If you subscribe to TV Guide, if you’ve followed this thread on Big Love at BCC, or if you’ve received “boycott Time Warner” email, then you probably know that Big Love will portray elements of the LDS Temple, perhaps including portions of the ceremony. Page 46 of this week’s TV Guide has a blurb on the upcoming, March 15 episode accompanied by a photograph of a scene from that episode (warning: this photo portrays an image that may offend some).

This is, in all likelihood, Tom Hanks’ revenge on the church for promoting Proposition 8, a position that he labeled anti-American at one point, before he issued a well-crafted, PR-saavy apology retraction.

The church’s response is very well put together, and it seems to be written as much for members as non-members.

I’m willing to bet that Big Love threads the needle, and does not actually show any of the “secret” parts of the ceremony; e.g., the signs and tokens. Even so, the portrayal of other elements, secret or not, is certainly distasteful.

My gut instinct is to be very territorial about portrayals of the church, especially when they involve aspects of the temple. But in my experience, the temple ceremony is so heavily allegorical that most non-members who learn about it respond by saying, “Is that all?” Protesting too much runs the risk of deepening the suspicion that something terribly bad goes on in Mormon temples. Lies that place salacious activities within secret Mormon ceremonies are as old as the endowment itself. John C. Bennett published contrived and salacious accusations in his 1842 History of the Saints.

I believe the smart response is to emphasize that such portrayals are in poor taste. There’s nothing salacious to learn about what goes on in the temple, so undue disclosure of the ceremony on cable TV is likely to elicit sort of response that prompts people to ask, “Was that really necessary?” I don’t intend to cancel my HBO subscription or boycott Time Warner products in general, but I also wouldn’t discourage anyone with the courage of conviction to do so.