I gave this book three stars because, although It was interesting to read an account of the internal workings and philosophies of the WBC, I found the writing clunky, somewhat disorganized, and frequently repetitive.
After reading this book, one learns that the Westboro Baptist Church isn't Baptist at all (no surprise) but instead follows an extreme form of Calvinism, and a Puritanical one at that. One also learns that the Phelps family are actually civil litigators by trade, so good in fact that people who completely oppose their religious ideology still seek their legal services, and that one of its members successfully argued for throwing out a lawsuit against the church before the US Supreme Court. As for the protagonist, we learn about a family who started out doing an investigative documentary about the hate group and ended up joining it. It is truly heartbreaking that the author was kicked out of her immediate family simply for wanting to date someone without church permission. But like some other reviewers, I can't help but get the impression this was a quite dispassionate book, without much explanation as to where she made her turnaround. I was expecting a more substantive book. But it's still a fair primer as to how some people can get totally unhinged - or get sucked into such a mentality.
This book is very insightful and well written! Knowing about WBC my whole life I never understood what their thought process was. It was extremly interesting to see how they think and how they justify their thoughts and actions. Though I don't agree with them, it was still nice to see the inside workings of this religious cult. I couldn't help but feel sorry for Lauren. She went through so much in her life and was citicized for everything. How she made it to where she is today blows my mind. That type of brainwashing and constant picking at your self esteem would kill everything you had for yourself especially while growing up.
Lauren Drain is a great author giving us insight into the Westboro Baptist Church. I truly enjoyed reading this. It is definitely one of the best non-fiction books I've read. A fast and easy read.
A well-written book detailing the complex dynamics of the Westboro group's religious beliefs and emotional control of group members. A riveting account of the spiritual and emotional turmoil Lauren Drain was put through. The Westboro's convoluted theology was well explained. Excellent insight into the brainwashing techniques used by religious cults. The book was so compelling, I could not put it down until I had finished reading it.
A really interesting inside view of a prominent religious group. I was surprised by a lot of what Drain wrote (for example, the level of education among church leaders) and impressed by her honesty, forgiveness, and courage.
"In 2000, when author Lauren Drain was 15, her father joined the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas, and brought his wife and daughter to live in the community founded by Fred Phelps. Widely known for its anti-gay demonstrations - even picketing of U.S. military funerals - the congregation tried to make the teenaged Drain conform to their beliefs. After she struggled for years to fit in, the sect finally ostracized her and forbade her even to contact her own family. Drain's riveting, informative account of life with the Westboro group explores both the emotional effects of her experience and her search to recover her sense of identity." June 2013 Biography and Memoir newsletter http://www.nextreads.com/Display2.aspx?SID=5acc8fc1-4e91-4ebe-906d-f8fc5e82a8e0&N=645920
Instead of seeking professional psychological help after being indoctrinated by a cultish Christian sect in her formative years, the author wrote this book, likely encouraged to do so by her media co-author. I found it disturbing that she wrote so unemotionally about her hate-filled and terrible experiences, as if her cold, factual writing style were evidence of her way of coping and disassociating with her past.
Her epilogue also made me question her intelligence. I mean, does she really believe that free speech
(and free speech for the Wesboro Church equals hate speech) takes precedence over treating other human beings with decency and respect?
This book was really depressing. I usually don't feel that way after reading memoirs of personal adversity. The depictions of events surrounding her family and the arbitrary and capricious way that Lauren has ALWAYS been treated by them, then, later by the Phelps'- really hard to read.
As a cult survivor myself (not this cult) I noticed that she seemed to cut them a bit more slack than most people would. She obviously still has some mixed feelings. I actually got the impression that she might even flip flop and go back to it, even though she said she wouldn't. I hope she doesn't, but something about the way she writes...
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