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
Firstly, ignore the review by "Jack"; he is a Topeka resident and shill for the Westboro Baptist church. All his review really shows is that, even after all these years, Jesus can still sometimes be seen carried on the back of an ass.
This book is a sobering testament. It is one thing- tragic but comprehensible- for children or even a teenager to be indoctrinated into a ravingly inhumane religious ideology. But for an educated articulate adult, and an atheist no less? The sad fact shown in this book is that the members of this ridiculous church are for the most part highly intelligent people. They have gained the world of pure righteousness, but at the cost of any possibility of self understanding. This was a bargain that Lauren Drain seemed unsuited by nature to keep, so her conflict with the church was painful but inevitable. Go girl! Well read by the author.
The good news is that while this book was in press, two more young women defected from Westboro Baptist. Hopefully with publication, more will follow.
The fact that Lauren Drain herself reads the material gives it a poignancy that 3rd party narrators can't provide. Less expressive, perhaps, but more authentic.
The Phelps girls (particularly Jael and Megan) are always interesting, because they've never known a life outside of the cult-like family environment. Their sense of superiority is consistently undercut by having to keep themselves in check. I feel legitimate sympathy for them, as for any abuse victim, because they have no conventional "normal" to gauge their own conduct by.
Salvation from salvation.
The story is fascinating, particularly for its insights regarding Steve Drain, a clearly sick individual - in the sense that his behavior seems to be in real need of psychiatric intervention. After seeing Louis Theroux's two excellent documentaries on the WBC (the second of which interviewed Lauren post-departure), Steve comes off as quite the self-righteous narcissist, while his wife exists as the doormat of the family. Shame on her, in particular, for not advocating more for a normal life for her children - especially since she clearly knew life before the WBC and had insight to Steve Drain's behavioral inconsistencies for quite some time.
The first reviewer of this audiobook is clearly either a current church member or a sympathizer, but that's the price of truly free speech - hatred and ignorance continue to be well protected. Jack, your review was worth everything I paid to read it.
At this point, I'll wait patiently in the hope that Megan and Grace Phelps will also break silence on their experience inside this horrible organization. As far as Libby Phelps goes (another departee interviewed by Theroux), she seems paralyzed by the fear of a fiery hellish damnation - a mindset that I think sadly probably afflicts most of the clan. Call me crazy, but I can't visualize a God who creates humankind to deny its enjoyment and revels in its suffering and torture. And if that's the case, I'd want even less to do with him.
In the meantime, I will proceed with a beautiful quotation: "Live your life in such a way that the Westboro Baptist Church would want to picket your funeral". I certainly plan to.
Fantastic book, Lauren. Thank you for sharing a painful journey with us.
Very informative read. Being from Kansas, I had grown up with the Westboro Church always causing commotion. As a Christian, you feel sorry for what the members are taught to believe. Well worth the read (or listen).
If you ever wondered why Westboro believes what it does, this book will make it clear.
My goal is to read 52 books in 1 year! I read 33 last year!
This book gave a truly human perspective of the Westboro Baptist Church. It showed them from firsthand accounts to be a selfish, cruel, unbiblical, hateful, mean group of religious zealots. The religion of the WBC contains all of the pitfalls of Christianity when proper biblical interpretation is replaced by opinion and base human emotions. I was angry as I listened to this. I was cheering for Lauren Drain to be banished, because it was so terrible inside of the WBC. Give this book a try if you are at all interested in the pulse of American Religious life. A real eye opener.
Anyone who leaves that place is awesome,strong and worth my time and money. ANYONE who is a member of that horrible place that call themselves a Christian is just a joke to Topeka and everyone who has had anything to do with them. THEY are NOT worth any energy it would take to respond to their pathetic excuse of worship. Or their childish little pickets Especially when the old man wears his
little spandex shorts. .REALLY FRED you and your family ARE the laughing stalk of Topeka. I just feel sorry for all the little kids you brainwash into believing your lies.
This story was so true to how we think and end up in certain situations. Her ability to understand herself, her father, and the people around her is amazing. You can tell that she is still in pain but looks forward to a lifetime of healing.
The overall story of which I had no idea of...
The ending...made me cry and happy that Lauren came through it all with her faith and belief in God and
people in tact!
No this was the first I had heard of her...will look up other now!
Almost!! finished it in less than 4 days...which is great for me...I usually take a month to finish a book!
I love reading about real life success stories...very inspirational so glad Lauren wrote and read this book!!
Say something about yourself!
Different narrator, not reading the book by herself.
The fact that the author sounded like she was ten.
Before you buy this book try listening to a short clip to decide if you can tolerate the author's voice.
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.
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