When Warren Jeffs rose to Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, he took control of a religion with a history of polygamous and underage marriage. In a short time, ...
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When Warren Jeffs rose to Prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, he took control of a religion with a history of polygamous and underage marriage. In a short time, Warren managed to expand these practices and the power of his position in unprecedented ways. He bridged the gap between sister wives and ecclesiastically rape, befuddling the moral compass of his entire congregation. The film examines Warren Jeffs' life and shows how he became a worshipped and adored Prophet. Warren has a devout following numbering in the tens of thousands - many of whom would give their life at any moment with just one word from the Prophet. Despite a trail of abuse and ruined lives, Warren has maintained his grip on power.
This very disturbing documentary looks at Warren Jeffs the former president of the Fundamentalists of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). This organisation is one of the largest Mormon churches in America. It is most well-known for continuing the practice of polygamy. Jeffs himself had approximately seventy wives. Under his leadership there was a marked increased oppression of the FLDS followers. He implemented many restrictions on their lives and at his whim was at liberty to take away a members family, their home and all their money. The membership of the FLDS were to a large extent systematically brainwashed from birth to give maximum unquestioning obedience to their leaders in the priesthood and were banned from any contact with the outside world whatsoever. Warren Jeffs in particular used the guise of religion to carry out a number of extremely evil acts; most damningly he sexually abused and raped many children under his wing.
Two men, private investigator Sam Brower and novelist Jon Krakauer, have dedicated considerable time in bringing Jeffs down, while film-maker Amy Berg has brought this story to the screen here with Prophet's Prey. Scored with a very fitting downbeat minimalist music by Nick Cave, this is a well-made film which makes its point very clearly. The story is deeply unsettling and strange and shows that there is a form of extremely unpleasant religious fundamentalism of a Christian variety that is established within the United States itself. Jeffs consistently comes across as a deeply creepy man, with his very sinister monotone voice anything but reassuring. The liberties he continued to take and the way in which he is still considered a martyr to many in the FLDS is an indication of the way a group of people can be programmed to believe almost anything if it is presented in the right way to them. Jeffs paints himself as a prophet of God and was free to do as he pleased. The horrible extent of this is revealed in a small segment of a clip of a recording of him raping one of his twelve year old wives. It has been included here to show us a deeply unpleasant truth and is not exploitative; the full clip itself is seemingly harrowing. Despite his claims to the opposite, Jeffs is a man with no morals at all and simply abused his power at every given opportunity. He is a hypocrite who indulged in many things he forbade his followers to do. Latterly, from his cell he is questioned by Berg on his actions. His response is to repeat the words 'the Fifth Amendment' ad nauseam; it seems that when it suits him he is happy to hide behind the technicalities of the laws of the United States, a country he was hitherto at pains to disassociate himself from before. The truth of course is that he sexually abused many children, often of alarmingly young ages and he simply has no answer to these accusations.
Amy Berg has put together a very powerful documentary about a subject many of us had not hitherto known about. It is disturbing and enlightening. It is perhaps especially pertinent for us here in the UK who are still living in the aftermath of the Jimmy Savile scandal where a children's television entertainer who was regarded by some as a national treasure, got away with years of paedophile abuse of kids of all ages. He got away with it because he manipulated his position and did good deeds in order to give him cover to do bad. Warren Jeffs is a man from the same ilk and the more predators like him are exposed from the low-lives they are, the better society will be.
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