HBO's "Big Love" airs tonight, I believe. If anyone has HBO and
catches the program, let us know how the show goes.
I understand that some wards have had statements read regarding this
show in sacrament meeting. Here is the church's news release on the
Church Responds to Questions on TV Series
6 March 2006
Over the past few weeks, Church Public Affairs has received numerous
calls from newspaper, magazine and TV entertainment writers about a
new television series called "Big Love." Set in a modern suburb of
Salt Lake City, the main character keeps up a deceptive life in a
fringe world of polygamy with his three wives and households.=20
Journalists want to know what the Church thinks of the program, the
subject matter and HBO's decision to promote it.
In responding, Church spokesmen have made three major points:
1. Concern for abuse victims
The Church has long been concerned about the illegal practice of
polygamy in some communities, and in particular about persistent
reports of emotional and physical child and wife abuse emanating from
them. It will be regrettable if this program, by making polygamy the
subject of entertainment, minimizes the seriousness of that problem
and adds to the suffering of abuse victims.
2. Confusion over the continued practice of polygamy
The central characters of "Big Love" are not "Mormons," or, more
properly termed, Latter-day Saints. HBO has said the script makes it
clear that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
don't practice polygamy. Still, placing the series in Salt Lake City,
the international headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints is enough to blur the line between the modern Church
and the program's subject matter and to reinforce old and
Polygamy was officially discontinued by The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints in 1890. Any Church member adopting the practice
today is excommunicated. Groups that continue the practice in Utah
and elsewhere have no association whatever with The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints. Most of their practitioners have never
been among its members.
Unfortunately, this distinction is often lost on members of the public
and even on some senior journalists. When ABC network's Prime Time
recently aired a program focused on the secretive polygamous community
of Colorado City, the reporter repeatedly referred to members of the
community as "Mormon polygamists." In response, the Church points to
the Associated Press style guide for journalists that states: "The
term 'Mormon' is not properly applied to the other ... churches that
resulted from the split after [Joseph] Smith's death." In other words,
polygamous communities should never be referred to as "Mormon"
polygamists or "Mormon" fundamentalists.
3. Concern over the moral standards of television entertainment
Despite its popularity with some, much of today's television
entertainment shows an unhealthy preoccupation with sex, coarse humor
and foul language. "Big Love," like so much other television
programming, is essentially lazy and indulgent entertainment that does
nothing for our society and will never nourish great minds. Parents
who are casual about their viewing habits ought not to be surprised if
teaching moral choices and civic values to their children becomes
harder as a result.
For that reason and others, Church leaders have consistently cautioned
against such entertainment, joining with other religious, education
and government leaders in inviting individuals and families to follow
a higher road of decency, self-discipline and integrity.