Faith and Murder
Newsweek|May 20 - 27, 2022 (Double Issue)
Under the Banner of Heaven explores both a brutal crime and the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
ROXY SIMONS

UNDER THE BANNER OF HEAVEN is not your typical true-crime drama; there is a crime and a detective―played by Andrew Garfield― trying to solve it, but it is also an intricate examination of faith, fundamentalism and the truth behind a shocking crime.

The seven-episode FX series, which premiered on Hulu on April 25, details the deaths of Brenda Wright Lafferty and her 15-monthold daughter Erica in 1984. The two were killed at their home in Utah by Brenda’s brothers-in-law, Ron and Dan Lafferty, after they had received a “revelation” from God. The brothers were found guilty of murder in 1985: Dan received two life sentences which he is currently serving; Ron was sentenced to death, but died of natural causes in prison at the age of 78 in 2019.

In addition to the killings and subsequent police investigation, the series also explores the creation of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), and Brenda Wright Lafferty’s life.

Show creator Dustin Lance Black tells Newsweek, “I want to celebrate her courage because to be curious as a Mormon woman, particularly in that time, was courageous. Once I got to know her family, and her family trusted me with her journals, entrusted me with the letters she wrote to her sister at the time, I felt very close to Brenda, very inspired by Brenda.”

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