Is TLC’s Breaking the Faith fake or real?

Breaking the Faith TLC water

TLC drew a lot of criticism for its Breaking Amish reality series after claiming it would “shed light on many ‘firsts’ for the cast members,” including “wearing jeans” and “using a cell phone” among others. It was later revealed that the cast members were all too familiar with these “firsts” given the fact that they had all left their respective Amish and Mennonite communities some time ago and had all already become adjusted to the “English” life before being cast on the show.

As you might expect, when TLC announced they would be airing a similar series based on former members of the controversial Warren Jeffs led FLDS (Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) titled Breaking the Faith, many were skeptical just how truthful the series would be. (It should be noted that in its description of the show, TLC avoids using terms like “document,” “true story” or “reality” and instead merely says the show “shares the story of eight young men and women who are trying to build a new life outside of the FLDS – either by choice, or by force,” which could easily allow for fictionalization.)

Judging from evidence gathered mainly by the diligent polygamy/Mormon fundamentalist Tumblr blog The Principle – Politics R Us, it seems TLC and Hot Snakes Media (the production company behind Breaking Amish and Breaking the Faith) are sticking to the tried and relatively untrue formula used for Breaking Amish for the new series in that they have gathered together actual former members of the FLDS to act out a scripted narrative.

For example, Martha Barlow, one of the young women hoping to be rescued from the FLDS community, actually left in 2011. She was part of a panel discussion at the Safety Net Committee Conference in February of 2012. (The panel also included another TLC reality tar, Sister Wives son Logan Brown.) Here’s an excerpt from an article from The Salt Lake Tribune on the panel discussion as well as the findings of a survey of 90 young former members of the FLDS:

Martha Barlow’s education ended in the fifth grade, when she was pulled out of school to work in a cabinet shop and a farm. She didn’t get back until eight months ago, when she left the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

“Not having your family is definitely a big thing,” the 17-year-old said. “That’s really hard. Everything else is fine but that, just not having your family there to support you.”

Starting again in the 11th grade, she initially struggled to catch up on her academics, working on math through her lunch hour. But she got back up to speed in a year.

The Principle blog also reveals information about Angie Jessop, including that she currently lives with her dad, who is also a former member of the FLDS. The blog shared a photo of Angie back in 2009, obviously well before there was any talk of a show — you can see that photo here.

And here’s a tweet from what I believe to be cast member Matthew Jeffs’ Twitter account that seems to suggest the happenings on the show weren’t exactly the natural course of things:

On a side note, in Matt’s TLC bio it say he wants to become a private investigator, and judging from the only other tweet from his account, he is working towards that goal — or at least he’s doing physical training he compares to that required of police cadets: “Holy sh!t! Just got done with a workout that not even 90% of police cadets can’t do. Ya! I’m exhausted.” I’m not sure if he is actually in cadet training school or not. (His Twitter profile picture is a stock photo of military police officers.)

The Principle also managed to gather together some other social media tidbits from over the last four or five months (before it was known what the show would be called) that seem to be further evidence of the scripted nature of the show.

Here’s a tweet that Elizabeth Harris, an audio engineer that currently works for a Salt Lake City based media company, posted back in early August:

Breaking the Faith is fake tweet

I guess we should keep an eye out for Elizabeth on the show!

Here’s a Twitter conversation from early August about a house party of sorts being filmed for the show:

Breaking the Faith filming tweet

And speaking of Breaking the Faith house parties, check out this photo from instagram and the description:

TLC filming Breaking the Faith Martha

“TLC has been paying my sister to be on this new show about kids from the FLDS (my sister isnt one, shes just befriending them) and so theyre at her house filming.”

“theres a chance we could all be on tv :p #tlc #coolstuff #utah”

There’s also a rather fun photo of Martha playing Twister shared by the same instagram user:

Breaking the Faith Martha playing Twister

In summary, the storyline of Breaking the Faith in which the male cast members plan a mission to rescue the female cast members who are still living as part of the FLDS community, is apparently fake. But, TLC and Hot Snakes Media have cast real deal former FLDS men and women for the series, and although I’m sure a lot of folks will be frustrated by the fact that the narrative they see on the show ha been scripted, there’s no reason to think producers won’t try to be accurate in their portrayal of the lives of young men and women before and after leaving the FLDS. In other words, though sensationalized and scripted, I still think Breaking the Faith could be an informative series for those of us that know nothing about the lives of those living as members of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I suppose we will have to wait and see when Breaking the Faith Premieres tonight at 10/9c on TLC! (After that it will continue to air on Sunday nights at 10/9c.)

Thanks again to the diligent work of The Principle – Politics R Us Tumblr blog. Be sure to check it out as the site promises more profiles of the cast members coming soon! (You can already find out more about Martha Barlow, Angie Jessop, and Zack Jeffs — including information about Zack and Matt’s dad Lyle Jeffs and his nine wives!)

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  • Pat Brown

    a lot of shows are fake and story lines purely made up for the camera, complete waste of time, to watch any of this drivel!

    • SS

      exactly. if it’s going to be scripted I’d rather watch it with talented actors in the roles and a great writer and director.

  • frontdoormom

    Well obviously its fake.

  • DeeDeDee

    I believe I said in one of the first articles about this show that if it’s anything like Breaking Amish it will be crap. Boy was I right!

  • anjealka

    I posted before that I wish TLC would just admit it is scripted based on some true stories. 10 years ago these stories were true, and they should be told because now there are other religious groups doing similar crimes. Colorado City 2013 is nothing like it was in 2003 and what is being shown by TLC is 2003. I am a catholic that grew up in the East and I will be spending thanksgiving in Colorado city. I am not scared and no one is being held against their will. I wish I could post pictures or current videos.

  • Em

    I have a friend that works in reality tv and I just helped on set with one of them. I can tell you ALL “reality” shows are FAKE. Totally scripted.

    • LexiconD1

      I use to watch “The Hills”. One day I was reading an article, pretty early in the shows history, about it, and within the article they asked Lauren Conrad, “if “The Hills” isn’t ‘scripted, why do they need WRITERS?” She did not answer the question.

      It was the first time really realized that, yes, all ‘reality’ shows are fake.

  • TheBaddest

    I was filmed at a night club for an episode of this show.. Was definitely invited beforehand and EVERYONE there knew exactly what was being filmed, so there was no shocking element of reality… we were told what to do by the camera crew all night… LAME

  • Rachel

    These people need help. They act like that Jeff guy is their god and let him control their life with lies. He makes me sick molesting children and having 20 or more wives and I hope he gets locked up for good

    • AirForceMed

      Rachel- That “Jeff guy” (Warren Jeffs) is serving a life sentence in Utah. Remember, Google is your friend.

      • E.a. Solinas

        They should cut off all communication to the outside, because he’s still ruling them from prison.

        • AirForceMed

          E.a Salinas – Dept of Corrections is in charge of Warren Jeffs now & they SHOULD prohibit him from contact with any FDLS members. He victimized all of them. Also, Law Enforcement should take down CURRENT MEMBERS, like bishops and their security (god squads) who prevent these people, who are American citizens, from leaving. They continue to victimize people in this CULT, especially the vast amount of children born innocent into what amounts to forced child labor camps. The ONE thing TLC is doing right is juxtaposing Jeffs’ words with the stories from the girls. At least it might raise awareness of the the continued criminal activity associated with FDLS. Hell, the bigamy alone is illegal!

    • Chris Oviatt

      Warren jeffs did not molest any one. Those girls were his wives. And it was legal.

      • Rosella

        Yeah except some of his “wives” were underage so it was molesting.

  • logan

    It is all true….I have been there, worked there, for the state.

  • logan

    You have no idea, unless your have been there…The God Squad and Warren Jeffs, do rule these people….sympathy for the young boys that are kicked out, so the old men can have the young girls….

    • Ambi

      That’s why he said bad shit happens in those cults.

  • Mephistopheles Lux

    Watching it now. They are all prancing around with cameras like the Blair Witch Project. It’s fake as hell and staged just like “faking amish”.

  • Ktkrauss

    So. idk but the girl Linda looks like the star from that movie…where the girl gets possessed…on a farm. A confirmed “fake” exorcist came to exorcise her at her family farm with her dad and brother. I can’t frigging remember what the movie is called!! Linda from TLC show definitely looks like the actor in that movie! Just saying cray cray!!

  • Warren Nicholson

    I’m ex-FLDS left about 1 1/2 years ago,

  • kitty

    the prophet is a real thing actually…there was once a case on investigation discovery where a girl came from there.Also, won’t they make parties for them to get used to it. Alot of people said they liked to party but it was banned from there.

  • pmo

    watching bits and pieces of this, don’t understand why they are still prancing around in public in those prairie dresses and weirdo, tidal wave, hairdos. also, can u imagine the stench of their sacred magic underwear that they never remove?

    • trish

      I think it’s because they want to hang onto the part of the FLDS identity that is “we are superior to the outside world”. Especially Connie & Angie seem to want to just have FLDS+ – the “+” being whatever few things FLDS forbids that they want to do.

  • Chris Palmer

    There IS no reality in America any more.

  • trish

    Watching this show has been so eye-opening. It makes me understand how cults can spawn subsequent cults. The boys are being bossy, controlling & superior to the girls, and several of the girls, rather than being open to experiencing new things, seem to wan to just live life as it was in the Crick, but with the addition of doing a few things they want to do (like hanging out with a boy). I notice the girls most resistant to the larger world are the ones who belonged to that special group within the FLDS. Anyway, the core group in the house is basically sticking to the gender relations and the clickish and isolated behaviors they learned in the FLDS.

  • Jump

    Reality TV – it’s this style that sells. Sitting down and listening to people tell a story would be boring. Remember we are selling a product here – the actual people and story are secondary to making money

  • Chris Oviatt

    How can i marry one of these young stupid girls?