Lauren tells the story of her family and how they came to be a part of the Westboro Baptist Church. Her father wanted to create a documentary on the church and their picket activities. He was taken by the church's work and moved his family to Kansas.
Lauren began to go on the church demonstrations. Her first was at a Billy Graham revival. The church's position was that Graham was a false prophet because he preached to the masses. The church taught that a certain lifestyle and procedure were required to get into God's Kingdom.
Lauren gives a history of the church, how it came to be and how it started picketing. The Phelps family contains many lawyers so they would always make sure all the legal requirements were met for their protesting. Every activity was video recorded so they would have proof if a law suit was necessary.
Lauren says the church was actively trying to have people see God's truth, to have a new awareness of God's wrath. After all, they were not the ones hating. It was God who hated.
When people yelled at them it validated their concept that God's prophets were abused and hated. “It made you a better Christian.” (118)
Lauren soon adopted the mindset of the church. Anyone not from their church was confused and had been brought up wrong.
Pickets focused on homosexuality as the pastor “considered it to be the basis for all God's judgments against mankind.” (116) Those in the church believed they “were the group most actively trying to change the world.” (184)
Obedience was essential and there was internal policing. It was not appreciated when she asked questions about Scripture and how it was interpreted. She noticed problems and inconsistencies. She saw a lot of hypocrisy.
Lauren got in trouble when she continued email contact with a young man outside of the church. She was ultimately banished from the church and cut off from her family.
I was impressed with the sincerity of Lauren as she recounts her experience in this church. She does not come across as vengeful or bitter. She sincerely believed in the spirituality of the pastor and the importance of their public work. She was devastated when she was banished and it took her some time to learn to live without the church's influence.
We've certainly seen the pickets. This is an excellent book for those who want to understand why the Westboro Baptist Church does what it does. It is important for readers to understand that the vast majority of Christians are not like those at this church.
Lauren Drain works as a registered nurse. She lives with her fiancée in Connecticut, where she enjoys outdoor activities. This is her first book.
Lisa Pulitzer is a former correspondent for the New York Times. She is the author or coauthor of more than a dozen nonfiction books.
Grand Central Publishing, 304 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.