27-year-old former Westboro Baptist Church member Lauren Drain is telling her story about what it was like being a member of the small family church known for picketing the funerals of soldiers, and threatening to protest at a memorial service for the victims of the Newtown massacre.
Lauren wrote a book that came out last week called Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church describing her experience growing up and leaving the church, and in one of the most defiant acts she could make against the church, has posed for the pro-gay marriage NOH8 campaign.
She said in a statement on the compaign’s website: The main reason I posed for the NOH8 Campaign was in direct response to the judgments of the WBC. I wanted to show people that despite having grown up within the cult and having spent a good portion of my life on the picket line, condemning our deceased soldiers, reveling in any and all forms of tragedy and simply striving to be hurtful in the name of God; that the WBC is wrong and what I did at the time was wrong!”
She was cast out of the church at age 22 after she started questioning the teachings of the church, because to her they contradicted God’s message. She still has three siblings left in the church, and Lauren is deeply concerned about them. On a recent Piers Morgan appearance, she said, “They have no opportunity to see any type of outside influence, any type of other perspective on God, any other type of knowledge of a good life or good people. They have no idea there is happiness, and life and forgiveness on the outside.”
The Westboro church seems to be founded on hate, and the core of their message is that all the bad things that happen in America are caused by the country’s acceptance of gay people. Leader Fred Phelps founded the now 40-member church in 1955 on the principal that only a small, select group will enter heaven, and God hates everyone else. Lauren’s father joined their family to the church about 13 years ago, but most of the members of the church are relatives of Phelps. Instead of being moved to save the rest of the world, as many religions try to do, Westboro members seem to find glee in alerting others of their own damnation.
Go to the 6 minute mark in this clip from a documentary about Westboro church where one member giggles as she tells the documentary maker Louis Theroux that he’s going to hell:
Here’s another clip from Theroux’s follow-up documentary. A young man tells Theroux, “You’re supposed to rejoice over all of God’s judgements.” When Theroux asks him if he rejoices when soldiers die in Iraq or people get hit by cars or get cancer, he replies “Absolutely. I love it. And I can tell you right now it’s because it’s the righteous judgment of God Almighty.”