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Less attention was given to Barb's disciplinary hearing portrayed in the same episode, despite the fact that it could be considered far more damaging to the LDS' public image. To the uninitiated, the language of the endowment ceremony is barely discernible; but the discussion that takes place in the hearing —or "love court"—is an explicit indictment of the church's habit of rewriting history to serve political ends. Faced with the decision to repent for the sin of polygamy or face excommunication—no small matter in the Mormon faith—Barb chooses to stand by her testimony. "I believe the Church and its leaders are in grave error on polygamy," she says. "And on the kinds of marriages and families it creates. I can't forsake my family." The stake president is unmoved: "We all know that there is a temptation to tell everything. Whether it is worthy, or faith-promoting, or not. Some things that are true are not very useful." While visibly shattered at the prospect of losing her eternal salvation, Barb is indignant: "You openly disparage my family but you hide the truth about our history." At this, Barb is cast into outer darkness.
In all variations of Mormonism—from backwards fundamentalist sects to modern LDS—marriage is mandatory for entry into the Celestial Kingdom. Lonely hearts and homosexuals are out of luck. But fundamentalists (a term LDS roundly rejects) feel that they are furthering the sanctity of this faithful obligation by multiplying their prospects for procreation: The size of your family is seen as a measure of devotion to your faith, as Mormons believe it is their duty to rescue souls trapped in "preexistence" by providing them with mortal birth. In this respect, second wife Nikki's egregious violation of the Principle—she's been secretly taking birth control pills for four years—represents the ultimate betrayal of her family and her faith. Between this and Barb's excommunication, it is no surprise that teasers for the new season suggest deep, dark trouble for the Hendricksons, who are seen floating, untethered, in a black abyss. The tag line: "Hold on."
Trouble may also lay ahead for relations between HBO and LDS. Spoilers have surfaced that Alby Grant, a Juniper Creek prophet hopeful, who has already displayed homosexual leanings, will take up with another closeted compound dweller. If there is any other issue that is as unsettling to Latter-Day Saints as polygamy, it's the gay question—a fact that is surely not lost on the show's co-creators, Mark V. Olsen and Will Scheffer, or Dustin Lance Black, the show's ex-Mormon consulting producer and vocal gay rights activist. Stay tuned, indeed.