Discovery Communications’ TLC today announced it had ordered two new projects that take viewers into “the hidden world of the FLDS church.” One is about about insiders trying to leave the church; the second follows an outsider who helps people break away. A sneak peek at the first, called Breaking the Faith, will air within the season finale of TLC’s Breaking Amish: LA, AMISH: LA this Sunday, September 29.
The FLDS religion remains one of the most secretive communities in America, a world of unquestioned authority, arranged marriage, and little contact to the outside world. Often in the headlines for its extreme beliefs and behaviors, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints continues to be led by its president – and self-described prophet – Warren Jeffs, despite his 2011 conviction on two felony counts of child sexual assault. With an estimated 10,000 followers of the church, no series has fully explored the experiences of individuals who choose to leave the compound – until now.
This fall, TLC premieres two new series that take viewers on a remarkable exploration of faith, fear, and strength, while providing very different perspectives: from insiders as they leave the faith, and from the outsider as they help people break away. The first, BREAKING THE FAITH, follows several young men and women who escape the community to start new lives. Then, ESCAPING THE PROPHET documents the efforts of former FLDS member Flora Jessup as she helps families flee the compound.
“TLC is opening the door on a historically secretive community, infamous for everything from their criminal leader to their distinctive prairie dresses and hairstyles,” said Nancy Daniels, General Manager, TLC. “Through the brave actions of the participants across both series, we will witness the eye opening reality of what day to day life is like within these communities, and what it takes to break away from the compounds and try to establish a new future on the outside.”
BREAKING THE FAITH, premiering November 24, shares the story of eight young men and women who are trying to build a new life outside of the FLDS – either by choice, or by force. The young men, known as lost boys, are cast-outs from their homes and not welcomed back, while the women are escaping the controlling ways of the community – including arranged marriage and a life of complete submission, known as “keeping sweet” – and are hoping for a better life on the outside. Leaving a world where every decision was made for them, they are now dealing with the challenges of living in a reality where they are now responsible for every move they make. And, for this group, being faced with making life-altering choices in their effort to win their freedom comes with the fear that consequences for leaving the compound will come without warning. Six hour-long episodes have been ordered; the series is produced for TLC by Hot Snakes Media.
ESCAPING THE PROPHET, premiering in December, is a new series that follows ex-FLDS member Flora Jessop on her mission to take down one of the most reportedly dangerous polygamist cults in America. Flora, a social activist, an advocate for abused children, and the author of the 2009 book Church of Lies, had endured extreme abuse during her life in the church, until she escaped at the age of 16. Now, she works closely with law enforcement, the Attorney General of Arizona, and a network of inside informants to help rescue runaways and extract victims within the community, as well as help empower families who chose to stay and fight. Using her difficult memories and her passion to help others, she works to deliver justice to the very people that she feels wronged her. Six hour-long episodes have been ordered; the series is produced for TLC by Screaming Flea Productions.