Mormonism and the Church of Latter-day Saints are fundamental aspects of Under the banner of heavenThe true story of crime, specifically how culture, history and teachings relate to brutal murders. Under the banner of heaven follows fictional detective Jeb Pyre (Andrew Garfield) as he investigates the real-life murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, in 1984. Based on the non-fiction novel of the same name, Under the banner of heavenThemes seek to explain how religious extremism can lead to such heinous crimes, focusing on the Lafferty family as devout Mormons.
As Andrew Garfield’s Mormon detective Jeb Pyre uncovers the truth behind Brenda Lafferty’s murder, the character must take a look at the cults and leaders of his own religion who dangerously interpret scripture and teachings. LDS for their violence and their own personal gains. Under the banner of heavenAllen Lafferty’s character, in particular, cites several examples in Mormon history relating to violence that set a precedent for killers declaring such crimes as the will of God. Revealing the connections between the history of Mormonism and the brutal murder of Brenda Lafferty, the FX series on Hulu also features plenty of flashbacks to those real-life events.
While Andrew Garfield directed Under the banner of heaven isn’t necessarily a condemnation of Mormonism in general, the series explores how the religion’s scripture and culture can influence horrific acts like the murder of Brenda Lafferty. The series investigates the dangers of religious delusions, misinterpretations and unyielding faith, with the horrific events in the true story causing Detective Jeb Pyre to question his own faith. Here is a breakdown of the history and beliefs of Mormonism and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and how the religion is integrated into Under the banner of heavenis the true story of the crime.
Who were Joseph Smith and Emma Hale
Under the banner of heavenEpisodes of feature several flashbacks to the foundations of Mormonism and the religion’s beginnings, starring Allen Lafferty (Star Wars: The Rise of SkywalkerRey’s father, actor Billy Howle) recalling numerous cases involving Joseph Smith and Emma Hale. Joseph Smith is known as the founder of Mormonism, who claimed to have experienced several visions that influenced his organization of a new church. Such visions included seeing “two characters“(God the Father and Jesus Christ) and an angel leading him to a buried book of gold plates with the Judeo-Christian history of an ancient American civilization written on it, the last of which was featured in one from Under the banner of heaventhe flashbacks.
By 1830 Smith had translated the plates into the Book of Mormon, after which he organized The Church of Christ (soon to be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), with his followers later called “Mormons” or “Latter Day Saints.” Smith then led his followers to build a community Zion, with the Mormon leader in the meantime sending out missionaries and issuing revelations. After a series of violent encounters with non-Mormons and the Mormon Extermination Order – as seen on the true crime show Under the banner of heaven‘s flashbacks – Smith moved his followers to Nauvoo, Illinois, where he would develop his influence as a political and spiritual leader. In 1844, some church members became increasingly critical of Smith’s policies and actions, with dissenters quickly forming a competing church and arranging indictments against Smith for polygamy and perjury. The dissidents then formed a newspaper with charges against Smith that the Nauvoo council sought to “destroy”, leading to Smith being tried for inciting a riot. Once Smith was in custody, a mob stormed the prison and killed the founder of Mormonism, with Smith being remembered in the church as a prophet and a martyr.
The FX series on Hulu Under the banner of heaven also makes numerous references to Emma Hale, Joseph Smith’s wife, whom he met when she was 19 (not 15 as the series suggests). As Under the banner of heaven states that Brenda’s father dislikes Allen, Emma’s father Isaac Hale refused to allow her to marry Joseph because he disapproved of her occupation of digging for treasure. Emma and Joseph had been secretly married by the time he found the gold plates, with Hale serving as a physical witness to their existence and scribe of Joseph’s Book of Mormon. Joseph would later receive a revelation naming Emma an “elect lady”, where she would explain and encourage the scriptures of the church.
What do Mormons believe?
In line with the teachings of Joseph Smith, Mormons, like Andrew Garfield’s Jeb Pyre in Under the banner of heaven, believe in the basic principles of Christianity in terms of the testimony of the prophets and apostles about Jesus Christ and that he died, rose again on the third day and ascended into heaven. As such, Mormons also believe in the Jesus Christ-related principles of salvation, atonement, and baptisms. However, Mormons believe in modern prophets and continuing revelation that God continues to reveal divine principles, which means they have an open scriptural canon. Mormons also believe that the Book of Mormon is equally important to the Bible as far as scriptural sources are concerned.
One principle that makes Mormons unique is their belief in the second coming of Jesus, as they believe that Jesus will return to Earth in order to establish Zion, especially in the continental United States. Mormon characters in Under the banner of heaven also believe that after death their spirit travels to the spirit world to await resurrection, where they will be sent to one of the three kingdoms of heaven (celestial, terrestrial, and telestial) and reunited with their immortal bodies. Family life, missionaries, modest clothing, and abstaining from harmful substances like alcohol, coffee, and illegal drugs are also important to the religion.
Latter Day Saints Explained
Linking to Joseph Smith’s revelation that his church would be called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the official name of one who believes in the Book of Mormon became a Latter-day Saint. However, as Andrew Garfield Under the banner of heaven will explore, not all Latter-day Saints are members of the official Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the name being used to describe sects of the religion whose origins can be traced to Joseph Smith and belief in the Book of Mormon as divine revelation. Thus, several denominations that subscribe to Mormonism refer to themselves as Latter-day Saints, which is important for Under the banner of heavenreligious figures.
Brigham Young University’s connection to Mormonism explained
Under the banner of heaven episodes 1 and 2 frequently mention Brigham Young University, the actual private university named after Brigham Young, the second president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Located in Provo, Utah, the university is notable for being sponsored by the official LDS Church, with almost all students subscribing to the religion. BYU also has a particularly strict honor code that requires student behavior to align with the teachings of the LDS Church. That’s why Brenda (Costs‘s Daisy Edgar-Jones) is the subject of jokes by Under the banner of heaven‘s characters about her getting no trouble at Brigham Young University, where the real woman was a student at the time of her death. In order to graduate, BYU also requires all undergraduates to complete an LDS religious education program, regardless of major.
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Under the banner of heaven releases new episodes Thursdays on Hulu.
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