More than 400 children were rescued in a 2008 raid of a fundamentalist Latter-day Saint outpost.
“How could you place a human being above God?”
Such is the rationale for enduring generational abuse at the hands of self-proclaimed prophet Warren Jeffs, who led a secret polygamous sect of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). Netflix’s true crime documentary series “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,” airing June 8, takes a look at the radical arm of the Mormon Church of Latter-day Saints, with Jeff leading an abusive offshoot of polygamous child marriages.
Jeff amassed 78 wives, 24 of whom were underage girls, over the course of his religious dictatorship. “Keep Sweet” interviews Jeff’s survivors and ex-wives, including a woman who married him at age 14.
“The young women were like a commodity owned by the church,” says a commentator in the trailer.
Another adds: “The more wives, the more children you have, the higher in heaven you will be.”
In 2008, federal police raided Jeff’s Yearning for Zion Ranch in West Texas for 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 archive footage and personal stories of some of those who escaped.
As an official synopsis reads, “From forced underage marriage and pregnancy to the complete unraveling of an oppressive criminal cult under Warren Jeffs’ rule, the story uncovers extraordinary bravery fighting tyrannical control in modern America.” “.
“Keep Sweet” is co-directed by Peabody and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and executive producer Rachel Dretzin (“Who Killed Malcolm X”) and Grace McNally, who also serves as producer.
“The women in our series made it out of the FLDS with no real education or skills, no money, no support at all,” Dretzin said. “Throughout their lives, they had been valued only as plural wives and childbearers. Leaving meant saying goodbye to everything and everyone she loved to start over in a society she 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 participating production and Ark Media. Executive producers include Ark Media co-founder and CEO Dretzin, Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Miura Kite, Zachary Herrmann and Alison Dammann.
Take a look at the trailer below.
“Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” premieres June 8 on Netflix.