Why ‘Under Heaven’s Banner’ in Hulu Offends Mormons

“Under the Sky Banner” Det follows. Jeb Beer, a devout member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as he tries to understand what prompted two brothers in Utah in 1984 to commit a brutal double murder they claimed was inspired by a divine revelation.

The case becomes a spiritual and criminal investigation of Bear (Andrew Garfield), who is forced to confront the faith he grew up in and the darker episodes of the past, Pictured through flashbacks. Although he did not decisively cut his relationship with the Church, by the end of the series it is clear that he has become disillusioned with the beliefs that once anchored his life.

The Hulu series, which concluded on Thursday, is based on the bestselling Jon Krakauer, which uses the real-life murder of Brenda Lafferty and her infant daughter to delve into the turbulent history of the Mormon religion. But Pyre is a fictional character created by model Dustin Lance Black – himself a former member of the Church – to tie the disparate threads of narrative together.

Banner struck a chord with others who have left the faith and see themselves in the spiritually conflicted Garfield family man and in Brenda (Daisy Edgar Jones), the spirited young mother murdered by her disoriented brothers-in-law, who veered from the Mormon mainstream in militant fundamentalism.

In certain corners of social media, including #exmormon TikTok and Reddit, users praised the series for capturing the everyday details of last-day life as well as “the existential sense of meaning to experience the world through Mormon eyes,” as she described herself as a “former believer,” Nadine wrote. Smith VGQ. (Leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints discourage the use of the term “Mormon” and the abbreviation, LDS, although both terms are still commonly used by the general public and some members of the faith.)

But many active Latter-day Saints, even some who have publicly criticized the church, feel the series offends their faith and distorts important moments in its history, all in service of the troubling notion, as one character puts it, that Mormonism “brings dangerous men.” (They also have a bunch of more subtle critiques of nuance like the characters frequently say “Heavenly Father.”)

CD Cunningham, Managing Editor, said: Public Square Magazinea publication that examines culture and current events from the perspective of Latter-day Saints but has no official ties to the church.

“This is not what acting looks like. It does not help people understand who we are as a people or spread this message. It is designed to make us appear intrusive and intrusive.”

wagon train in the old west

“Under the Banner of Heaven” flashed from 1984 to key moments in the history of early Latter-day Saints.

(Michelle Fay/FX)

When Krakauer’s book was released in 2003, the Church issued a strong repudiation, calling it “not only a slap in the face for Latter-day Saints, but also a misunderstanding of religion in general.” But it didn’t stop Under Heaven’s Banner from becoming a bestseller and one of the most widely read books on the Mormon faith.

The Church has not officially commented on the series since its debut in April, but David Bednar, a board member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Recently suggested It was part of a long pattern of discrimination and misunderstanding.

“We have been mischaracterized since 1830, when the church was established,” he said during an event last month at the National Press Club. “I don’t think it will ever go away.”

Jana Reis said these perceptions are particularly frustrating because of how the church has developed since it was formed nearly two centuries ago. Senior Columnist at Religion News Service Who is an active Latter-day Saint (although she also “pushes the boundaries of orthodoxy sometimes” in her writings.)

She feels that even though ‘Banner’ did a Excellent job Between the mainstream church and its fundamentalist branches, it did not take into account the dramatic transformation of the church over the past two centuries.

“The series tries to say that all the violence that happened in those really turbulent times [in the 19th century] It still lurks just beneath the surface for ordinary Latter-day Saints. She said this thesis was highly problematic, and described the series as “driven by an agenda. Black was trying to show, over and over, in an imprecise way, that Mormonism is violent.” (By contrast, Reese once wrote a positive review of the Broadway musical “The Book of Mormon” because it “started from the premise that Mormons are not murderers.”)

“Everyone wants to think we’re not as boring as we really are,” she said.

In an interview on Friday, Black said he’s received a deluge of messages, largely positive, from people who said the series made them “less lonely in their questions, less alone in their fears, and that’s the point for me.”

He also addressed the criticisms of the show’s current church members—particularly the suggestion that it portrays Mormonism as inherently violent.

He said, “I am not saying that it exclusively breeds dangerous men, but there is something about teaching young boys that this patriarchal structure has been commanded by God and continues into the afterlife, and gives them that power over women. It can create dangerous men, if the lines are folded between Selfish desire and the voice of God.

“I don’t think most Mormons are violent; most of them aren’t, thank God,” Black said. But I’m not talking about physical violence. I think if you engage in a patriarchal structure that harms women, you might not realize the violence you’re helping to perpetrate.

Reese, though, was particularly disturbed by a scene in the epilogue where Brigham Young (Scott Michael Campbell), who took over the headship of the church after the murder of its founder Joseph Smith, declares that if any of the “gentiles” – or non-Mormons – enter their lands “We must make an example of him.” A militia of Latter-day Saints murdered dozens of settlers who had just arrived in Utah, an infamous incident that occurred in September 1857 and became known as the Mountain Meadows massacre.

“There is a difference between saying that the Church attempted to cover up the Mountain Meadows massacre, which is supported by extensive historical documents, and saying, without evidence, that Brigham Young ordered it,” she said. “It’s really unlikely that he ordered the massacre, however, the series treats that as a fait accompli.”

But Black noted that Young was not present at the massacre, nor did he explicitly order the attack. And his use of fiery rhetoric in the lead-up to the attack is well established. Black cites a quote from Young, dated August 1857, in which he urged his followers to “take up the sword and fight the nations.”

Law enforcement escorts a long-bearded killer down a flight of stairs

Andrew Garfield as Jeb Beer, center stage, Wyatt Russell as Dan Lafferty, center, and Sam Worthington as Ron Lafferty, bottom center.

(Michelle Fay/FX)

“This is not a man who is afraid of bloodshed,” Black added.

To Liz Busby, the critic who has wrote about him “Under the Banner of Heaven,” Beer’s spiritual crisis was hollow. “Second he hears anything that goes against the easiest version of his faith, he gives up,” she said. The series, in her estimation, “did not include any of the good parts of the tradition. There is literally nothing to explain why any of us would want to stay.” (In contrast, she praised an episode in the final season of “Stranger Things” depicting the “loving chaos” of a large family of Latter-day Saints.)

In her view, the series also exaggerated the pressure Mormon women are under to take on traditional domestic roles and blindly support the “priestly holders” – their husbands. “I’ve never seen it framed,” said Busby, who was born in the ’80s. “The messaging has changed over time. That’s the unfortunate thing about doing a show set in the past 40 years. Nobody wants to be represented by a 40-year-old.”

Exhibition photography for Temple Ceremony It was similarly frustrating for some viewers. Not only did it depict sacred rituals usually closed to outsiders – a fact that many Latter-day Saints found inherently disrespectful – it also emphasized aspects of sacred rituals that have since been discarded: the throat-cutting gesture symbolizes the punishments faced by both He violates his covenant with God, and anoints the naked body, including intimate areas, with oil.

David Snell, host of the show Saints Unscripted YouTube ChannelIt explains the church and its teachings in an accessible manner. He pointed out that the sanctions were abolished from the endowment ceremony in 1990, and now people are only wiping their heads while they are wearing clothes.

“They honed in on the specific things that made people more annoying in the past – and that’s justified – and these are the same things that have changed since then,” Snell said. “It’s like saying, ‘Hey, look at this very weird stuff, which doesn’t apply anymore, but we’re not going to tell you it doesn’t apply anymore. “

For his part, Black considers the series a challenge that dominates members of the narrative church.

“You can swallow,” he says. But it does not solve the problems. Until Mormons show courage to look into their shadows, the church will not improve.”