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Banished Audiobook

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

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. 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.
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Publisher's Summary

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

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  •  
    Joseph G. Los Angeles, CA 12-26-15
    Joseph G. Los Angeles, CA 12-26-15
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    "Very insightful look into religious fanaticism"

    Excellent book that is captivating, insightful and well-written. This young lady's brave journey is inspirational and harrowing. Highly recommended.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jennifer 05-12-15
    Jennifer 05-12-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Good but..."

    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!

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ryan Combs 04-13-14
    Ryan Combs 04-13-14 Member Since 2016

    Avid audiobook listener. Mostly into memoirs / autobiographies and other non-fiction.

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    "Inside the Wesboro cult"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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".


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Banished?

    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.


    Did the narration match the pace of the story?

    Yes. Drain is certainly not a professional narrator, but her narration wasn't too distracting either.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    "Puts your parents' faults into perspective!"


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 11-18-13
    J. Simonton Texas, USA 11-18-13 Member Since 2012

    Fun Happens

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    "Fanaticism Gone Wild!"
    Would you listen to Banished again? Why?

    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.


    What other book might you compare Banished to and why?

    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.


    What three words best describe Lauren Drain’s voice?

    Youthful, Soothing, Resilient


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Cast Out of Hell: My Expulsion from the Westboro Baptist Church.


    Any additional comments?

    Once I started listening, it was hard to turn off this audiobook. I was fascinated and this story just sucked me right in.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mia 04-11-13
    Mia 04-11-13 Member Since 2016

    I am a miracle worker. Doing what I can to choose love over fear.

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    "The last third is great"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    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.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The. part where you get to listen to where her opinions lay today.


    Would you listen to another book narrated by Lauren Drain?

    Yes


    What else would you have wanted to know about Lauren Drain’s life?

    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?"


    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harmon Hamburg, NY, United States 03-13-13
    Harmon Hamburg, NY, United States 03-13-13 Member Since 2015

    Harmon Meldrim, PhD, LCSW

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    "Great expose on a church as crazy as the KKK"
    What made the experience of listening to Banished the most enjoyable?

    I actually found it painful to read. To hear religion used as a weapon of hate not only at the church level, but at the individual, family and community levels was horrible, yet so important for the country and the world to hear. I did enjoy the contradictions, some of which I'm not even sure Lauren recognized. The church hates America, yet the church realizes that this is the only country in the world where one is safe to express hatred without retribution.


    What other book might you compare Banished to and why?

    It reminded me of Orwell's 1984, Love is hate, war is peace and some are more equal than others.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The epilogue was relieving to hear that Lauren is able to move on with her life. I hope others will be encouraged, especially Lauren's mother and siblings, to break free of this slavery of hate.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Yes. The abuse was sickening and realistic. I have always found it amazing in my work as a social worker that children in foster care would rather return to the family that severely abused them than to continue in foster care. This book helps address the reasons that children stay attached even when severely abused by their parents and in this case their friends and community.


    Any additional comments?

    Best wishes Lauren. You are absolutely amazing! I also want to thank Jack from Topeka whose review helped me decide to purchase this book. I'm betting that Jack is part of the WBC.

    5 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    k Columbia, MD United States 11-22-15
    k Columbia, MD United States 11-22-15 Member Since 2011
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    "GOOD STORY, poor narration"
    What would have made Banished better?

    I would have had someone else narrate. The author was a very poor presenter


    What did you like best about this story?

    I liked that it was a true story


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    Poor grammar, poor presentation-not paced well


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 05-24-14
    jaye GREENWICH, CT, United States 05-24-14 Member Since 2012

    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!

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    "I WISH I UNDERSTAND WHAT MADE THIS FAMILY GO EXTRE"
    What did you love best about Banished?

    THE STORY WAS TOLD WELL. YOU UNDERSTOOD WHAT LAUREN WAS GOING THRU AND THE DYNAMICS WERE UNBELIEVABLE.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    NO FAVORITE CHARACTER BUT MY LEAST FAVORITE CHARACER IS STEVE DRAIN.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    WHEN LAUREN FINALLY BROKE AWAY AND STARTED LIVING NORMALLY.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    NO BUT I READ IT WITHIN A WEEK.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 03-14-13
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 03-14-13
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    "painful enlightening expose"
    Would you listen to Banished again? Why?

    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.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Lauren, of course. Megan and Jael are, to quote one reviewer, fascinating. I cannot understand Fred Phelps' egotism and hatred.


    Any additional comments?

    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!

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Graeme Sydney, Australia 04-14-15
    Graeme Sydney, Australia 04-14-15 Member Since 2011
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    "Evil + Stupidity is a bad mix"

    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.

    2 of 5 people found this review helpful

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