In FX on Hulu’s crime series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven,’ detectives Jeb Pyre and Bill Taba investigate the double homicide of Brenda and Erica Lafferty. The detectives initially suspect that Brenda’s husband and Erica’s father Allen Lafferty is the murderer. However, Allen makes Pyre and Bill understand that he is innocent and even guides them to his brothers Ron and Dan Lafferty, the real murderers. Through Allen, Pyre comes to know more about the Mormon fundamentalist beliefs, which influenced the two brothers to commit the crimes.
Pyre’s introduction to the fundamentalist dimension of Mormonism leads him to question his own faith. In the sixth episode, he reads a red book suggested by Allen while struggling with the loss of his faith. If you want to know more about the red book, let us be your ally! SPOILERS AHEAD.
What is the Red Book?
As Brenda and Erica’s double murder investigation progresses, Pyre comes to know more about the misogynistic dimensions of Mormonism. Ron and Dan’s past and their involvement in Prophet Onias’ School of the Prophets further make Pyre realize that his faith has destroyed the lives of several individuals, such as Brenda, Dianna, and Matilda. He talks to Allen about his doubts and questions concerning his Mormon faith. Allen, who was a pious Mormon like Pyre, sees himself in the detective. He asks Pyre to mentally “defeat the Church” to overcome the predicament.
Allen overcame the fundamentalist beliefs of the LDS Church by knowing more about the history of his faith and asks Pyre to do the same by reading a red book. From the evidence collected from Allen’s house, Pyre garners the red book, titled ‘Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?’ written by Jerald and Sandra Tanner. The real book comprises copies of early Latter Day Saints documents along with commentaries by the authors. The Tanners’ book is highly critical of the LDS Church and scrutinizes the history of the Mormon faith, the lives of significant Mormon figures like Joseph Smith, and early beliefs like priesthood ban and polygamy.
Through ‘Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?’ Pyre understands that his faith is built upon several unacceptable practices and startling historical events. The history of Mormonism, which includes the Mountain Meadows massacre, a mass murder committed by Mormons with the assistance of Southern Paiute Native Americans, astounds Pyre. The detective’s doubts and questions only increase after reading the book and he gets detached from his Mormon faith more than ever. After going through the book, Pyre suffers a breakdown as he perceives that he cannot believe in the LDS Church in the same way he used to.
‘Mormonism: Shadow or Reality?’ confirms Pyre’s doubts that there is a lot to disagree with his faith. The book also explains the foundations of Ron and Dan’s transformation into two fundamentalists who believe in the early doctrines of the LDS Church. Like it helped Allen, the book helps Pyre to attain clarity concerning Mormonism’s true essence, which influences him to gradually detach from his faith.