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Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church | [Lauren Drain]

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 10-24-13
    Karen ROSCOMMON, MI, United States 10-24-13 Member Since 2011

    Karen of Northern Michigan

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    "Wondered what that church was about! Now I know.."

    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...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mia 04-11-13
    Mia 04-11-13 Member Since 2012

    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?"


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Harmon Hamburg, NY, United States 03-13-13
    Harmon Hamburg, NY, United States 03-13-13 Member Since 2011

    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.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lord Olathe, Kansas, United States 03-07-13
    Lord Olathe, Kansas, United States 03-07-13 Member Since 2010
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    "Judging from Wacko The Troll..."
    What did you love best about Banished?

    ...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!


    7 of 21 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!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Nichole Glendale, CA, USA 03-22-13
    Nichole Glendale, CA, USA 03-22-13 Member Since 2008
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    "Hard to listen to - I gave up"
    What could have made this a 4 or 5-star listening experience for you?

    The idea of this book was great, part of the problem, however, was that I read it just after reading a much better similar true story. I could not even get tot he part about her family actually joining the church because I was so disgusted with both the flat story telling and the ridiculious truth of her father's swinging alliances to groups of ways of thinking. It is shameful for a mother to allow her children to grow up in family like this. Have a backbone already.


    0 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jack 03-06-13
    Jack 03-06-13
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    "Lauren Drain is a dangerous woman."
    What did you like best about Banished? What did you like least?

    I liked how Lauren was very detailed describing her years in the church and before the church. The ending of the book was lacking though and it seems something is missing. The title of the book doesn't really agree with the content of the book. It seems she enjoyed her time at the church until she was forced out because of her mistakes.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    This is Lauren's story. Some people have accused her of putting many lies into this story and if it's true that she's lied then Lauren should make those corrections. Otherwise, it's her story and I wouldn't change it.


    What does Lauren Drain bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Lauren noticeably changes her tone when she discusses parts of her life that really impacted her. It's almost as if she were sitting right next to me telling her story!


    Could you see Banished being made into a movie or a TV series? Who should the stars be?

    Yes, but it's kind of a living story already because everyone in the book is still alive. I think pretty much anyone could attempt to play the roles.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to the 8 hour long audio version of this book which was spoken by Lauren Drain. She is a very emotional person but clearly she has been ensnared by the devil.

    In the book, she describes herself wanting approval and acceptance from her father and Westboro Baptist Church members. However, she is tempted to break the rules and then she does break the rules.

    Lauren opens every chapter of her book with a Bible verse and compares that verse with a section of her life described in
    that chapter. This is done for literary effect but it did not impress me too much.

    There are some Bible verses Lauren needs to read again, including the ones she used in her book.

    "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18)

    She unashamedly tells all her readers and listeners that she fooled around with some guy she met at school. And then she wonders why her church friends Shirley and Jael are disappointed with her when they've warned her not to do such things.

    Ms. Drain describes her father Steve as a controller as if it were a negative thing to protect her from the influence of bad boys and evil men. She could have used more sensible terms like guardian, defender, or protector to describe her father but instead she views him as an obstruction to her independence and decision making.

    One topic Ms. Drain discusses in detail is marriage and how she desired it. It is a topic of contention between her and other church members and she also seems to disdain arranged marriages. She questions how she would be able to obtain a marriage when there are so many restrictions placed upon her or she supposes that marriage is altogether banned. Instead of waiting upon the Lord for a godly spouse or abiding by the rules, she falls to the flatteries of strangers that tell her that "she's hot".

    She does not seem to recover from her fall and goes out to seek company with worldly men and women. She claims she's still a Christian but it seems that she has created her own fake religion as a substitute for the godly principles and doctrines she was taught at Westboro Baptist Church. She recognized that some people at the church were pious, godly, and loving. She acknowledges that they were watching out for her but then she betrays them. She also noted some hypocrisies and inconsistencies in church practices and amongst the membership. But some of the members she had issues with have left the church just like she did.

    The church can be commended for having no company with this seemingly wicked woman Lauren Drain. She didn't behave herself wisely inside the church and it seems that she isn't behaving herself wisely outside of the church either.

    She announces at the end of her book that she is currently engaged to be married. On the surface, this is joyous occasion for her to be married. But what kind of person has she chosen to marry? Will her marriage succeed and give her any lasting happiness or will it fail and give her misery? Time will tell and then maybe Ms. Drain can write another book.

    Overall Ms. Drain's book won't win any accolades from me. It's not a "must buy" book but it was interesting to hear her out in the audio version. So maybe buy it if it's really cheap, or heavily discounted.

    Ms. Drain is a very dangerous woman that encourages men and women to sin and to disobey God. She is a rebellious woman that tries to win over her audience with an emotional sob story but she doesn't seem to realize the seriousness or her mistakes or the awful condition that she's still in. Instead of repenting of her misdeeds, she is now a proud sinner that has done a complete about-face from the good Christian lady she once tried to be. She has joined the wicked in their fight against God and his commandments. It's a shame.

    7 of 171 people found this review helpful
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