experienced great difficulty in achieving the "access and awareness" that good communities must have.  This is a result of a 150-year history of events and hate policies against them.  It is critical for anyone who wants to be a catalyst for genuine progress to have a clear understanding of the road that brought us where we are today.  In the past 150 years, more than 1,100 men and women have served time in prisons in Utah and Arizona with various charges, but the underlying reason was that they were polygamists.     Read more
 
 
Labor Dept.: Colorado City contractor pays $350,000 in back wages
The Associated Press
KOLD-TV News 13 - Tucson, AZ
Originally broadcast February 27, 2007

PHOENIX The Labor Department says an investigation it launched has led to a northwestern Arizona contractor paying 350-thousand dollars in back wages.  The beneficiaries, it says, are close to 270 laborers and carpenters.  They had been employed by Grayeagle Construction to help build staff housing at a comprehensive care facility in Fort Defiance, on the Navajo Reservation.  The Labor Department says its investigators concluded that Grayeagle, which is based outside Colorado City, didn't pay the workers prevailing wages or overtime.
 
 
GRAY EAGLE CONSTRUCTION, INC.
Arizona Corporation Commission
State of Arizona Public Access System
starpas.azcc.gov
Search performed February 27, 2007

Corporate Inquiry
File Number: -1006554-5    AD-DISSOLVED-FILE ANNUAL REPORT 02/15/2007
Corp. Name: GRAY EAGLE CONSTRUCTION, INC.

Domestic Address
UNDELIVERABLE DOMESTIC ADDRESS
% GARY EAGLE CONSTRUCTION INC
1605 S BERRY KNOLL BLVD
CENTENNIAL PARK, AZ 86021

Second Corp. Address PO BOX 1907
CENTENNIAL PARK, AZ 86021

Statutory Agent Information
Agent Name: TISH PLEDYER

Agent Mailing/Physical Address:
UNDELIVERABLE AGENT ADDRESS
75 W TAYLOR CT
CENTENNIAL PARK, AZ 86021
Read more
 
 
Laws of this country against polygamy should be obeyed
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published March 8, 2007

Normally, I write tongue-in-cheek articles.  I enjoy poking fun at the world (and myself) and hopefully giving you a laugh or two.  Today is a little different.  You see, on Feb. 14, The Spectrum published on its op-ed page, a guest editorial by J. Steed, a resident of Centennial Park, Ariz., and presumably a polygamist.  So, in spite of my reluctance to offer serious opinion - here goes.  (Next month, I'll get back to my regular nonsense.)

Dear J. Steed: For many years, I lived in Virginia.  While there, I learned a lot about the great debate which occurred in the 1800s, regarding slavery vs. a state's right to govern itself.  As you know, the arguments were so highly charged that eventually a civil war erupted, and it ended only after hundreds of thousands of lives were lost.  Some may erroneously believe that the Civil War ended the argument.  Not by a long shot.  For decades, blacks in this country suffered terribly as the remnants of slave justification remained in our system of politics, culture, and even our religions - mine included.  However, over time, the formal institutions of oppression are slowly giving way to more rational thought and discourse.  Slavery is long dead.     Read more
 
 
P&Z to revisit county building codes
By Jim Seckler
Mohave Daily News
Originally published Saturday, March 10, 2007

KINGMAN - The Mohave County Planning and Zoning Commission will again discuss Wednesday extending building codes throughout the county.  At a January workshop, planning and zoning building official Darrell Riedel showed a slideshow of haphazardly built homes built outside the urban overlay areas.  Without stricter building codes, illegal and dangerous building practices could take place, Riedel noted.  One option is to have only large proposed subdivisions in White Hills, Meadview, Golden Valley and near Kingman included in the urban overlay zone.  Other areas included would be Colorado City, Yucca and the Beaver Dam/Littlefield area of the Arizona Strip.  One commissioner did not want the building codes extended countywide but large, master-planned subdivisions should be automatically included.  Another commissioner favored extending the codes throughout the county because a rural home could catch on fire from faulty electrical wiring and cause a large brush fire, costing the county money or lives.  The biggest danger in building homes not to code in rural areas is dangerous or improper electrical wiring.  The homes not built to standards in the rural areas may also have structural, plumbing or other mechanical problems, Mohave County Planning and Zoning Director Chris Ballard told the commissioners.     Read more
 
 
The Legislature is no moral voice of reason
Opinion
The Spectrum
Originally published March 18, 2007

One has to wonder how people define belief. You can only believe what lawmakers allow? Brent Holloway in his editorial piece, "Laws of this country against polygamy should be obeyed," printed March 8, forgets that for centuries the very issues by which he illustrates his point (slavery and skin color) were legislated (and by his logic, appropriate) in favor of the white man.

The Legislature is no moral voice. People have to push at the laws they feel are unjustified whether they are against black people being free or polygamists practicing the mandates of their belief system. The fundamental flaw of Holloway's logic is in the view that we must always conform our conduct to man-made laws in this country.

The United States was founded on a revolution that came out of protesting what citizens deemed to be unjust laws. The implications of this are that revolution must always be an option for the citizenry when they are oppressed by bad (in their view) legislation and, therefore, civil disobedience is a legitimate action against bad law. Perhaps this may not be true of other countries, but here in America we revere our revolutionary foundations.

Polly Hammon
Centennial Park, Ariz.
 
 
Merry Wives Cafe brings flavor to polygamist town
It cooks up new, traditional fare for residents, tourists
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Thursday, March 29, 2007

HILDALE — The polygamists of old stare out from the photographs on the walls of this modest restaurant, watching over the customers lunching here at the "Merry Wives Cafe."  It's the only sit-down restaurant in this polygamous border town.  It's also one of the newest signs of economic development in this enclave of the Fundamentalist LDS Church.  "We really opened basically to serve the need," said Tyler Steed.  "We needed something like this in this area."   Since the cafe opened Jan. 23, business has steadily grown.  "Good.  Really good," cafe manager Charise Dutson said of business.  "A lot of curious people."  The cafe is set up in the same building as the Border Store, a gas station and convenience store on U.S. 89, which runs through Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.  It is run by residents of neighboring Centennial Park, Ariz., a separate fundamentalist community.  The cafe's name is a playful, tongue-in-cheek reference to the area's ties to polygamy.  It was chosen after members of the Centennial Park community held a contest for restaurant names.  The suggestions varied.  "Big Love," Dutson said, chuckling at the reference to the popular HBO show about polygamy.  "The Three Little Plyg Cafe."     Read more
 
 
Polygamy views targeted
Meetings will seek to counter stereotypes
By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Originally published Sunday, April 22, 2007

Progress has been made by government agencies reaching out to help victims of abuse and neglect within often-closed polygamous societies.  However, stereotypes still exist.  "The stereotypes have worsened with the public at large, I think, due to the media hype over the Warren Jeffs case," said LeAnne Timpson, a member of the fundamentalist community of Centennial Park, Ariz.  "I don't think the public at large understands the different groups.  I think the public at large labels polygamists.  If they hear of a crime happening within polygamy, then polygamists are labeled with that."  Politicians, polygamists and community activists will gather in St. George later this month for training and a town hall forum to discuss ways to break down barriers within closed societies.  "There's been amazing progress," Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff told the Deseret Morning News.  "A lot more people are seeking help.  A lot more people are taking advantage of services that they were denied or didn't have access to."  The training will be held Tuesday in St. George as part of the U.S. Justice Department's national crime victims' rights week.  It will feature Livia Bardin, a social worker who is considered an expert on authoritarian groups.  Timpson met Bardin while attending a conference in Denver last year on "cults."  The conference was sponsored by the International Cultic Studies Association and included panel discussions from ex-members of polygamous groups.  Members of the Centennial Park community showed up to listen and also rebut some of the claims.     Read more
 
 
State AGs reach out to crime victims
By Patrice St. Germain
The Spectrum
Originally published April 25, 2007

ST. GEORGE - Several years ago, Fawn Broadbent, a former Colorado City resident, left her home, family and community armed only with an eighth-grade education.  Later testing at a fifth-grade level, Broadbent continued to study and work hard to overcome the shortcoming with her education and her limited knowledge of the outside world.  Broadbent has overcome numerous obstacles and will soon graduate from high school with a 4.0 grade point average.  Broadbent was one of the panelists during a town hall meeting held jointly Tuesday night by the Utah and Arizona Attorneys General.  The well-attended meeting at the Dixie Convention Center, held in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week, is the third such meeting to reach out to victims in isolated communities to provide equal access to justice, safety and services.  For Arizona and Utah, that focus is on the victims of the polygamist communities of Hildale and Colorado City.   The Attorneys General were joined by a diverse group of panelists including Broadbent.  Broadbent said the name "The Lost Boys," given to those who leave or are kicked out of the communities, is wrong since the girls and boys who leave whether of their own volition or not, are true survivors.     Read more
 
 
Fundamental Mormons seek recognition for polygamy
By Jason Szep
Reuters
Originally published June 12, 2007

CENTENNIAL PARK, Arizona (Reuters) - When Ephraim Hammon returns home from a day of working construction near Arizona's border with Utah, he's greeted by his wife SherylLynne. And then by his wife Leah.  Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds, while at the same time stamping out abuses such as forced marriages of underage brides.  The growing confidence of polygamists and their willingness to go public come at an awkward moment for mainstream Mormons, who are now in the spotlight as Republican Mitt Romney, a prominent Mormon, seeks the U.S. presidency.  The Salt Lake City, Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church, introduced polygamy before the Civil War but banned it in 1890 when the federal government threatened to deny Utah statehood.  Today, about 40,000 "fundamentalist Mormons" in Utah and nearby states live polygamy illegally.  Romney, whose great-grandfather had five wives and whose great-great-grandfather had a dozen, has dismissed the practice as "bizarre" -- a comment that infuriates Hammon, whose father and grand-father practiced plural marriage.  "If it was me, I wouldn't apologize for my past.  My ancestors did what they did.  I can't help that," said Hammon, 36, who legally married SherylLynne, 32, in 1994 and was joined with Leah, 21, a decade later as his "celestial bride" in a religious ceremony that has no legal binding.     Read more
 
 
Polygamists: Q&A
Reuters
Originally published June 12, 2007

Polygamy, once hidden in the shadows of Utah and Arizona, is breaking into the open as fundamentalist Mormons push to decriminalize it on religious grounds.  Reuters gathered together polygamists for roundtable discussions in Salt Lake City, Utah, and Centennial Park, Arizona.  In Salt Lake City, two participants, Vicki and Valerie, are sisters in a polygamous marriage with a man who has three wives and 21 children in a Salt Lake City suburb.  To protect the identity of their husband, they declined to release their last names.  Anne Wilde, 71, is a 71-year-old widow who was part of a family of plural wives for 33 years.  In Centennial Park, Arizona, Ephraim Hammon, 36, his wife Leah, 21, and wife SherylLynne, 32, and his mother, Marlyne Hammon, spoke to Reuters in their home.

The Salt Lake City, Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon church, introduced polygamy before the Civil War but banned it in 1890.  Excommunicated by mainstream Mormons, polygamists see themselves as purists of the faith as it was practiced by founder Joseph Smith, whom historians say took more than two dozen wives.

The following are excerpts from the discussion:

REUTERS: How do you feel about the mainstream Mormon church, which excommunicates polygamists and is a vocal opponent against plural marriage?

ANNE WILDE : Most of us, if we were members, have been excommunicated, certainly if they are found out they are. I think there are some that live it very, very quietly, and people don't know; but not too many anymore. The church has chosen right now to reject plural marriage. I think they've done this is to be more friendly with the world.
Read more
 
 
Fear and Loathing in Utah
Even some of polygamist Warren Jeffs's critics are worried that his conviction is the start of a legal campaign against 'plural marriage.'
By Gretel C. Kovach
Newsweek
Originally published September 26, 2007

The owners and most of the lunch crowd at the Merry Wives Café in Hildale, Utah, were excommunicated from his polygamous sect years ago. And Warren S. Jeffs, the man revered as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), counsels his followers to shun all outsiders, even their more open-minded blood relatives who playfully named their new burger joint after their proud heritage of "plural marriage." Still, news that Jeffs, 51, had been convicted of being an accomplice to the rape of a 14-year-old church member traveled quickly across the red-rock desert to this restaurant along the Utah-Arizona state line, unnerving even the most progressive of the extended polygamist community.

"This hatred for polygamists ... I felt it ever since I was a child," says Charise Dutson, manager and part owner of the Merry Wives. Today Dutson is a member of Centennial Park, an Arizona group that split from the FLDS but continues to practice polygamy. Three teenagers who are part of Centennial Park call Jeffs a fraud with no direct line to God. The verdict, meanwhile, worries them all. Another owner of the café, a jovial man who asks not be named, adds, "I don't think we could ever get a fair trial in the state of Utah."
Read more
 
 
Polygamy in America
From the show Polygamy in America: Lisa Ling Reports
The Oprah Winfrey Show
Originally broadcast October 26, 2007

It is very rare for a polygamist man to speak publicly about his relationships, but Richard, a successful businessman who lives in Centennial Park with his three wives, agrees to let Lisa visit his home because he says he wants to show the world another side to polygamy.  "I'll just come out and tell you, I feel very blessed — this lifestyle is wonderful," he says.  "We bring these women into the home and they are treated incredibly. They have every convenience and every single thing that can be provided for them. So it's a very mutual relationship."  What kind of role does love play in Richard's marriages?  "Love plays a huge role, and it plays a role in each one of my marriages," Richard says.  "I love these ladies."  As far as sleeping arrangements go, Richard says he sleeps in his bedroom and his wives each have their own bedroom.  "My options aren't for gratification of my lusts," he says.  "The activities that we do together as a couple are private and we have those relationships."  Richard met his first wife, Julena, in high school.  Next came Tina, Julena's sister.  And finally Rebecca, Richard's co-worker joined the family as the third wife.  Now, the three women seem to be inseparable.  Although they all love the same man, Julena says this doesn't cause any conflict between them.  "We're fulfilled with other things," Julena says.  "We're fulfilled with friendship."  They have become so close that if anything were to ever happen to Richard, Julena says that her decision to find a new husband would include Tina and Rebecca as well.  "We'd probably stay together," Julena says.     Read more
 
 
Bill would shield children of polygamists
By Howard Fischer
Capitol Media Services
East Valley Tribune
Originally published February 1, 2008

State lawmakers are trying to make it more difficult for at least some of those who practice polygamy to get custody of their children in divorce cases.  Without dissent, the House Committee on Human Services on Thursday approved legislation barring judges from granting sole or even joint custody to a parent who has practiced child bigamy.  The only exception would be if a court determined there is "no significant risk to the child."  HB2009 would impose similar restrictions against granting unsupervised visitation.  State law already makes it a crime for anyone who is already married to wed a child, whether that second - or subsequent - wedding is recognized by the state or solely by a religion.  But Flora Jessup, an advocate for women forced into multiple marriages, said the 2004 law is not really enforced.  Rep. David Lujan, D-Phoenix, said some women in polygamous relationships do try to leave.  In fact, he said the conviction in Utah last year of Warren Jeffs, leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, of violating rape laws by arranging plural marriages of minors, may encourage others to get out of these plural marriages.  "But when they leave the polygamous communities, the first thing they do is they go to court and try to get custody of their children," Lujan said.  "And we're still seeing courts that are awarding custody to the fathers who are engaging in bigamy."  Mohave County Supervisor Buster Johnson urged lawmakers to approve the measure.  "For the past 10 years I've worked with these victims," he told committee members.  "These vicious abusers of the cults have manipulated our court system to continue the cycle against these victims and our children," Johnson said.  "This will be one more tool that can be used in hopefully breaking that cycle."     Read more
 
 
PROFILE: Polygamous Wives
Religion & Ethics Newsweekly
Episode no. 1132
PBS
Originally broadcast April 11, 2008

DEBORAH POTTER, guest anchor: In Texas, a polygamous religious sect is the subject of a massive child abuse investigation. The sect broke away from the Mormon Church after it disavowed polygamy a century ago. More than 400 children at this compound south of San Angelo were taken into state custody. Prosecutors charge that girls as young as 14 were being forced to marry much older men. The group belongs to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Its leader, Warren Jeffs, is in jail. He was convicted last year of being an accessory to rape in a case involving a teenager. Other sects also practice polygamy, in violation of Mormon Church teachings. Lucky Severson spoke with two members of a community in Arizona.

LUCKY SEVERSON: Linda and Marlyne are plural wives from the polygamist community Centennial Park, Arizona. It is a different polygamist group than the one down the road in Colorado City -- the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Linda and Marlyne say their community is less rigid, more modern, and more open to the media, although they wouldn't let us use their last names, film their husbands, children, or other plural wives. Marlyne says it's because they're afraid of more bad publicity.

MARLYNE: All of polygamy is being tainted by a broad stroke.
Read more
 
 
Raid on Sect in Texas Rattles Other Polygamists
By KIRK JOHNSON and JOHN DOUGHERTY
The New York Times
Originally published May 8, 2008

COLORADO CITY, Ariz. — As the supper dishes were being cleared away and the rice pudding brought out for dessert, Marvin Wyler's two wives, along with some of their children and a group of friends, began poring over the list.  The 44-page document, from a court in Texas, gives a glimpse of who is married to whom in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or F.L.D.S. — and in the hothouse world of religious polygamy, a list like that is a sort of Rosetta Stone to the usually hidden relationships of power, politics and piety.  "We are adding up the number of men who may be going to prison," said Isaac Wyler, 42, the eldest of Mr. Wyler's 34 children, who was examining the list on Sunday to see which men may have had wives under the legal age when they married.  Scenes like this have played out in recent days in polygamist communities on the Arizona-Utah border as the marriage list and other records, seized last month from the polygamist sect in Eldorado, Tex., along with 462 children in an investigation of possible under-age brides, have filtered west.  The information has families like the Wylers talking about some of polygamy's best-kept secrets.  Who would have guessed, for instance, that Wendell Nielsen, a high-ranking sect official with family here, had 21 wives in Texas, too?  Or that he has 35 children on top of those here?     Read more
 
 
Polygamy's defenders lack credibility
By Linda Valdez
The Arizona Republic
Originally published Thursday, May 8, 2008

I'm really tired of hearing from the so-called "normal" polygamous sects, such as the one in Centennial Park, Arizona.  They get press everytime the sins of their fellow groups make headlines.  I've met with women from that group.  They insist polygamy, as they practice it, is not coercive and does not involve underage girls.  But the horror of child abuse that festered down the road in Colorado City, Arizona and Hildale, Utah, could not have been unknown to the residents of Centennial Park.  Many share the same last names that are common among Warren Jeffs FLDS cult members.  If they didn't know, they should have made it their business to know what was going on in the name of a "spiritual" practice they say is benign.  The so-called "benign" polygamists insist the crimes, such as child sexual abuse, are not typical of polygamy and should be punished separately without tainting polygamy.  I've got my doubts that any society built on polygamy can be wholesome.  What's more, if what they say is the true, why didn't they make a short trip down the road and clean out the mess that evolved in the name of polygamy in Colorado City and Hildale?  The failure to do that costs them the high-ground they want to stand on now as they make a pitch for tolerance.
 
 
FLDS kids need to go home
Opinion
Deseret News
Originally published Tuesday, May 20, 2008

I am outraged that Texas has allowed their government and CPS officials so much power. It is extremely discouraging to see the treatment of the members of the YFZ Ranch. Prosecute the abuse, but find the case beforehand.

There was no reason for tiny babies and children under 12 to be taken from loving, well-adjusted homes. Those children need to go back. Texas officials need to be held accountable by their constituents.

Helen Hammon
Centennial Park Action Committee
Centennial Park, Ariz.
 
 
Do They Serve Polygamy Porter at the Merry Wives Cafe?
Posted by Joanna Kakissis
Travel Blog
World Hum - Manhattan Beach, CA
Originally published May 23, 2008

The Merry Wives Cafe in Hilldale, Utah is the only sit-down restaurant on the 55-mile stretch of highway between Fredonia, Arizona, and Hurricane, Utah.  And, yes, it's run by polygamists.  The Work of Jesus Christ of Centennial Park opened the cafe last year in part to sweeten polygamy's really, really bad image.  The Centennial Park group broke off decades ago from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—whose chapter in Texas has been the focus of damning media reports about child sexual abuse—and says it condemns underage marriage and child labor.  "We're just saying we're normal, and we live normal lives," manager Cherise Dutson told NPR.  "We pay our taxes, and we don't have anything to hide. ... We are law-abiding citizens."  Well, kinda sorta law-abiding.  Bigamy is actually a felony in Utah.  It also unsettles many patrons, who leave their phone numbers on the tables in case the "Merry Wives" are actually miserable slaves looking for an escape to the monogamous world.  Not that this is putting much of a damper on business.  Some days, the Merry Wives are so busy that they have to turn customers away.
 
 
Arizona law remains fuzzy on polygamy
By Dennis Wagner
The Arizona Republic
Tucson Citizen
Originally published June 9, 2008

CENTENNIAL PARK - Like many polygamous residents along the Arizona Strip, Marvin Dockstader is adding to his house, more than doubling its size to make room for wives and children.  He admits he's nervous about the future.  Authorities in Texas rounded up members of a polygamous sect in April, taking custody of more than 400 children.  The Senate majority leader called for federal agents to go after religious groups that practice plural marriages.  And just a mile from Centennial Park in Colorado City-Hildale, prosecutors from Utah and Arizona have been dogging a polygamist group for years.  While not a member of that sect, Dockstader feels pressure building as politicians talk of conducting anti-bigamy enforcement with Texas-style zeal, he says.  "It's definitely headed that way," he says.  "That could be us as easy as them."  While Dockstader and others in this community of 2,000 harbor such fears, there are reasons why law enforcement agencies are unlikely to target them:
  • They belong to a church, the Work of Jesus Christ, that publicly eschews child marriages, a practice that authorities alleged in moving against the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Colorado City and Eldorado, Texas.

  • Polygamy law in Arizona is fuzzy. Arizona's Constitution bans polygamy but lists no punishment.
Arizona's criminal code makes bigamy a crime, but unlike in Utah and Texas, it does not outlaw plural cohabitation.
Read more
 
 
Centennial Park polygamists focus on family
By BRIAN PASSEY
The Spectrum
Originally published Saturday, June 28, 2008

They believe in plural marriage.  They live near the Utah/Arizona border.  But they have nothing to do with Warren Jeffs and his FLDS Church.   Those belonging to the Work of Jesus Christ in Centennial Park, just across the highway from Colorado City, believe they maintain the true gospel of Jesus Christ as taught by Joseph Smith and as practiced in the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  However they believe the mainstream LDS Church has deviated from the teachings of Smith and that they — through the priesthood of The Work of Jesus Christ — have the true authority from God on Earth.  Joanne Yarrish says she is fascinated by religion.  She owns a Koran, a Torah, a Bible and a Book of Mormon.  But she says the fullest gospel of Jesus Christ that she has found is within the belief system of The Work of Jesus Christ.  "I go to church on Sunday and listen to the brethren (priesthood leaders) and that's what I receive," she says. "That's my manna." The practice of plural marriage, or polygamy, is a major element of their faith that sets members of this group apart.  Marlyne Hammon, who often acts as a spokeswoman for the group with the media, is in a plural marriage.  She is her husband's first wife and she has "sister wives" as they are called.     Read more
 
 
Carrying on 'The Work' of God
By BRIAN PASSEY
The Spectrum
Originally published July 5, 2008

Editor's note: This is the second part of a two-part Living Faith series on The Work of Jesus Christ in Centennial Park.

Those who worship with The Work of Jesus Christ in Centennial Park have to be prepared to preach on a moment's notice.  During a priesthood meeting for male members of the church on June 21 the men were told to wear their "preaching clothes" to church the next day.  And true to the announcement, church leaders called on random male members of the congregation the next day to come to the stand and deliver a message to the entire body at the Centennial Park church, located just across the highway and south of Colorado City.  Jonathan Dutson was among those to speak that Sunday.  He says it's common for church leaders to call on members of the congregation to speak because it reminds them that they must be ready at any time to explain their beliefs.  Those belonging to the Work of Jesus Christ believe they maintain the true Christian gospel as taught by Joseph Smith and as practiced in the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  However they believe the mainstream LDS Church has deviated from the teachings of Smith, including the abandonment of plural marriage.  Leaders in The Work of Jesus Christ - the priesthood council - say they have the true authority from God on earth.  Although they share a common origin with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the polygamist group based in Colorado City and Hildale, The Work of Jesus Christ and the group that became the FLDS parted ways in 1986.  While many outsiders may focus on the practice of polygamy, members of The Work say their beliefs all come down to legitimate authority from God. Like members of both the LDS Church and the FLDS Church, they do not believe that authority continued after the death of the apostles Christ called when he walked the earth.  Instead they believe the authority was restored in the early 1800s to Joseph Smith, a man they all revere as a prophet.     Read more
 
 
Polygamy uncovered: What's it really like for the women who have to share a husband?
For decades, the domestic lives of American polygamists have remained secretive and closely guarded. But for a new TV documentary, presenter Dawn Porter was given access to two polygamous families, who both sought to present rose-tinted images of harmonious, contented communities. But when she scratched beneath the surface, what she found was a very different picture - of resentment, jealousy and bitterness...
INTERVIEW BY AMANDA CABLE
News & Current Affairs
Evening Standard - London, England
Originally published Friday, September 19, 2008

At first glance, it is a scene of utterly normal domestic chaos.  There's washing to be done, the children are running around outside, and Dad has come home from work in a terrible mood.  Martha has her arm around her husband Moroni and is clucking like an indulgent hen as she tries to coax him into a better temper.  Buxom, amiable and in her mid-30s, she is every inch the average housewife and mother.  At least she is until I glance to Moroni's right, and see the second woman who is trying to placate him.  Temple - in her late 20s - is Moroni's 'other' wife.  These two women share their lives, their home and their beds with the same husband, bound together by their polygamist marriages.  And, incredibly, the reason for Moroni's mood - he is sitting slumped, head in hands - is that he has been dumped by the woman he hoped would become wife number three.  He moans 'I've been heartbroken more times than I care to admit', which sparks a fresh wave of sympathetic noises from both his wives.  Not only are they happy to share this paunchy man, but they are also happy to help him pick a third wife.  Finally, their coaxing seems to ease Moroni's mood.  'We'll find someone who will fit in perfectly,' Martha purrs soothingly, as if her husband were about to select a new set of curtains.  'This one obviously just wasn't right...'  So why do I find myself here - deep in rural Arizona, meeting two wives who bizarrely claim that it is they who do the exploiting, rather than the husband who moves between their beds virtually every other night of the week?  I was asked by a TV production company to fly around the world investigating the extraordinary relationships that women choose in the name of love.  So what should we make of polygamy, which is still practised by thousands of members of the Mormon sect?  Can it really bring the kind of mutual support and sense of community that its protagonists claim?  Or is it simply a throwback to a time when a man dragged a woman back to his cave if he liked the look of her?     Read more
 
 
TV Review: Dawn Porter: Polygamist's Wife, Channel 4, Tuesday, 21 October, 10pm
TV Scoop
The Telegraph - London, England
Originally published October 22, 2008

Of all of Dawn Porter's new series on Channel 4, this was the one I was looking forward to the most. She'd covered free-love, which ticked the box for all those that just want to ogle our Dawn, as well as investigating the Geisha and mail-order brides. As meaty or flighty as the subjects were, the last in the current series, Dawn Porter: Polygamist's Wife (Channel 4, Tuesday, 21 October, 10pm) was always going to be the most revealing. Polygamists are often derided and seen as 'cultish', as testified by the opening bars of this show, showing clips of a 'sect' that was stormed by federal agents... but was Dawn going into a seedy den, or would she find the lighter side of Mormon living? Thankfully, it erred more on the latter, even if it was filled with weird.

As I mentioned, the show started with a raid on a polygamy camp, with claims of child abuse and the like thick in the air. It was hardly the best time for Dawn Porter to try to spend some time with a polygamist family. However, it was clear that Porter wanted to delve into the world to see if was as wrong as many think it is, or whether it was like any other family (dysfunctions and all), only with more parents.

In the initial meeting, where Porter was vetted, the board of Mormon wives were aggressive, awkward and prickly - not surprising really when you take into account that their way of living is forbidden by federal law. This sees families retreating to baron wastelands in the middle of sod-all, to live in peace. However, The Dawn Porter Charm works a treat and she's granted time with a family (with one lady giggling "You're as cute as a button!").

Dawn's first house tour was bewildering to watch, and bewildering for her. I think there were a million kids, and twice that in rooms. Of course, that's being a bit glib, but that's what it felt like. Even mum lost track of how many people come and went in her house. However, she was keen to point out that this was all about sharing, which on the surface, can't be that bad a thing. However, when that includes the sharing of sex between a husband and his various wives, Porter's (and mine to be honest) mind boggled - how can that ever be normal?
Read more
 
 
Polygamy with Porter is plain dull
THE POLYGAMIST'S WIFE (C4) CHAMPIONS LEAGUE (RTE2)
By Pat Stacey
Evening Herald - Dublin, Ireland
Originally published Wednesday October 22, 2008

Polygamy ... phwoar!  That's the life, eh?  Well, actually, it's not. According to The Polygamist's Wife, it's not just creepy and illegal but dull, too.  This was the last of four documentaries in which Dawn Porter, who's flirty, doe-eyed and dozy, and fancies herself nearly as much as the male audience does, looks at the extremes some women go to to find love and companionship.  A child abuse scandal had broken in Texas and was all over the news.  Police had raided a fundamentalist Mormon compound and removed 400 children, amid allegations that middle-aged men were deflowering girls as young as 13.  Dawn visited a different polygamist compound, a dusty town called Centennial Park in the Arizona desert.  Breakaway Mormons, set up camp there to get away from the eyes of the world.  "I couldn't have chosen a worse moment to get into a Mormon compound," said a nervous Dawn as she prepared to face a 20-minute interrogation from a council of women who would decide whether or not to let her enter their community.  She easily passed the test, probably because she projects an air of shallow, vapid, unthreatening ditziness, which I suspect is probably real.  She's more Louis Vuitton than Louis Theroux.  "Look at you, you're as cute as a button!" gushed a senior Mormon, practically pinching her on the cheek.  Cute as a button Dawn may be, but she's also as irritating as a jammed zip and has a tendency to blurt out whatever banal half-thought is rattling around in her head.  She was billeted in a household with three wives and 20 children.  The husband, Boyd, who's in his 60s, refused to be interviewed, as did all of the men in Centennial Park.     Read more
 
 
New TV on extreme polygamy (Is there another kind?)
Posted by Paul Nyhan
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Originally published November 7, 2008

Get ready, TLC is tackling a ratings-grabber next weekend: polygamists, in "Extreme Love: Polygamy."

The network dedicated to shopping, family and Kat Von D's tattoos appears to cover the multi-wife lifestyle with a somewhat open mind:
Journalist Dawn Porter explores the most extreme ways women find love and live with men. In this special, she enters the controversial and secretive world of polygamy. From a whole town of polygamists to a family hiding in the wilderness while the husband searches for a third wife, Dawn meets the women who share their men and asks: "Does sharing your life and husband with multiple wives really work and make everyone happy?"
This topic seems to be everywhere these days. How many polygamists are there in America anyway, and haven't we filmed them all?

The show airs next Sunday, Nov. 16, at 10 p.m.
 
 


Watch Dawn's live coverage of this story above
 
 
Polygamy show stinks
By Scott D. Pierce
Deseret News
Originally published Saturday, Nov. 15, 2008

Let's not pull any punches here.  Dawn Porter is no journalist and cable channel TLC is beyond irresponsible to air her laughably bad program about polygamy.  "Forbidden Love" (Sunday, 11 p.m., TLC) is rather ridiculous to begin with.  Porter tells viewers that she's been single for four years and she's looking for love.  But first she plans to "experience some of the most extreme ways that women find love and live with men."  Next week: geishas!  But first up: polygamists!  And, apparently incapable of spending 30 seconds doing research on the Internet, Porter is also incapable of understanding that Mormons do not practice polygamy.  That it was abandoned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1896.  "Polygamy means one husband and lots of wives. It's a basic tenet of the Mormon Church," Porter intones.  "Now it's outlawed, but many fundamentalist Mormons hide out in the middle of nowhere in Utah and the states around it."  Again, 30 seconds of research and Porter would have discovered that it hasn't been a basic tenet of the Mormon Church in 118 years.  Porter traveled to Centennial Park, Ariz., to visit a family of polygamists at the time Texas authorities were raiding the FLDS compound.  "I couldn't have chosen a worse moment to try and get into a Mormon household," she incorrectly states.  And, reading a headline in the Cedar City Spectrum, she tells viewers about the "400 children taken away from a polygamous Mormon family in Texas. Basically, allegations of child abuse and underage marriage."     Read more
 
 
BBC Manchester's smoking babies and naked festivals
How Do - England, UK
Originally published Friday, 19 December 2008

A headline to scare BBC's press office, and also content from the latest production from BBC's Manchester-based Religion and Ethics department.  The 8-part series for BBC Two is called Around the World in 80 Faiths and follows Anglican vicar, Peter Owen Jones on a year long journey to explore how different cultures worship and interact, with the divine.  He sees voodoo in West Africa, Taoism in China, spiritualism in the Bible belt, Shamen in Lapland and a polygamous sect in America.  "Religions are very good at building walls to protect themselves from the outside world and so to explore what gives people the sense of the divine is an incredible thing to do as it's the last bastion of geographical and cultural identity," said Peter Owen Jones.  The series producer is Graham Johnson and the exec producer is Jean Claude Bragard.  It starts on January 2nd at 9pm.
 
 
"Sister Wife" challenges polygamist stereotypes
Headlines spur local filmmakers to paint a truer portrait
By Nan Chalat-Noaker
Park Record - Park City, Utah
Originally published January 14, 2009

Sharing creative control over a film is little like being a sister wife, says Jill Orschel, whose documentary is an official Sundance Film Festival selection this year.  The term 'sister wife,' also the name of the film, refers to the relationship between women in a polygamist marriage, a practice forbidden by the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, but still practiced by some fundamentalist Mormons.  Orschel, only half jokingly, says she has been married to this film for three years and, in the course of editing and submitted it to Sundance, has experienced the same kinds of possessiveness, jealousy and love that DoriAnn, the subject of the film, so articulately relates.  DoriAnn shares a husband with her biological sister and the two have 20 children.  A year into filming the family in Colorado City, Orschel invited a fellow filmmaker, Alexandra Fuller, to come on board to help sort out what was had become an unwieldy project.  But the two novice filmmakers were still grappling with the story line when, suddenly, the world's attention zoomed in on the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas.  On April 3, Texas authorities raided the fundamentalist Mormon community and took 468 children into protective custody.  Television cameras panned over busloads of children being ripped away from their families and then focused on the mothers with their signature pompadours and identical pastel-hued dresses.  Orschel recalls Fuller saying, "OK, no more pussyfooting around."  The two decided to devote the summer to distilling 20 to 30 hours of footage of DoriAnn and her family into a 10-minute short, and to finish it in time to submit to the Sundance Film Festival on Sept. 6.     Read more
 
 
Sundance: 'Sister Wife' takes look at joys, trials of polygamy
By Ben Winslow
Deseret News
Originally published Friday, Jan. 16, 2009

The polygamists are coming to Sundance.  A documentary short film about a woman's joys and trials of living in a plural marriage is making its debut at this year's Sundance Film Festival.  "Sister Wife" is an 11-minute film about DoriAnn, a fundamentalist woman from Centennial Park, Ariz., who shares a husband with her younger sister.  "Imagine your sweetheart in the kitchen, kissing another woman," DoriAnn says in the film, offering an intimate glimpse into her life as the second wife of a man who is also married to her younger sister.  Director Jill Orschel met DoriAnn (whose last name she would not reveal) in 2005.  She initially sought to do a feature-length film in fly-on-the-wall style, documenting the lives of a polygamous family.  DoriAnn's husband and sister-wife nixed the idea.  DoriAnn was still game for a film.  "DoriAnn is someone who experiences it fully. She's hating life and embracing it. She still wants to stay there. She wants a third wife to come into the picture, thinking it would bring balance," Orschel said of her film's subject.  "It's a complicated, difficult life and I think that she feels if she rises above these earthly obstacles then that helps her become more ... "     Read more
 
 
Sister Wife crew gets royal treatment at Sundance
With Sundance behind them, the makers of 'Sister Wife' look ahead
By Greg Marshall, Of the Record
Park Record - Park City, Utah
Originally published February 6, 2009

"Sister Wife" has made the cut at another prestigious film festival.  Jill Orschel and Alexandra Fuller, both residents of Park City, will screen their 10-minute documentary about a polygamist woman at South by Southwest, one of the most selective festivals in the West.  South by Southwest runs from March 13 until the 21 in Austin, Texas.  "Sister Wife" premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January.  Although the documentary is brief, it made a splash with audiences and critics.  The film features DoriAnn, a 41-year-old member of the Fundamentalist Mormon Church, bathing and responding to questions about being married to her sister and husband.  Orschel, the film's director, captured 25 of hours of footage with DoriAnn, but decided in the spring of 2008 to complete the project in time for Sundance's September deadline.  That meant shelving the idea of a 90-minute documentary in favor of an intimate, if brief, glimpse into DoriAnn's psyche.  Orschel and Fuller don't have any immediate plans to expand the film, but said they would like to do so given the chance.  DoriAnn, for her part, has expressed interest in continuing to work with the filmmakers.  For now, Orschel and Fuller plan to enjoy the festival circuit.  Besides South by Southwest, they are waiting to hear from a handful of other festivals.  "We're just trying to stay open about it," Orschel said. "Some people think that the shorts are a steppingstone or a calling card. Everyone has been assuming that we will turn it into a feature. If this is all it is, I'm happy with that."     Read more
 
 
Polygamist family gathering
Peter Owen Jones
Around the World in 80 Faiths - Episode 5
BBC Television
Originally broadcast Wed 18 Feb 2009

Religion: Fundamentalist Mormonism

Location: Seven Wives Inn Bed and Breakfast, St George, Utah

Description: Centennial Park, on the border between Utah and Arizona, is a two-thousand strong community of religious outlaws.  They describe themselves as fundamentalist Mormons and still practice plural marriage, which the mainstream Mormon church outlawed in 1890.  Pete is invited into a household in which two women share one husband.  A group of wives from the community explains the religious basis for polygamy.  Their beliefs conflict with the laws of the land, so their plural marriages are not legally recognised.

*****

In the fifth episode Pete discovers a dangerous side to the Bible Belt when he gets too close to the serpent handlers in the Appalachian mountains, before taking his seat at a table-tipping séance.  He continues to challenge his own faith when he comes face to face with a miracle-working evangelist and a boy preacher.  In Utah he visits the heartland of Mormonism and ventures into the wilderness to seek out religious outlaws who practice polygamy.  Pete experiences a traditional Navajo sweat lodge and visits a sect where mummification is alive and well.  His journey across the most religiously diverse country in the world reaches an explosive climax in Nevada when he joins fifty thousand revellers to witness a ceremonial burning.
 
 
Federal Register
Insurance News
InsuranceNewsNet.com
Originally published April 8, 2010

Notice.

Citation: "75 FR 17944"

Document Number: "Docket No. FR-5411-N-01"

Page Number: "17944"

"Notices"

SUMMARY: This notice advises of the cause and effect of termination of Origination Approval Agreements taken by HUD's Federal Housing Administration (FHA) against HUD-approved mortgagees through the FHA Credit Watch Termination Initiative. This notice includes a list of mortgagees which have had their Origination Approval Agreements terminated.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: The Quality Assurance Division, Office of Housing, Department of Housing and Urban Development, 451 Seventh Street, SW., Room B133-P3214, Washington, DC 20410-8000; telephone (202) 708-2830 (this is not a toll free number). Persons with hearing or speech impairments may access that number through TTY by calling the Federal Information Relay Service at (800) 877-8339.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: HUD has the authority to address deficiencies in the performance of lenders' loans as provided in HUD's mortgagee approval regulations at 24 CFR 202.3. On May 17, 1999 HUD published a notice (64 FR 26769), on its procedures for terminating Origination Approval Agreements with FHA lenders and placement of FHA lenders on Credit Watch status (an evaluation period). In the May 17, 1999 notice, HUD advised that it would publish in the Federal Register a list of mortgagees, which have had their Origination Approval Agreements terminated.     Read more
 
 
Prop 8, Mormonism, and the Other Fight for Alternative Marriage
While the LDS church did all it could to make sure Prop 8 passed, one group of Mormons worked for LGBT rights
By Holly Welker
Culture
Religion Dispatches Magazine - San Francisco, CA
Originally published June 21, 2010

8: The Mormon Proposition, a documentary polemic detailing the involvement of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in support of California's Proposition 8 opened nationally on June 18. The general storyline will be familiar to anyone who followed the 2008 controversy — and watched as Californians voted to amend the state constitution so that "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California." [see also Joanna Brooks' "8: The Mormon Proposition Gets it Right" – Eds.] But while the details of the story can still astonish, more surprising is what the film misses on two key topics: Mormon beliefs about the afterlife, and polygamy.

The cost of Mormon homophobia

Director Reed Cowan, who grew up Mormon and gay in Utah and served an LDS mission, documents the LDS Church's efforts to ban gay marriage, as well as its efforts to screen its involvement in that fight. He makes the case that the LDS Church approached the issue according to a template used successfully to fight gay marriage in Hawaii in the 1990s. Specifically, well aware that it is viewed overall with more suspicion than respect, it formed a coalition with churches and organizations who had better images, then bankrolled the coalition's work.

By the time the California Supreme Court ruled on May 15, 2008 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, the fight to amend the constitution was already well underway — thanks to the money and effort of the LDS church. Petitions bearing over 1.1 million signatures (400,000 more than necessary) were submitted to the state's election division in the spring, and on June 2, 2008, two weeks before a single legally binding gay marriage was performed in the state of California, Proposition 8 qualified for the November 4, 2008 ballot.     Read more
 
 
VisionTV Airs Provocative Premiere of Sex + Religion
Posted by RAD
Programming Highlights / Vision TV
Channel Canada
Originally published September 8, 2010

Actor/evocative photographer Leonard Nimoy; devout Muslim and Egypt's first TV sexologist Dr. Heba Kotb; founder of the Gay Christina Network Justin Lee; and Jewish pin-up girl Jamie Sneider, are just a few of the intriguing subjects featured in SEX + RELIGION, a new documentary series beginning on VisionTV starting September 20 @ 11pm ET/8pm PT.  What do they have in common?  Their work stands at the nexus of sex and religion, historically odd bedfellows. Hosted by Canadian broadcast journalist and writer, Laurie Brown, SEX + RELIGION asks rabbis, priests, philosophers, prostitutes and polygamists, to shed light onto what role, if any, sex plays in the pursuit of spiritual enlightenment.  The series' subject matter includes erotic art, virginity, polygamy, pornography, contraception, prostitution, same-sex relationships and sexual fantasies.  "Art is about illumination," says Leonard Nimoy whose photographs of female bodies superimposed with the Hebrew letter Shin represents his interpretation of Shekhina, the female representation of God.  Simultaneously erotic, beautiful, and spiritually meaningful, Nimoy explains they were inspired by the ecstatic prayer he witnessed as a youth while attending synagogue services with his Father.  "The Torah is loaded with sexuality," Nimoy says.  "It's not to be viewed in terms of sin, but rather as part of the human condition."  Episodes travel from "Father-Daughter Purity Balls" in the deep Southern US to the Arab Quarter in Paris where they perform hymenoplasty surgery; from the streets of Las Vegas with Hookers4Jesus to Centennial Park, Arizona, a Fundamentalist Mormon community that believes in polygamy.     Read more
 
 
Sister Wives TLC True Story -- 'I Married My Younger Sister's Husband'
By Carrie Sloan
First Person
Lemondrop - AOL Lifestyle
Originally published Oct 18th 2010

So, the "Sister Wives" season finale aired last night, bringing to a close the riveting TLC reality show starring the Brown family of Utah: Kody, an advertising exec, and his three -- no, wait -- four wives.  The Browns, by the way, belong to the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which practices polygamy.  (Before we go any further, most Mormons do not.)  Last night Kody wed Robyn, his newest and youngest wife (above, second from right), while the other three helped plan the festivities / seethed with jealousy.  Think for a minute: Can you imagine what it actually feels like to share the guy you love with three other women?  To watch as he says "I Do" to another one, too?  Or to fall asleep alone three nights out of four, knowing he's in the bed of his other wife (or other other wife) right across the hall?  As one Lemondrop editor put it, "My sister and I can't even share a sweater."  It sure got us thinking.  Each night, this same scene plays out in polygamist bedrooms across America, but what is it like to be a real-life sister-wife when the cameras -- and the paychecks -- aren't there?  So, we decided to ask one.  Not only is she a plural wife, she's married to her younger sister's husband.  Sister Wives: TLC Reality show stars polygamist Mormon family with multiple wives.  What it's really like to be a sister-wife.  Meet DoriAnn, right, a mother of 12 who, at her younger sister's request, took her husband's hand.  But that's just the beginning of the plot twists.     Read more
 
 
See the trailer for "Sister Wife" below. To find out how you can buy the movie, click here.

 
 
Polygamous community opens its doors
Ben Winslow
Fox13Now.com
KSTU-TV
Originally broadcast March 10, 2011

CENTENNIAL PARK, Arizona - The sign on the turnoff leading to this tiny community on the Utah-Arizona border read: "Welcome guests."  Members of the community of Centennial Park opened their doors Thursday night, speaking out about their lifestyle in an effort to counter the myths and stereotypes that surround polygamy.  "We've been in a secret society for a long time because of the raids and different things. We feel vulnerable," said Susie Timpson, the chairwoman of the Centennial Park Action Committee, a volunteer group that seeks to decriminalize polygamy in Utah and Arizona.  Members of CPAC told Fox 13 they felt the only way for people to truly understand where they're coming from is to open up and correct misperceptions about plural marriage.  On Thursday, they hosted an open house at the community's church.  About 200 people, mostly government officials, social workers and members of other polygamous communities in Utah, filled the pews.  Standing at a podium underneath a portrait of Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon faith, members explained their beliefs and values and invited people to ask questions.  "There's the human face," said Polly Dockstader, a CPAC member.  "The human face doesn't lie. We tell a story of our lives and that reaches people."  The openness in Centennial Park is a noticeable contrast from the community a few miles away.  Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., are the headquarters of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  In an apparent reassertion of power from his Texas jail cell, FLDS leader Warren Jeffs has expelled numerous members -- including the mayors of the twin cities.  In Hildale and Colorado City, homes sit behind large fences.  The community has been involved in a lengthy legal battle over land which was taken over by the Utah courts in 2005 over allegations that Jeffs and other FLDS leaders mismanaged it.  "I think Centennial Park has been a light to other polygamous groups that you can live your life out in the open. You can be educated, you can be part of the community without facing severe repercussions," said Paul Murphy, spokesman for the Utah Attorney General's Office and a member of the Safety Net Committee.     Read more
 
 
Troubled lives for twin wives
By Jess Rollins
Ozarks News
Springfield News-Leader - Springfield, Missouri
Originally published April 30, 2011

The 27-year-old twin sisters patiently corralled their combined eight children, aged infant to 8.  The kids took turns brushing their teeth, picking up toys and kissing their mothers good night.  They were settling into a routine in their new place.  A week earlier, the sisters had uprooted their families, fleeing their husband -- a man they shared.  "Our house grew from three to 13," said James Staples, father of twins Heather and Sara.  He hasn't at all minded the flood of family.  For more than a year, he hadn't heard much from his daughters or the children.  For the past 18 months, according to court documents, the twins were kept from contacting their father -- by their husband.  They now accuse that common husband of rape.  Heather and Sara Staples had been living among a patch of houses which they say is a community of fundamentalist Mormons in rural Humansville.  Within that community about 45 miles north of Springfield, the twins say they lived in separate houses even though they were both married in a joint religious ceremony to Charles Laub, now 42.  In late February, the twins told authorities they had been victimized by Laub.  Soon after, the sisters went to their homes, picked up the children and fled.  Laub was charged on March 1 in Cedar County Court with domestic assault and rape.  If convicted, Laub could face life in prison.  Laub posted bond March 3 and is believed to be at his Humansville home.  Multiple attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.  The twins agreed to be interviewed by the News-Leader, despite the sexual nature of the allegations.  They provided some details of how they lived their intertwined lives before fleeing Laub.  James Staples also agreed to describe the path that led to the polygamous marriage.  All declined to comment on court proceedings, but more than 100 pages of court documents give some details of the allegations.     Read more
 
 
Area near Humansville home to fundamentalists
Group living near Humansville called a "melting pot."
By Jess Rollins
Ozarks News
Springfield News-Leader - Springfield, Missouri
Originally published May 1, 2011

Down a long stretch of red gravel, a patchwork of privately maintained roads leads to small and large houses clustered together on the outskirts of Humansville.  The area has been described as home to a fundamentalist Mormon community.  Some put the number at as many as 500 people.  A pair of Humansville twins say they lived in that community for nearly 10 years before leaving the man they both married.  The 27-year-old women told Cedar County authorities in February they were victims of domestic abuse and sexual assault at the hands of the husband they shared.  Attempts by the News-Leader to speak with those living in the community failed, but others outside the community are aware of it and offered some descriptions of its makeup.  Anne Wilde, co-founder of the Salt Lake City-based polygamy advocacy group, Principle Voices, said she knows of a fundamentalist Mormon group of people who adhere to mixed beliefs living together in Cedar County.  "They are kind of a melting pot," she said.  Wilde said parts of the community identify with established fundamentalist Mormon groups while others are more independent.  These different groups have decided to live together, Wilde said.  "They get along well," Wilde said.  It's difficult to describe specific boundaries of the community.  Surrounded by several plots of private land in northeast Cedar County, sit 480 acres owned by "A Church of Christ of the Kingdom of God."  Cedar County Assessor Eddie Johnson said mailing addresses do not necessarily correspond to physical addresses in that area.  Carolyn Jessop is an author and former member of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Jessop, who was in the Ozarks recently to speak at Missouri State University, said she met with the 27-year-old twins after the allegations surfaced.  Jessop said she knew members of the Centennial Park group were living in the area.  That group broke away from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the mid-1980s.     Read more
 
 
PlusOne Company to Open Sale Training Center
By PR or News Wire
Utah Business Magazine - South Jordan, Utah
Originally published September 7, 2011

PlusOne Company, a sales conversion leader in the Direct Response and Inbound Sales Call Center Industry, agreed to open a state of the art sales training center in St. George, Utah.  The new center will be located at 94 S. Mall Dr. in Suite 101.  Since its inception in 2008, PlusOne has quickly become a leading choice of companies looking to outsource their inbound sales call center operations.  Already at nearly 200 agents strong, PlusOne has agreed to open a new training and call center facility in St. George, Utah, and is planning to add additional employment opportunities across the region.  PlusOne's attraction to St. George was driven by the community, which is anchored by people with similar values, strong educational backgrounds, and an interest in career growth.  The new location will support training for new employees and the rising need for the work-at-home agent workforce.  The facility will also welcome up to 100 new employees as the company continues to expand.  PlusOne CEO, Don Timpson, sees this expansion as a great opportunity for the company and the people in St. George.     Read more
 
 
Struggles of a Polygamist Family: Tension When Wives Choose the Husband
By DAN PRZYGODA and LAUREN EFFRON (@LEffron831)
Nightline
ABC News
Originally broadcast October 21, 2011

The common perception of polygamy is that men pick out the women they want to marry. But at Centennial Park, a polygamist community in Arizona, the opposite is true: It's up to the women to choose their husbands with the help of God, a choice that has brought tension into the household of Michael, Rose, Connie and Teresa.  Their story will be featured on "Our America with Lisa Ling," on Sunday, Oct. 23 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN.  Michael, 42, is a school teacher, a husband to three women and a father of 15 children.  While he believes plural marriage is a spiritual mandate, the lifestyle is often easier in theory than in practice.  "To go before the nation and share my family on a very intimate level is absolutely a risk because this lifestyle is against the law," Michael said.  "That said, God's law supersedes."  His first wife is Rose, who chose him.  The couple was married 19 years ago and they have eight children together.  Rose was raised in the principle of plural marriage and said growing up she had 10 mothers, one father and 67 siblings.  "I believe I am the 49th," she said.  The two lived together as a single couple for seven years, which Rose said was "not satisfying" to her.  She was actually relieved when another wife, Connie, came along.  "Caring for the needs of the man ... I enjoy having help doing that," she said.     Read more
 
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Lisa Ling Talks Modern Polygamy: MyFoxLA.com

 
 
Three Centennial Park teens charged with alleged theft
Centennial Park boys blow through $4,000 allegedly stolen from acquaintance's hotel
Erin Taylor
Kingman Daily Miner
Originally published June 7, 2012

KINGMAN - Three teens in far northern Mohave County are probably starting off their summers grounded after they blew through $4,000 of cash they allegedly stole.  The Mohave County Sheriff's Office said the Centennial Park boys, ages 13, 14, and 15, allegedly stole a reported $18,000 in cash in May from the home of an acquaintance.  Sheriff's Spokeswoman Sandy Edwards said the victim of the theft called authorities June 3 after meeting with the boys and their fathers and getting back $14,000 of his money.  The deputy's report does not detail how the boys spent the remaining balance, but they were said to have visited a store called "Make Us An Offer."  The victim reportedly had his cash stashed in an unsecured location when it was allegedly stolen by the teens.  Each boy is being charged with felony burglary and theft. Juvenile referrals were submitted to the Mohave County Juvenile Probation.
 
 
SUU students hike less visited Utah lands
SUU News
Southern Utah University - Cedar City, Utah
Originally published Wednesday, October 24, 2012

During the Fall Break, a group of SUU students went on a hike to Water Canyon, a little-known hike located just north of Hildale.  Hildale is about an hour and fifteen minute drive from Cedar City.  Students met in the J.L. Sorensen Physical Education Building parking lot at 8 a.m. and took one van down to Water Canyon for a day of hiking.  Helena Darger, a junior psychology major from Centennial Park Ariz., planned and led the hike with the assistance of Donald Lovejoy, a junior outdoor recreation in parks and tourism from Victorville, Cali.  The trip was part of the Harry Reid Outdoor Engagement Center-sponsored Pacesetters Club, aimed to help students get connected to the outdoors.  Darger said she wanted to lead this trip to give others to the opportunity to experience one of her favorite hikes from the area she grew up in.  "It is a little-known hike that very few people at SUU have heard of, including some outdoor recreation majors," Darger said.  "Knowing this, I knew that I had to share this hike with anyone interested."  Leading the hike also gave Darger a chance to use the skills she had learned in the Pacesetter training sessions earlier in the semester.  Brittney Zenz, a senior interior design major from Lancaster Wis., said the adventure was a great way for her to get out and accomplish something she didn't think she could do.  "The view from the top of the mountain was awesome," Zenz said.  "I've never been on the top of a mountain before."     Read more
 
 
Merry Wives Cafe marries homemade flavors together
Written by Brittny Goodsell
Let's Eat
The Spectrum
Originally published January 31, 2013

This hidden cafe has made national news — and if NPR and The New York Times mention Merry Wives Cafe, a trip to the Hildale eatery is necessary.  The drive from St. George to Hildale takes about an hour, so I bring a guest for good conversation.  She had never been to Hildale and being a Jew from Florida, didn't know much about polygamy as part of a religion or lifestyle.  You can't eat at Merry Wives Cafe without recognizing the community where it resides and being fascinated with the many ways we all live our lives.  This is one reason why Merry Wives Cafe serves as a good place to eat lunch with someone unfamiliar with the area — it's all about getting to know an area.  We hit Merry Wives Cafe for a late lunch and almost missed the restaurant because it's in the same building as a gas station off the main highway.  At one point, I had to roll my window down and ask a community member where the cafe was.  She was helpful and courteous to a person obviously not from Hildale.  The cafe is clean and cozy.  A large wall mural of women in a garden greets you as you enter.  The waitress said it was painted by a local artist.  This cafe is a stand-and-order type of place.  Tips aren't necessary, but the waitress brings you your food and asks if you need anything else.  The staff was friendly and helpful about their menu options.  I don't know what I, as an outsider, thought I would encounter in Hildale, but I was pleasantly surprised at how normal I felt eating in the cafe and conversing with the locals.     Read more
 
 
Rival Polygamy Group To Open Grocery Store In Colorado City
By Ladd Egan
2 News
KUTV
Originally broadcast February 7, 2013

(KUTV) The days of driving 30 miles to shop at the nearest grocery store will soon be over for residents of the polygamous towns on the Utah/Arizona border.  Construction has started on a new grocery store just three miles south of Colorado City, Arizona in an area known as Centennial Park, home of another polygamous group.  "We are going to fulfill a need in the community," said Mark Knudson, a Colorado City resident who has been hired to help manage the store.  Members of the fundamentalist Mormon group in Centennial Park are behind the new grocery store off of AZ Highway 389 and say they will allow anyone to shop there.  The Centennial Park group broke away from the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the mid-1980s and has prospered with a pro-business and welcoming mind-set.  The FLDS-controlled CMC Food Town, the only grocery store in Colorado City and its twin city of Hildale, Utah, abruptly closed in November.  The towns' lone hardware store and RadioShack also closed.  The stores' windows remain covered with paper.  At the time of the closing, the grocery store displayed a sign reading: "CMC is now closed. Thanks for your patronage!"  FLDS Church leader Warren Jeffs, 57, is imprisoned in Texas on convictions of sexually assaulting two underage girls.  Even while behind bars, Jeffs is said to still release edicts to his followers, including recent strict food restrictions and many believe he is behind the closing of the stores.  "I don't think anybody has any idea how powerful he is," former-FLDS member Mark Knudson said.  "They take complete control over your life."     Read more
 
 
 
 

 
 

 
 

 
Watch the video of ABC News Primetime 'The Outsiders' broadcast April 28, 2007
 
 
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