When Hollywood Bullies Mormons

hollywoodAn upcoming HBO “Big Love” episode is slated to depict a re-creation of a Latter-day Saint (Mormon) temple ceremony. This is extremely distressing to the faithful LDS community, who understandably feel pain that something very sacred to them is to be disrespectfully paraded in public, and misrepresented by “ex-Mormon consultants”.

I enjoyed reading Bryce’s eloquent post over at Temple Study today. Among many great points, he included a timeless quote from the late LDS President Brigham Young (1801-1877):

Every time you kick ‘Mormonism’, you kick it upstairs; you never kick it downstairs.  – B. Young

This statement has proved true. Bryce points out the positive perspective one can take whenever there is negative attention or media hoopla. Certainly, it is not the first time LDS belief and practices have been singled out and mocked, and it won’t be the last. But, the church not only survives, it thrives and continues to grow globally.

The HBO show “Big Love” depicts a modernized fictional polygamous family. Although Mormons are not polygamists, and originally the writers and production team stated they were not portraying Mormons, the show has progressively blurred the line between its characters and Mormonism. The program’s Executive Producer is actor Tom Hanks. My initial reaction was simply: “Tom! Whatssup?! I thought we had moved past this, and made amends!”

I have the distinct impression that “Big Love” was designed to promote Big Hate. It certainly contributes to Hollywood’s ongoing LDS/Mormon defamation agenda, heightened most recently by the California “Marriage War” [and if you don’t believe there is an agenda, just review some of the ’09 Academy Award acceptance speaches, or the September Dawn travesty, for starters]. Hanks is only one among many vocal celebrity-turned-critics of Mormonism. Earlier, he went so far as to accuse members “anti-American” because of their pro-Prop. 8 stance [note he didn’t try pulling that comment on the millions of other members of major denominations who also supported Prop 8 and traditional marriage]. Later on, Tom publicly apologized. I was more than happy to accept and move on. However, this latest news tends to send a clear message that Hanks apology was superficial, and he is still waging a smear campaign against Mormons. It appears his latest approach is to produce BL episodes that will blatantly offend members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as misrepresent their sacred beliefs and breed negative sentiment towards Mormons. As the official church statement proclaims, at best, it is “appallingly bad taste“.

And, at worst, it is ugly defamation.

As frustrating as it is to watch pompous Hollywood “elite” misuse their talents, money & position to slander a religious group, it is ultimately the public themselves who must choose to be a part of the problem or the solution. bag_of_moneyHollywood has learned to live and breathe off the sensational and the titilating, because historically, it SELLS. Thus, to effect change, people must be willing to stop BUYING. It’s simple. We choose not to see a movie. We turn off the TV, or change the channel. If a program receives low ratings, Hollywood usually switches the subject. In this particular case, many people not of the LDS faith must also rise to the occasion of boycotting the show. Because frankly, there may not be that many active LDS who subscribe to HBO in the first place [A network notorious for disturbing, profane and pornographic programming, all of which Mormons shun]

Bryce concluded his article with this thought:

Members of the Church should not get angry at these individuals, write bitter mail, or make a scene…  That is precisely what they are looking for.  If you pay attention to a temper tantrum, it will only provoke more of the same.

temper_tantrumOverall, I agree with Bryce. As a Mom I certainly relate to the temper-tantrum analogy. However, when my two year old was having a full-blown temper tantrum, and I just ignored it, the child inevitibly escalated to kicking, hitting and biting to get noticed. And, I can assure you, I didn’t just stand there passively letting myself get pummeled! Obviously, it is not appropriate [nor effective] to start kicking, hitting and biting the offending child in return – but it IS appropriate to set limits.

The Resurrected Christ

Many Latter-day Saints are choosing to speak up for themselves [and leaders encourage], to clearly define who we are, explain our true beliefs including  information regarding  temple worship. We blog, and participate in intelligent, respectful conversations. We share beautiful music, create YouTube videos, and share our official websites, including geneology services.

Along with freely sharing what brings us the greatest joy, we solemly defend our God-given right to worship how, what & where we may, without fear of recrimination, intimidation, mockery or slander.

mormon_familyDespite the unjust treatment of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past 180 years, members choose to “rise above” it. Our gospel message to the world is that we are true Christians in both word and in deed. We are a people who operate on the foundational principles of brotherly love, kindness, and global service. We treasure our families, give back to our communities and are proud to defend our country. We preach the Gospel of Peace. And therefore, just like Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith, unwittingly become an easy target for hypocrites and bullies.

Such bullying is shameful. However, the forces that surround our Savior’s holy work will always be far greater than any force which tries to stop it. (2Kings 6:16)

Including Hollywood!

“…the Church itself will determine its own course as it continues to preach the restored gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world.”

– M. Russell Ballard, The Publicity Dilemma, Mormon Newsroom


  1. Why is it wrong to depict the religious ceremonies of the LDS (Mormon) Church?

    Religious ceremonies of a number of other religions have been depicted in movies and television for many years. Why should Mormon ceremonies be excluded from depiction?


    1. Steve – you bring up a valid question, and your point is well taken. Many ceremonies of religious groups have been depicted in the media over the years. Mormons certainly don’t have an exclusive on Hollywood misrepresentation. I think paraphrasing the official church statement would be very fair:

      “Sometimes depictions of [any church] and its people are quite accurate. Sometimes the images are false or play to stereotypes. Occasionally, they are in appallingly bad taste…Certainly [any religious affiliation can be] offended when their most sacred practices are misrepresented or presented without context or understanding.”

      Perhaps we should now rephrase your question to: “Why is it [right] to depict the [most private and sacred] religious ceremonies of [any] church?”


  2. I liked your take on the subject. Great thoughts! It’s really unfortunate what HBO is doing, but doesn’t surprise me. We’ll probably see more of this kind of hatred in the years to come. But the Church will continue to grow strong despite what they do. President Boyd K. Packer once wrote: “Some things concerning the temple ordinances have been published by apostates who seek to injure or destroy the Church. Their accounts do not assist understanding, partly because the accounts are usually distorted. In any case the temple ordinances cannot be understood without the feeling and the spiritual presence that surrounds them in the temple. They must make very dull reading indeed for the enemy who has no right to the Spirit of the Lord” (The Holy Temple, 30).


  3. I find this all so sad, but such a great evidence that we are in the last days. I like the example given of a child’s temper tantrum. It is true to ignore their behavior. It is true that their behavior gets worse and start kicking and screaming. However it is true that if you continue to step over them, ignore their behavior and leave the room, the child will eventually stop. If anyone remembers the Ed Decker anti mormon days, temple wear has been filmed many times before. I just feel really bad for the ones that share such sacred information with Hollywood. These are the individuals that will need to answer to the Savior of such behavior. Unfortunate for sure.


  4. I had chosen not to comment regarding this issue up until now. One thing that I have noticed about those who talk about the temple ceremony, they reap what they sow.


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