The sixth episode of FX on Hulu’s crime series ‘Under the Banner of Heaven’ revolves around the past of Ron Lafferty. Through Bernard Brady, detectives Pyre and Bill try to know more about Ron’s introduction to fundamentalist beliefs, his associations with other fundamentalists, and his transition from a typical pious Mormon to a fundamentalist. Brady talks to the detectives about Ron’s visit to Oregon and meeting with John Bryant, a fundamentalist Mormon leader who advocated polygamy. Since Ron’s encounter with Bryant is a significant part of the episode, we have found out more about the latter. Here’s everything we know!
Is John Bryant Based on a Real Person?
Yes, John Bryant is based on a real person. The character is based on Mormon fundamentalist leader John W. Bryant, the founder of the Church of the New Covenant in Christ, based in Oregon. As per Jon Krakauer’s eponymous book, the source text of the show, Bryant set up a polygamist community in Woodburn, Oregon, after establishing similar communities in Utah, California, and Nevada. Krakauer’s book states that Bryant’s teachings also emphasized experimentation with drugs and same-sex sexual practices, unlike the teachings of other Mormon fundamentalists. According to J. Gordon Melton’s ‘Encyclopedia of American Religions,’ he had six wives at the time.
According to Krakauer’s book, Ron visited Bryant and his community after Dianna’s divorce from him. Ron, who lived in a strict Mormon household, drank wine as a sacrament during the visit, consuming alcohol for the first time in his life. Ron again visited Bryant’s community in 1984, this time with Dan, Chip, and Ricky. He gave a sermon about “the City of Refuge,” a haven the School of the Prophets aspired to build for the fundamentalist Mormon community, during the second visit.
Bryant was initially a part of the Evangelical Church of Christ but he eventually left the Church before its disintegration. J. Gordon Melton’s ‘Encyclopedia of American Religions’ states that Bryant reorganized the Church into the Church of the New Covenant in Christ with 120 families. As per Melton’s book, Bryant eventually stopped teaching plural marriage and vowed to not marry again as he felt that Mormon fundamentalists neglected Jesus to chiefly focus on polygamy.
Where is John Bryant Now?
John W. Bryant has chosen to keep his life private. According to Steven Shields’ ‘Divergent Paths of the Restoration,’ Bryant left his community in 1987 after becoming disillusioned. Bryant was one of the recognized individuals who spearheaded Mormon fundamentalism. He was also seemingly one of the few fundamentalist leaders who criticized the practices of the sects that followed the fundamentalist beliefs.
Read More: Lafferty Family Tree, Explained