‘Sister Wives’: Janelle Brown Shares How the Brown Family’s Religion Is Helping Them Prepare for the Coronavirus Pandemic

Now that the world is anxiously navigating the minefield that is Coronavirus Disease 19 (COVID-19), many celebrities and reality stars have also been sharing their fears about, and preparation for, the virus. Janelle Brown, Kody Brown’s second wife and star of TLC’s long-running reality show Sister Wives, recently took to Twitter to share how the massive Brown family is preparing for the pandemic.

The Browns have 18 children, 15 of whom are Kody’s biological kids with his four wives (Meri, Janelle, Christine, and Robyn Brown), and three of whom he adopted from Robyn’s first marriage. With such a huge family, it’s especially important for the Browns to stay on top of the potential of contracting the virus.

Janelle explained that, when it came to the coronavirus, it was all about long-term preparation. The Sister Wives star added that the Browns’ religious background made them feel more prepared for emergencies and disasters.

Janelle, Kody, and Christine Brown
Janelle, Kody, and Christine Brown | Gabe Ginsberg/FilmMagic

Janelle alluded to the coronavirus epidemic in a tweet

On Mar. 9, Janelle wrote about the Brown family’s emergency reserves of food and other necessities in case of an epidemic or pandemic like the coronavirus.

“Growing up in the LDS church, we were encouraged to have a food storage, including t.p., to get us safely through natural disasters and economic hard times,” Janelle wrote. “I have seen the wisdom of that advice and can definitely see the wisdom of that advice now!”

Longtime Sister Wives fans have probably noticed the Browns’ preparedness in the past. The family buys large annual stores of meat to keep in freezers and regularly buys basic items like soap in bulk. The sister wives have also discussed their practice of canning and preserving food, especially produce, for long-term use in a public health emergency, natural disaster, or financial downfall.

Fans praised the family’s preparedness

Many Sister Wives fans praised Janelle and her family for thinking ahead in terms of preparing for an emergency or hard times.

“I grew up extremely poor and I will never not have a storage of food,” one viewer wrote to Janelle on Twitter. “Honestly, I’m surprised more people don’t have at least two weeks of the basics.”

Another Sister Wives fan agreed about the importance of preparedness, writing in a comment, “Another RN here- My family has stocked up on cold and flu medicines, prescription drugs, canned foods, pet foods, Gatorade powder, powdered creamer, etc. Preparedness works!”

Still, a few Twitter users warned Janelle against spreading panic and worry to her fanbase. “Ok, but it’s one thing to prepared but what is going on now is unfounded panic!” a commenter wrote in response. “Just as many people die from other random viruses everyday. The average person is fine if common sense practices are used. The problem is common sense isn’t very common at the moment!”

The Brown family’s religion encourages at-home food and water storage

The practice of staying prepared and putting an emphasis on food storage is, indeed, part of a religious practice for the Browns.

Kody and his family are part of a fundamentalist Mormon sect called the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB). Members of the AUB share their faith origins and many similar basic tenets, including scriptures and values, with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS church).

Fundamentalist Mormons practice and endorse polygamy. They broke off from the mainstream LDS church in large part because of their continued belief in plural marriage, which modern-day Mormons (members of the LDS church) no longer practice or agree with. However, they share similar values in terms of encouraging self-reliance, forethought, large families, avoiding debt, long-term planning, and thriftiness.

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Moreover, some of the Sister Wives parents were raised in the mainstream LDS church. Both Kody and Janelle were raised LDS and converted to fundamentalist Mormonism as young adults. Meanwhile, Meri, Robyn, and Christine were all raised in polygamous families. Kody and Janelle’s LDS-based beliefs likely crossed over into their practice within the AUB sect.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has a guide for members that encourages them to build a store of enough food, water, and money to last for three months at a minimum, just as Janelle suggested. Over time, they encourage members to build an ever larger supply for long-term use.

One manual suggests, “We encourage members worldwide to prepare for adversity in life by having a basic supply of food and water and some money in savings. We ask that you be wise, and do not go to extremes. With careful planning, you can, over time, establish a home storage supply and a financial reserve.”

Later, the guide states, “Store foods that are a part of your normal diet in your three-month supply. As you develop a longer-term storage, focus on food staples such as wheat, rice, pasta, oats, beans, and potatoes that can last 30 years or more.”