Breaking the Faith
By Melissa Camacho,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
FLDS-centered docudrama includes intense histories of abuse.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
The FLDS is characterized as a cult that's responsible for hurting its members in various ways. It highlights many of the public allegations made against the FLDS church, including sexual abuse (most of which the church disputes).
Positive Role Models
Former FLDS members view their role in helping people leave the FLDS church as helpful and important; FLDS members believe that what they are doing is right according to their beliefs.
Violence & Scariness
Rape and sexual abuse is discussed as a regular practice in the FDLS church. The women live in constant fear of getting found by FLDS security. The psychological fears about eternal damnation and other faith-based issues are also discussed. Child abuse is a topic. Arguments sometimes break out among the young former FLDS members.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Childhood marriage and birth control is discussed. Expelled young men (aka "lost boys") discuss being kicked out of the church due to their sexual activity.
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Words like "bitch" audible; curses like "s--t" and "f--k" and crude sexual references are bleeped.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Occasionally some of the "lost boys" drink and smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the docudrama Breaking the Faith follows a group of young women who flee the FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints) Church and struggle to adjust to a different life. The show explores mature themes like forced polygamous marriages, rape, abuse, and child abandonment. It also has some strong vocab, though stronger curses and crude sexual references are bleeped. While many of the topics discussed here have been featured prominently in the media, it's a bit much for tweens.
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What's the Story?
BREAKING THE FAITH is a docudrama that centers on a group of young women attempting to leave their polygamist community and restart their lives. Martha, Angie, Valarie, Linda, and Connie are living in Short Creek, a Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) Church community along the Arizona-Utah border that is controlled by the now-incarcerated Warren Jeffs. With the help of some "lost boys," (young men who left or were expelled from the church), including Warren Jeffs' young adult nephews Zach and Matt, they escape from their homes and are united with former FLDS member and child welfare activist Carolyn Jessop, who then tries to help them transition into the "gentile" world. Trying to adjust to life outside of the FLDS isn't easy, especially when they are coping with the knowledge that they may never see their families again, and live in fear of the "God Squad," or church authorities trying to find them. They must also come to terms with the challenges being opposed to the faith they've been raised in.
Is It Any Good?
Breaking the Faith offers a voyeuristic look into the FLDS lifestyle, the conservative and restrictive nature of which is discussed by the cast members that have been kicked out of, escaped from, or who are trying to leave the community. Some of the Church's most controversial activities (many of which are illegal in the mainstream world), are also highlighted. With the help of pictures, archived footage, and recordings of Warren Jeffs and fellow church leaders, many of the psychological fears former FLDS members live with are also underscored.
Despite some contrived, overdramatic moments, the stories being told here make it easy to root for these young people and their effort to live a freer, happier life that includes things ranging from wearing make up and going on vacation to drinking beer. They also reveal some very troubled young people, most of whom are struggling to find some sort of self-identity as they find themselves caught between two very different worlds.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the FLDS. What exactly is it? What is the difference between the FLDS church and the LDS (Mormon) church? Why is there so much controversy surrounding this church? What are some of the stereotypes that exist about it? How does the media portray the FLDS and its members? Do you think these characterizations are fair?
How real do you think some of the dramatic events that take place on this show are? Did they unfold in front of cameras, or were they based on actual events and staged for entertainment purposes?
- Premiere date: November 24, 2013
- Cast: Carolyn Jessop, Matthew Jeffs, Zachariah Jeffs
- Network: TLC
- Genre: Reality TV
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: October 14, 2022
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