'Sister Wives' husband to critics: We're not 'pushing' polygamy on others

By Ree Hines
The Brown family, from left, Christine, Meri, Janelle, Robyn and Kody.Kyle Christy / Today

The fourth season of TLC's "Sister Wives" is about to kick off, and that means there's more drama on the way for the Brown family.

Even though Kody Brown and his four wives — Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn — have been open about how they live their lives for some time now, there are still those who have big problems with the polygamous family and aren't shy about saying so. In fact, on the upcoming season premiere, the family travels to St. George, Utah, and find themselves in the midst of some of those unwelcoming faces.

It's no surprise that there are some in St. George who have a particular problem when the topic of polygamy comes up. The community is located close the FLDS headquarters, a base for a group of Mormon Fundamentalists who embrace polygamy and have been embroiled in many scandals involving child marriages, child abuse and incest. St. George is also the town in which FLDS president Warren Jeffs was once tried and convicted of being an accomplice to the rape (a conviction later overturned) before going on to be convicted of two counts of sexual assault of a child in Texas. (Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes.)

While the Brown family practices a very different sort of polygamy than that seen in Jeffs' church, it's a difference that's lost on some. That's why Robyn felt so much trepidation about returning to the area, as she explains in this clip from the "Sister Wives" premiere that TLC shared exclusively with TODAY.com.

"I remember in high school, actually, teachers would make derogatory comments about polygamists," she said. "I kept my nose down and I hid who I was because of this."

The family actually encountered a wide range of reactions on the trip, as the full episode will reveal on Sunday night, including one very negative reaction.

TODAY.com recently spoke to Browns about that and asked them how they felt about encountering such rejection.

"I just feel like we live in a world of diversity, and we've chosen how to structure our family," Kody explained. "And we are not pushing it on other people. We don’t even push it on our children."

It's a live-and-let-live attitude he'd like to see from others.

"We kind of anticipate that we'd really appreciate the same kind of tolerance," Kody said.

Things are much different back in their new hometown of Las Vegas. There, the family has found tolerance.

"It's been the land of opportunity," Christine told TODAY.com. "I know that seems weird when you talk about Vegas. We usually refer to it as Sin City, but because of the diversity of the culture, it's actually worked in our benefit. You know, our children aren't expected to be anything but good people — just because of the diversity. ... As far as the ladies goes, (we have) more friends than we've ever had before. People are welcoming and it's really, really sweet."

And for the kids in school, it's a far cry from the environment Robyn recalled in the episode.

"They've been fully embraced, and they can embrace their brothers and sisters (publicly)," Janelle said. "It is true that we have two or three children in the same grade. We actually have multiple children graduating from high school every year for the next 10 years, pretty much. So the teachers in the school are very well aware of who we are because they have so many of the children."

See how the Browns' trip to St. George plays out and find out more about life back home on the season premiere of "Sister Wives," Sunday at 9 p.m. on TLC.