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HBO v LDS: ‘Big Love’ to show fragment of boring religious ceremony

Trouble brewing.

HBO’s Depiction Of Mormon Ceremony Upsets Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Is ‘Appalled’ at the TV Series

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is angry over an episode of HBO’s hit series “Big Love” that the church says is in “appallingly bad taste.”

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.

HBO has apologised.

“Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church, but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology,” read the statement.

It’s one of those apologies like “Sorry you got mad” or “Sorry you’re so touchy.” Except in this case, it’s “Sorry, but we’re running the episode anyway.”

Does it seem strange that the LDS Church is objecting to people knowing the details of ceremonies which, according to them, contain the truly great things that all people need to know for salvation? Okay, that’s not really fair. They just want people to see the temple ceremony with the appropriate “context”, by which they mean the kind of context where you join the church and pay them lots of money over years and years. That kind of context.

Here’s the issue: the LDS Church has (don’t take this wrong) occult practices. I don’t mean ‘occult’ as in ‘satanic’ like people sometimes do. I mean ‘occult’ in an earlier sense: ‘occult’ meaning ‘hidden’. Many 19th century movements, religious and otherwise, taught that the really great truths were held in reserve for those who were initiated into the mysteries. The Masons and the Rosicrucians, the Gnostics and the Theosophists, all used this strategy. Joseph Smith plumped for it too in later years, for better or worse. But of course, secret knowledge has a way of getting leaked in the 21st century. How reasonable is it to expect the mysteries to stay hidden in the Information Age?

I understand the Mormons wanting to control their Endowment ceremony. After all, they wrote it. But it’s not reasonable to expect everyone else to share their concern.


  1. Tom Hanks puts this brouhaha into perspective (and waxes prophetic) at the 3rd season premiere of Big Love:

    “There’s gonna be lies, and secrets, and discoveries, and problems. Television!”

  2. I can’t wait to watch this with Morgen. She is always asking about this so now she gets to watch.

  3. The Church isn’t nearly as upset as some people like to make it seem. The only official response it made basically told Mormons not to worry about it too much, and just “conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness.”

  4. Gotta say, that shows a lot more class than the litigious behaviour of the Scientologists. On the other hand, I don’t know of any attempts by Scientologists to influence marriage policy, so maybe it’s a wash.

  5. Big Love is a fictional show. Probably the temple ceremony will be fictional too.

  6. I saw the episode last night, and it was not disrespectful from what I could tell (ritualistic, yes). I can’t say whether it was accurate… Would love to hear what you guys think.

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