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Advances in the Study of Information and Religion

DOI

10.21038/asir.2015.0003

Abstract

While the genre of reality television may not be considered as a new medium of communication, the way that some religious minorities found some innovative ways to use this kind of programming in the last 5 years is certainly of interest. In that regard, beginning in 2010 the members of various fundamentalist Mormon communities have chosen to open their lives to the cameras of reality television in an effort to spread a message close to their hearts : that polygamous families are in almost every way completely normal and share the struggles of the typical American family, and that since the scandals of Warren Jeffs, Tom Green and the Lafferty brothers made the news, the media depiction of plural marriage and those who practice it is not representative of the reality of the majority of practicing fundamentalists. The main message of these pro-polygamy activists is to convince the public of their inherent normalcy and they seem to work towards changing the minds of the American people by proving that most women enter freely and willingly into polygamous marriages and find great happiness living in plural families. In addition to disseminating their message through reality shows like Sister Wives (TLC 2010-), My Five Wives (TLC 2014) and Polygamy USA (National Geographic 2013), the families at the center the movement for decriminalization of plural marriage also use blogs to provide information about their unique lifestyle, and some turn to live tweeting during episodes as a way to interact directly with the public. This article describes the interactions between religious fundamentalisms, in this case in the form of polygamous Mormon culture, and information technology. Is also discussed the manner in which the various information transmission strategies used by advocates of plural marriage can lead to effective changes in laws and public policies.

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