You've likely heard of the Westboro Baptist Church. Perhaps you've seen their pickets on the news, the members holding signs with messages that are too offensive to copy here, protesting at events such as the funerals of soldiers, the 9-year-old victim of the recent Tucson shooting, and Elizabeth Edwards, all in front of their grieving families. The WBC is fervently anti-gay, anti-Semitic, and anti- practically everything and everyone. And they aren't going anywhere: In March, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the WBC's right to picket funerals.
Since no organized religion will claim affiliation with the WBC, it's perhaps more accurate to think of them as a cult. Lauren Drain was thrust into that cult at the age of 15, and then spat back out again seven years later. Banished is the first look inside the organization, as well as a fascinating story of adaptation and perseverance.
Lauren spent her early years enjoying a normal life with her family in Florida. But when her formerly liberal and secular father set out to produce a documentary about the WBC, his detached interest gradually evolved into fascination, and he moved the entire family to Kansas to join the church and live on their compound. Over the next seven years, Lauren fully assimilated their extreme beliefs, and became a member of the church and an active and vocal picketer. But as she matured and began to challenge some of the church's tenets, she was unceremoniously cast out from the church and permanently cut off from her family and from everyone else she knew and loved.
Banished is the story of Lauren's fight to find herself amidst dramatic changes in a world of extremists and a life in exile.
©2013 Lauren Drain (P)2013 Hachette Audio
The story was good but there were parts where I felt like she still held some of those old beliefs. It seemed that at parts she was spending from the mindset of her old self but she was telling it clearly as something that happened in the past. The story was good and the ending was very positive. There is a lot of offensive material when she talks about her time in the wb, but that is to be expected.
Overall great read!
It's amazing to hear the story of a life and region completely driven and dependent on hate by someone who lived it, believed it and got through it. I cannot imagine taunting the parents of dead children and yelling that God is happy they're dead, and hopefully, most people on earth couldn't either. It's interesting to hear how a book built on love could be twisted so far out of it's tracks to read like a manual for hate. Very early in the book though, Lauren actually gives us the kryptonite to use on these monsters: telling them they don't matter. Ignoring them and paying them no attention. THATS the thing....the only thing....that hurts them. Well, that and a 9mm to the face, but that's just emotion talking. No, making them invisible.... That's the path to victory. Not a fun read, but a good one.
I felt like I needed to take a long shower after finishing this book. I considered abandoning it several times as it continually made my skin crawl. It doesn't help that the "victim" of the book is very unlikeable. The title "Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church" suggests that Lauren Drain was a poor girl trapped in the clutches of this group of evil loonies, whereas she comes across as almost defensive of the heinous behaviour of the WBC often going as far as to attempt to justify it. Its as if her only issue is that she was "banished" from the church rather than its horrid outlook on the world.
Several times during the book she tells of how "the Holy Ghost" told someone in authority what to do - but completely without irony, her tone is matter of fact and accepting. She describes her thrill of picketing military funerals and telling people they were going to burn in hell by saying "there was so much power in telling someone they were unworthy". Years later, she describes one teenager who refused to accept the WBC's teachings on face value as a trouble maker, saying "He'd always been a trouble maker,saying something absurd like there's no proof" in the middle of bible studies.
At one point in the book she says that her and her fellow hate mongers were "free thinking, highly intelligent individuals......very educated, well spoken and informed". And she's serious.
Once she is banished, she is still crazy enough to continue to embrace her religion, with the disclaimer that she no longer believes in picketing funerals or victimising people. My skin crawled all the way through the book.
I could never listen to this book again - it saps your optimism and your faith in humanity.
AUDIBLE MAKES READING POSSIBLE AND EASY FOR ME...I AM VISUALLY IMPAIRED. I WISH THEY HAD ALL THE BOOKS I WANT I WOULD SNAP THEM UP!
THE STORY WAS TOLD WELL. YOU UNDERSTOOD WHAT LAUREN WAS GOING THRU AND THE DYNAMICS WERE UNBELIEVABLE.
NO FAVORITE CHARACTER BUT MY LEAST FAVORITE CHARACER IS STEVE DRAIN.
WHEN LAUREN FINALLY BROKE AWAY AND STARTED LIVING NORMALLY.
NO BUT I READ IT WITHIN A WEEK.
I WISH THAT IT WAS EXPLAINED WHAT MADE STEVE DRAIN DO AN ABOUT FACE FROM ATHEIST TO EXTREME RELIGIOUS FANATIC. IT BOTHERED ME THRU OUT THE BOOK THAT NO EXPLANATION WAS GIVEN THO I GUESS THE DAUGHTER DID NOT EVEN KNOW HERSELF.
If you're interested in the story behind the Westboro headlines, this is one of the few sources of insider information. "Banished" was comprehensive and reasonably well written, and was an enjoyable (if shocking) read. This book is a good companion to Louis Theroux's documentary "The Most Hated Family in America" and its follow up "America's Most Hated Family in Crisis".
Leaving Westboro. Her expulsion from the church was swift and harsh. I'm sure this was ultimately a double edged sword for Drain - on the one hand, she is out of the cult and free to live her life as she pleases, but on the other she lost almost everything she had known, including siblings to whom she was close.
Yes. Drain is certainly not a professional narrator, but her narration wasn't too distracting either.
"Puts your parents' faults into perspective!"
Lauren Drain's story of living in the Westboro cult was, without question, an important one to tell. She is an imperfect but sympathetic character, and she does a good job of explaining the psychology behind her family joining the church (in particular Steve Drain's narcissism).
One aspect of the book let it down slightly. It is an autobiography of a young person, therefore contained more than its fair share of minutiae about being a teenager (e.g. complaining about punishments and the unfair nature of the group's restrictions).
All in all, though, I have a lot of sympathy for Lauren and the losses she's suffered at the hands of an intolerant belief system.
Yes, I thought the story was haunting and the creepiest part is that the people in the Westboro Baptist Church are educated and somewhat contributing to society but still blinded by hate.
I have often read of things like this happening in other countries, but it's just appalling that this type of hate is being taught in the suburban MidWest. The WBC uses fear to control it's members. Anyone who has experienced emotional abuse, will sympathize with this young woman.
It seemed very similar to the books written from escapees from the FLDS, people who have fled North Korea and the Princess Sultana books.
I found it striking how alike extremist groups are, regardless of their message or creed, they are all based on feeling superior to others, cutting contact with the outside world and constantly claiming that they are being discriminated against.
Youthful, Soothing, Resilient
Cast Out of Hell: My Expulsion from the Westboro Baptist Church.
Once I started listening, it was hard to turn off this audiobook. I was fascinated and this story just sucked me right in.
Karen of Northern Michigan
If you ever wondered about the Westboro church and why they spew so much hate, this is a good book to read. Laren Drain was banished, basically for talking to a boy out of their faith that she had been warned about.. The church members are mostly from one family, with a few others who have joined.. I'm not sure how, or why, people allow themselves to be pulled in to a cult like this one, but wowsers.. They are really out there.
Lauren has a very good way of describing the good and the bad, and how it all made her feel, and why she was so afraid to step away from this community. But good for her that she was forced out, and now has a much better life..
This church seems to have parts of Scientology and the FDLS mixed in, with some crazy ideas of their own...
I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.
Yes: The book proves individuals are very different. The begining shows how her father abused her BEFORe she came to the WBC. I felt the first part almost promoted what WBC stands for. I had to remind myself in these chapters how Drain was no longer a member. Her comments about others who has left made me think less of this story. I think it would be a more balanced book if Libby,Josh, Becca and Meghan alongside the other Youth leaving had written a book together. After all: They grew up in this and of course their opinions differ.
The. part where you get to listen to where her opinions lay today.
To me it seems like she never belonged in the WBC. She played her part over and over to get praise from her father. I think even when she got sothe phase where her acting became truth. Members might have seen her for what she was. An outsider movedcby forrce by her dad. He is the one I have the hardest time even trying to understand. I know her motto is peace, however, if she ever get hard facts about him and other females I hope she will take her mother asside asking her:" Do you let dad run the show without knowing what you actually stands for?"
...if this book is half as lurid as that paranoid freak-out wall of text review says it is...looks like I'm in for a treat! Hi-dee-ho!
Yes. while the layers of Lauren's story are not particularly deep regarding the wbc itself, her relationship and banishment by her family is fascinating. I am glad Lauren chose to tell her story.
Lauren, of course. Megan and Jael are, to quote one reviewer, fascinating. I cannot understand Fred Phelps' egotism and hatred.
Good look at an outside perspective of one of the most famous hate-filled "churches" in America. Other reviewers have better put this than I. I'km glad Lauren chose to tell her own story. While it is obvious that she is untrained, perhaps it was something she needed to do. Keep pressing forward, Lauren!
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