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Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church
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Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

3.48 of 5 stars 3.48  ·  rating details  ·  2,288 ratings  ·  445 reviews
NOW A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER You've likely heard of the WestboroBaptistChurch. 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 familie ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published March 5th 2013 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2013)
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Petra X
What do they say, that actions speak louder than words. Lauren married a Jewish, Israeli web designer, David Kagan. Must have been like a rusty knife through her father's heart.

That's really putting two fingers up to the Westboro Church isn't it?

In the book, there is a lot about the Church picketing American servicemen's funerals and provoking trouble and riots with their homophobic rants, protests and pickets Lauren goes easy over how active the church was against Jews, just as much if not eve
Alisi ☆ needs to stop starting new books ☆
rating: 2 ~ 2.5 stars

I'm not certain if it makes a difference but I'm not a Christian. I was raised Christian, but I'm not an angry ex-Christian with an ax to grind.

This book didn't impress me over all. Actually, I think I came away with two main points:

The first: that she still really wants to be in the church. All of her accounts were glowing and any "negatives" were sort of thrown in as an afterthought.

That really bothered me. Throughout the book she showed no actual change of her viewpoint.
I read some of the negative reviews of this book, and I have to say I don't agree with them at all. Far from feeling "positive" about the WBC, Lauren relates her feelings at the time she was in the church, which are not the same as her feelings after being banished. Of course her feelings at the time she was in the church are going to be happy -- that is what happens when you're brainwashed. Some reviewers have also complained she was a "whiny teenage girl trying to fit in." If you don't know th ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Kate rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
I would have preferred if Drain had written this book several years from now - when she'd had a little more time to organize her thoughts, when she truly seemed to know what she believed, and when she was ready to be open and honest about her deprogramming. The last two chapters were much more compelling for me than the rest of the book, which more or less parroted interviews with members of the WBC - in a few cases, taking scenes directly from Louis Theroux's 2007 BBC documentary.

Drain is clear
I feel like this could have been so much better. She is from the Westboro Baptist Church for "God's" sake. It didn't so much confirm my feelings towards them and it certainly didn't change my views, it simply existed. The writing seemed so simplistic and like it was coming straight out of the mouth of a whiny sixteen year old. I'm sure Lauren Drain is a pleasant woman but it felt like she was lamenting how poorly she was treated, without really backing it up except to say things akin to "she yel ...more
Mallory Kellogg

First off, here's some background on me. I am a Christian. I believe in God. But am I a self-righteous nut? No. I believe in gay rights, my right to own guns and my right to freedom of speech. I am bi-sexual and in no way think that means I'm going to Hell. I believe in a loving God that wants us to rest in him and ease our worries. So, now you know from what viewpoint I'm coming from.

A Quick Rundown of the Westboro Baptist Church:
Before I begin this review, I would like to start by giving you a
Jacob Simons
I just finished a 4 hour reading binge of Lauren Drain's book BANISHED Surviving My Years in the WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH! Most of you have heard of this fanatical group through internet, headlines, articles, tv, etc. for picketing the funerals of dead soldiers and claiming we, as a society, are all going to hell. Well, here is the very descriptive, insightful, and well-written memoir that I was fully invested in for a whole week. She endured much mental abuse and manipulation from her former fel ...more
Rabbit {Paint me like one of your 19th century gothic heroines!}
I'm going to review this tomorrow.


This was an interesting book. The writing itself was not that good, but that did not detract from the experience of reading this. I think Drain needed to write this, for herself: to vent, to rationalize, and it was a form of therapy for her. I respect that narrative.

I will say one thing about the WBC, it does not deserve our attention, our outrage, because they feed off it. They almost get off on it, to be crude. They, in my armchair psychologist analyst,
Lauren Drain became a member of the WBC when she was fifteen and was thrown out seven years later. This is a biography of her life, but it also showcases life in WBC minutely and depicts Drain’s perspective on the twisted message that the Church preaches.

The book starts off with Drain’s childhood. Father abusive, mother abuse enabler. It was a rather sad story but I kept wondering exactly how useful are the child protection services in USA when such blatant and obvious abuse gets overlooked. Th
Ruth Turner

It's really hard to know how to rate this book. Before I started reading, I knew very little about the WBC, apart from a post some time ago on Facebook about them picketing funerals. Boy, did I ever learn a lot!

The story is well written and interesting, but it made me so angry that I had to have occasional breaks. These people have no decency, calling Princess Diana a whore, wanting to picket the funerals of the Amish children killed in their school house. I'm so glad that one didn't happen!

♥ Marlene♥
Last week I discovered that Louis Therouz had made another documentary about the Most Hated family in America. The Phelps family. I loved the first documentary and I have always been curious why and how people can become so involved in a cult/church or whatever.
That is why I also have many books about fundamentalists mormons (and No spell checker I am not going to change it into Mormons) and other "religions."

It just fascinates me. Especially the young Phelps girls who speak exactly like their l
Cathy Douglas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Allison (The Allure of Books)
You guys, I’m not gonna lie. I have been excited about reading Banished : Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain for months! I pretty much freaked out when I first saw that there was going to be a memoir from a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately, I think I put a little too much emphasis on the word “former.” Because, after all, being banished means that Lauren Drain left the church unwillingly. I ended up having so many issues with this book th ...more
Lindsay Deutsch
Most everyone has heard of the Westboro Baptist Church, a tiny cult-like congregation in Topeka that's attracted more than its share of attention. Its goal is to be seen — even to be hated — by as many people as possible, and it does this by picketing highly publicized events like the funerals of Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting victims, ceremonies for fallen soldiers and AIDS marches.
With the help of former New York Times correspondent Lisa Pulitzer, ex-church member Lauren Drain shares th
I've been fascinated by the WBC for 10 years, upon discovering them as a psychology & religion major in college. They seem to be contradictory; highly educated yet ignorant & sheltered, I wanted to understand them, their hatred & why they were so cruel. Over the years I've received answers for all my questions, often in one-on-one discussions (especially with now ex member Megan). But this book is, by far, the best source of information I have on them. I was surprised that Westboro s ...more
I saw what a lot of other reviewers complained about in this book - her writing voice and sometimes over all maturity level seemed more like a young teen than an adult and what seemed like inconsistencies towards her actions in the"church" (yes, in this instance it deserves quotations.) were hard to miss.

However, here is what I took away:

Ms. Drain was raised in a verbally abusive, overly controlling household where they ricocheted from one extreme belief to another, before finally settling into
RD Morgan
I feel this book would have been more successful had it been shaped into a history of the WBC and not this particular woman's memoir. I'm unsure about this book's tone, and I'm unsure about the way the book was edited. I do think, however, that the book gives a ton of insight into the WBC and its members. I think it's important because it is a nearly perfect example of how one's community -- in this case, one's religious community -- has the ability to shape nearly all aspects of one's life, inc ...more
At fifteen Lauren Drain moved from Florida to Kansas with her family to join the Westboro Baptist Church, famous for picketing the funerals of American soldiers killed in battle with huge signs and shouted slogans denouncing homosexuality. The church and its teachings were her world for eight years, and then she was banished. While a member of the church she embraced its belief in a wrathful God bent on punishing just about everyone. She didn’t see the church’s protest messages as hateful--she s ...more
I was thrilled to read this because it is the first memoir from a former insider's perspective on the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. Unfortunately, I found it uptight and unconvincing, as if the "banished" Lauren Drain was unable or unwilling to express her feelings. Perhaps she is still (understandably) sorting out her memories and experiences, but her personality comes across as flat and restrained.

Though bored at several points, I did finish the book because I was hoping for some sort of
I've always had a fascination with the Westboro Baptist Church. Never could I understand their ideology or how any one family could be so full of hate. When I heard Lauren was writing this book, I couldn't wait to read it, and yes - I could not put this down.

Stylistically, this book was disappointing. I think it could have used some help with the structure. At times the timeline was very choppy and hard to follow. I also noticed some repetition here or there, but overall, these things could be s
Colleen Oakes
I can't put my finger entirely why I didn't enjoy this book. Part of it felt dishonest, almost like a sneaky expose by someone who fervently wishes to be back inside an inner circle. There was a desperation to the book that was unsettling. Drain was kicked out of the church for reasons that I'm not sure she entirely understands. The writing was hard to read at times - one sentence read "It seemed like my parents had been together forever." When reading a non-fiction book, "It seemed" is not the ...more
Lana Stephenson
An autobiographical account of Lauren Drain's excommunication from the Westboro Baptist Church. We all know about the crazy "Baptist" picketers, who have demonstrated their disgust for all things other than themselves.

Drains' stream of conciousness account of survival is at times interesting, but also very repetitive. She clearly needs further counseling, and book editing, as the cult did a fine job of brainwashing her, and she is still deeply hurt.

Throughout her account she speaks from the per
Jean-Paul Adriaansen
I've never read a biography that seems to be so honest. The Westboro Baptist Church is very well known for their hatred towards gay people and for picketing on military funerals. Lauren Drain, who joined the Church as a young teenager, describes how she got completely convinced of the Church's mission and how hard she worked to become a full member in the eyes of the Church members and her parents. She also explains the inner working of this family driven religion. The combination of her asking ...more
Jim Jenkins
Sometimes I think there should be a waiting period between when a person leaves an organization and when they write an account of it. Banished's only major failing is that Ms. Drain is still very much in the process of disentangling her identify from WBC and determining for herself who she wants to be. It's encouraging to see her begin that process, but I can't help but think the book would be even better if we heard from her in five years after she's further along that journey.
Kelly Hager
This is such a strange book to talk about. It's probably the most revealing insight into the Westboro Baptist Church but at the same time, I think it could've been better. In particular, I wish Lauren Drain had been more open about certain things. For example, she could've explained exactly why she agreed so readily with their doctrine. Instead, she said, "It made sense to me" or similar things.

It's also very obvious that a lot of the church's appeal is the fact that her dad was so into the memb
The writing/narrative was a bit awkward. Might have been nice if it read more like a story, but at the same time, it felt like Lauren was just sitting there telling this to me, so there's that. I will say that, as other reviewers have pointed out, it seems like she's still talking as a young teen girl, like 14 or so. I would also have liked a little more reflection on how her time with the WBC affected her faith; she does touch on it, but I would love to have read a little more about that. Many ...more
I don't condone the Westboro Baptist Church or their messages, but I have had some morbid curiosity about its inner workings. This book satisfied that curiosity. Lauren Drain had no choice but to join the Westboro Baptist Church (if you can call it a "church", cult seems more accurate) when she was a teen. Her parents' desire for acceptance in the church community was more important to them than their own daughter. They were overly critical of her, because any tiny mistake she made reflected poo ...more
Sandra Hurlbert
May 24, 2013 Sandra Hurlbert rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Seminarians, Confirmands, Bible students, Children's Ministry leaders
Recommended to Sandra by: Book Group
This is a very important book. With faith and religion in the news almost everyday, it is easy to ask--why does one religion believe one thing and another religion does not? How does one religious group come to an understanding that no other religious group can even begin to understand? How can people be so gullible, malleable, or hateful or judgmental with regard to matters of faith?

This book is an interesting look into one small religious community and how it perceives Christianity and its rol
Kristen Rudd
Westboro Baptist fascinates me. The first time I ever ran into them was pre 9/11 when I was a religion reporter for the Biloxi Sun-Herald, covering the Southern Baptist Convention in New Orleans. WBC picketed the convention. They had their "GOD HATES FAGS" signs and it caused quite a commotion and media blitz. It was nuts. As they've gotten more high-profile, I've even had friends who have counter-protested their protests.

This wasn't the most well-crafted memoir - there's a lot of stream of con
Lord Beardsley
Far from being a well-written or gripping book, the subject matter is utterly fascinating. As someone who grew up in Kansas and since I was 14 seeing the WBC picketing various places, this answers a lot of questions and confirms many theories I'd had about the members and their weird, perverse "church".

Drain and Pulitzer paint a disturbing, sad, pathetic, and ultimately humanizing depiction of what has been described as "The Most Hated Family In America." The biggest mistake in the way we look
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