What does Keep Sweet, Pray and Obey mean? FLDS Terms Guide

Today, a new true-crime documentary series drops on Netflix. Be Gentle: Pray and Obey is a chilling four-part look at the secret Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), a far-right offshoot of mainstream Mormonism. Warren Jeffs led the church for many years as a self-proclaimed prophet before eventually being sentenced to life in prison for child molestation.

The series is heavy and often difficult to watch, but it’s also an important look at a criminal case that once captivated American audiences. In Be Gentle: Pray and Obeywe hear firsthand from church victims about how they were treated and the insidious practices that took place in the FLDS, which is still active today.

For those confused by certain terms used in the docuseries, such as “apostate”, “kind”, and more, we answer common questions to help viewers better understand this account.

What does Keep Sweet: Pray and Obey mean?

It means to “keep it smooth” or to keep your emotions in check at all times. Warren Jeffs and the men of the FLDS expected women to act in a certain way, essentially docile, obedient, and ready to serve the Prophet in any way he saw fit.

What is Alta Academy?

Opened in 1973, Alta Academy was a school that trained and educated FLDS members, particularly in the teachings of the priesthood. Warren’s father, Rulon Jeffs, lobbied for Warren to become principal of the school.

Anything with outside influence would be purged, scientific books were often parched to remove anything that conflicted with FLDS teachings. The land where the academy was located, along with other buildings constructed by the FLDS, was demolished in 2014.

What is an apostate?

An apostate is someone who renounces or abandons religion on the basis of principle. Those who fled the church were labeled as apostates and people who were part of the church were not expected to associate with them.

What is a nice guy?

Anyone who is not a member of the FLDS is a gentile and it was very difficult to join the church unless you were born and raised in the community.

What is Zion?

Warren told church members that Zion was a secret place that basically functioned as heaven on earth, like an Eldorado with streets of gold. As shown on the Be Gentle: Pray and Obeychildren were often secreted and taken from their mothers to Zion.

In reality, Zion was a new resort called Yearning for Zion Ranch (YFZ Ranch). Warren took people there to “build Zion”, he dangled the promise of Zion like a carrot to get people to obey him.

What happened to the YFZ Ranch?

The ranch is empty now. In 2014, the State of Texas took physical and legal possession of the property.

Who is Diane Weyerman?

You may have noticed a tribute to Diane Weyermann at the end of the docuseries. She served as an executive producer on Be Gentle: Pray and Obeybut sadly passed away in October 2021. Diane was a filmmaker and chief content officer at Participant Media, producing other notable documentaries like Food, Inc. and An inconvenient truth.

Be Gentle: Pray and Obey is now streaming on Netflix.