The FX/Hulu television series “Under the Banner of Heaven” has generated a social media storm among members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as well as former members and religion observers.
It tells the story of the gruesome 1984 murders of Brenda Lafferty and her 15-month-old daughter, Erica, at the hands of her husband’s two brothers. The story is built on a bestselling book of the same name by journalist Jon Krakauer, whose thesis is that religion — all religion and especially Mormonism — leads inevitably to violence.
Viewers of the first two episodes are debating whether the depictions are true to the faith of the 1980s and whether the actions of the investigators make sense — especially those of the fictional detective, played by Oscar nominee Andrew Garfield, whose faith journey is at the center of the show.
Mormon studies scholars, however, may be less concerned with artistic license than with the series’ conclusions.
On this week’s podcast, three religion experts offer their views of the show, the book, the history, the premise, the portrayals — what the filmmakers get right and what they get wrong — and how Latter-day Saints themselves can learn from all of this.
Join us to hear from Patrick Mason, chair of Mormon history and culture at Utah State University; writer and researcher Jana Riess of Religion News Service; and Janan Graham-Russell, who recently completed a fellowship in Mormon studies at the University of Utah.
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