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Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church Hardcover – March 5, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 275 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Banished is an insightful and candid testimony by a brave young woman who even now refuses to speak ill of the family who has disowned her." -Landmark Report


"Provides important insights into how fundamentalist movements attract and reprogram eager seekers, and the psychological effort required for survivors to adapt to life outside their reality-distortion field." -The Daily Beast

"Her narrative of these horrifying pickets are detailed ("we became almost possessed")" -Publishers Weekly


"Provides a disturbing look into the fringe group." -USA TODAY

"In gripping detail, [Drain] reflects on her fall from grace, how it opened her eyes and how she's built a new life filled with love, not hate. Three out of four stars."
People

From the Author

I have dedicated this book to my siblings, whom I still hold incredibly dear to my heart and who were my inspiration for writing this book. Although I will never again hold up a sign judging another person, I want you each to know that I have not lost faith in God. I believe love of family is one of the most incredible and precious things in life and a gift from God.

I will forever miss and love you, my sweet Faithy Marie, who I know I will never get to know as I deserve to, being your eldest sister. To this day, I can hear your cute little voice in my head saying "I love you, Sissy," as you hugged and kissed me before bed each night, as if it were yesterday. I wish I hadn't missed a single day of you growing up, as it was such a pleasure to watch.

Boaz Abel, you are my only brother and have the sweetest little personality, always wanting to take care of young Faithy and protect her, even when you were as young as a toddler. I remember you always running around the house, dressing up in costumes, begging me to take you to fun places, and sneaking down into my room when I was studying. I will never forget the look on your face when I came back to the house after be- ing kicked out, or that you grabbed me tightly when we both knew we wouldn't see each other again. You are such a sweet boy with tremendous potential, and I hope one day you will see that God's love is not celebrated through hate.

Taylor, you are a grown woman now, but I can honestly say I will always see you as my little sister and closest friend for six- teen years of my life. The sadness I have over our separation is beyond what words can express. The things we have been through together honestly surpass any bond I have achieved thus far in my life. I remember you sitting every day in your cute little crib always smiling at me when Mom and I came to visit you at the hospital. You have always been incredibly smart, and I remember studying in high school and college and realizing your potential was beyond mine. I wish I could have been there for you on every special occasion, birthday, and graduation to show you how proud of you I am.

I hope you do not hold regrets against me and know I will always be here if and when you are ready to pursue the real love of God and discover the love of family. I love and miss each of you.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1455512427
  • ISBN-13: 978-1455512423
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (275 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #110,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
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!

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.
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I have to admit, this was tough for me to read--not because of grammatical errors or writing style-- but because of all the hardships Lauren went through as a child, as a teenager, and as a young adult. I wanted to cry so many times.

Most of the book deals with Lauren's life with the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and definitely gives an insider's perspective. She is a person a lot of us would be able to relate to: a girl who seeks parental approval, a teenager who's confused about what the world teaches and what her parents teach her, an adult trying to make her mark in the world.

I would recommend this book to anyone who 1. is curious about the WBC, 2. needs a little motivation/inspiration in their life, and/or 3. feels that the mistakes of their past overshadow their present and future. A word of advice for those in the second category (or anyone for that matter): finish the book to the end, including the epilogue and the acknowledgements. I think this is the first time I have ever read the acknowledgements portion of a book.

All that being said, I wish all the best to Lauren Drain and I pray that God will bless her in the years to come.
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Lauren Drain's family joined the Westboro Baptist Church when she was 15. 8 years later, she was kicked out of the Church. Her story is gripping, tragic, heartbreaking, and ultimately inspiring. The systemic emotional, mental, psychological, (and also some physical) abuse that shaped her into a "good Christian girl" and the simple inquisitive nature that made her too rebellious for her church left her without family or friends. The fact that she rose above that and put her own life together on her own, no longer preaching hatred and bigotry, is the kind of thing that can restore one's faith in humanity.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lauren Drain is one of many members that have been ex-communicated by the cult known as the Westboro Baptist Church. She tells all in this fascinating read about how she became a member and how she survived their grand illusion. Unlike many members, Lauren was not born into the church. Her father, Steve, moved the family to be part of this cult. There are many interesting things I have learned from reading Lauren's book, but here are a few:

The character of Steve Drain is an interesting sort. He was basically a "lost soul" himself that was full of aimless direction. It was only when he joined the cult that he started to see himself as someone with a purpose. Even before he joined, Steve put the principles of the WBC to work in his own home, and the typical teenage life that Lauren knew was over as Steve started to overreact to the littlest of things. He began to see Shirley Phelps-Roper as his guiding light over his wife, Luci. After reading this book, I saw Luci as a mostly subservient woman to her husband and aches to have her family in Florida back, but having them back would cost her husband and children. I also thought Steve tried too hard to be like Shirley, as he wanted to go to law school only to have that dream quashed when Shirley told him he would not be hired on at their law firm.

If Fred Phelps ("The Pastor", as he is referred to by Lauren throughout the book) is at the top of the WBC pyramid, then Shirley and her sister Margie are the seconds-in-command at the cult. They are the faces of the Church that one will most likely see in television interviews with their sick, perverted grins. From the way Lauren describes them, it is almost a case of "good cop, bad cop".
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Don't get me wrong, this was a good book but I wish she has spent more time telling about her years after getting banished. I didn't think I'd ever get to the part where she left and then, only a few pages about her present life. I always like to hear about how these kinds of people (survivors of a cult) fare in the 'real world', more than Lauren wrote. She had a tough life to lead but they are always late in leaving and Lauren only left because she was kicked out by her own parents. I've never understood parents that can do this. But even after getting kicked out, she wanted to go back, simply because that was the only life she knew. She did say that she no longer viewed religion or 'different' people the same and was totally ashamed of the things she did while in it and yet, still found herself 'back there', thinking the same old sick thinking that her parents and others in the group 'trained' her to think. And all in the name of religion. Just a sickening thing to do to such a vunerable child, all the while wanting to please a father and mother that she could not ever please. There's a special place for parents like that. I do hope she's happily married by now. This cult is no differnt than the FLDS or Amish - in that if you leave, you are shunned for the rest of your life. Heartbreaking to someone who wants to please her family.
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