The new documentary series from Netflix, Be gentle: pray and obey, rips the roof off a secret society of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS). The Netflix original reveals the shocking reality of many women and girls living in the polygamous FLDS lifestyle under Warren Jeffs. So what do the most famous polygamists in the world and the stars of sister wives think of FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs?
“Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey”: What are the FLDS teachings of Warren Jeffs?
Be Gentle: Pray and Obey is a three-part series, released in June 2022, that details the rise and fall of fundamentalist leader and prophet, Warren Jeffs. The show dives deep into the investigation of sexual abuse, underage marriage, and the trafficking of young women at the hands of the Jeffs family.
Jeffs was the sole head of the church and the only one who could assign wives to men. He assigned girls, some as young as 12, as wives to elderly men in the church. The women and daughter, considered second-class citizens within the FLDS community, had no say in the man to whom they were entrusted.
Jeffs is said to have had over 87 wives and fathered over 50 children. However, after intense investigation, there was enough evidence to finally eliminate Jeffs. In 2011, he was convicted of two counts of child molestation. He is currently serving a life sentence plus 20 years.
What does ‘Sister Wives’ star Kody Brown think of Warren Jeffs?
Besides the Jeffs family, the Brown family could be considered the most popular polygamous family of all time. However, the Brown family does not follow FLDS cult rules. Kody and his wives practice plural marriage based on the beliefs of their church, the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB), which is considered a branch of fundamentalist Mormonism.
Contrary to what the FLDS believes, AUB members do not allow arranged marriages or child brides. Also, unlike the FLDS, they live and work within the society. AUB is the largest branch, with approximately 10,000 members in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana and Mexico.
So what does Kody Brown think of FLDS leader Warren Jeffs? In a 2012 interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Kody spoke about his views on Jeff’s arrest and its impact on how the world views polygamy.
“I felt like there were so many stereotypes about plural marriages, with Warren Jeffs and the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints. There was so much negative press—child brides and abuse on the compound—that I hated being identified that way. Warren Jeffs is not our star child. When I spoke with my children about doing the show, I said that we had the opportunity to not only change our world, but to change the world for everyone else.
‘Sister Wives’ stars think Warren Jeffs gave polygamists a negative stereotype
In the same interview, the sister wives the stars talk more about how Jeffs was convicted of child abuse and rape and caused the world to view all polygamists as evil. When asked how they were different from Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, Kody explained:
“We are fundamentalist Mormons, not LDS or FLDS. Jeffs – who was the leader of the FLDS – built a stronghold around him. He took the voice away from his wives and children. My belief is that my wives should have their voice and be able to make choices. As a family, we make choices together.
Kody’s second wife, Janelle Brown, shared her views. She said, “I was able to choose my family. In some Mormon sects, marriages are arranged. In our community, we do not assign spouses. We are also expecting to get married after we turn 18. The only common thing is that we worship from the same scripture as the LDS.
Christine Brown, who was Kody’s third wife at the time, explained in the interview, “We also have access to the outside world, the internet and television. We want the world for our children to go to college and travel. And Kody’s first wife, Meri Brown, revealed she had just run a 5k to raise awareness for women trapped in the FLDS.
Janelle said: “Secrecy is bad because it allowed people like Warren Jeffs to abuse it. This abuse persists because people were more afraid of the government than Jeffs.
Kody then concluded, “We don’t want to criticize the FLDS. It is a community that needs our empathy and support. We can save our critics for their leadership.
While the Brown family wants to separate from the FLDS as much as possible, their core values on plural or “heavenly” marriage are the same. Hopefully fans will hear more about it in season 17 of sister wives, airing later in 2022.
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