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Banished Audiobook

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

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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

Average Customer Rating

4.1 (283 )
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  •  
    Michelle Mint Hill, NC, United States 07-30-16
    Michelle Mint Hill, NC, United States 07-30-16 Member Since 2014
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    "Intersting glimpse inside this hideous cult"

    The Westboro Church (I choose to exclude Baptist from the title because their beliefs are far from any Baptist church I have ever known) is a place one would picture the real Anti-Christ being born into. I can't understand how so many well educated, seemingly worldly people would fall into the spell of this hate organization. How they keep the people they have still escapes me. Even Lauren, as she tells the story seems to be sending a message back letting her family know she never wanted banishment. Her activism now regarding human rights may be her way to her own salvation or may be a punishment to those that turned her their back on her. This books leaves that question open. Regardless, it was well written and I could not stop listening to her story.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
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    Jennifer Georgia 05-12-15
    Jennifer Georgia 05-12-15
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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!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ashlie Byrd Willits, CA 08-01-17
    Ashlie Byrd Willits, CA 08-01-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Banished is certainly the right title"

    I got the feeling throughout this whole book that had the author not been banished she would happily still be in the religion. She mentioned more times than one can count how intelligent her and her fellow church members were. After watching videos of the pickets online, I don't see how she could feel this way unless she still agreed with the doctrine. You could hear the pride in her voice when describing the horrible things the members would do. I wondered many times if she was using a technique where you could experience her story from her perspective in each moment and at some point she seem less impressed. But not until the VERY end did you hear any disapproval of the belief systems this hateful "church" has and even then I was left with the impression that her criticism came from a place of bitterness that she was rejected by them. The writing itself was simplistic and unimpressive, often repeating information unnecessarily and with very little gap. I CAN say that it was interesting to hear about a cult from a former member's perspective. Beyond that, it was not worth the credit.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dana 08-19-16
    Dana 08-19-16 Member Since 2015
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    "A shocking story of how inhumane cults can be!"
    Would you listen to Banished again? Why?

    I might read it again, but her narration was pretty bad. I liked the story though!


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Banished?

    I was appalled by the obvious favoritism the elders gave to their own grandchildren and treated "outsiders" like dirt and called them terrible names.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Lauren Drain?

    A professional narrator. Lauren was a horrible narrator, reading it like she was bored and in a tone like students in school where the teacher is making them read aloud and they hate it. There was no emotion or inflection in her voice.


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

    My extreme reaction was anger at these awful people and the way they use the bible to condone their hatred and haughtiness. Her highly gullible father is a disgrace as a human, and her mother has no spine. I truly believe it is child abuse! I know the reality of cults and how they controlling they are, and it is just so sad. The emotional and psychological abuse they dish out is deplorable! So I guess I also felt fear, because it just demonstrates how easily some people are persuaded to demean and abuse their own children because some "elders" twist the bible and tell them to!


    Any additional comments?

    This is an eye-opening account of the exact type of thing we as human beings need to watch out for! Every human deserves the right to keep their identity, their dignity and their self-respect. No one should ever have to endure this abuse from people who claim they love them, or from any religion. I feel so bad for the innocent children who are born or dragged into the madness of these degenerate people.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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    Kya 07-12-16
    Kya 07-12-16 Member Since 2015
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    "Well written, interesting listen."

    The author narrates the book which is a nice touch and made it enjoyable. The book is informative about the WBC but also personal and the author tells her story with respect and honesty.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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    momof2kyds 10-16-17
    momof2kyds 10-16-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Good story"

    While I enjoyed the story the reading was very bland. I caught my mind wandering or even falling asleep and figured out it was the lack of any emotion in the reading. It's a great story if you want to understand the "why" of the WBC though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    jamie 09-18-17
    jamie 09-18-17 Member Since 2017
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    "must read!!!! "

    this is an amazing insightful story! my boyfriend and I listened to the audible on our car ride from Florida home to Texas and we were hooked!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    eSm Lock Haven, U.S.A. 08-02-17
    eSm Lock Haven, U.S.A. 08-02-17 Member Since 2017
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    "Provides a Good Sense of WBC Indoctrination"

    Prior to listening to this book, I listened to "Escape" by Carolyn Jessop, and the differences between how these two women describe their respective extreme religions is striking. Although Lauren recognizes the hypocrisy and extreme nature of the WBC, she writes/speaks of it in a tone of voice that implies that she is justifying their behavior. Throughout the book, as she describes church members and activities, she nearly always provided some sort of justification for their behavior. When Lauren introduces Shirley, she describes her as having "a kind, gentle, and caring manner" - meanwhile, if you have seen any WBC documentaries, interviews, or pickets, those are the last words that you would use to describe Shirley.

    I kept on waiting for her tone to shift, and become more negative or critical of the church, but it never does. While that may have been a decision made by Lisa Pulitzer, I found it interesting and unsettling. But I think that it really hits home the intense level of indoctrination that the WBC inflicts upon its members. That is what I will primarily take away from this book, and I think that may have been Lauren Drain's goal.

    Overall, a good account of Lauren Drain's life in the church. I would say that this book is a good companion to the various documentaries out there that profile the WBC. If I hadn't seen Louis Theroux's work ahead of listening to this, I may have been a little lost.

    I also really appreciated the bits of historical backstory about the church that were provided here - I think that was very helpful in understanding the WBC more fully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Trina 06-18-17
    Trina 06-18-17 Member Since 2012
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    "Heartbreaking story"

    Lauren Drain is a very strong and courageous young woman of faith. I really was not aware of the Westboro Baptist Church before listening to Lauren's story, but found it extremely interesting, challenging and terribly sad at the same time. I loved hearing Lauren read her own story and I love that she was able to recall those years in such great detail, including all of the feelings she had at different points in her life there.
    I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys learning about different churches, extreme groups and cults.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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