A short biography of Lisa Barlow, one of the stars of the new series “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” on the Bravo website notes that she considers herself “Mormon 2.0.”
What exactly does that mean?
“When you're (a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I think especially Orthodox, you check off a lot of boxes,” said Barlow, who credits Seth Marks, the husband of fellow cast member Meredith Marks, with introducing her to the phrase “Mormon 2.0.”
To her, the church represents a "value system," including "treating your body like a temple." At the same time, she's the owner of businesses including Vida Tequila while also a member of a church that teaches believers to abstain from drinking alcohol.
"I just feel like as I've gotten older and have my own family, that I feel like ‘Mormon 2.0’ best fits me. I love our religion, but I also love our business, too,” she told TODAY in a Zoom interview.
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Barlow, the mother of two children with husband John Barlow, said she had no reservations about sharing her beliefs and her spiritual journey on “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City,” which premieres Wednesday night.
“I think the biggest thing for me is I'm authentic to myself,” she said. “I love the religion I choose — religion is a choice — and I choose to be LDS. And for me, I think it's important that — that's a part of my life and I'm on TV and I committed to sharing my life, and that's a big part of it. So I'm completely comfortable with it.
“If someone else is uncomfortable, I can't really do anything about that. I'm very comfortable with it,” she added.
Barlow was raised in upstate New York; she recalled that her mom had a strong love of God and was “always in search of something.” The joke in her family is that it was her mom’s “‘Eat Pray Love’ journey,” a reference to the bestselling Elizabeth Gilbert memoir documenting the author's quest for self-discovery.
“The constant in my mom's ‘Eat Pray Love’ journey since joining the Mormon church is reading her scriptures,” she said. “I think my parents were strict, but not because they enforced things, but because we all respected — I'm one of six kids in eight years, all before my parents were 30. So that's a lot of kids. And you learn how to work well together within a group. And we respected our parents so much that we naturally wanted to live in a way that they expected of us.
“It wasn't like they were like, ‘You're going to have this taken away’ or, ‘We're going to punish you for this.’ It was more like a nonspoken respect.”
Barlow said she herself has always loved God and that she loves Jesus Christ, too. For her, what’s also important is being “authentic” to herself.
“So instead of doing something for someone else or because someone might perceive me a certain way, I think as you get older and the more comfortable you are with yourself, you figure out how to do things, with your boundaries, with your needs being met, and also meeting other people's needs, too,” she said. “I chose to have children; I'm a mother and I just have to do what's best for me and my two little angels.”
Barlow said she talks about religion every day with her two sons, who are ages 16 and 8, and shares nightly prayers with them.
“I think it's so important that they are constantly aware of people and just basically Christ-like principles and, without bringing religion into it, just the reinforcement of the idea of being great people,” she said. “Especially raising two boys right now, I want my sons to be outstanding people, have a strong respect for women like their dad does.”
She added, “They understand we love God and that God comes No. 1.”
Barlow is grateful to be part of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” — the 10th show in Bravo’s “Real Housewives” franchise — and is excited that it will highlight The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I hope people get beyond the stereotypes and really see all the amazing things it has to offer. I honestly feel like I have a much better life because my family joined the LDS church in New York,” she said.
She also is looking forward to Utah's capital being in the spotlight, describing it as the “seventh star of the show.”
“Salt Lake City is magical,” she said. “We have the best foodie scene here, the best bartenders here. … We have the most innovative things happening here. And it's just a magical place. I'm so excited that people are going to get to go on this journey with us and see how beautiful our state is.”
Barlow makes her “Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” debut Wednesday night at 10 p.m. Eastern time on Bravo.