Secret Wives – What the Church Hid and Revealed by Netflix

Murad Jandali | 2 years ago




Four-part documentary series entitled Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, which was shown on the Netflix platform on June 04, 2022, shocked many viewers, after revealing the shocking truth about the secret polygamous sect of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS), led by the American Warren Jeffs, who appointed himself its president and claimed to be a prophet.

In 2008, a US police operation in West Texas revealed agonizing evidence of a series of sexual, physical, and psychological assaults on the team of this hard-line Christian sect.

As a result, more than 400 minors under the legal age were arrested, as well as Warren Jeffs was subsequently arrested, charged with child sexual abuse and polygamy, and he was sentenced to life imprisonment.


Brutal Sect

Four-part Netflix documentary series Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is a true story about a brutal Christian sect and its criminally abusive leaders, which takes place in a place that calls itself a church, but it was in fact a powerful and intimidating organization that promoted the systematic abuse of girls and young women while hiding itself and violating US laws.

The documentary featured never-before-seen archival footage and interviews with survivors who escaped the clutches of the fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS).

FLDS emerged nearly 100 years ago when the Mormon Church banned polygamy and outlawed those who continued to practice it.

FLDS strongly believes in the polygamy approach, and that men must follow that creed and be associated with dozens of women and procreate with them in order to achieve the highest level of salvation and reward from God in the afterlife, according to their claims.

US authorities have been aware of FLDS' illegal activities since 1953, when 36 men, 86 women and 263 children were arrested during a raid in Arizona, but that wasn't enough to dissolve the sect and stop it from carrying out its chilling activities.

The Chicago Sun Times reported that Warren Jeffs' father, Rulon Jeffs, known to his followers as Uncle Rulon, was the chief of the FLDS  from 1986 until his death in 2002, leaving behind nearly 20 wives and 60 children.

As the successor to his father, Warren Jeffs became the chief and prophet of that sect and married his stepmothers with the exception of two, one of whom, Rebecca Wall, ran away, while the other refused to remarry.

Warren Jeffs orders FLDS members to sell their homes, give up their businesses and move to Short Creek on the Utah/Arizona border, creating a community where he can control every aspect of their lives.

Jeffs also imposed stricter rules than his father, as members were to refrain from any form of fun, girls and women were forced to wear long-sleeved, ankle-length pastel dresses, and styled their hair back in a braided fashion.

As chief of the sect, Warren Jeffs was the only person with the power to perform marriages.

He also assumed the role of appointing wives to their husbands, in addition to being able to terminate marriages and reassign wives and their children to a new husband.

Jeffs also married off all young girls to older men, making the younger boys unnecessary, so he expelled them completely from their families and expelled them from town.

Some believe that the total number of members of the controversial sect could reach between 6,000 and 10,000 people.

In turn, a survivor said in the documentary Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey: “In our minds, the police, not even the President of the United States, had power over us. Warren Jeffs was our president.”

Wallace Jeffs, one of Rulon Jeffs' sons, said: “Most men in FLDS viewed women as baggage. The members of the FLDS were taught that men need at least three wives in order to reach the highest degree of the heavenly kingdom.”


Rape of Minors

In May 2006, Warren Jeffs was on the FBI's Most Wanted list, after fleeing Utah on charges of raping a teenage girl between 14 and 18 years old.

According to Newsweek, Jeffs was arrested on August 28, 2006, during a routine traffic stop in Las Vegas.

He then agreed to return to Utah to face two counts of rape and one count of arranging a marriage between 14-year-old Elisa Wall and her cousin, 19-year-old Allen Stead. At a time when the United States criminalizes consanguineous marriage.

Since then, the underage girl has told her story in a book she published in 2008 called Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs.

While awaiting verdict in the previous criminal case, Arizona State charged Warren Jeffs with eight additional counts, including incest and sexual conduct with underage girls.

In Utah, Jeffs was convicted of two counts of rape in September 2007 and sentenced to 10 years to life in prison.

However, the Utah Supreme Court overturned his conviction in 2010 due to facts missing from the jury.

When Warren Jeffs was released, he was extradited to Texas on multiple counts of sexual abuse related to orchestrating the marriage of three teenage girls to his older male followers, whose accounts were discovered during a 2008 police raid on an FLDS temple on the Yearning for Zion Ranch near Eldorado, Texas.

As a result of the raid, the Department of Family and Protection Services was able to remove 437 boys and girls from the Jeffs Christian farm.

In 2011, Jeffs was again convicted of child sexual abuse, including a 15-year-old girl and a 12-year-old girl.

As a result, Texas handed Warren Jeffs a life sentence, plus an additional 20 years to his original sentence, and a $10,000 fine.

During the sentencing phase of the Texas trial, evidence showed that Jeffs was involved in conducting the marriages of 67 underage girls to FLDS men,” says Angela Goodwin, a former US special prosecutor.

She adds that Jeffs himself had 78 wives - 24 of whom were minors.

Although he had resigned as chief of the FLDS Church on November 20, 2007, current members of that shadowy Christian sect still see Warren Jeff as their leader and prophet, according to the Independent, and his sect has already continued to campaign for his release.

In 2012, Warren Jeffs published a book called Jesus Christ Message to All Nations, in which he called for action to be taken to release him from prison.

For security reasons, the exact location of his detention was not disclosed, but according to some sources, it is believed that Jeffs is serving his sentence at the Louis C Powledge unit in the city of Palestine, Texas.

It is noteworthy that Jeffs had made several attempts to protest his arrest and conviction, including his attempt to hang himself in 2007, while he was in prison.

He also participated in prolonged hunger strikes in 2009, and in 2011 he fell into a coma after excessive fasting.

In 2019, it was reported that Warren Jeffs suffered a mental breakdown in prison and was mentally unfit to testify before a judge, in response to a lawsuit brought by a woman who alleged he sexually assaulted her as a child.

Jeffs will not be eligible for parole until July 22, 2038, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice Files.

In 2022, the FLDS complex in Phoenix, Arizona, was purchased by Reverend Luke W. Barnett, who acquired the property from Briell Decker, the 65th wife of Warren Jeffs who acquired the property as part of a settlement.

Together, they turned the complex into The Short Creek Dream Center, a shelter for women and children fleeing FLDS and other victims of sex trafficking.