Bishop Hugh Benson of the Church of Latter-Day Saints (Sunbury ward) says the new TLC “reality” show, Sister Wives, is anything but real. As reported in the Daily Item (10/3/2010), Benson says:
“There are fundamentalist groups that broke off, maybe, from the original church, who still practice polygamy. It’s clearly not part of the mainstream Mormon church, and hasn’t been for over 100 years.” The official position of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is that its members must obey the civil law of the country they live in. If a member was found to be invoved in a polygamous arrangement, “they would be excommunicated,” according to Benson.
While the church officials realize that people will confuse these splinter groups who continue to live in plural marriages with the modern Mormons, the fact of the matter is, the Valley Mormons say, the practice has long been abandoned. They say that “Sister Wives” may be providing the latest in “shock value,” and the Bishop did express some concerns that people will think that these fundamentalists portray the mainstream church’s values. But evidently that was happening even before the “Sister Wives” show came along. Some people continue to believe that mainstream Mormons practice polygamy. When these situations crop up, Benson said. “We just have to correct them.”
Kody Brown is the 42 year old husband on the show who already has 3 wives and 13 children, and is considering marrying a 4th woman. It’s also been reported that the Lehi Police Department in Utah is investigating Kody for felony bigamy. The Brown family sent a statement to TMZ expressing disappointment over the investigation, but said: ” when we decided to do this show, we knew there would be risks. But for the sake of our family, and most importantly, our kids, we felt it was a risk worth taking.”
What risk? Kody Brown has also said that he is only legally married to his 39 year old first wife, Meri. If that’s the case, maybe they should change the title to “Kody, His Wife and Concubines” or “Sister Mistresses.” There might be a little bit more reality in that. Is it really polyamory and not polygamy?
Kody and Meri have been married 20 years and have one 14-year-old daughter, Mariah. The other ladies who share their home are Janelle (age 40), with whom Kody has 6 children. Janelle has been with Kody and Meri for 17 years. Christine (age 37) has been with Kody, Meri and Janelle for 16 years and is the mother of 5 of Kody’s children. Christine is also pregnant. Robyn (age 31) may be joining the family and, if so, will bring along her 3 children from a prior marriage.
The Daily Item – Reality show unreal, Mormons say (10/3/10)
TMZ: Polygamous Family: TV Show is worth the risk (9/28/10)
People.com: Meet the Polygamous Family of TLC’s Sister Wives (9/8/10)