“How could you place a human over God?”
Such is the reasoning for enduring the generational abuse at the hands of self-professed prophet Warren Jeffs, who led a secretive polygamous sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). Netflix’s true crime docuseries “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,” streaming June 8, analyzes the radical arm of the Mormon Church of the Latter-Day Saints, with Jeff at the helm of an abusive polygamist child-marrying branch.
Jeff accumulated 78 wives — 24 of which were underage girls — over the course of his religious dictatorship. “Keep Sweet” interviews survivors and former wives of Jeff, including one woman who wed him at age 14.
“Young girls were like a commodity owned by the church,” a commentator says in the trailer.
Another adds, “The more the wives, the more children you have, the higher in heaven you will be.”
In 2008, federal law enforcement raided Jeff’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas on the grounds of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse. More than 400 children were rescued and taken into custody. The four-part documentary series “Keep Sweet” features never-before-seen archival footage and personal stories from some of the people who escaped.
As an official synopsis reads, “From forced underage marriage and pregnancy to a complete unraveling into an oppressive criminal cult under Warren Jeffs’ rule, the story uncovers extraordinary bravery battling tyrannical control in modern America.”
“Keep Sweet” is co-directed by Emmy and Peabody Award-winning filmmaker and executive producer Rachel Dretzin (“Who Killed Malcolm X”) and Grace McNally, who also serves as a producer.
“The women in our series managed to leave the FLDS with no real education or skills, no money, no support whatsoever,” Dretzin said. “For their whole lives, they had been valued solely as plural wives and as breeders of children. To leave meant saying goodbye to everything and everyone they loved to start over in a society they didn’t understand. ‘Badass’ doesn’t begin to describe how fierce they are. I am proud to be connected to them and grateful to have had the opportunity to tell their story.”
“Keep Sweet” is a Participant and Ark Media Production. Executive Producers include Ark Media co-founder and director Dretzin, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Miura Kite, Zachary Herrmann, and Alison Dammann.
Check out the trailer below.
“Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” premieres June 8 on Netflix.