Based on the nonfiction novel of the same name by Jon Krakauer, Under the Banner of Heaven is a crime series created by Dustin Lance Black and premiered on FX on Hulu. The story revolves around Inspector Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield), a devout LDS believer as he investigates the murder of a mother, Brenda Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and 15-month old daughter from a big, conservative LDS family. Mormon history was also told through various people involved in the case.
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Under the Banner of Heaven- Did Jeb leave his church?
Throughout the series, Jeb was seen to struggle with his faith as the history of Mormonism was brought to light by the case. Jeb was previously a devout member of the LDS church but soon realized that he was just taught to put his questions on the shelf. Joseph Smith and Brigham Young’s history indicated that men were succumbing to their own worldly desires and claiming them to be God’s words. This was difficult for Jeb to reconcile, especially when these acts include raping and abusing women and young girls in forced marriages. At one point, Jeb was forced to choose between freedom from his faith or his family as Becca, his wife, is still a devout Mormon.
In the final episode, Taba and Allen helped Jeb with his faith. Through his own personal story with Brenda, Allen told Jeb that he found it more important to appreciate that he belonged to his wife at each moment, right there and then. Taba on the other hand, told Jeb that he still find solace in his Christian prayers because they remind him of home, and not because the prayer had any power over him.
In the end, Jeb returned to his family and prayed with them. It seemed like Jeb had taken these two advices to heart and found a different kind of relationship with religion that worked for him. Even in the final scene when Jeb took a walk with his mother Josie, Jeb showed indications of this. Josie saw the beautiful scenery and like any Mormon, credited God for the miracle. Instead, Jeb said he considered it a miracle that he was with her there and then, and Josie happily accepted her son’s thoughts.
Who killed Brenda Wright Lafferty?
Although Inspector Jeb Pyre is a fictional character, the Laffertys and Brenda’s murder is a true crime. Brenda was murdered by Ron and Dan Lafferty. Both Ron and Dan Lafferty had, in their own path, discovered fundamental Mormonism. During this time, they were violent to their wives and practiced polygamy. Dianna, Ron’s wife was punched and starved by Ron.
Brenda, as Dianna’s sister-in-law could not stand this and hence, got the help from the LDS church to get Dianna to Florida. This angered Ron, who at the same time believed he was God’s chosen messenger. He then wrote a list of people including Dianna, Brenda and the people who helped Dianna. Then Ron told his FLDS group, the School of Prophets, that he got a revelation that these people had to be made vanished from Earth. Dan and Ron then killed Brenda and her 15-month old daughter to follow this “revelation”.
At the end of the series, Ron and Dan were captured by the police. To learn what happen to the actual Ron and Dan, head to the Wikipedia article here.