Kody Brown Talks FLDS and Warren Jeffs in ‘Becoming Sister Wives’ Memoir – ‘This Is Not My World’


The Brown family became the poster child for polygamy after sister wives aired in 2010. TLC introduced audiences to the world of polygamy in the midst of the sexual assault case against Warren Jeffs, the leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). As documented on the Netflix docuseries, Keep Sweet: Obey and Pray, in 2011, Jeffs was sentenced to life plus 20 years in prison for two counts of child molestation.

Kody Brown and his wives, Meri, Janelle, Christine and Robyn had their work cut out for them. Kody opened in family memoirs, Become sister wives: The story of an unconventional marriage, about how Warren Jeffs casts a dark shadow over how the world views polygamy. Here’s what Kody had to say about the FLDS’ practices on early marriage, child abuse, and incest.

Christine Brown, Janelle Brown, Kody Brown, Robyn Brown and Meri Brown, ‘Sister Wives’ | Discovery/TLC Networks

Kody Brown says FLDS practices are not his ‘beliefs’

In the memoir, Kody discusses the differences between the FLDS and the fundamentalist Mormon sect to which they belong, the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB).

“When people hear the term ‘Mormon fundamentalist,’ they probably think of a small subset of our population—the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. For too long, this organization and the handful of violent men who run it have been the emblematic children of polygamy in America. Until recently, the FLDS was led by Warren Jeffs, who was convicted of child molestation and is currently serving a life sentence. He ruled his organization with an iron fist, creating an endemic climate of abuse and fear. He not only tolerated but also encouraged child brides. He summarily reassigned the wives of men he deemed unworthy to new husbands. These are not my beliefs. It’s not my world.

Kody Brown, “Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage”, page 3

Kody Brown and Christine Brown on their wedding day.

Kody Brown and Christine Brown, “sister wives” | CCM

What are the main differences between AUB and FLDS? Kody explains in his family memoir:

“Although we share a belief in the principle of heavenly plural marriage, I want to clarify that the practices of the FLDS have no place in my universe. We belong to a different religious community, which has several thousand members in In our faith, incest and domestic violence are serious crimes which, when discovered, result in immediate legal action.

Kody Brown, “Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage”, page 3

‘Sister Wives’ star Kody Brown distraught over FLDS slander

As a Mormon polygamist, Kody felt upset after the Jeffs case became the mainstream view of polygamists. For the first time in his life, Kody was ashamed of being a polygamist. Kody explained in the book:

At first, I resisted the urge to come out as a polygamist. I have never been ashamed of my lifestyle, quite the contrary. However, I did not want to be judged for this. Above all, I didn’t want our children to suffer because their parents had revealed themselves to the world. Kody explained that this show was important and necessary. We had to come out of the shadow of Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, which for too long had been the face of polygamy. We needed to dissociate ourselves from the negative connotations of polygamy – child brides, sexual abuse and religious oppression. We wanted to show America that we’re not that different from everyone else. More importantly, we had to pave the way for a better and more tolerant future for our children.

Kody Brown, “Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage”, page 212

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Kody believes the secrecy within the FLDS allowed Jeffs to control and abuse so many people within his church. The sister wives star wrote:

“Although my grandfather and his family lived a lifetime in fear, he always realized that fear leads to secrecy and secrecy leads to abuse of power. He advocated for tougher penalties for underage marriages and abusive relationships. He believed that these crimes would be stopped if polygamists could live openly rather than in secret. In my grandfather’s eyes, secret and closed societies were directly responsible for the abuses for which the FLDS became, unfortunately, infamous.

Kody Brown, “Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage”, page 236

Although the Brown family is not FLDS, they believe in some of the same fundamental religious views, such as “heavenly marriage”. So when Kody was growing up among traditional LDS people, they didn’t accept polygamists. According to Kody, they would make “disparaging comments” about them, calling them “backward and wrong.”

However, Kody was raised by a father who had multiple wives and he felt the description of polygamy didn’t fit his family. Kody wrote, “My family was nothing like these families, but I was still upset by these comments.”

How ‘Sister Wives’ Changed the World’s View on Mormon Polygamy

Later in the memoir, Kody explained what he hoped to change by opening up his unique lifestyle to the world. He said he was ‘stressed beyond belief’ the previous summer sister wives aired, especially with the crimes of Warren Jeffs exposed.

However, the way viewers received the TLC show was a pleasant surprise. Slowly Kody and his wives were able to show another side of polygamy. Kody wrote:

“Shortly after the show aired, I noticed that we had already had an impact on how the world viewed polygamy. I was flipping through the TV directory looking for something to watch when I came across a show called The Lost Boys. The brief blurb described the show as being about “members of the Warren Jeffs FLDS cult”. It was progress. A few months earlier, I’m sure the description would have been “polygamous Mormons.” But now people were starting to differentiate between cults and to understand that we had nothing to do with Warren Jeffs and his abusive practices.

Kody Brown, “Becoming Sister Wives: The Story of an Unconventional Marriage”, page 227

Kody had advocated for polygamy for years and even protested its criminalization in Utah. And thanks to his efforts, Utah decriminalized polygamy. However, it recently opened up on sister wives that he is no longer interested in defending polygamy. With his third wife, Christine, leaving him, plural marriage has been difficult for Kody.

RELATED: ‘Sister Wives’: 3 Polygamy Shows To Watch While Waiting For Season 17


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