Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey (2022) s01e01 Episode Script

Part One

1 When I was 14 years old, they forced me to marry my cousin.
I asked Warren, begged him, "Please don't make me get married.
" And he said, "Do you believe that you know better than the Prophet?" "That if you're questioning me, you're questioning God.
" Warren Jeffs is the leader of a secretive religious cult called the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Known as "FLDS.
" It's a far offshoot of the Mormon church and supports the practice of polygamy.
The more wives and children you have, the higher in heaven you'll be.
We were so scared, you know? That we're gonna be condemned to hell if we did anything different.
You have to submit yourself.
Because it was for our salvation.
You did whatever it took, even if it was wrong.
You just did it.
I saw this picture of Warren kissing this girl.
That's when I said, "I'm done.
" I have followed my heart and I've spoken the truth.
To stand up against a multi-million-dollar church, you're going up against a lifetime of conditioning.
A lifetime of fear.
The other people of the FLDS would say, "Why are you challenging the Prophet's word?" "Why aren't you being obedient?" You don't know any better until you get away from it.
And getting away from it is the hard part.
It happens to everybody eventually.
You will come around and see the light and go, "What the fuck?" I was born for the road ♪ Only after a storm ♪ Can you feel the sun ♪ Ooh, I wanna feel ♪ More ♪ Ecstasy In the shadow of ecstasy ♪ In the shadow of ecstasy ♪ Ooh, I wanna feel ♪ More ♪ This is July 4th.
This is our happy day.
Rebecca's on TV! Mother! Ma, don't do that! Even though I grew up in the United States we knew we were different.
The way that we dressed was obviously different.
And, in my family, and in the culture I grew up in, I was taught that we were the one and only true people of God on the whole face of the Earth.
And we believed in polygamy.
What we called plural marriage.
Kyle! For those of us who remember life prior to Warren Jeffs Lacey.
we remember the good times.
People who cared about each other, that were working together to live the FLDS way and continue to grow this community.
I was a part of the younger set of kids.
I know I was my mom's eleventh, but I never remember exactly which structure in my family.
I think I was the nineteenth.
Yes, I was the nineteenth child.
My dad had two wives.
My mother was my father's second wife.
And Myrna was my dad's first wife.
Lloyd was my high school sweetheart.
How could I share him with anybody else? But I got my mind all in tune with accepting another woman in the family.
A unique aspect of my dad is, he was a convert, and he was trying to find a way to create a life for himself that he couldn't find in the mainstream Mormon church.
It's unusual to convert to the FLDS, isn't it? - Yes.
- It is.
You gotta make a commitment.
A real commitment.
In those days, it wasn't even called FLDS.
When we joined, it was just called The Fundamentalists.
In the valley below me ♪ In the valley ♪ They call themselves fundamentalist Mormons.
They were forced out of mainstream Mormonism when the church outlawed polygamy over 100 years ago.
In the sky above me ♪ My brother, he joined it, and he'd say, "You guys, you're drinking skim milk, you really need to have the meat.
" - There are a jillion polygamist groups.
- Yeah, there are a lot of them.
But none of them were trying to adhere to fundamentalism like the FLDS, and that's what intrigued me.
In the valley below me ♪ In the valley below ♪ These polygamists trace the religious justification for plural marriage back to the first prophet of Mormonism, Joseph Smith.
If you want to obtain the highest degree of salvation, you must live this law.
According to my understanding of the Gospel, plural wives was the whole picture that Christ was after.
And, one day at a Sunday meeting, the Prophet pulled me in real close and he said to me, "Sharon belongs in your family.
" "Now let's get with it and we'll get it taken care of tonight.
" That was the first time he ever met her.
- Yeah.
- Or her him.
And we took her home.
We took her home that night.
Sharon had fourteen and I had nine beautiful children.
We had 30 good years together.
- They were good years? - For me.
Oh, they were rocky, you know? Two women in one house? Yeah, they were rocky.
Let's go! We're gonna go pray downstairs.
Here we go.
We were the downstairs kids.
We would sleep in the downstairs, my mom and her children.
Mama, turn over here and smile real cute and then I'll And then his first wife and her kids were the upstairs kids.
We were well aware that plural marriage was illegal.
And on my birth certificate, my dad lied.
Instead of writing, "Lloyd Wall," he filled in the father's space as "Lewis Wilson.
" And my name was Rebecca Wilson on my original birth certificate.
It was just a made-up name.
We didn't really leave our property in Salt Lake City.
We didn't go to movies.
We didn't go to theme parks or any kind of large gathering places.
So, there wasn't a lot of exposure to the outside world.
Our activities were within our own group.
There's the parade! As time went on Hi, camera.
we definitely got further and further away from society, and all of us knew that our way of life had to be concealed.
People are entitled to believe what they want, but the law currently in the United States is that polygamy is not a protected constitutional right.
Plural marriage, polygamy, it's illegal.
But as a practical matter, it is almost never prosecuted.
It's hard to prove, and law-enforcement and politicians are not very interested in disrupting families.
I think most people in Utah, the mainstream Mormons, people like me, see polygamy as an embarrassment.
But polygamy is really not the problem anyway.
It's the secondary crimes that occur in a closed religious society controlled by men.
That's when all sorts of mischief can take place.
And that's what happened with the FLDS.
I think most of the men in the FLDS just regard women as chattel.
They were property.
When you're taught something from birth from your mother and father, you believe them 'cause they're your parents.
And it's your family.
I was doing what I was taught to do.
Crazy cows.
But someday we get to eat them.
We were taught from birth that in order to get what they called, "the highest degree" of the celestial kingdom, you had to have at least three wives while you lived on Earth.
And if you did not, you could not reach that highest degree.
If you reach the highest degree, you will be able to create spirit children.
You'll be able to create worlds, galaxies, universes.
Basically become a god.
And what happens to the women? Do they become gods? That is kind of a gray area.
We were never taught what a woman becomes on the other side other than a wife.
My dad is American made ♪ Born and raised in the USA ♪ From his hard-working hands ♪ To his big-loving heart ♪ My dad is American made ♪ A man's status depends on how many wives he has.
My dad, he had two wives, and he couldn't figure out why other men were getting more wives and he was not.
So my dad always felt like he was jilted.
He built a very successful business.
And he'd given money to the church.
He'd given, you know, his expertise as an engineer.
I want the universe! And he was always kind of frustrated.
But he also had this host of daughters that could be given to other men.
And it's kind of like, "I'll give you some if you give me some.
" Even though it's never spoken that way, I think that's the general understanding.
In the FLDS, you had the Prophet.
The Prophet is a representation of God on Earth.
The best way to explain the Prophet would be like the Catholic Pope.
They've They've got a Pope, pretty much pretty much runs everything.
We were told that our Prophet, Rulon Jeffs, would never die.
That he would be renewed to be young again.
We believed that the Prophet knew everything we did, knew every thought we had, knew our dreams, knew our wishes, our desires.
He also was the one that created all arranged marriages.
It's what's called "The placement principle.
" You didn't court and decide who you would marry.
Only the Prophet could choose who you married.
It was a big deal in our culture, when a girl is ready to get married to "turn her in" to the Prophet, and that was to go to the Prophet and say, "Here is my daughter, do with her as you will, whatever is God's will.
" And so, when I turned 19, my father, he brought me to Rulon Jeffs.
It had become known that there was a specific handshake that he would give to girls that would then later become his wife.
And that day, he shook my hand, and he squeezed it three times, and it meant I was supposed to marry him.
And my dad was so excited.
For any man in the FLDS, to have their daughter marry into the Prophet's family was a massive honor, and I think my dad felt like finally he was getting the respect that he was entitled to and that he deserved.
But I was just like, ' "Ew!" Rulon Jeffs was 85 when I married him.
And I was 19.
So, I got married.
And then my father got his third wife.
Ever since I was a little girl, all I wanted was to be a really good wife and I was going to raise a whole bunch of children and do like everybody else was doing.
So, after I got out of high school, I was just constantly going to my father and saying, "I want to turn myself in.
" When you turn yourself in, you wanna be married, is what you're saying.
And so, my mother and father took me to the Prophet.
We sat across from Rulon, and, without hesitation, he said, "Well then, will you marry me?" And I'm like I was shocked a little, but, that night, we were married.
I believe he was 86 when I married him.
I think he had 23 wives already.
Or maybe I was his 23rd wife.
After the ceremony, he gave me one heck of a smacker.
I felt I was getting sucked in and I was just trying to pull away.
It was a lot for me to take in all at once.
I was 20 years old.
That was my first kiss.
And, you know, a young girl dreams of fairy tales and all that kind of stuff.
Your brain runs away with you and you think it's gonna be magical.
Yeah, it wasn't magical.
They didn't let us work.
They didn't let us go to school.
All our sole purpose was to be with Rulon Jeffs, pray, and to be obedient.
To be uh, adoring at all times.
In Rulon's house, on the wall in the dining room, is a picture of all the ladies in the order he married them.
Every night, every woman was in a line outside his door, and each woman took their turn to go say good night to him.
And I'm telling you, these lines were so bloody long.
And it was such a pain.
I was just like, "It's just a freaking kiss.
" I hated kissing the man after he kissed other women.
I used a lot of Listerine is all I'm going to say.
So, it was my turn to go in and say good night to him, and he says, "I want you to stay with me and we'll do a little lovemaking.
" And I'm like, "Lovemaking? What the What does that mean?" You do not know anything.
I did not know how babies were born.
I just thought that you made 'em when you kissed.
At 19, I did not know what it took to physically get pregnant.
I did not expect Rulon Jeffs to touch me in any way, shape, or form.
Um You got undressed and then you went down to his bedroom and I remember him rolling on top of me and saying, "Spread your legs.
" I felt like, this is everything that we were told was bad.
Why Why is a man doing this, let alone the Prophet of God doing this to me? He went to sleep for a few minutes after that, and the next thing I know, he's hitting me with his elbow, and waking me up and saying, "I need I need to go to the bathroom.
" He can't walk, you know.
He's holding on to you.
We went into the bathroom, and he didn't quite make it, and that was my first introduction to the blow dryer.
You'd have to dry it and clean him up and uh, you know, one time I stepped on his oxygen cord and that yanked his face and he got pretty angry.
I was clever.
I knew he was tired, so I'd have him get in bed and I'd rub his feet and get him to sleep.
I'd do anything I could to make him fall asleep.
And then I would pass by another night without having him touch me.
And um, it worked for a while until it didn't.
Keep sweet, no matter what.
That's the road to perfection.
girls for you ♪ Keep sweet, keep sweet ♪ It's the motto, tried and true ♪ Keep sweet, keep sweet ♪ When you grow up good and kind ♪ "Keep sweet" was Rulon saying to the people, "Keep sweet, no matter what," and "For heaven's sakes, keep sweet," is what he would always say.
Everybody had little stickers.
"Keep Sweet.
Keep Sweet.
Keep Sweet.
" And he had shoes that had "Keep Sweet" on the bottoms of his shoes.
I thought that was pretty cute.
It meant to be in control of your emotions.
And you didn't display things like anger or resentment or frustration, especially towards the fathers and the husbands.
Keep sweet no matter what.
And it became more and more drilled into us, the keep sweet.
But it wasn't Uncle Rulon that did it.
It was Warren.
Warren is eight years older than I am.
No, six, six years.
How many siblings did you have growing up? Sixty-two.
Thirty Thirty-two brothers and 30 sisters.
Not all of them I knew.
There were some sisters that had grown up and gotten married before I even knew who they were, but there was 62 that we were aware of.
Marilyn, Mother Marilyn as we called her, she was Warren's mother.
And she really pushed her sons to be close to our dad to make them the next leaders of the church after my dad.
And she had a special relationship with Warren even though he wasn't her oldest son.
Oh boy.
That's a whole 'nother story.
Mother Marilyn felt that Warren was special because Warren was born I believe it was eight weeks premature.
And Mother Marilyn always told the story about how Warren was close to death at birth, and that previous prophets came to her and revealed to her that he would survive and that Warren would be "a very special" person.
My dad also believed that.
You couldn't get close to Warren.
You know, he had this holier-than-thou attitude.
And even though he could be funny, he came across kind of abrasive.
I don't think he was liked much.
He was the awkward son of a man who had power.
I desire here today ♪ To sincerely point the way ♪ Warren, compared to his brothers, he was not anything to write home about.
I mean, pretty smart.
He could do math.
I learned to do algebra from him.
Did he in the beginning foresee what he would become? I don't think so.
I think that he was keenly aware of how to pick up on what is important to people and how to use that to manipulate them.
He will lead us to Zion's shore ♪ When did you begin to see signs of Warren's eventual character growing up? When I was 16, Warren started getting very cozy with the sisters of the family.
Uh, uncomfortably cozy with the sisters.
And it was seen by a lot of us brothers, and we reported it to our dad.
Or at least I did.
My dad's response was, "Drop it.
" "Don't talk about it.
I'm handling it.
" "Forget about it.
Don't ever talk about it again.
" One of the things the Jeffs family did in Salt Lake was they operated what was known as the Alta Academy.
Alta Academy trained and educated a large number of the FLDS people in the FLDS way.
Everything just had a religious content to it.
And, uh, you know, the some things were omitted.
I deeply appreciate the efforts of these young people putting on this fine program.
My dad, he didn't want the world's teachings to be given to his children.
He wanted them to get what we called priesthood teachings.
Somebody had to be the principal.
And I remember my dad very forcefully pushing Warren into that.
It was almost like this was the beginning of his calling, and this was going to be what taught him how to become what my dad wanted him to become.
So, as soon as he became Principal and realized he had this authority, he started exercising it vigorously.
"I'm the boss.
Obey me at all costs.
" Warren had a saying, "Perfect obedience is led by a hair.
" Meaning, hair is so thin, and true obedience meant that you could be led by a hair and you would not break it.
So there could be absolutely no resistance to that obedience because any resistance would pop that hair.
In the early days of the Alta Academy, we had books from the outside world.
And I remember Library Day, Like, I loved it.
My favorite books were the Encyclopedia Brown books, and then the Nancy Drew books.
They were so clever.
I wanted to be clever like that.
And then they took all those books away.
Anything that had an outside influence was purged.
The school libraries, they would take any book that wasn't specifically approved by Warren himself.
Those were completely banned and taken out.
They would cut sections out of our science books.
Just razor it.
Like, cut whole sections out of them.
Reproduction, the solar system, or things like that.
Warren created a curriculum that was specifically for women of the FLDS that he would teach in school.
Warren had a book called Purity in the New and Everlasting Covenant of Marriage, and we were all required to study and learn it.
It taught us to basically have nothing in your brain except to do the Prophet's will.
To have a thought of a boy, to like a boy, to even think of a boy, would cloud that channel.
Did you ever have a crush on a boy? Oh, yeah.
I'm human.
Even when I went to marry Rulon, I still had a crush on a boy.
He didn't catch it.
That I guess the channel was clogged or something.
It was an August afternoon.
Rulon was sitting on the sofa speaking, and we were just listening, and he was talking and, um all of a sudden, he just slumped over like this.
Almost like he fell asleep.
And one of my sister wives kind of shook him and said, "Father, Father?" He kind of came to and just was like, "Where am I?" And he was really disoriented.
And it turned out he had had a massive stroke.
And they got him to the hospital, and when I saw him, he just was very weak, limp.
He could hardly walk or keep his balance.
He was very unsteady.
And he could not remember any of our names.
He would just look at me and point his finger and go, "That's snicklefritz right there.
" After Rulon's stroke, that's when things really took a turn.
That's when Warren started taking over.
Warren pretty much removed everybody out of Rulon's life.
After the stroke, he said that Uncle Rulon needed to heal.
From the time he had his stroke, Warren never left my father's side.
He controlled everything that my father did, who saw my father.
He controlled his appointments, controlled everything he did.
Warren acted like it was Uncle Rulon telling him what to say.
And yet it wasn't.
It wasn't Uncle Rulon.
That's when Warren's teachings got so scary.
The meetings were always just fire and damnation and Joe Smith's dream of blood running down the gutters of the Salt Lake streets, and things just pounded into our brains.
Torch of the Prophets, in whom we believe He was a great speaker.
They have lighted the way.
He knew how to tell us we were all gonna be destroyed very vividly.
There's going to be a great purging, a great cleansing of the Earth.
Warren had a lot of revelations that the end of the world was coming.
We'd been prepared for that for hundreds of years 'cause it was always, "Time is short.
" That's been part of the Mormon narrative and theology.
Prepare ye, for the great day of judgment is upon us.
And those judgments are going to be furious.
All of you are not going to survive.
We grew up under that belief system that any year now it was gonna happen.
That the whole Earth would be on fire.
Everybody would die by fire and the only way to be saved from that is a piece of the Earth being lifted up while the Earth gets burned.
So if we're faithful enough, we would be worthy to be on that piece of land that gets lifted up off of the Earth so that we would not die with the wicked.
We were told that anyone who didn't subscribe to the FLDS belief system would be wiped off the face of the Earth so that it would be clean and pure for the righteous.
The Olympic torch has arrived in Salt Lake City.
The Olympics.
Oh boy.
That's when things really became screwed up.
Warren said, "If the Olympics come here, it's gonna be the end of the world.
" And he said, "We've got to get everybody out of here.
" Warren said that Salt Lake was gonna be destroyed during the Olympics.
And if we didn't go down to Short Creek, we would not get lifted up.
The FLDS were really located primarily in two places: the Salt Lake area, and Short Creek on the Utah-Arizona Border.
Short Creek dates back to the 1930s.
When Mormon fundamentalists no longer had a place in the mainstream LDS church, uh, one of the groups started to homestead down there.
The reason I think it was picked is, it was just so far from civilization and very hard to reach.
That remoteness was a big deal and very important to them.
So, in 2002, Warren Jeffs ordered the FLDS people to gather to Short Creek.
They sold their homes, they gave up their businesses, because the end of the world was coming.
"Sell everything you can.
" "Sell your houses and move down.
" We had two houses.
We sold them both.
The crick went from a small community, I'd say 1,000, 2,000 people, to - what do you think it grew to, 8,000? - Mm-hmm.
Probably about 10,000 people.
That was the biggest migration of people in our history that I knew of.
I believe that Warren, he thought, "I need to gather the people into one place so that I can control them.
" So they were all gathered in Short Creek, ready for the destruction to come and to be lifted up.
We were all scared to death.
Just total fear that this is the beginning of the end.
We all kinda just waited and just waited and it never came.
Warren couldn't explain why it didn't happen the way he said it would, and I think he panicked.
People are gonna wise up.
It was very confusing.
There was no logical rhyme or reason.
Warren said it was just a test, and that God had granted us a little more time.
He said it was a gift to us, that God wants you to be more righteous, so he's gonna gift you more time.
That meant we needed to be more perfect, we needed to be more obedient.
And it was never enough.
We were never good enough.
And then, one afternoon, Warren called over the intercom and he said, "Come sing to Father.
He's not feeling well.
" So we all gathered in the Prophet's room.
Rulon was on his bed, and there was myself and all of my sister wives.
And we were singing, and I will never forget how gray he looked.
Translucent and gray.
And then, the next day, he died.
It was very confusing.
He was not supposed to die.
We were always told he was supposed to be the last prophet that would bring us into the millennium.
We were taught that, if we had the faith, he would suddenly, just like Jesus walked out of the tomb, that he would come in the door a young man and give us all children.
Of the many options that could've happened, him dying was not on the table.
Before the funeral, Warren said that we all needed to be in white dresses.
And so, all the women that were great seamstresses came forward and made brand new dresses, like in two days.
It was this sea of white, all these young and old women.
All of his wives.
Sixty-five of us.
Our Father, who art in heaven, we rejoice in You in the privilege of being under our Prophet's direction.
In the privilege of being taught how to come to You through him The funeral was very, very somber.
I would say more of a spirit of confusion than sorrow.
What's going to happen now? So, here, our last prophet has died Is the Earth gonna come apart? It was just a lot of apprehension and confusion.
I truly believed that, any minute, he was going to sit up and be renewed.
They closed the casket and there was this overwhelming fear inside of me.
If they put him in the ground, how is he gonna get out? I believed as clear as day that he was gonna be lifted up.
And so I'm thinking, "So what is this you've been giving us all these years?" And then I I think I may have voiced it slightly to Jeff and I think I remember you said, "I don't understand.
" "You just gonna have put this on the shelf.
" 'Cause that's what we were always told, "If you don't understand it, put it on the shelf.
" My dad's funeral was controlled 100% by Warren.
He stood right next to my dad's coffin during the viewing.
Wouldn't let any of the other sons stand next to him.
He was the only son.
That's what really started showing Warren's true colors.
In the weeks after Rulon's funeral, Warren was speaking as though he was his father renewed and his father had assumed his body and was still leading the people through Warren.
And then it became, "I am my father.
" Then one day, he was sitting in the office and he said, real quiet, "Who do you think the next prophet is?" And I I was a people pleaser and I wanted to please him, and I basically said, "I think you are," and he just beamed at me.
A lot of people didn't see that.
So, yeah, he still had to convince people, but he couldn't come right out and say it.
He couldn't come right out and say, "I'm the next prophet.
" He had to make up a story to justify it.
At the general meetings where everybody gathered, he would call on certain of Rulon's wives to come and tell what they dreamed of and who they felt like was the next prophet.
He had people step to the pulpit and validate his claims that he was the new prophet and that we were to get behind him.
I now call upon one of father's wives, Mother Naomi.
I first will ask a question.
Do we really believe in Uncle Rulon? 'Cause if we do, we believe that Warren Jeffs is the Prophet of God, and I need him to guide me.
Looking back, I see he was very smart.
It was all done very strategically and methodically.
Once Warren became the Prophet, we were all just instruments in the machine that was at his disposal.
The religion.
What can we give to him? ♪ What can we do? ♪ All he asks of us is our faith ♪ He was the man who could take them into heaven.
And so the stakes for them are eternal, and, to make a mistake and lose the favor of the Prophet is just unthinkable.
If we believe in him ♪ And so, Warren Jeffs took over this religion with thousands of loyal followers, and he manipulated their beliefs and turned it into money and power and sex.
Our lives will all be blessed ♪ Our faith will grow ♪ And they ended up following him right off the cliff.
Our faith will grow ♪
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