Review: After Cult Leader Was Convicted, His Compound Was Raided by Child Protective Services
The Netflix docu-thriller Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey shows the downfall of Warren Jeffs and the unjustified taking of 450 children inside his religious community.
Even though Warren Jeffs resigned as president of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS), his followers continue to worship him as their prophet. Jeffs is currently serving a life sentence for sexually assaulting minors—at the time of his arrest in 2006, he had more than 70 wives and nearly a third of them were under the age of 17. A handful of Jeffs' followers were also charged with sexual assault.
This religious community—the subject of Netflix's latest true-crime docu-thriller, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey—wasn't finished with conflict after Jeffs and others were removed from the Yearning for Zion Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. Child Protective Services (CPS) returned to rip more than 450 children from their mothers on the compound. CPS claimed that because their religion represented a "pervasive belief system," it was too dangerous to leave any children in the community. In horrifying raw footage from the raid, the children (including newborns) are seen crowding on buses and screaming for their parents. The Texas Supreme Court later found that the raid was not justified because CPS failed to prove the children were in immediate danger.
When faced with a choice between family and church, many FLDS members continue to choose the latter. This devotion has led to many broken families where the husband is exiled while his wife and children—who think obedience is their only choice—stay behind, or in the worst-case scenario, are reassigned to new husbands.