Mormon Temples and HBO’s Big Love

Throughout history, the Lord has commanded His people to build temples. Temples are literally houses of the Lord. They are holy places of worship where individuals make sacred promises with God. Faithful members of the LDS Church go there often to draw closer to God and to feel his power in their lives in greater abundance. I have been visiting the temple since I was 12.

Because we consider our temples sacred, we require that members of the church prepare themselves to receive the instruction and ritualized ceremony that is found within the walls. Casual members of the church and the general public may visit the temple grounds and the visitor’s centers, but admission is reserved only for those who meet the requirements.

That is why we are concerned that HBO’s Big Love has decided to air an episode of the show in which the temple ceremonies are depicted. We do not feel that the producers can treat the subject with respect that the sacred nature of the temple deserves. Besides, the context of the show is polygamous, which members of the LDS Church have not been for over a hundred years.

Official church response

The LDS Church as an institution has decided to stay out of the dialog other than to present a commentary in the Newsroom that discusses the whole idea of responding to controversy. In short, they have left it up to individual members to decide how they would like to respond. Some have suggested a boycott of AOL, which, like HBO is owned by Time-Warner.

Besides the fact that AOL is already a dying entity, such boycotts seem silly to me. I’m much more inclined to do something that turns this into a missionary opportunity. Thus I joined a Facebook group that is really nothing more than making a statement reminding my Facebook friends that I am LDS, that I am aware of the controversy, and that temples are sacred to me.

Visit the Newsroom to read the Church’s official statement on an upcoming episode of HBO’s Big Love that is said to depict temple ceremonies. You can also read what Larry Richman, director of Church Publications and Media Project Office had to say about it on his blog, LDS Media Talk. If you would like to learn more, watch the video below that explains why we build temples.

For additional information:

1. See Bryce Haymond’s Temple Study blog
2. Statement from HBO on Mormon Chronicles
3. Mormon Soprano on Hollywood Bullies
4. Big discussion over at Feminist Mormon Housewives
5. And another at Mormon Mentality

6 comments
Crusty
Crusty

It seems to me that there's nothing to defend here. How does HBO's depiction of a group of people (not Mormons) and their temple ceremonies affect your relationship with God or your sacred perception of the temple? I've always thought that the purpose of not talking about the temple ceremony was to preserve the sacred nature of the temple ceremony for the individual. It's not secret; anyone can do a little research and find out what is said in the temple ceremonies. It's sacred...meaning you shouldn't talk about it, because it will affect your sacred perception of the temple ordinances.Nobody can affect your relationship with God, as long as you don't them affect you. Just forget about it. What do you care if THEY depict what happens in a temple ceremony? If anything, you feel bad for them that it may affect THEIR sacred perception of the temple ceremonies (not yours). Also, this may give you a chance to explain it to friends, when they ask, "Do you really do THAT in the temple?"Let people mock the temple ceremony, defile garments, or whatever they want to do. It shouldn't affect you and your relationship with God, the temple, or your garments.I would bet, even though many members are dropping their subscription to HBO and its affiliates, many others are looking online to find a clip of how they mock the temple ceremony, just so they can say, "oh my...I can't believe they showed THAT!" They're probably getting much higher ratings, mostly from Mormons wanting to take a peek...just to see if they really showed sacred parts of the ceremony.The fact that we're all talking about it is the best thing that could happen to HBO. It's priceless advertising.

S.Faux
S.Faux

Tim,You might be interested in my recent post:"Exposing sacred temple practice violates professional standards."

Peripheral Visionary
Peripheral Visionary

"Big Love" has, for better or for worse, descended into a morass of gross stereotyping trying to pass itself off as "authentic" using "compelling drama" as a front.And it won't be the first time for HBO. On the contrary, working stereotypes for ratings is the business HBO has been in for years; first "The Sopranos" with its depictions of Italian-Americans as gangsters and Jersey girls, then "The Wire" with its depictions of blacks as crack dealers and drug addicts, and now "Big Love" with its depictions of Mormons as clannish and cultish.HBO and its defenders have been using "authenticity" as a shield against the steady stream of complaints they have received--but to be frank, it is the stereotypes themselves which have come to be mistaken for authenticity. Blacks living in projects and addicted to crack--why, every white person from the suburbs "knows" that that's just what the black community is like, it must therefore be "authentic". And it has profanity and complex characters--how closer to "reality" can you get?The story here, as I see it, is not in HBO's refusal to treat the Church, and its sacred ceremonies, with respect--insensitive depictions of temple ceremonies have been in anti-Mormon propaganda for over a century. The story is how HBO has made a business of confirming white middle America's stereotypes of ethnic and religious minorities.

S.Faux
S.Faux

I do not subscribe to HBO, but if I did, then I would drop it.Although the producers of the program say they will be respectful, they do not seem to understand that public display of temple practices is BEING disrespectful.LDS temple practices are not secret, and so I suspect this program will come, go, and eventually disappear.

In The Doghouse
In The Doghouse

I see this as a great opportunity to teach. Thank you for teaching.