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Polygamy in the Media

NBC - Today Show

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March 19, 2006
9:30 am EST (U.S.)
Today Show

On March 19, 2006, NBC's Today Show aired a report about a Christian Polygamous family with the organization. The founder, Mark Henkel, also appeared in the report, too, of course. The originally intended purpose of the report was supposed to be about the growing national movement as a whole. Ultimately, though, the final report focused on only that one Christian Polygamous family. That is, it did not educate the audience that they were only one example of such families among a much larger national movement of (non-Mormon) Bible-believing Christian evangelicals. With that said, the Today Show's report about the Christian Polyamous family from was very kind and positive about them indeed.

The complete transcript of the entire report is provided below. After that, Five Essential Clarifications are also herein provided for necessary context and accuracy. Any subsequent citations from this report that do not also cite the corresponding applicable clarifications will be guilty of intentional propaganda, deceitful demogoguery, and outright lying. This page here, therefore, serves as full notice and warning should any deliberate and false misquotings subseqently occur or be found. With everything in fully clarified context and accuracy as hereinafter provided, there is nothing to honestly malign.

Notwithstanding the Five Essential Clarifications listed further below, the report was indeed very kind about the family.


Five Essential Clarifications

  1. LESTER HOLT stated, "He is a Christian who finds his authority in the Old Testament and its many references to multiple wives." - Due to time limitations of television reporting, that statement is clearly a reduction of a larger belief system. The seemingly exclusive reference to "the Old Testament" only applies to the subsequent mention of the "many references to multiple wives" in the Old Testament. That Bible-believing family additionally "get the authority" from the New Testament. They are adamantly New Covenant Christians from a very well-known conservative Protestant denomination. It is simply false to suggest that that statement means that Christian Polygamists do not equally get their authority from the New Testament or that they are somehow exclusively based only on the Old Testament. Indeed, the Founder of, Mark Henkel, in his interview for the piece, also made it clear that Christian Polygamists are based on "both the Old and New Testaments."

  2. LESTER HOLT asked, "Are you engaged in multiple marriage because of the bible, in spite of the Bible?" - That question is somewhat of a rhetorical trap which any non-media-savvy family can not be expected to have realized or to have known how to immediately address. After all, the "no-win" either-or style of question does not allow for a correct answer either way. If Jacob had said "because of the Bible," then he would have sounded like he was making up a doctrine in the Bible that does not exist - sounding as if the Bible somehow commands everyone to polygamy when it does not. So, Jacob rightly tried to clarify that point in his answer. In his attempt to do so, though, he responded with the apparent "opposite" part of the question, "in spite of the Bible." Unfortunately, the rhetorical trap of the question implies that he supposedly would do things that are "in spite of" the doctrine of the Bible - which he would NOT actually do. So, by itself, answering with the "in spite of the Bible" half to the question is not what he actually would have meant either. Rather, that non-media-expert and "everyday kind" of Christian was only trying to say that practicing polygamy is not commanded (as a "must-do") for all men by the Bible. Jacob's answer was only about opposing the initial "because of the Bible" part of the question. So, it must always be understood that, as a genuine Bible-believing Christian, he would not do things "in spite of the Bible." And that same fact is true for most other Christian Polygamists too.

  3. LEAH very eloquently explained, "When we go to bed, we go to sleep." - When Lester Holt had asked if the three adults sleep in the same bed, the family affirmed that they did. When Lester Holt replied with what that answer brought into his own mind about that situation, Leah made it clear. "Going to be bed" means sleeping. Nothing more. It is no more sexually involved than when a parent's child requests to sleep with their parents. Sleeping means sleeping. While HBO's pay TV show in 2006, titled, "Big Love," portrays a Mormon Polygamous family (i.e., not Christian Polygamists) with three separate houses, not all families choose to do that - whether Mormon, Christian, or otherwise, for that matter. Some polygamous families might not even be able to afford such a "rich person's" option of multiple houses. Other polygamous familes might prefer one house but separate rooms. Some other families might have no other financial options so they do what they can. Yet even others simply choose to sleep - actually sleep - in the same bed, simply because the wives just do not want any nights of actually sleeping alone or being apart. The point is, it's a matter of choice and options, based on each individual family's own interpersonal dynamics, emotional needs, and in some cases, financial capabilities. But even choosing that last arrangement as Leah had explained, it does not mean that "going to bed together" is automatically a matter of fantasy-imagined physical behavior (et al) whatsoever. Just because that fantasy-idea entered Lester Holt's mind, or might enter anyone else's mind who hears about that, it does not change the fact. As Leah clearly explained, "going to bed" means sleeping. And that's what most Christian Polygamists mean in those cases where their own individual families choose that same option too.

  4. LESTER HOLT stated, "Rachel is 30 years old. She and Jacob were legally married in 1996." Moments earlier, LESTER HOLT had also explained about Jacob's second wife, that "Leah is 39 years old." - The only age which had not been reported was that of Jacob. Lester Holt's comments were simply showing how both the wives had been adults throughout their polygamous situation. The absence of reporting Jacob's age, however, may not be used to indicate that somehow he was much older. The fact is, at the time of that report in March, 2006, all three adults in that Christian Polygamy family were under the age of 40 - including the husband. And they were always adults throughout their entire marital relationships.

  5. MARK SHURTLEFF, quoted the year before in 2005, was shown to have said, "Before I came into office, nobody was prosecuting these cases. Nobody. Everybody had turned a blind eye. Everyody was giving them a pass, and we changed all that." The use of that stock footage was not really applicable to the current story. Mark Shurtleff is the Attorney General from a completely different State: Utah. The year-old quote referred to specific Mormon Polygamous groups, specifically the Fundamentalist Mormon Polygamy "compound" communities where other, real crimes have occurred. He was not speaking about Christian Polygamy. And he was not even speaking about the same State in which the Christian Polygamy family in the Today Show's report reside. So, his quote was a bit irrelevant to the context of the report. However, it is obvious that the show was attempting to make a seque to the very real legal concerns for polygamists, including freely consenting-adult Christian Polygamists. Toward that end, the report did present some very good quotes from the family about the real-life struggles they faced and still face from the cruelty of other people's ignorance about the issue and from the anti-constitutional tyranny and oppression of anti-polygamy laws still being "on the books." Accordingly, while Shurtleff's quote was not in context to the report, the intended segue it was meant to create is, of course, understandable, and the quote itself was not really problematic for polygamists anyway.


The Today Show's March 19, 2006, report obviously focused on the one Christian Polygamous family from the organization. However, the show had also recorded some extensive videotape with their interview with the organization's founder, Mark Henkel. The contact from the show has also indicated to him that, when applicable, future stories might be able to use some of his many powerful quotes that they had recorded. Such possibilities will be discussed as they prepare to happen, of course.

Both the interview with Mark Henkel and the six-and-one-half-minute report are being made available on audiocassette. However, advance orders for the audiocassette recording of this interview are not yet available. But when they are ready, they will be available only for MEMBERS. This Interview is Available on TAPE for MEMBERS
Media [Directory]   Polygamy in the Media
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