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Under the Banner of Heaven
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For the television adaptation, see Under the Banner of Heaven (TV series).
Under the Banner of Heaven
Author Jon Krakauer
Country United States
Language English Subject FLDS Church Genre Nonfiction
Publication date July 2003
Media type Print ISBN 1-4000-3280-6 OCLC 842901458 Preceded by Followed by
is a nonfiction book by author Jon Krakauer, first published in July 2003. He investigated and juxtaposed two histories: the origin and evolution of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) and a modern double murder committed in the name of God by brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, who subscribed to a fundamentalist version of Mormonism.
The Laffertys were formerly members of a very small splinter group called the School of Prophets, led by Robert C. Crossfield (also known by his prophet name Onias). The group accepts many beliefs of the original LDS church at the time when it ceased the practice of polygamy in the 1890s, but it does not identify with those who call themselves fundamentalist Mormons. The book examines the ideologies of both the LDS Church and the fundamentalist Mormons polygamous groups, such as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS Church).
The book was adapted as a limited series that started airing in Spring 2022 on FX on Hulu.
1 Synopsis 1.1 Murders 1.2 Mormon history 1.3 Comparisons
2 Derivation of the title
4 Television adaptation
5 Related documentary
6 References 7 External links
The book opens with news accounts of the 1984 murder of Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter Erica. Brenda was married to Allen Lafferty, the youngest of the Lafferty brothers. His older brothers Dan and Ron disapproved of their sister-in-law Brenda because they believed she was the reason Ron's wife left him (after refusing to allow him to marry a plural/second wife). Both men's extremism reached new heights when they became members of the School of the Prophets, founded and led by Robert C. Crossfield. After joining this group, Ron claimed that God had sent him revelations about Brenda. Communication with God is a core belief of fundamentalist Mormonism, as well as the mainstream LDS Church. Ron showed the members of the School of Prophets a written "removal revelation" that allegedly called for the killing of Brenda and her baby. After other members of the School failed to honor Ron's removal revelation, the brothers quit the School.
Dan claimed that he slit both of the victims' throats. But, at the 2001 trial, Chip Carnes, who was riding in the getaway car, testified that Ron said that he had killed Brenda, and that Ron had thanked his brother for "doing the baby."
After the murders, the police found the written "revelation" concerning Brenda and Erica. The press widely reported that Ron had received a revelation to kill the mother and child. Afterward, the Lafferty brothers conducted a recorded press conference at which Ron said that the "revelation" was not addressed to him, but to "Todd" [a drifter whom Ron had befriended while working in Wichita] and that the revelation called only for "removal" of Brenda and her baby, and did not use the word "kill." The jury at Ron's trial was shown these remarks of Ron denying he had received a revelation to kill Brenda and Erica.
After opening with the Lafferty case, Krakauer explores the history of Mormonism, starting with the early life of Joseph Smith, founder and first prophet of the Latter Day Saint movement. He follows his life from a criminal fraud trial to leading the first followers to Jackson County, Missouri, and Nauvoo, Illinois. While violence seemed to accompany the Mormons, Krakauer notes that they did not necessarily initiate it. Early Mormons faced religious persecution from mainstream Protestant Christians, due to their unorthodox beliefs, including polygamy and ongoing revelation from God through living prophets. In addition they tended to conduct business and personal relations only with other members of their community. There were violent clashes between Mormons and non-Mormons, culminating in Smith's death on June 27, 1844 when a mob shot him after attacking him in Carthage Jail, where he was awaiting trial for inciting a riot after ordering, as Nauvoo’s mayor, in conjunction with the City Council, the destruction of the printing press of the , a local publication which had been declared a public nuisance.
From Nauvoo, the Mormons trekked westward to modern-day Utah, led by Smith's successor Brigham Young (after some controversy). Arriving in what they called Deseret, many Mormons believed they would be left alone by the United States government, as the territory was then part of Mexico. Soon after their arrival, the Mexican–American War occurred, with Mexico's eventual defeat. Under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed on February 2, 1848, this land, California and the Southwest were ceded to the United States.
Smith's highly controversial revelation of plural marriage threatened to split apart followers of the faith. The Utah Territory was a theodemocracy led by Brigham Young as Governor, where polygamy continued to be practiced for 43 years. Finally, on September 23, 1890, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the Church, claimed to have received a revelation from God (known as the 1890 Manifesto) which officially banned polygamy. Six years later, Utah was granted statehood.
Is 'Under the Banner of Heaven' Based on a True Story?
Is 'Under the Banner of Heaven' based on a true story? What is real and what is fictional about the new Andrew Garfield Hulu show?
WHERE TO STREAM:
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN
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Oscar-nominee (and internet boyfriend) Andrew Garfield has a gripping new limited series streaming on Hulu today. Under the Banner of Heaven is a dark, moody, and horrifying look at the 1984 murder of Brenda Wright Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her infant daughter Erica. The show is part crime drama, part excavation of the history of Mormonism in America. We follow Andrew Garfield’s noble Jeb Pyre and his hard-boiled partner Bill Taba (Gil Birmingham) as they attempt to crack the mystery of who killed Brenda and her baby, and why.
But is Under the Banner of Heaven based on a true story? Is this crime drama actually a true crime story? What was the inspiration behind this latest prestige crime drama? Was a woman named Brenda Lafferty really murdered? Is Jeb Pyre even a real name? As Oprah Winfrey would ask, “So what is the truth?”
Here’s everything you need to know about what’s true and what’s not in FX’s Under the Banner of Heaven.
Is Under the Banner of Heaven Based on a True Story?
UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN
'Under the Banner of Heaven' Episode 4 Digs into the Tragic Origins of Mormon Polygamy
Stream It Or Skip It: '42 Days of Darkness' on Netflix, A True Crime Drama Where a Woman's Mysterious Disappearance Takes Over Her Sister's Life
'Under the Banner of Heaven' Episode 3 Recap: Prisoners of Faith
'Under the Banner of Heaven' Episode 4 Digs into the Tragic Origins of Mormon Polygamy Stream It Or Skip It: '42 Days of Darkness' on Netflix, A True Crime Drama Where a Woman's Mysterious Disappearance Takes Over Her Sister's Life 'Under the Banner of Heaven' Episode 3 Recap: Prisoners of Faith 'Under The Banner Of Heaven' Is A True Story: Read Jon Krakauer's Book
I’m sorry to say that yes, Under the Banner of Heaven is 100% based on a true story. The real Brenda Laffery and her 15-month-old daughter were indeed murdered by Ron and Dan Lafferty on July 24, 1984. What followed was a tense ten-day manhunt to figure out who killed the sweet and smart housewife and her baby girl. Their killings were indeed tied to the Lafferty brothers’ sudden interest in early polygamous teachings of the Mormon church, teachings which are now shunned by the mainstream, but kept alive by fundamentalist sects.
Under the Banner of Heaven is inspired by Jon Krakauer’s book of the same name. The non-fiction book was published in 2003 and featured interviews with Dan Lafferty and Brenda Wright Lafferty’s family, as well as survivors of polygamy. The book also is full of grisly accounts of Mormon history and examples of other fundamentalist-inspired crimes, like the kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart.
That said, FX’s adaptation of Under the Banner of Heaven fudges with the truth a little bit. Many of the people close to the murder investigation, including cops who worked on the case, did not want to see this part of their lives dramatized on TV. Under the Banner of Heaven‘s creator Dustin Lance Black changed the name of the Utah town where Brenda lived from American Fork to Rockwell. Moreover, he created two original characters — Jeb Pyre and Bill Taba — to stand in for both readers of the book and the detectives pursuing Brenda and Erica’s killers.
Basically, Andrew Garfield and Gil Birmingham’s characters (and their families) are made up, but everyone else in the show is based on real people.
Andrew Garfield Hulu
Under the Banner of Heaven
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The True Story Behind Hulu’s 'Under the Banner of Heaven'
Hulu’s new limited series 'Under the Banner of Heaven,' streaming April 28, is an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s 2003 true-crime bestseller of the same name.
The True Story Behind Hulu’s
Under The Banner Of Heaven | Official Trailer | FX
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BY SHANNON CARLIN
APRIL 28, 2022 12:48 PM EDT
ulu’s new limited series , streaming April 28, is an adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s 2003 true-crime bestseller of the same name about the gruesome killings of Brenda Wright Lafferty (Daisy Edgar-Jones) and her baby daughter, which shocked a quiet Mormon town in the 1980s. The show, like the book, delves into the founding of the Church of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) by Joseph Smith in 1830, looking to make sense of the double murder. It soon becomes clear that the rise of fundamentalism in Mormonism, which Krakauer called “the quintessential American religion,” is more dangerous than anyone imagined.
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was created by Dustin Lance Black (), who was brought up in the Mormon church. Over the course of seven episodes, he wanted to explore “just how patriarchal the church had been, and in many ways still was,” he told before the show’s premiere. “And how such an absolute patriarchal structure threatens the safety of many women.” Specifically, in those fundamentalist sects that continue to embrace polygamy, the custom of having more than one wife or husband at the same time, despite it being outlawed by the LDS Church in 1890.
Black sticks close to the facts of the case, but he created Andrew Garfield’s character, Detective Jeb Pyre—a devout Mormon who has resisted asking tough questions about his religion—specifically for the series. With help from his Native American, non-Mormon partner Bill Taba (Gil Birmingham), Jeb realizes that there is something sinister happening in his town—and it may just test his own faith.
Below, read more about the tragedy at the heart of
Who is Brenda Wright Lafferty?
Brenda Wright Lafferty was a former beauty queen who grew up in a devout, but rather liberal Mormon family in Idaho. “She was quite a scrapbooker,” her father, Jim Wright, told Salt Lake City’s KUTV in 2019. She was also a talented singer and actress who majored in broadcast journalism at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. In the early 1980s, Lafferty married Allen Lafferty, the youngest son of a prominent Utah Mormon family known for their strong values. (Though, others described patriarch Watson Lafferty as a strict disciplinarian who once, after a fight with his wife, beat the family dog to death with a baseball bat.) Those who knew Brenda described her as a fun person, full of energy and confidence. She was dedicated to her husband and her infant daughter, Erica, as well as the church. But, Brenda wasn’t afraid to openly disagree with Allen’s older brothers’ fundamentalist views, which she felt went against the Mormon teachings.
What happened to Brenda Wright Lafferty?
On the night of July 24, 1984, 24-year-old Brenda Wright Lafferty was found dead by her husband on the floor of their suburban Utah home. Her throat had been slashed after having been choked by the cord of a vacuum, according to a 2004 report from the Deseret News, a subsidiary of the Deseret Management Corporation, which is owned by the LDS Church. The couple’s 15-month-old daughter had also been brutally killed in the attack, which took place on Pioneer Day, a holiday commemorating the arrival of Latter-day Saint pioneers in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The slayings had been committed by Allen Lafferty’s older brothers, Ron and Dan Lafferty, who engaged in a more extreme, but small sect of Mormonism called School of the Prophets. The two joined the group after they were both excommunicated from the LDS Church for their fundamentalist views, which included their embrace of polygamy. (The School of the Prophets has been referred to as a “polygamist cult” by the Associated Press.)
Following their excommunication, Dan and Ron became more fanatical in their beliefs, convincing their brothers that they were the true leaders of the Mormon church and could speak directly with God. They encouraged their brothers to let their beards and hair grow long so they could look more like the Biblical prophets. Brenda reportedly stopped Allen from joining the School of the Prophets, which Dan and Ron allegedly believed was her attempt to split up the family.Read More: 14 Book-to-Screen Adaptations to Catch in 2022
Why did Ron and Dan Lafferty kill Brenda Wright Lafferty?
Ron Lafferty claimed that he had received a divine revelation from God to kill Brenda Wright Lafferty and her infant daughter. He believed Brenda was the reason his wife, Diana Lafferty, left him after he suggested he take a second wife. After Diana left him, he reportedly descended into madness, spending his time writing what he believed would one day become scripture. In March 1984, Ron wrote what is now known as “the removal revelation,” in which he stated that Brenda and her baby, who he believed would grow up to be just like her mother, had become “obstacles in my path” and they had to be “removed in rapid succession.” He later shared the note with members of the School of the Prophets, who were alarmed by what they read and forced the brothers to leave the group. Four months later, the pair killed their sister-in-law and niece.