Netflix’s new docu-series, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, rips the roof off a secretive society of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS). The Netflix original reveals the shocking reality many women and girls faced living in the FLDS polygamist lifestyle under Warren Jeffs. So what do the world’s most famous polygamists and stars of Sister Wives think about the FLDS cult leader, Warren Jeffs?
‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey’: What are Warren Jeffs’ FLDS teachings?
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is a three-part series, released in June 2022, which details the rise and fall of the fundamentalist leader and Prophet, Warren Jeffs. The show takes a deep dive into the investigation of sexual abuse, underage marriage, and trafficking of young women at the hands of the Jeffs family.
Jeffs was the sole leader of the church and the only one with the ability to assign wives to men. He would assign girls, some as young as 12 years of age, as brides to elderly men in the church. The women and the girl, regarded as second-class citizens within the FLDS community, had no say over which man they were given to.
It is rumored Jeffs had over 87 wives and has fathered over 50 children. However, after an intense investigation, there was enough evidence to finally take down Jeffs. In 2011, he was convicted of two felony counts of child sexual assault. He is currently serving a life sentence plus twenty years.
What does ‘Sister Wives’ star Kody Brown think of Warren Jeffs?
Aside from the Jeffs family, The Brown family could be considered the most popular polygamist family of all time. However, the Brown family does not follow the rules of the FLDS sect. 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 believe, the members of the AUB do not allow for arranged marriages or child brides. Also, unlike the FLDS, they live and work within society. The AUB is the largest branch, with approximately 10,000 members in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Montana, and Mexico.
So what does Kody Brown think about the FLDS leader, Warren Jeffs? In an interview from 2012 with Las Vegas Sun, Kody discussed his view on Jeff’s arrest and his impact on the way 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 poster child. When I talked with my children about doing the show, I said we have an opportunity to not only change our world, but to change the world for everyone else.”Kody Brown
‘Sister Wives’ stars think that Warren Jeffs gave polygamists a negative stereotype
In the same interview, the Sister Wives stars talk more about how Jeffs’ child abuse and rape conviction caused the world to view all polygamists as bad. When asked how they are different from Warren Jeffs and the FLDS, Kody explained:
“We are Fundamentalist Mormons, not the LDS or FLDS. Jeffs – who was the leader of the FLDS – built up a fiefdom around him. He took the voice away from his wives and children. My belief is that my wives should have their voice and should be able to make choices. As a family, we make choices together.”Kody Brown
Kody’s second wife, Janelle Brown, chimed in with her perspective. She said, “I was able to choose my family. In some Mormon sects, marriages are arranged. In our community, we don’t assign spouses. We also wait to get married after we turn 18 years old. The only common thing is 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 TV. We want the world for our children, for them to go to college and travel.” And Kody’s first wife, Meri Brown revealed that she had just ran 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. That abuse persists because people were more afraid of the government than Jeffs.”
Kody then concluded, “We don’t mean to criticize the FLDS. That is a community that needs our empathy and support. We can save our criticism for their leadership.”
While The Brown family wants to separate themselves as far as they can from the FLDS, their core values on plural or “celestial marriage” are the same. Hopefully, fans will hear more about this on season 17 of Sister Wives, set to air later in 2022.