'Big Love' episode part of larger debate over Hollywood and religion

Salt Lake City, USA - Since HBO aired the episode of “Big Love” depicting temple ceremonies of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, people are sharing with us their reviews. Most of the following comments were posted by people identifying themselves as “non-Mormon.”

“This episode was an unequivocal declaration of war by Hollywood against the Mormon Church, and its all about Prop 8.”

“After living in Utah for almost 20 years, then watching the Big Love series on HBO, I've finally started to like Mormons a little.”

“It did not come across as distasteful or anti-Mormon, but I do believe that depicting a scene of sacred religious practices in this way was not the kindest of actions.”

(You can read the comments in their entirety in my abc4.com blog. And don’t forget to add your own observations to our discussion.)

People of other faiths note they’ve been targets of Hollywood as well. They tend to see the context of the “Big Love” controversy in the larger question of how Hollywood treats religion.

Catholics certainly have a grievance against “The Da Vinci Code” and are sure to be equally upset when “Angels and Demons” – another Ron Howard movie adaptation of a Dan Brown book – is released this spring.

The Reverend Michael Mayor of All Saints Episcopal Church on Foothill Drive watched the Sunday night episode of “Big Love”. He believes the scenes of the L.D.S. temple rites may have been mechanically correct, but were spiritually void. “That’s what the word profane means - taking something sacred and reducing it." Reverend Mayor explained, "It’s not about intention. It’s about stripping away the sacred from something and leaving it ordinary.”

The Reverend said even the apology issued by HBO showed that Hollywood doesn’t get it. “I have no reason to believe it wasn’t a genuine, heart-felt apology. They said they’re sorry, ‘We know this is a concern, we’re going to make sure it’s absolutely accurate.’ That’s not the point!” He said every faith tradition has rituals. The meaning and purpose of those rituals are lost on the uninitiated. “They think that if they do an accurate, mechanical portrayal - that’s good enough. But you don’t get to the mystery simply through the mechanics.”

Reverend Mayor agrees with others who say Hollywood is basically amoral. “Ultimately, they’re just a business and they’re just trying to figure out what’s going to sell.” The major studios make what they think will make them money.