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Active In FLDS Still 2022

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Warren Jeffs, the FLDS's "Prophet" and focus of Netflix's Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, was sentenced to life in prison. But is the church still active? Is the FLDS church, as shown in Netflix's Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, still around in 2022, despite "the Prophet" Warren Jeffs serving a life sentence? FLDS stands for the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, which is a more extremist sect that split from the Mormon Church in 1929 over the practice of polygamy. Like the Mormons, FLDS members were more densely located in the Salt Lake City area. During the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics, the area's FLDS community migrated en masse to the town of Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona border. As allegations regarding the church's illegal underage polygamist marriages began to build, Warren Jeffs had another compound developed in El Dorado, Texas, where he lived until his 2006 arrest.

Shows like South Park and Under the Banner of Heaven, Mormonism has enough cultural exposure to garner the religion some controversy. Now, thanks to the documentary series Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, practices within the more extreme FLDS, and their effect on its adherents, are being exposed more widely to the public. The Prophet, who in the FLDS is considered a Pope-equivalent due to his believed role as the direct communication point to God, has the sole power of assigning wives to men. FLDS men were given dozens of wives of a variety of ages, with some girls as young as 14 being married off and impregnated. Such practices in the church went under further scrutiny when Warren Jeffs was sentenced to life in prison plus 20 years for being an accomplice to rape and for sexual assault on minors. That said, the FLDS still exists, with Jeffs remaining as its Prophet. As is revealed in other true-crime Netflix documentaries focused on cults, like 2018's Wild Wild Country, high-control religions like the FLDS increase their adherents' loyalty through strong community standards and intense punishments for going against doctrine. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey explains that women raised in the FLDS are taught that disobeying the Prophet, their husbands, their family, and the church ruin their chances of salvation after death. Jeffs, in particular, increased control over his followers with increasingly stringent rules and more fearful, intense sermons. As of 2022, FLDS members visit Jeffs in prison and deliver his speeches to the whole church via phone recordings and handwritten notes.

Pray and Obey interviews people who courageously left the FLDS after suffering from extreme trauma. For example, prominent interviewee Elissa Wall recalls being forced to marry her abusive cousin when she was just 14, despite her insistent pleas against the union. The documentary circumvents the same Netflix true-crime problem avoided by Our Father, which is another Netflix docuseries about a powerful man's sexual control and abuse over women, by focusing primarily on the victims of the FLDS. However, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey reveals that one of the main consequences of leaving the FLDS includes losing contact with friends and family. In showing this, the documentary explains how leaving the FLDS can become nearly impossible. In addition to threatening adherents with eternal damnation for leaving the church, FLDS members face this more concrete punishment of being removed from everyone they love. For this key reason, coupled with the fact that FLDS members believe in its doctrine willingly by often even being raised in it, it's no surprise that the church is still active today.

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