"Big Love" to Air Sacred Temple Ceremonies

If you haven't yet heard, HBO is planning to air parts of our sacred temple ceremonies. As you may have guessed, I am extraordinarily angry. Like - really, really angry. It's not so much about the sacred temple ceremony being publicized, it's more about the fact that they are purposefully trying to disrespect us. They hired an ex-Mormon to tell them all the details of what goes on in the temple. Usually producers and directors attempt (albeit the feeblest attempt) to respect most major religions without "crossing that line." Well - they just crossed a huge one. BUT - after reading this article I feel a little better.

From the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Website:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints sometimes finds itself on the receiving end of attention from Hollywood or Broadway, television series or books, and the news media. Sometimes depictions of the Church and its people are quite accurate. Sometimes the images are false or play to stereotypes. Occasionally, they are in appallingly bad taste.

As Catholics, Jews and Muslims have known for centuries, such attention is inevitable once an institution or faith group reaches a size or prominence sufficient to attract notice. Yet Latter-day Saints – sometimes known as Mormons - still wonder whether and how they should respond when news or entertainment media insensitively trivialize or misrepresent sacred beliefs or practices.

Church members are about to face that question again. Before the first season of the HBO series Big Love aired more than two years ago, the show’s creators and HBO executives assured the Church that the series wouldn’t be about Mormons. However, Internet references to Big Love indicate that more and more Mormon themes are now being woven into the show and that the characters are often unsympathetic figures who come across as narrow and self-righteous. And according to TV Guide, it now seems the show’s writers are to depict what they understand to be sacred temple ceremonies.

Certainly Church members are offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding. Last week some Church members began e-mail chains calling for cancellations of subscriptions to AOL, which, like HBO, is owned by Time Warner. Certainly such a boycott by hundreds of thousands of computer-savvy Latter-day Saints could have an economic impact on the company. Individual Latter-day Saints have the right to take such actions if they choose.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 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. As Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Robert D. Hales of the Council of the Twelve Apostles have both said recently, when expressing themselves in the public arena, Latter-day Saints should conduct themselves with dignity and thoughtfulness.

Not only is this the model that Jesus Christ taught and demonstrated in his own life, but it also reflects the reality of the strength and maturity of Church members today. As someone recently said, “This isn’t 1830, and there aren’t just six of us anymore.” In other words, with a global membership of thirteen and a half million there is no need to feel defensive when the Church is moving forward so rapidly. The Church’s strength is in its faithful members in 170-plus countries, and there is no evidence that extreme misrepresentations in the media that appeal only to a narrow audience have any long-term negative effect on the Church.


During the Mitt Romney election campaign for the presidency of the United States, commentator Lawrence O’Donnell hurled abuse at the Church in a television moment that became known among many Church members as “the O’Donnell rant.” Today, his statements are remembered only as a testament to intolerance and ignorance. They had no effect on the Church that can be measured.

When the comedy writers for South Park produced a gross portrayal of Church history, individual Church members no doubt felt uncomfortable. But once again it inflicted no perceptible or lasting damage to a church that is growing by at least a quarter of a million new members every year.

When an independent film company produced a grossly distorted version of the
Mountain Meadows Massacre two years ago, the Church ignored it. Perhaps partly as a result of that refusal to engender the controversy that the producers hoped for, the movie flopped at the box office and lost millions.

In recent months, some gay activists have barraged the media with accusations about “hateful” attitudes of Latter-day Saints in supporting Proposition 8 in California, which maintained the traditional definition of marriage. They even organized a protest march around the Salt Lake Temple. Again, the Church has refused to be goaded into a Mormons versus gays battle and has simply stated its position in tones that are reasonable and respectful. Meanwhile, missionary work and Church members in California remain as robust and vibrant as ever, and support for the Church has come from many unexpected quarters — including some former critics and other churches.

Now comes another series of Big Love, and despite earlier assurances from HBO it once again blurs the distinctions between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the show’s fictional non-Mormon characters and their practices. Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints.

If the Church allowed critics and opponents to choose the ground on which its battles are fought, it would risk being distracted from the focus and mission it has pursued successfully for nearly 180 years. Instead, the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.


Cynthia said...

Thank you, April, for posting the article from the website. I just got the email chain this morning and was feeling pretty upset about it. I did write to HBO, but will stop worrying about it.

Anonymous said...

Please don't forget to cite where you got this article from. Thanks! Love the blog!

Do you have an email address for AOL, TIME, HBO?
Here is the number for HBO Consumer Affairs (212-512-1208).
Post back if you have additional contact info for them. I'd like to send them my thoughts on this.

cynthia said...

The article came from the church website (like she mentioned in her post) www.lds.org The first headline on the website is "Church Statement on Big Love."

Here is the email that was sent to me about this whole thing:

I recieved this from my friend Mindy. I am going to forward it to my friends and family. I have some non LDS friends that I am going to forward this to and ask them if they think or feel that it is moraly right to do so please fill out this form on behalf of me and the offence it causes me personaly to see this. If they feel diferently, delete this email and know that I still charish them as my friend. I am here in Afghanistan with a people that would riot and burn down the HBO head quarters if they showed a picture of Mohamud on TV and have threatened other organizations and come through on there threats for less. Now I do not advocate any sort of correctness in there actions or advocate any LDS people doing this, and I know they wouldn't do it anyway because they truely are a peacefull people but I bring it up because it is sacred to them and while I am here fighting these people I at least have enough respect for them to take my shoes off if I go into a Mosq or to keep there holy book the Koran off the ground, and I know that some of these people genuinely are good hearted people that would die for me. Ultimatly I do this for them because I was raised properly and I know it is the right thing to do which is all I am asking of you and HBO to do the right thing.


HBO is owned by Time Warner. Send your emails, US mails, phone calls, to both companies to show HBO that we won't stand for the use of things we consider sacred on their show Big Love, which is using a replica of an endowment room and celestial room to show what happens in the ceremonies there! Remember to use language and tone befitting a follower of Christ.

HBO is owned by Time Warner:
Time Warner Inc.
One Time Warner Center
New York , NY10019-8016


If you write a letter, here are two things your want to RESPECTFULLY say in your own words to HBO:

-I believe it is wrong for HBO to publicly air portions of sacred ceremonies of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints without permission from the church and based on information given you by someone who has left the church and may harbor bad feelings toward the church and wish to do it harm.


- If you air such an episode, I will cancel my subscription to all HBO channels (Don’t make idle threats. Are you really willing to cancel? ), and will not purchase HBO DVDs or any other HBO entertainment products or packages ever again. Furthermore, I will encourage my friends and associates to do likewise.


The FCC is the government agency that regulates all broadcast and cable television. File a complaint expressing your shock and dismay at HBO treating the sacred ceremonies of any religion with such mockery and disregard, and that it is shoddy work hiring excommunicated members/enemies of church and giving them a public pulpit to hurt the church.

To File a complaint with the FCC go to:


-Choose "Broadcast (TV and Radio), Cable, and Satellite Issues" and then click "NEXT."

-Choose "Broadcast programs showing obscene, profane, and/or indecent material" then click "NEXT."

- Click on "ONLINE FORM" Fill out the form with your complaint and submit.

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden said...

Thank you for posting this article! :-)

Yes, the Gospel is going to roll forth, no matter what people try and do to stop it, but I am worried as to what they will put to air regarding our temple ceremonies. Many apostates and anti-mormons tell people what our temple ceremonies are "really" all about, but they add their own details and change things so that the ceremonies don't even closely resemble what they're supposed to be. I wouldn't be surprised if that non-member who gave HBO information about our temple ceremony has deliberately told them some half-truths and added his own versions of the temple ceremony in, just to promote that this is the stuff that we truly believe in....

Anonymous said...

"WHEN" are they airing this Episode? Everyone is talking about it but no one says WHEN it is airing? I checked the BIG LOVE Web Site and there is nothing about this epidode??? Maybe they aren't airing it after all??
What "epidode #" is it? #32 #33 #34??? That's how they are listed on their Web Site....Praying they just decided to stop the whole thing!!!

Anonymous said...

No religion that uses the name of Jesus Christ
should have secrets. Truth is - the mormon religion has many secrets and uses threats and intimidation to keep them secret. That is simply NOT anything that Jesus Christ taught.
THINK about it.

Weston Krogstadt said...

HBO thinks they are really cool and edgy dshowing the temple ceremony, but they dont even have the Mojo to show the prophet Mohammed. Please visit my blog for the details: mormonhatershow.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

The show was 100% accurate, including the Discipinary action and request to not record the action. Latter Day Saints should be pleased it was shown as such; accurately. They could have sensationalized it, or gone with rumors about what occurs in the temple.
Don't hide your light beneath a bushel.
The truth shall set you free.
Latter Day Saints soon will have nothing to be ashamed of and keep in the closet. Eventually, the concept of secrecy will be so weakened we won't have spousal abuse, child abuse, child molestation because all aspects of the church will cease teaching the silliness that allows this behavior to exist behind closed doors.
No differently than the former suicide pact the Church has now removed from the ceremony.

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden said...

Anonymous, if you really did know what is discussed in our temple ceremonies, you would know very well that we have NEVER had a suicide pact included in our ceremonies. My suspsicisions in this ex-member who supposedly told HBO what the temple was "really" was about has been confirmed, because if that's what they REALLY talk about in that episode, it is completely false.

spencer said...

There was never a "suicide pact"? No promises to disembowel yourself and slit your throat if you ever talk about your covenants? You sure you dont want to amend that statement, lying for the Lord is still lying.

spencer said...

P.S., this was pre-1990, now that part is not CURRENTLY included, and you and I both know that.

Cynthia said...

It always confuses me when people go out of their way to make fun of or try to discredit other's beliefs. It makes me wonder what is going on with their life, that makes it so that they have to do this to feel good about themselves.

And before you say that missonary work is doing that-- read what President Hinkley said about it--

Anonymous said...

Spencer - Keeping that recommend up to date are you?

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden said...

Somebody deleted a comment here, which I was just about to reply to, until it got deleted. Thankfully I saved it somewhere beforehand. The comment was:

"Aaaaaccctttually, that's not true. There was a clause in there about how we would "die first" before telling anyone (about the things we do in the temple)."

I wanted to repond by agreeing that yes, we would "die first" before telling anyone about what we do in there, because we would be keeping those promises sacred unto death. That in no wise proves that that particular phrase is in relation to a "suicide pact", for we were not promising to "kill ourselves first" in this sense. Too many anti-mormons seem to have taken this one sentence and blown it completely out of context, just like they do with practically every other doctrine the church teaches.

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden said...

Oh, and by the way Spencer: I've heard so many different versions of what was supposedly included in the "suicide pact" that I hardly believe that there was one, even if was dated in the pre-1990's when I was too young to even go in there and see for myself. I highly doubt that the church had come up with several different types of ways of killing ourselves if we revealed anything we did in the temple, and THEN have these methods changed so many times that we now have so many different versions of it being told. Your version is now the newest of many other exaggerated versions that I've heard before, and am now adding it to my list....

spencer said...

Anonymous, snide remarks really dont mean squat to me, especially when the person making them doesnt have the gall to leave a name. Bravo, go back to feeling superior again.

Raymond, its all good. You dont have to believe me, I dont care either way. Im just a stickler for accuracy. Believe as you wish as I will. I have exaggerated nothing, but continue on your journey. I hope you find what youre looking for.

April said...

Sorry - that comment was mine. Don't know why it got deleted...that's weird.

But yeah, I wasn't saying that there WAS a suicide clause, I was saying that this phrase is WHY people thought there was. I personally don't think it's a "suicide pact." Just like any other religion really - I'm sure mainstream Christians would die before denying Jesus Christ is their savior? Right?? So does that mean every Christian has a suicide pact? I guess so.

dirthead said...

Come on. Lets admit it. The truth behind Temple ceremonies is...we all play basketball in our underwear. After all, basketball IS the official church sport, and we all know our "G's" provide us super strength! That is what we call "Temple Work" isnt it?
And what about marriages? The public consumations are the best arent they?
Point is, there are alot of things that we supposedly do inside the Temple. Outsiders want to believe we are a ritualistic cult, or occult. Truth is, its all worship, and that is something they cant understand.
And until the world can just say "oh, you have different views just like anyother religion out there," I am just going to sit back and wait for the almighty to tell me its time to drink my red Kool Aid and go to sleep!!

Harry Cray said...

Spencer you are one sick puppy.

spencer said...

Hahah, I dont know why the "sick puppy" comment made me laugh, but thanks!

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden said...

@ April - Sorry I misunderstood your comment! In that case, what I wrote only verified what you had written. :-)

Anonymous said...

interesting how in the official church release, the church has to list all the times it has been "persecuted". Of course, the church doesn't own any its responsibilities in those interactions. Easier to keep being a victim.

Anonymous said...

Raymond Teodo a.k.a. was_bedeutet_jemanden-

While the pre-1990 endowment penalties speak more of what the initiate would endure BEFORE revealing certain signs or tokens— rather than an actual agreement to these penalties— the original endowment (19th century) appears to have done just that. It borrowed the penalties from Masonry(as well as a number of other things). In these the initiate agrees to have certain torturous things done to them if they revealed certain things.

They obviously were toned down later on and removed all together in 1990. This is citied in the documents coming out of the Reed Smoot hearings at the turn of the century.

Source: U.S. Senate Document 486; "Endowment Oaths and Ceremonies" in Salt Lake Tribune, February 8, 1906)

Anonymous said...


While I understand the LDS issues with the showing of the ceremony I find it odd that many feel so persecuted because of it. As someone once told me— "One man's sacred cow is another's hamburger."

We're all guilty of it. Any of you watched or read the Da Vinci Code? It was offensive to the Catholic Church and it's members but many, including Mormons, didn't think twice about watching/reading it.

And I find it truly ironic that the LDS church— which is founded on the idea that creeds of other Christian religions are "an abomination", that for years called the Catholic Church the "great and abominable Chruch of the Devil" or "whore of all the earth" and whose scripture calls all other churches the "Chruch of the Devil"— feels picked on here. I won't go into detail on the portrayal of the Christian minister in the pre-1990 Temple— but it's along the same lines.

So while I understand the sensitivity isn't it being a little hypocritical to not at least admit that the LDS Church has served up it's share of "persecution"? Or is it OK for Mormons to trash others "sacred" stuff because they consider none of it "true.

Just sayin'

Harry Cray said...

Just curious revelations - where exactly can you find reference in LDS doctrine, conference report or elsewhere any specific quote that identified the Catholic church as the great and abominable. Bruce R. McConkie doesn't count.

Robert B. said...

To Harry Cray-

Why doesn't Bruce McConkie count? Didnt he author THE definitive book that outlines Mormon Doctrine? (okay, that last part was a little sarcastic, but he was a General Authority when the book was published, meaning that he has authority over church matters wherever he finds himself geographically) Sure, he almost got himself in serious trouble over that book, but Pres. McKay didnt want to embarrass him. So the book went on to become the basis for most members doctrinal knowledge for the next 20 years, and he went on to become an apostle. The point is not that the doctrine was ever officially taught by the church (which to my knowledge it never was), just that MANY members have and still do hold the belief that the Catholic church is the great and abominable church and use that opinion to snipe at members of other faiths. Trust me, Ive heard that doctrine alluded to in many a sacrament meeting talk. I think the point is that we (as a collective people) can dish out the judgements, but aren't very good at being judged ourselves. For proof, just read some of the old journals from members of the church - in most cases many of these "saints" were anything but. They were people, imperfect, and just as intolerant about others' beliefs as the anit-mormons of the day. By the way, isn't it somewhat naive to think that others outside of our faith would care one bit about what we find sacred?

Robert B. said...

BTW, kudos to ldsrevelations for actually citing a source for his (or her) post. I for one appreciate a well-researched and cited argument.

Harry Cray said...

Just as I thought. More misinformation about church doctrine. There is big difference between personal ponderings and opinions, and those things that are said when acting as a mouthpiece. Is it really that hard to understand?

Pat Wise said...

I am Catholic and we have been in every movie in one way or another, if their was not so much secrecy and hysteria about finding out secrets you would be much better off. I like to know about lots of different faiths and LDS seems to have this lock and key thing going on. The temple looks great from the outside but hey what goes on...

Jillian said...

I watched the episode.Yes,I'm a fan,besides Dr.Who...it's something I like to watch from time to time.I know I'm not LDS,but how was it offensive?I agree,no religion should have secrets,sacred isn't the same as a secret.I thought it was handled respectfully in regards to ceremony.It was shown so that you could understand her pain,at claiming her family over her church.And that horrible conflict within her.

Anonymous said...

To Harry Cray:

A little late I know but....

Why question whether it the RC Church has been revealed as the G&AC or "whore of all the earth" or whether the broader application (all chruches) is doctrinal. Either way you're saying anyone other than Mormon's are the Church of the devil— this is clearly support by numerous statement and scriptures.

However obviously some have specifically used that label for just the Catholic church.

Bruce R. was probably the most specific GA reagrding the Roman Catholic Church as the Great & Abominable church. Others Leaders have said the same in offical church publications so really how else should they be taken.

Prophet John Taylor. Times and Seasons Vol6, No.1, pg 811 and 939.

Apostle Orson Pratt, The Seer, Vol. 2, No 4,pg. 255

Apostle Parley P. Pratt, Journal of
Discourses, Vol 3. Pg. 41.

You are LDS I assume. If you have been a member for more than 20 year you know that teaching was common in the Church from earlty days up til the Mormon Doctrine revisions in '68 ??? Why? Because it has been implicit doctrine if not canonized. If the apostles can't even tell and teach error themselves how are they supposed to do the job of policing doctrine. IMO it's the blind leading the blind and changes only happen when future leaders have benefit of hindsight. Hell, even I can do that (change to meet social correctness).

Anyway, what's the better approach. A) Mormon's think the Catholic Church is the Great and Abominable Chruch or B)they think every other church is the G&AC. Either way it's not good.

Anonymous said...

I was a faithful Mormon for 35 years. (Temple endowed and sealed, married a RM, had 4 children in 6 years...) I have no "bone to pick" with the church and am not bitter... I did not leave because it "was too hard" or there was a commandment I couldn't keep or because I was offended by someone. I left because I became more and more aware that it was not true, at least not to me.

Years of prayer and study of the scriptures and my husband being a Bishop and all of that... It all just started to become more and more apparent that the church isn't what it said it was. There were too many holes, too many lies... I'm sad to say that because it will hurt (and offend) too many of you, but that's the way it was. My husband and two children that were 12+ at the time all started having similar questions and concerns about the same time. DH and I redoubled our efforts in the local ward and in temple work. It all just got worse and worse until we finally left. I promise you- leaving the LDS culture and dealing with the hatred and fallout that came from that decision- was way worse and "harder" than staying in. It was one of the hardest things we have ever done.

All that to say- I did temple work before the blood oathes were removed. I remember being horrified by it (no internet to warn me of it before I went through) and that part never got easier. I'll admit now that I never understood why God would make me promise that. I also never understood milk before meat or why things were kept "Sacred" (not secret!) I mean, talking about something doesn't make it any less sacred. I now believe it was just another way to control people. If hubby and I had felt like it was okay to talk about how we felt about temple (instead of the obligatory "It's so special and wonderful") I think we may have left much earlier. I know others that feel the same way.

But the Big Love scene was perfect to the letter. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. I mean, at least if it had been wrong you could dismiss it and say, "No, that's not what goes on." But, unless you want to lie, you have to admit that yes- we wear that and say that and do that. Say what you want about context and whatnot- but the whole thing looks so ridiculous that most of those outside of the church didn't believe it was true, anyway. People I have talked to were SHOCKED that HBO didn't make it up and sensationalize it.

I now belong to a very loving, very open and gracious community of people that worship Jesus. There is no "prophet" that speaks for God- God speaks for Himself, especially through the Bible. I am freer, full of more love, grace and hope and happier than I ever was as an LDS. I live a holier life than I did then- and it's so much easier to do so. I hope all of my friends and "brothers and sisters" around the world will come to that place as well.

Anonymous said...

I came here, months after the last comments were made, because I remembered that Big Love had done this episode, but I never actually heard if the episode aired and if it aired what it said it would air. Luckily that answer has come, albeit much discussion.

To me, it is a shame Big Love showed what they did, simply out of the fact that it was disrespectful to the wishes of our church. It's a little silly to expect members of the church to be fine upon hearing, "Don't whine, they showed it accurately! Aren't you glad? It could have been worse!" Simply because it was professionally written and filmed doesn't mean it is still a respectable thing to do.

Yes, the church members over the years (and now) have attacked other churches in various (and sometimes unintentional) ways, but that is the point of an evangelical church, to bring others to the truth of the church through proselyting. And one part of that is helping others see the differences between what potentially is the right and the wrong of any one church. Mormons are expected to respect other people's rights to worship, but along the way we are expected to share the gospel and point out the truth in ours compared to others in a respectful manner. And sadly there are only a few who know how to balance those two things.

As for the last comment, and many others I have read, it is hard to live with a testimony in the church with a questionable mind. There are just so many things that don't add up, and so many areas of the church, policy, and doctrine that aren't explained fully. (This was one of the great difficulties of the apostles in the New Testament, and of today.. keeping the members up to date and the doctrine pure. Hence the missions in the NT.) The promise the Lord has given us is James 1:5-6 “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally; and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering...” Often times this scripture gets washed away with the doubt that God won't actually do this for me. But, once we gain a testimony of the Lord's prophet, Joseph Smith, then no matter what discrepancies we find within the church, and the members of the church, they are simply marginal notes in the book of our life.

But we should have no doubt about this: The Lord will give us the answer we seek. Every day, in every country there are people choosing to put their faith in the answer the Lord gives them. And with that divine answer we marginalize the inconsistencies until further clarification comes. The clarification ought to never come before our faith.


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