Kody Brown is the patriarch of the Brown family, which stars in the TLC reality TV show Sister Wives. The show documents the lives of Kody, his four wives (Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn), and their 18 children.
Kody practices a form of polygamy as part of his fundamentalist Mormon faith. He considers himself to be “spiritually married” to his four wives, but is legally married only to Robyn. The Browns are members of the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), a fundamentalist Mormon church that promotes polygamy.
What Religion Does Kody Brown Practice?
Kody Brown and his family practice a form of Mormonism that embraces polygamy, which the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) banned in 1890. Here are some key facts about the religion Kody and the Sister Wives follow:
- It is a fundamentalist offshoot of mainstream Mormonism.
- Adherents practice polygamy, whereby a man can be “spiritually married” and have multiple wives.
- It emerged from the teachings of Joseph Smith, founder of Mormonism, who introduced the doctrine of plural marriage in the 1840s.
- Followers believe polygamy is a divine commandment and essential for exaltation in heaven.
- It is an unrecognized sect that split from the LDS Church after the church disavowed polygamy.
- Members belong to various polygamous denominations and independent groups, of which the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) is the largest.
So in summary, Kody Brown practices a fundamentalist form of Mormonism that promotes polygamy as a central religious tenet. His family belongs to the AUB church.
What is the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB)?
The Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) is a Mormon fundamentalist church that split from the mainstream LDS Church after the church prohibited polygamy. Here are some key facts about the AUB:
- It was founded in 1954 by Joseph Musser as a breakaway sect from the LDS Church.
- The AUB established colonies in Mexico and Canada where polygamy could be practiced without prosecution.
- It is estimated to have around 5000 to 7000 members today.
- The AUB is centrally located in Bluffdale, Utah but has communities in other states.
- They practice plural marriage as a central doctrine, believing it is required for exaltation.
- Men who practice polygamy are called “priesthood holders”.
- Women are arranged in a hierarchy among sister wives.
- The group has tried to adapt polygamy to modern society compared to other fundamentalist groups.
- Leadership comes from a group of senior “priesthood council” members.
So in essence, the AUB is the largest polygamous Mormon sect that Kody Brown and his family belong to. It emerged from the legacy of early Mormon polygamy but is not affiliated with the mainstream LDS Church.
What Do AUB Members Believe?
The Apostolic United Brethren share many core beliefs with mainstream Mormonism but have some distinct doctrines shaped by their polygamous practices:
- The Priesthood – AUB members believe priesthood holders should practice polygamy. The highest degree is called “the fullness of the priesthood”.
- Plural Marriage – Polygamy is a sacred covenant and a requirement for exaltation. Members practice “celestial” or “spiritual” marriage.
- Joseph Smith – They revere Joseph Smith as a prophet who restored the true gospel. Smith is said to have received a revelation to practice polygamy.
- The Book of Mormon – This text is considered sacred scripture just as in the LDS Church.
- Afterlife – Adherents believe in heaven and different tiers of glory, the highest being exaltation in the “celestial kingdom”.
- Jesus Christ – AUB members worship Jesus as the Savior and Son of God who atoned for human sin.
- Modern Prophets – They believe in present-day prophets who provide divine guidance to the church. The current leader is Lynn A. Thompson.
So in sum, the AUB combines fundamental Mormon theology with unique doctrines justifying and dictating polygamy as a crucial religious practice.
How Does Kody Brown Practice His Religion?
As a member of the AUB church, Kody Brown actively practices his religion in the following ways:
- He married his first three wives in AUB ceremonies officiated by church leaders. His fourth marriage to Robyn was a civil, legal marriage.
- He periodically takes on new young wives to expand his family in the polygamist tradition.
- He follows the “celestial” or “spiritual” marriage structure whereby wives are bound eternally but not legally.
- He rotates between his wives’ different homes for certain nights based on a schedule.
- His family has attended AUB gatherings and services together.
- As the patriarch, he presides over religious rituals like prayer and scripture study at home.
- He and his wives homeschool their children according to AUB teachings.
- The family observes cultural practices like abstaining from alcohol.
- They use special garments worn by adult members to remind them of covenants.
So Kody upholds the core tenets of his religion by marrying and supporting multiple wives and integrating AUB practices into family life.
What Challenges Does the Brown Family Face in Practicing Their Religion?
The Browns face unique difficulties in practicing polygamy compared to mainstream Mormons:
- Legal issues arise because only Kody’s fourth marriage is legally recognized. He and his wives could face charges of polygamy.
- There is social stigma, prejudice and misconceptions about polygamists that the family must confront.
- Financial strains come from supporting so many wives and children with limited resources.
- Navigating family dynamics, relationships, and roles among sister wives presents interpersonal challenges.
- Women in polygamist relationships often deal with jealousy, competition, and favoritism by the husband.
- The Browns experienced tension with the LDS Church and were excommunicated for apostasy.
- Internal family conflicts have arisen based on questioning or rejecting polygamy as a practice.
- The family’s high public profile increases scrutiny of their beliefs and unconventional lifestyle.
Despite difficulties, the Browns strive to validate their religious convictions through the reality show and public interviews. But living polygamy has clear social, legal, financial, and emotional consequences.
What Do the Sister Wives Do for Work and Income?
Because it is difficult to support a family of 20+ on one income alone, the Sister Wives have had various jobs and business interests:
- Kody worked in advertising sales but left his job in 2011 to dedicate himself to the family and their reality TV show.
- Meri ran a home-based online clothing business called Lizzie’s Heritage Inn. She is also a trained wetlands scientist.
- Janelle worked as an accountant and recently became a health coach.
- Christine was a computer saleswoman and later a stay-at-home mom. She sells LuLaRoe clothing.
- Robyn operated a home daycare business and jewelery business before becoming a full-time mom.
- The family also earns income from their reality show, book deals, public appearances, and other entertainment ventures.
So the wives have pursued a diverse mix of professional jobs and home-based businesses while also raising many children. Their television fame provides their main income source currently.
How Did the Brown Family’s Religion Lead to the Sister Wives Show?
The Browns’ unorthodox polygamist lifestyle and excommunication from the LDS Church prompted them to do the TLC reality show:
- After leaving the LDS Church, they no longer had to deny their plural relationships.
- Going public enabled them to educate others and combat prejudice about their beliefs.
- It provided a platform to advocate for decriminalization of polygamy.
- The TV revenue became vital for supporting their large families.
- Their arrangement was intriguing and dramatic enough to sustain public interest.
- Kody could emerge as the patriarchal centerpiece of the show.
- The wives’ distinct personalities supplied engaging ongoing storylines.
- Cameras could intimately capture the complex day-to-day dynamics of a polygamist household.
- Show producers welcomed the chance to explore a controversial unconventional family.
So in many ways, the Browns’ unorthodox faith and polygamist structure lent itself well to creating an interesting and groundbreaking reality show. Sister Wives continues shedding light on their unique but relatable family.
What Major Events Have Happened in Sister Wives?
Some key developments that have occurred over Sister Wives’ 15 seasons include:
- The addition of Robyn as Kody’s 4th wife – This caused shifts in family dynamics.
- The move to Las Vegas – It allowed the family to live together in neighboring homes.
- Mariah (Meri & Kody’s daughter) coming out – This was the first openly gay child in the family.
- The adoption of Robyn’s children – Kody legally adopted them in 2015.
- The move to Flagstaff, Arizona – This uprooted the family in 2018 seeking a fresh start.
- COVID-19 pandemic – The family quarantined into separate homes during 2020.
- Christine leaving Kody – She announced the split in 2021 after years of strain.
- Surgery of Ysabel (Christine’s daughter) – She had major back surgery that Kody controversially did not attend.
- Meri and Kody’s split – Cracks in their relationship surfaced leading to a separation.
So Sister Wives has chronicled divorces, children leaving home, arguments, financial problems, emotions from jealousy to loss, major events like births and weddings, and much more. It offers an unfiltered lens into this complex family.
What Do the Sister Wives Do on the Show?
The show depicts the Sister Wives engaging in many real-life activities including:
- Opening Up About Their Relationships – They discuss marriages, dynamics, conflicts and goals with Kody.
- Family Gatherings and Traditions – Birthday parties, graduations, picnics and holidays are highlighted.
- Parenting and Household Duties – Cameras show disciplining, teaching and having heart-to-hearts with their children plus domestic tasks.
- Jobs and Businesses – Their professional and entrepreneurial efforts are featured.
- Personal Interests – Hobbies, passions and talents like cooking, crafts, makeup and exercising are explored.
- Dealing with Finances and Bills – Budgeting constrained resources for all the households is an ongoing challenge shown.
- Home Improvement Projects – Decorating, renovating and upgrading their living spaces.
- Vacations and Trips – Getting away, often in chaotic fashion with so many people, provides lighter episodes.
- Spiritual Practices – Attending church, praying, reading scriptures, and celebrating faith.
So the Sister Wives cast leads eventful lives on camera filled with deep discussions, lively antics, constantly shifting relationships, and efforts to grow as a family.
What Are Some Interesting Facts About the Brown Family?
- Kody’s father had 2 wives, so he grew up around polygamy.
- The family lived in Wyoming and Montana before settling in Utah.
- They lived in a conservative Mormon community of Lehi at one point.
- Meri’s family were sheepherders from a polygamist colony before leaving the faith.
- Robyn was divorced from her first husband before marrying Kody.
- Janelle’s grandmother was married to Kody’s grandfather, so they were once related.
- Kody and his wives legally married and divorced in the 1990s when polygamy charges were threatened.
- They only went public with their plural marriage in 2010 after the show.
- Meri was the legal wife for years to be able to adopt children and own property.
- Meri and Kody divorced legally so he could marry Robyn and adopt her kids.
- They moved from Lehi to Las Vegas to avoid anti-polygamy persecution and live together.
- Around a third of the children, including some minors, have left or been kicked out by the family.
What Is the Brown Family’s Net Worth?
In 2022, celebrity net worth sites estimate the Sister Wives cast’s net worth to be:
- Kody Brown – $800,000 from the reality show, MLMs, and other ventures
- Meri Brown – $400,000 from the show, her B&B business, and LuLaRoe sales
- Janelle Brown – $400,000 from the show and her career as an accountant and health coach
- Christine Brown – $400,000 from the show, MLMs, and cameo appearances
- Robyn Brown – $600,000 from the show and previous jewelry business
With supporting such a large family, the Browns have needed to monetize their fame extensively through the hit reality show which is their biggest money-maker. The family is reportedly paid $40,000 to $60,000 per episode combined. Sister Wives has aired over 250 episodes since 2010 as the Brown family’s main income source.
What Do Critics Say About the Browns?
Critics make the following charges about the Browns and Sister Wives show:
- Kody is portrayed too positively as a doting father managing sister wives well; in actuality he is domineering, neglectful and selfish.
- Plural marriage dynamics are disturbing; wives often suffer from jealousy, loneliness, and competition for Kody’s favor.
- It irresponsibly promotes polygamy which remains illegal and often tied to underage marriages, abuse, and child brides in fundamentalist groups.
- The Browns feign progressiveness but hold deeply patriarchal beliefs and family structures.
- Storylines are over-produced and manipulated for drama; scenes depict uncomfortable, disturbing dysfunction at times.
- Meri only stays for financial incentives and fame since her relationship with Kody has clearly ended.
- The constant tears, arguments, and guilt-tripping of children are inappropriate to broadcast for entertainment purposes.
- Few credible experts on polygamy and its harms are consulted; the show lacks ethical analysis.
So critics believe Sister Wives depicts polygamy in an inappropriately positive light and exploits family dysfunction for money and shocking drama.
In conclusion, Kody Brown represents a contentious figure and unconventional arrangement from the perspective of mainstream society. As a fundamentalist Mormon, Brown sincerely believes he is following his faith by having multiple wives.
FAQ About the Brown Family Religion and Sister Wives Show
What church do the Sister Wives belong to?
The Brown family belongs to the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), which is the largest polygamist Mormon fundamentalist church.
Do the Sister Wives share a house?
No, each wife has her own separate house. The family lived in 4 neighboring homes in Las Vegas. Now in Flagstaff, they still have 4 separate dwellings on shared property called Coyote Pass.
How did Kody meet Meri, Janelle and Christine originally?
Kody’s father proposed the plural marriage arrangement to Meri’s family. Kody met Janelle through Meri. And he converted and married Christine after meeting her through a church function. Robyn later joined them.
Do Kody and his wives actually sleep together?
Kody spends individual nights on a rotation sleeping with each respective wife. He admitted this intimate relations schedule is challenging with so many spouses and kids.
Why did some of Kody’s daughters leave the show?
Several adult daughters like Madison and Mykelti have stepped back from the show for privacy and to distance themselves from family drama portrayed on camera.
Are Meri and Kody Brown divorced?
Yes, Meri and Kody divorced legally in 2014 so Kody could marry Robyn and adopt her children. But they consider themselves still spiritually bound. However, their relationship is estranged.
How can the Browns legally marry multiple people?
Only Kody’s marriage to fourth wife Robyn is legally recognized. His previous three marriages were private religious ceremonies not registered officially. This avoids bigamy charges.
Where do the Browns get money to support 4 wives and 18 kids?
Originally, the wives worked. Now income mainly comes from the TLC show, around $500,000 annually. They earn money through book deals, public appearances, and social media promotions.
Why did Christine Brown leave Kody?
Christine grew dissatisfied with her crumbling relationship to Kody and how he divided time unequally. She wanted to relocate full-time to Utah. But Kody refused and wanted to stay settled in Flagstaff.
How has COVID-19 affected the Browns?
The pandemic strained relationships as they quarantined separately. Some like Janelle and Christine’s families dismissed strict precautions. But Kody demanded wives follow his pandemic rules, causing major conflict.