Conservatives are supposedly rallying “to gin up a new threat to the family. They’ve found it in Big Love,” the TV show about polygamy reports Slate.

'Big Love' the 'Hollywood fantasy' versionMeanwhile those who really know about polygamist groups, Mormons and their practices wonder about the inaccuracies contained within the controversial HBO show.

The New York Times gathered together both current and former polygamist wives to weigh in with their comments about “Big Love.”

While active polygamists sought to support the series portrayal of seemingly middle-class polygamy in suburbia others that oppose the practice dismissed the show as a “Hollywood fantasy for men.”

“‘Big Love’ skims the surface of the intense dynamics in plural families. Their isolation, secrecy, and complicated logistics make them breeding grounds for forced marriage, underage brides,” said Vicky Prunty.

Prunty is the co-director of Tapestry Against Polygamy, a non-profit organization dedicated to the purpose of exposing polygamy and helping people to leave polygamist groups.

The Mormon Church no long practices polygamy and has denounced the HBO series.

An interesting detail probably purposely left out of Big Love’s bedroom scenes is the “holy underwear” worn by both Mormons and polygamists. Though the series shows plenty of skin viewers never get a glimpse of these garments.

“Mormons have one style, polygamists have another, but neither would be caught dead – literally – without some form of the knee length, short-sleeved white garments worn to remind them of the sacred’ covenants they’ve made,” says a reader at, who later adds “Perhaps their omission in the series is due to the intense sacredness most Mormons attribute to these garments. Many would be mortified, and expect me to burn in hell for even mentioning them.”

The same reader had some much more serious first-hand experience with polygamists that reflected the dilemma often posed by the practice to child protection authorities.

“I also volunteered at the local juvenile detention center, where underage girls from polygamist families frequently stayed. It seems many of these girls would rather run away from home than marry their elderly uncle or other family member, and, not having anywhere else to go, the authorities would find the girls wandering Salt Lake City. You can’t just leave a 14-year-old out on the streets, so they would be sent to the detention center where they waited for their legal guardians, their polygamist mothers, to come claim them. For legal reasons, the authorities had no choice but to send them right back to the same communities they were fleeing” she said.

There are about 50,000 polygamists in North America. Most are located within the states of Utah, Arizona and Monatana. A large contingent also exists in Canadian British Columbia.

But the largest segment of polygamists worldwide is amongst Arab, Muslim and African countries where the practice is relatively commonplace.

For example, In Uganda authorities are concerned about proposed paternity leave because “it would be abused and would lead to loss of work hours especially in the case of polygamous men” reports New Vision.

Ironically, pro-polygamists and anti-polygamists frequently quote the bible to support their positions.

Pro-polygamist correctly state that many of the great men lionized within the bible had more than one wife.

“Abraham, David, Jacob and Solomon were all favored by God and were all polygamists,” law professor Jonathan Turley told Slate.

“Favored? Look what polygamy did for them. Sarah told Abraham to sleep with her servant. When the servant got pregnant and came to despise Sarah, Sarah kicked her out. Rachel and Leah fought over Jacob, who ended up stripping his eldest son of his birthright for sleeping with Jacob’s concubine. David got rid of Bathsheba’s husband by ordering troops to betray him in battle. Promiscuity had the first word, but jealousy always had the last,” observes William Saletan writing for Slate.

It seems that “Big Love” didn’t do the men of the bible much good. And according to its critics it isn’t doing that well for the women caught within its web today.

Seminal soul singer James Brown once sang “It’s a man’s world,” well it certainly is within polygamist groups. Men made and continue to make the rules so it’s no big surprise that “Big Love” seems to favor them.


3 comments untill now

  1. Mormons may “no longer practice polygamy”, but if you read from the Doctrine and the Covenants(
    ) section 132 any Mormon who rejects polygamy will be damned, vs 4. How can they not believe in polygamy yet their scriptures say they will be damned if they don’t practice it. Seems pretty mixed up to me.

  2. Actually, I am Mormon, LDS and most longtime members believe that they will practice polygamy in the afterlife. The church has done nothing to discourage that belief. I think that it is safe to say that yes, polygamy is still part of Mormon doctrine although it is no longer practiced by living members of the LDS in good standing.

  3. childbride @ 2006-04-08 18:49

    This isn’t an academic debate.

    As I speak preteen girls are being betrothed to middle-aged men.

    As I speak children are being born with serious birth defects thanks to incest.

    As I speak some deformed baby is destined for an unmarked grave in the Arizona desert.