3 Different Polygamist Sects Shown on ‘Sister Wives,’ ‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,’ and ‘Escaping Polygamy’ Explained

Three main polygamist groups have a few fundamental beliefs in common, but the reality is they all have their own sets of rules. The three polygamist sects shown on Sister Wives, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, and Escaping Polygamy have very different rules, but all seem to have similar origins.

Former members of the FLDS are seen in 'Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey'
Former members of the FLDS | Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey‘ — Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS)

Many people are just now hearing about the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) thanks to the popularity of the four-part Netflix docu-series, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.

The FLDS began when the mainstream LDS church changed its view on polygamy or “plural marriage” after it was renounced in the “Second Manifesto.” The FLDS came about after the group was excommunicated for refusing to adhere to the new LDS teachings.

The FLDS Church has been led by a succession of men regarded as prophets who all believe they’ve received visions to continue polygamy. In the Netflix docu-series, two leaders, Rulon Jeffs and his son, Warren Jeffs, are the center of focus.

The FLDS is the most strict when it comes to polygamy. The leader, or prophet, is the only one who can assign wives to husbands. They believe God ordains them to place wives with husbands according to their worthiness.

They also have strict dress codes. The women have to wear modest, floor-length dresses with old-fashioned hairstyles. The teachings of Warren Jeffs have promoted underage brides, abuse, child labor, incest, racism, and homophobia.

Escaping Polygamy’ — ‘The Order’ / ‘The Kingston Clan

Lifetime Network’s Escaping Polygamy follows three sisters, Andrea, Jessica, and Shanell Kingston, all born to the same father, John Daniel Kingston. Four seasons of the show follow the girls after escaping the polygamist cult known as “The Order” or “The Kingston Clan.”

The Order was founded in 1935 by Charles “Elden” Kingston, and is currently being run by his great-nephew, Paul Kingston. He is regarded by Order members as “the man on the watchtower.” He reportedly has 27 wives and over 300 children. Three wives are his half-sisters, one is his first cousin, and two are his nieces.

This sect is obsessed with the purity of its bloodline. They are empowered by the belief that they are God’s chosen people. They practice polygamy with incest by forcing nieces to marry uncles and cousins to marry cousins. The Order’s obsession with purity means the hatred of all non-whites and members of the LGBTQ community.

While they don’t dress as strictly as the FLDS members do, they are required to stay modest. And despite being part of the community, they will shun ex-Order members from their community if they leave. This sect is regarded as one of the most secretive and dangerous offshoots of the FLDS.

Sister Wives’ — Apostolic United Brethren (AUB)

TLC first aired Sister Wives in 2010, following Kody Brown and his wives, Meri Brown, Janelle Brown, Robyn Brown, and his now-ex-wife, Christine Brown. Between the four women, the Browns have 17 children.

Sister Wives was the first time America saw polygamists living amongst the rest of society. The Browns looked like the family next door, with no old-fashioned clothing and hairstyles.

The Browns are followers of a Fundamentalist Mormon sect called the Apostolic United Brethren (AUB) or “The Group” or “The Priesthood,” also known to people outside the faith as the Allred Group. This sect of the LDS church was founded by Christine’s grandfather, Rulon C. Allred.

Allred branched off and created his own polygamist group to be as close to Joseph Smith’s teachings as possible. He wanted to create a group that would bring back doctrines thrown out by the modern LDS church.

These doctrines include polygamy, Adam-God teachings, and the ban on Black people receiving the priesthood. They also believe that a living prophet can never lead you astray — even if he strays from the teachings and revelations of previous prophets.

However, unlike the Kingstons, LeBarons, and the Jeffs, Allred never used his power to introduce new “revelations” as a prophet to strengthen the control of the members.

As of 1998, the AUB has over 10,000 members in Utah, Montana, Nevada, Arizona, Missouri, and Mexico. The members can go to public school, dress in modest modern clothing, and live within society.

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