- Directed by Rachel Dretzin and Grace McNally
- June 8th, 2022
Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is a documentary miniseries focusing on the polygamous FLDS Church and the current leader Warren Jeffs.
The title of this series ‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey’ comes from the motto “Keep Sweet, Pray, and Obey,” coined by Warren’s father Rulon. It was used to convey to women how they should behave when it came to their husband. Reportedly it was frequently sung aloud and meant “to be in control of your emotions and you didn’t display things like anger or resentment or frustration” with the latter part of the motto, “Pray and Obey” adorning the chimney of a house belonging to Warren Jeffs.
I watch a lot of documentaries shows on Netflix. They tend to have interesting topics though for the purposes of this blog I don’t write about each one I encounter. Most of them tend to be background noise for me rather than anything I find myself focusing on. This is the exception to that rule.
There is something about Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey that pulled me in from the beginning. It forced me to focus on the presented material and did not leave my mind. This is a disturbing tale of the FLDS which to this day-despite him being in prison-is still headed up by Warren Jeffs.
Not only is this the story of very bad religion but also the story of not just an individual who would’ve been a nobody in the outside world finding a way to wealth and power. Yes Jeffs basically scammed his own people for his own wealth. It’s a cautionary tale. But it’s a tale that also ends on hope. The survivors interviewed have moved on and are building better lives for themselves though it did not come without great cost.
You become to care about those they interview and end understanding their plight and struggle. And what they went through and how it happened is difficult for an outsider to understand but those behind it do a good job of conveying understanding. You’re given a clear insight as to why it was so hard for anyone to do anything about this. From those living the life to those on the outside it wasn’t as easy to stand up. That’s the life they knew. That’s your whole world and name and the people behind this documentary make that clear when it comes to the former FLDS members of the interview.
Watching Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey from the beginning I was left with the impression that Warren’s father Rulon was a true believer in the religion he founded. I think he genuinely believed that what he was doing was what God wanted. I am not saying child brides and thinking you will become a god by having multiple wives is good. I am just saying he was a genuine believer.
Jeffs himself comes off as a conman here. Whether or not he ever truly believed is besides the point. By the end given photographic evidence it’s clear he was not a believer by the time of being caught. The interesting thing is there are numerous images and evidence while he was on the run and in hiding it shows he was living life up like a secular individual.
Yet as leader one thing he did was into introduce a very strict dress code. The FLDS people in my Pennsylvania opinion looked like a cross between Mennonites and Amish-at least when it came to the women. The men look like just like you average Mennonite man around here.
One thing this documentary does highlight is that people need to say something when something isn’t right. There are plenty of instances of news footage in this where individuals are saying that these FLDS members are different but they are not harming anybody. There are still plenty of other interviews where people heard rumors and stories and that something was funky and I’m willing to bet plenty of those people interviewed that had a live and let live attitude heard those same rumors but nobody did anything.
They do not shy away from the shocking here. Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is not for the faint of heart. There are things in here that will make your skin crawl. It’s not merely the discussion of child brides or the numerous child pregnancies. What I found particularly horrifying was in the final episode of the discussion of this weird bedroom chamber where Warren Jeffs would take his brides and I can’t even write anymore because I find it so disgusting. And there were audio recordings of that!
The documentary Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is definitely worth a watch. It will suck you in and hold you. You will become invested in the lives of those of the people they interview. It’s disturbing and powerful and a must see. I strongly recommend this!