BANISHED by Lauren Drain


Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church
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The inside story of a small hate group that captured big headlines.

The Westboro Baptist Church is infamous for having carried picket signs reading “Thank God for 9/11” on the day it happened. They brought the message “God Hates America” to the funerals of servicemen killed in action and picketed George W. Bush's second inauguration with signs that read, “God Hates Fag Enablers.” Considering themselves the messengers of a wrathful, vengeful God, they warn of an upcoming apocalypse in which all but the elect members of their church will be plummeted to hell. With the assistance of former New York Times correspondent Pulitzer (co-author: Stolen Innocence: My Story of Growing Up in a Polygamous Sect, Becoming a Teenage Bride, and Breaking Free of Warren Jeffs, 2010, etc.), Drain describes the life of this pernicious cult and the seven years that she spent in its clutches. Located in Topeka, Kan., the Church's congregation brought together 70 people at most, many of them family members of pastor Fred Phelps, whose belief system was based on a fundamentalism that targeted homosexuals. The author's father converted while filming a documentary about the group. In 2000, he coerced his wife and the author (then 15) to join and accompany him in a move from their Florida home to Topeka. She describes how she struggled to adhere to the group's doctrine, a struggle caused by extreme social pressure (including her father's physical abuse and threats to disown her.)Even so, she was ultimately banished from the group (and any contact with her immediate family) in 2007. Drain describes how her own identity eroded during the time she was a member of the cult, as she sought to quell her doubts in order to gain acceptance, and how the dynamic of an extended family intensified their paranoid delusions.

A chilling but illuminating account of the inner workings of a hate group and Drain's ultimately successful struggle to free herself.

Pub Date: March 5th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1455512423
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2013


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