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SALT LAKE CITY — The creators of HBO’s controversial polygamy drama, “Big Love,” defended an upcoming episode that depicts a sacred and private temple ceremony that has riled some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The cable network has apologized to those who may be offended by its contents. “We … took great pains to depict the ceremony with the dignity and reverence it is due,” creators Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer said in a statement.
Both were editing the season finale this week and unavailable for interviews.
The acclaimed drama, about a modern-day Utah polygamous family, sparked controversy when Scheffer and Olsen announced that Sunday’s (March 15) episode will include an endowment ceremony in a Mormon temple involving one of the family’s three wives, played by Jeanne Tripplehorn.
The scene, which was apparently supervised by an “ex-Mormon,” includes sets of the temple’s celestial room and the sacred temple clothing worn during such ceremonies.
“This approach is entirely evident in the scene portrayed in this episode and certainly reflected in Jeanne Tripplehorn’s beautiful and moving performance as she faces losing the church she loved so much,” the creators said in the statement. “In order to assure the accuracy of the ceremony, it was thoroughly vetted by an adviser who is familiar with temple practices and rituals.”
While the creators stand by the episode, HBO, which is owned by AOL-Time Warner, issued an apology Tuesday (March 10) to “those who may be offended.”
“Obviously, it was not our intention to do anything disrespectful to the church but to those who may be offended, we offer our sincere apology,” according to the network’s statement. “It should also be noted that throughout the series’ three-year run, the writer/producers have made abundantly clear the distinction between the LDS Church and those extreme fringe groups who practice polygamy.”
Church officials declined to comment, instead referring to a statement posted on www.LDS.org.
“Such things say much more about the insensitivities of writers, producers and TV executives than they say about Latter-day Saints,” the church statement read.
News of the episode has launched many strong opinions from church members and nonmembers alike, arguing over the sanctity of temple ceremonies and whether they should be viewed — even if they are fictional re-enactments — by the public.
“Depicting the temple ceremony doesn’t hurt the church as an institution,” wrote one poster on the Salt Lake Tribune’s Web site.
“There is nothing going on inside which would shock the world. All such a re-enactment will do is to hurt the feelings of those who sincerely believe any discussion of it outside of a temple demeans something sacred.”
By VINCE HORIUCHI
c. 2009 Salt Lake Tribune
(Vince Horiuchi writes for The Salt Lake Tribune.)
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Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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