By Amanda Awanjo and Krystal Miller
“Big Love”, a television show about the polygamous relationships of a fundamentalist Mormon family, has been renewed for a fourth season and will premiere the new season on January 10, 2010. By the way, polygamy was abandoned officially by the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in 1892. Mormonism is highly represented in the media from court cases to television melodramas, on whether this representation is accurate Green Knight Amy Jackson says, “The show ‘Big Love’ is offensive, I don’t know any Mormons who act like that.” Many relate Mormonism to long homely dresses, long beards, and borderline religious fanaticism. In our increasingly liberal and rapidly modernizing society, there is serious unease concerning any connections to an archaic past that stifled many groups that have fought for their freedom and continue this fight.
Despite the attempts from the leaders of the LDS church to move the public opinion of the church to a positive light, the stigma of polygamy hangs hard and unflinching over the Mormon religion. With the 2008 case in Texas where four hundred children were taken from their parents on the suspicion of child abuse, after a terrified child called the police station asking to be saved from the much older husband, any hopes toward open normalcy in the eyes of the public for Mormons were dashed. In the fight to destroy the big bad church, the Mormon Church was demonized and linked to the support of polygamy even though the Mormon Church outlawed polygamy and excommunicates those followers believed to participate in the practice. The Mormon Church continues unsuccessfully to try distance itself from this fundamentalist practice.
A section of Christianity, Mormonism is not that far from the more mainstream forms of Christianity. Of the differences, Jackson can count them on one hand. Mormons believe in the Christian God but have slightly differing views on the afterlife. “People think we’re hiding things, but we’re not,” says Jackson. “They think we do strange things. Maybe in the past but, it’s not true anymore.” Very few see Mormonism as a part of mainstream Christianity. Mormonism is one of the most conservative sects of Christianity, with its traditions seeming more and more out of place.
In a world that is moving swiftly moving towards a future that many do not see as having the rules and regulations binding those in religion as having any basis in their lives, Mormonism is becoming less and less attainable to our society. Despite the big obscure questions of where our society will be in ten years, and how religion will fit into our constantly modernizing world, one fact that remains is that our country holds the freedom to express oneself to be a natural and automatic right. It is important to remember that from the outside looking in religious traditions and pomp may appear alien and strange. But for those looking out into the world around them, the same rule applies.