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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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Get Thee Behind Me Phelps

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.

50 of 52 people found this review helpful

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  • Cory
  • Orleans, Ontario, Canada
  • 03-09-13

Hopefully the first of many more to come!

What made the experience of listening to Banished the most enjoyable?

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.

Who was your favorite character and why?

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.

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

Salvation from salvation.

Any additional comments?

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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>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.<br/><br/>Fantastic book, Lauren. Thank you for sharing a painful journey with us.

19 of 20 people found this review helpful

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  • janet
  • United States
  • 04-01-13

Informative read

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

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).

Any additional comments?

If you ever wondered why Westboro believes what it does, this book will make it clear.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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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...

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Amazing Personal Account - a real eye opener!

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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Brave

If you could sum up Banished in three words, what would they be?

Brave,sad,proud

Any additional comments?

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 <br/> 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.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Wow!

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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True to herself

Where does Banished rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

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.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Michelle
  • Mint Hill, NC, United States
  • 07-30-16

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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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