Survivors who escaped polygamist cult leader Warren Jeffs share accounts of their lives and experiences in the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or FLDS church, in the new four-part Netflix docuseries ‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.’
The series explores topics ranging from religious life to poly marriages and child rape. It also tells how Jeffs, the FLDS leader, came to power and brainwashed many into believing he was “The Prophet.”
“The more wives, the more children you have, the higher in heaven you’ll be,” a former wife says in the trailer. “It was for our salvation. You did whatever it took,” remarked another.
In 2008, Jeffs and some of his followers were arrested during a search on the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas, on accusations of child sexual assault and bigamy.
Of course, this new documentary raises many issues regarding the FLDS, including what it is and how it compares with Mormonism. So here’s what you should know:
What is the FLDS Church?
FLDS is an abbreviation for the “Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” And the “church” is actually a branch of the Mormon (or Latter-Day Saints) church. According to CNN, when the LDS church chose to abolish polygamous practises in order to obtain statehood for Utah in 1890, individuals who continued to practise polygamy were exiled and eventually banded together to form the FLDS society.
Many people who left the LDS church or were expelled by it settled in Arizona and joined the FLDS group, which continued to practise polygamy. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the fundamentalist group is still present on the Arizona-Utah border.
When his father and 15-year group leader, Rulon Jeffs, died in 2002, Jeffs inherited the sect, according to the SPLC. Warren Jeffs then isolated his followers from the outer world and assigned girls to his older male followers. He also had almost 60 wives.
According to CNN, the leader of the FLDS church is considered a prophet of God and is the only one who may execute marriages. He has the authority to penalise his parishioners by “reassigning” their wives and children to other men.
According to CNN, the majority of FLDS dwell in Colorado City, Arizona, and Hildale, Utah. The two communities are literally about a five-minute drive apart. Others can be found in and around Eldorado, Texas, as well as in South Dakota, Colorado, Nevada, British Columbia, and Mexico.
Is FLDS different from LDS?
FLDS is a branch of the LDS church, also known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or the Mormon church. While the Mormon church has not practised polygamy in a long time, the FLDS do.
The FLDS church has rigorous restrictions and clothing codes for women, and they follow their leader, Warren Jeffs, with zeal. The SPLC has labelled the organisation a “hate group,” and the FLDS church is usually referred to as a “polygamous cult.”
Furthermore, the LDS church has spent much time attempting to convey to people that the two are completely independent groups, and that even referring to FLDS as “fundamentalist Mormons” generates misunderstanding.
Who is running FLDS now?
Warren Jeffs was sentenced to jail on child assault charges over a decade ago in 2011, and he continues thereto be there to this day. According to ABC affiliate KOTA, his brother, Seth Jeffs, is supposedly helping oversee things in person.
According to A&E, Jeffs manages day-to-day operations from jail and still has a say in who the ladies are assigned to.
What are the FLDS Church’s rules?
According to ABC, women are not permitted to cut their hair and must remain covered from “neck to ankles” since their bodies are not allowed to be shown.
According to two former FLDS members, Jeffs prohibited most types of entertainment, including “dogs, toys, television, newspapers, the Internet, birthday and Christmas celebrations, festivals, parades, camping, and fishing.”
Wives are expected to accomplish two things: obey their husbands and bear children. According to ABC, several people have claimed that they were compelled to marry persons who were distantly related to them.
How many FLDS followers remain?
It’s unclear, but A&E believes that between 6,000 and 10,000 people are still members of the religion. Some, on the other hand, broke away following Jeffs’ incarceration and are adjusting to their new lives.
According to ABC affiliate KOTA, a judge ordered the sale of a 140-acre property owned by the FLDS in Pringle, South Dakota, in 2021. Authorities told the outlet at the time that there were only about 20 individuals living on the facility. Former members purchased it in February 2021.