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Is ‘Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey’ one of the scariest cults ever?

As we plunge down the rabbit hole of the chilling world of Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey, the latest sensation in the documentary realm, we’re left grappling with a discomfort that’s as haunting as the show’s grim title. This Netflix miniseries, unraveling the bleakest corners of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints—an offshoot of mainstream Mormonism—echoes the harrowing stories of the denizens of the cult under Warren S. Jeffs. Spearheaded by Rachel Dretzin and Grace McNally, the series takes us to Short Creek, Utah—where it all went down. Since its debut on June 8, 2022, it’s clocked up an impressive 58.78 million hours of views globally in a span of just two weeks—clearly striking a chord in the hearts of crime connoisseurs.

Fearful obedience lurks

Behind the aesthetic facade of Short Creek’s soul-crushing prominence in Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey lies a minefield of meticulous psychological terror. The series successfully tugs at the heartstrings, offering an intimate glimpse into a community embedded in fear, exploitation, and manipulation.

John Krakauer’s 2003 investigation of FLDS sparked initial conversations on its dark underbelly. The cunning charisma of its leader Warren Jeffs, masking predatory exploitation and control, ignited collective outrage. The Netflix docuseries brings to light fresh evidence and survivor narratives, starkly validating prior fictive analogs like HBO’s Big Love.

The creators of Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey meticulously weave an unnerving picture of the pervasive mental and physical abuses. The sobering statistics and bone-chilling testimonials serve as a haunting reminder of real-life dystopian living conditions beneath FLDS’s faux-utopian veneer.

Twisting faith and fear

The FLDS under Warren S. Jeffs epitomizes a sinister form of spiritual rapture. The series title “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey” reflects the cult’s disturbing rhetoric, instilling unflinching obedience through a dread-wrapped promise of celestial salvation. This grim reality persists as survivors, interviewed by directors Dretzin and McNally, recount bone-chilling tales of manipulation and control. Their narratives, veined with sorrow yet bolstered by courage, act as an unflinching mirror to the brutal tribulations under the dictatorial regime of Jeffs.

Listen closely, and you’ll hear echoes of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel, The Handmaid’s Tale. It’s this uncanny resemblance that seems to draw viewers in, feeding a voracious appetite for crime dramas and an unnerving fascination with ideological corruption. Yet, unlike the fictional Gilead, this totalitarian nightmare was real, rooted deeply in the soil of Short Creek. It’s a sobering reminder, enough to make an audience double-check their locks and sleep a little less soundly.

The captivating appeal of Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey lies not solely in its chilling narrative, *but also* in its thoughtful conception and execution. The series skillfully adapts an age-old recipe – blend a charismatic yet horrifying leader, add a dash of religious fanaticism, sprinkle in a substantial helping of exploitation, then serve it cold. The result? A searing spectacle of true crime that’s as uncomfortable as it is unmissable.

Harrowing truths surface

The deeply personal narratives are the lifeblood of Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey. The survivors’ resiliency amidst the abhorrence introduces a distinct human element, reframing our understanding of cults beyond mere shock value.

Critically acclaimed tales of subjugation such as The Handmaid’s Tale have long gripped us, but the visceral reality depicted in this series defies well-worn fiction. In-depth interviews unveil scars of spiritual, physical abuse—a veritable exhibit of human resilience and spirit, giving faces to the once voiceless victims.

While the ecclesiastical power structure is leveraged to exploit the innocent under FLDS’s reign, the series manages to transcend the victim stereotype, focusing on the collective spirit of survival, making the viewing experience as cathartic as it is distressing.

Dark truths unraveled

Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey peels away the veneer of religious discipline to reveal a horrific underbelly of enforced servitude and psychological torment. The series, helmed by Rachel Dretzin and Grace McNally, confronts viewers with the stark realities of life under the oppressive rule of Warren Jeffs and his FLDS cult. In doing so, it’s not only exposing important socio-cultural truths, but also pushing boundaries of what we perceive as entertainment.

The docuseries builds on the critical groundwork laid by investigative narratives exploring the FLDS, such as John Krakauer’s chilling 2003 exposé. By incorporating new testimonies from the survivors and revealing shocking facts about the cult’s practices, it lends an even more compelling voice to the ongoing conversation about these ghastly atrocities. This real-life horror scenario bears an eerie parallel to dystopian series like HBO’s Big Love or the more chilling echoes of The Handmaid’s Tale.

The recurring phrase, “Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey,” initially embodies a haunting mantra of faithful submission within the FLDS community. The stories told with this chilling backdrop bypass the barrier of shock entertainment, spiraling into an unsettling cautionary saga of certain ideological tyranny. The manipulative power dynamics, veiled under religious subservience, consistently remind us of Gilead – Margaret Atwood’s chilling concoction of a dystopia, except this nightmare is unapologetically true.

The genius of Dretzin and McNally’s direction renders an intricate narrative so powerful in its storytelling that it transcends the conventional confines of a crime saga. The commandment to “keep sweet, pray and obey” not only lingers as a cruel joke on the FLDS cult but as a proving testament to a brainwashing regime that betrayed its flock so spectacularly. It’s a chilling wake-up call to viewers, ensuring they remain not just passive recipients but active participants in discussing, dissecting and hopefully aiding the healing for those who’ve suffered under the guise of religious devotion.

Invoking chills, invoking change

Horror, in its most palpable form, is the prevailing sentiment in Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey. The series exposes real-world monsters disguised behind the emblematic imprimatur of false faith. It peels back the curtain on an orchestrated arena of dominance under Warren S. Jeffs where the doctrine of obedience was not just preached but violently enforced.

The FLDS’s dread-inspiring doctrine of “keep sweet, pray and obey,” poses a paradox of horrifying intentions veiled in sacrosanct phraseology. The stark contrast between the innocuousness of the law and its insidious implications is a chill-inducing exposé of how religion can hijack rationality.

The courage and resilience of the survivors incite hope, making this series not just a chilling revelation, but a catalyst for change. Commendable in its disturbing truth-telling, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey is a plangent clarion call to shatter the silencing walls of religious autocracy.

Haunting memories stirred

As Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey propels spectators into the rattling, tight corridors of memory, it revives the haunting narratives that had been relegated to oblivion. The chilling truths that emerge from the depths of this FLDS cult become heartrending elegies of freedom stifled under religious guises.

The series pushes us to acknowledge the harsh realities that persist in less examined pockets of our world. With Jeffs as the chilling showrunner of everyone’s destiny, there is something fundamentally distressing about this utter distortion of faith—a grim reminder of the malevolent forms power can seep into.

By shining a light on the gruesome deeds and bringing the grimly captivating accounts of survival to the fore, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey invokes the urgent need for societal vigilance, legal reforms, and consistent efforts to stand against such manipulative power plays.


Tough truths tackled

Real-life scenarios of fear, subjugation, and blind obedience within the ranks of FLDS might rival even the most intricate plotlines of prestige TV, but Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey serves as a stark reminder that truth is not only stranger than fiction, but also grimmer and harder to fathom.

The series bares the hard-hitting reality of a system inured to abuse, exploiting the blind faith of its followers and breeding a culture of fear—a stinging illustration of absolute power corrupting absolutely.

Albeit grim in its revelations, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey confers power upon those once silenced, poignantly accentuating their courage and resilience. It underscores the sobering fact that overcoming such spiritual captivity does not denote an end, but rather a beginning—of survival, healing, and a tumultuous yet critical journey towards freedom.

The Sister Wives of the FLDS church, as pictured in Netflix documentary, Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey.

Emerging from the shadows

The ghastly edifices of our reality shown in Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey solidify the monumental power of the truth, staring us in the face in all its grotesque grandeur. The architectural endeavor of Dretzin and McNally has not only exhumed chilling truths hidden in the shadows but also paves the way for a larger movement towards justice.

Indeed, the series rekindles discussions about the plight and courage of the survivors while exposing the monstrosities of faith twisted to serve the deranged. United by viewership, each of those 58.78 million hours contributes to recognizing, acknowledging, and addressing these sinister realities. It provides a digital global platform for confronting and conversing about these dark societal corners. And therein lies its alarming allure.

Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey ends up an indictment not just of a religion-gone-rogue, but of humanity itself. Yet, amidst these dire spectacles of manipulation and subjugation, there emerges hope. A hope hollowed out of the fierce will of the survivors, their tenacity sparking a tale of unparalleled resilience that continues beyond the series. The aftermath of this viewing experience ain’t just about maintaining water cooler convos—it’s a call to stay woke in a world where even the divine can be demonized. One might say, it’s our duty to watch, listen, and most importantly, act.


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