Unyielding Faith Consumes FX's 'Under the Banner of Heaven'

Bianca Piazza - Author

Apr. 13 2022, Published 4:48 p.m. ET

'Under the Banner of Heaven'
Source: FX

When mysterious murders plague a quaint suburban town in Salt Lake Valley, Utah, in 1984, Detective Jeb Pyre is on the case. But the dark influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints weighs heavily on the shocking deaths of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, as well as on the community as a whole. The deeper Jeb digs, the more he comes to understand that this isn't just a typical case of "a husband who turned against his wife."

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As an LDS Church follower himself, the detective starts to uncover buried truths about the origins of the religion, and soon, he begins to question just how devoted is he to his faith.

This is the premise of FX and Hulu's upcoming Andrew Garfield-led crime drama miniseries, Under the Banner of Heaven. The Oscar-nominated tick, tick...BOOM! star portrays Detective Jeb Pyre, alongside Fresh star Daisy Edgar-Jones, who plays murder victim Brenda Wright Lafferty.

The seven-episode series was created by Oscar winner Dustin Lance Black — who wrote the screenplay for Milk — and also stars Rory Culkin (Lords of Chaos), Sam Worthington (Avatar), Wyatt Russell (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier), and Gil Birmingham (Yellowstone). With all of the disquieting ingredients of a true-crime limited series, you may be wondering, is Under the Banner of Heaven based on a true story?

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'Under the Banner of Heaven'
Source: FX

Is FX and Hulu's eerie crime drama 'Under the Banner of Heaven' based on a true story?

The highly anticipated series is inspired by the 2003 nonfiction book, Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith, by author and mountaineer Jon Krakauer, which centers around a true-life double murder from 1984.

Jon's book gives readers a peek behind the curtain of the LDS Church, as well as fundamentalist Mormon denominations like the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS Church), which practices polygamy.

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"Defying both civil authorities and the Mormon establishment in Salt Lake City, the renegade leaders of these Taliban-like theocracies are zealots who answer only to God," his website reads, regarding his national bestseller.

The book specifically focuses on how brothers Ron — a self-professed prophet — and Dan Lafferty ruthlessly murdered Brenda Wright Lafferty and her innocent baby daughter. Why? The two believed that God spoke to them, commanding that they kill their sister-in-law and her baby in cold blood. Divine revelation just isn't a good excuse, boys.

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"The evidence points to things and to beliefs that I've only ever heard whisperings about," Andrew Garfield's character relays in the trailer. Though Detective Jeb himself is a devout Mormon, his practices don't mirror the "shadowy offshoot" of Mormonism that Ron and Dan Lafferty follow.

With "messianic delusion, polygamy, savage violence, and unyielding faith" driving Jon Krakauer's book, we're sure the bone-chilling series adaptation will be one of the most buzzed-about shows of 2022.

The power of faith can be so beautiful and so unifying, but its darker side can quickly veer into manipulation, control, and disturbing cult-like ideologies.

Under the Banner of Heaven premieres on Thursday, April 28 on Hulu.

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