The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Is ‘Appalled’ at the TV Series
An upcoming episode of “Big Love,” which chronicles the lives of a fictional polygamist family, is reported to be depicting an endowment ceremony, one of the most sacred rituals of the Mormon Church.
“It now seems the show’s writers are to depict what they understand to be sacred temple ceremonies,” read a statement from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. “Certainly church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding.”
The statement says that before the first season of “Big Love” aired more than two years ago, HBO executives promised the church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormonism.
Big Love in 4 Minutes (HBO)
But the church argues that “Mormon themes are now being woven into the show” and that Mormon characters are often “unsympathetic figures” who are “narrow and self-righteous.”
Just days before the third season of “Big Love” premiered last January, the creators of the show told ABCNews.com about their continued efforts to make the show as realistic as possible for viewers, especially on the heels of the April 2007 raid of a Texas polygamist sect.
“We began to write the season in advance of the raid in Texas,” said Mark Olsen, co-creator of the series. Olsen said that the raid occurred during last year’s writers’ strike, and so when the staff returned they got right to work.
“We had to make the series relevant,” said Olsen. “We couldn’t have this season fail to acknowledge the events that had transpired in these characters’ lives.”
“It would be like ‘Sex and the City’ not acknowledging that the Twin Towers were not there anymore,” he said.
In the season premiere of “Big Love,” scheduled to air Sunday, Jan. 18, at 9 p.m. EST, Roman, the prophet of the fictional Juniper Creek ranch, is up on charges similar to those that Warren Jeffs, the prophet or leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, faced last year.
And the Roman-Jeffs similarity is only the beginning, said Olsen and Scheffer, who said that they did the research for the show themselves without full-time consultants reading everything they find about the subject.
“We’re huge fans of anything related to research and accuracy,” said Olsen. “When we started out it was a little difficult and we had to dig deep [polygamy] wasn’t exactly on the front pages.”
“These days we just have to turn on the news,” he said.
During the Texas raid much attention was paid to what Olsen refers to as the “robotic” nature of the polygamist women. Figuring out how to work that into the show has been imperative, the creators said.
“I have to say truthfully we found [the FLDS women] extremely disturbing,” said Olsen. “The robotic kind of look and aspect to it was disturbing.”
“We brought forward a new character a woman named Jodean to play that role,” he said. “She mutely nods her head in the first episode.”
“And as creators of the show we’re watching her and sort of exploring what we think of these women are they credible or are they brainwashed?” said Olsen.
FLDS vs the Mormon Church
Theologically, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) is a sect of Mormonism. Like most other sects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), it came into being when the Mormon church decided to reject polygamy. Unlike in Christianity, in Mormon theology God can and does change his mind and communicates those changes — in which he often contradicts his previous viewpoints — to the leaders of the LDS Church.
However, Joseph Smith — founder of the LDS Church — had been quite adamant about the importance of polygamy to one’s salvation:
Polygamy was, in fact, one of the most sacred credos of Joseph’s church – a tenet important enough to be canonized for the ages as Section 132 of The Doctrine and Convenants, on of Mormonism’s primary scriptural texts.
The revered prophet described plural marriage as part of “the most holy and important doctrine ever revealed to man on earth” and taught that a man needed at least three wives to attain the “fullness of exaltation” in the afterlife. He warned that God had explicitly commanded that “all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same … and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.”
Fundamentalist Mormons also believe in continuing revelation, but not at the cost of earlier revelations. Hence the doctrines and practices of Mormon Fundamentalists are closer to those of the original Mormon Church than are the doctrines and practices of today’s Mormon Church.
The Temple Ceremony
While the LDS Church attempts to distance itself from its various sects and splinter groups, Mormonism has always portrayed itself as the purest form of Christianity. Joseph Smith — whose writings, including plagiarized material which he simply copied from the Bible, became the LDS church’s scriptures — attempted to explain the differences and contradictions between Mormonism and Christianity by claiming that the Mormon Church represented a ‘restored’ Christianity, in which truths allegedly previously lost (accidentally or on purpose) had been restored.
Christians point out that this does not wash. Since Mormonism rejects and/or changes various essential doctrines of Christianity — those key teachings that make Christianity Christian, and not something else — Christians rightfully refer to the Mormon Church as, theologically, a cult of Christianity. Essentially the fact that the LDS church’s name includes the name ‘Jesus Christ’ is as meaningless as slapping the name ‘Rolex’ on $20 watch.
Among Mormonism’s many unbiblical teachings and practices is the so-called Temple Ceremony.
Scattered throughout the United States and in many countries around the world stand the majestic Mormon temples. These huge structures are believed by many to be similar to church buildings common to Bible-believing Christians; however, what goes on inside does not even closely resemble a Christian worship service.
Mormon temples are used for baptisms for the dead and what is known as “endowment ceremonies” for both the living and the dead. Vicarious baptisms for the dead comprise a great majority of the activity behind temple doors. Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie explained the endowment ceremony as “certain special, spiritual blessings given worthy and faithful saints in the temples…because in and through them the recipients are endowed with power from on high” (Mormon Doctrine, pg. 226-227). Also performed in the temple are marriages which Mormons feel will last for “time and eternity.” Mormon families can also be “sealed” together with the hope that, following this life, they will be reunited as a family unit in eternity.
While the Mormon Church leaders insist temple ceremonies resemble those of the ancient temple in Jerusalem, the fact of the matter is nothing could be further from the truth. There is not one shred of evidence to support the notion that the participants in Jerusalem ever made blood-oaths vowing to keep the ceremony a secret or performed marriages or baptisms for the dead in the temple. Nor were participants compelled to wear sacred garments 24 hours a day. Clearly this is further proof that the Mormon Church is not at all a restoration of true Christianity as it claims.
The Bible teaches temple buildings are no longer necessary since the individual believer is himself a “temple of the living God” (2 Cor. 6:16).
“Big Love” network apologizes to Mormons — but show will air as planned
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – HBO, the network behind television polygamy drama “Big Love,” apologized on Tuesday for any offense to Mormons in a depiction of a sacred ritual but made clear it would air the controversial episode as planned.
The HBO network’s program about a non-Mormon polygamous family has stirred up a hornet’s nest of complaints over an episode to be broadcast on Sunday showing its version of an endowment ceremony within a Mormon temple.
It is thought to be the first time the ritual, in which participants move to a higher level of understanding of their religion, will be shown on TV.
The Church refrained from calling for a boycott of HBO, or sister companies owned by corporate parent Time Warner Inc, such as Internet service provider AOL. But the Church did recognize that individual members might do so.
“Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding,” LDS said in a statement on Monday.
“Individual Latter-day Saints have the right to take such actions if they choose. The Church … as an institution does not call for boycotts. Such a step would simply generate the kind of controversy that the media loves and in the end would increase audiences for the series,” it added.