Thinking Out Loud

June 8, 2010

The Westboro Children: Casualties in the Crusade of Hate

Much has been written about Fred Phelps, the man whose interpretation of scripture — the gospel of hate — represents about 0.000000001% of Christians, but somehow manages to garner an inordinate percentage of media publicity.

But what of the children that we see in the images of the Westboro protesters?   What absolutely warped upbringing are these kids experiencing?

ABC News decided to dig a little deeper and ended up at the home of Steve and Luci Drain and their three children.   After watching the nearly nine-minute segment, it was Lauren Drain who captured my interest; their estranged daughter, now in her mid 20s, who was voted out of the family:

  • “They sing lullabies about people going to hell,” she told Chris Cuomo in an exclusive interview.
  • “I saw some hypocrisy, and I mentioned them and they hated it,” she said. “You’re not supposed to question anything.”
  • Eventually, she said, when she was 21 the members voted her out of the church and out of her home, including her own parents… and the same night she was voted out she said her family sent her to stay at a hotel and cut off all communication.
  • A week later, Lauren Drain returned home to pick up her belongings and said she found that her youngest sister Faith already had been taught to hate her…”I raised her from the time she was born. I used to watch her every day. And a week later, she is happy I’m gone.”
  • As for the daughter they have lost, Steve and Luci Drain said they don’t miss her and don’t think they would ever allow her back.  “Why would I miss her?” Steve Drain asked.
  • Lauren Drain said she wishes she could speak to her younger brother and sisters, to tell them she loves them and that the hate they spread is not the true message of God.  “I miss them and I love them and I really care about them, and God doesn’t hate everyone. God has mercy on people, God forgives people,” Lauren Drain said she’d tell her siblings.

While much of the story focuses on her younger siblings, it is Lauren who gives the piece perspective.  Unlike Nate Phelps, about whom a lengthy post on this blog was published twice in 2009,  who has walked away from Christianity entirely, Lauren seems to have kept some core beliefs about God intact, or has worked to reconstruct belief, seperating truth from lies.

As I watched the parents totally “write off” their eldest daughter, I wondered how such people read the parable of the prodigal son; how do they reconcile the love that the boy’s father lavishes on him, even after the son rejected everything and squandered his father’s money?

I suspect that passage is never studied at Westboro.   Ditto the woman at the well in John 4, or the woman caught in sin in John 8.

You can read the ABC News report,  go directly to watch the video, or catch both, as I did yesterday at the N.I.F.T.Y. Christian blog.  (On the video, be sure not to miss the one child being hit by a car.  The authorities should remove these kids — the children are being put at adverse risk — and they should do it soon!)

And say a prayer tonight for Lauren, as she attempts to live a new life.

Lauren, if you’re somehow reading this, be strong in the Lord.


  1. […] Dan Hill, Fred Phelps estranged son Nate Phelps (discussed on this blog here and mentioned here) and Hoops for Hope’s teenage founder Austin Gutwein (discussed at my industry blog a few […]

    Pingback by Wednesday Link Link « Thinking Out Loud — June 23, 2010 @ 5:48 am

  2. Those hairballs disgust me, but not the kids. Their upbringing is heartbreaking. They’re being brainwashed into Fred Phelps’ message of plain and simple hate. What I found amazing about the video was that the perspective from inside the church – Lauren’s parents – couldn’t find it in them to forgive their own daughter for something as simple as questioning the gospel of hate she was being taught and even asked why they would miss her. Yet Lauren, after having left the church, said she still loves her parents and forgives them, even after being banished from her own family and laughed at in the process. She told her younger siblings that God forgives people and has mercy. She understands the true meaning of God, but not her parents. Why? Because she’s not being immersed in hate anymore, unlike her parents. The adults in this cult should be locked up for the danger they’re putting their kids in, both mentally and physically.

    Comment by Jerry — March 28, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  3. Hi, old piece I know, but this site came up when looking at stuff about Westboro, in light of a new BBC documentary that’s airing next week.

    Anyway, I wanted to say that one of the things in this piece is factually inaccurate. The footage of the young boy being hit in the ABC segment is from the BBC documentary that the new one this Wednesday is a sequel to. It’s by Louis Theroux (if you see the footage from inside a church service in the ABC segment, Theroux is the tall man with glasses that the camera pans to when it’s panning from the front to the back) and is called “The Most Hated Family In America”. The boy was hit, but with a slushee thrown out of the car window, rather than by the car itself.

    I know that the way ABC used the footage makes it misleading, but that segment of the original documentary lasts for a few minutes and it’s definitely a drink the boy is hit by. He’s not actually injured, beyond a possible bruise.

    Not that this doesn’t mean that Westboro’s protesting is dangerous and irresponsible, but I thought you’d appreciate the correction.

    Comment by Shrinking Man — April 1, 2011 @ 10:35 am

    • Thanks for this. I’d like to see the BBC piece, but much of their stuff is geo-blocked. I know we can’t stream Radio One or Radio Two anymore.

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — April 1, 2011 @ 11:02 am

      • Watch it on youtube, type in Louis Theroux America’s Most Hated Family.

        Comment by Mazza — September 6, 2011 @ 3:58 am

  4. […] hate. There’s no difference between many of these writers/pastors/spokespersons and the guy who pickets at funerals; name deliberately omitted.  It’s not attractive, and it’s not attracting […]

    Pingback by A Christianity Based on Condemnation « Thinking Out Loud — September 3, 2011 @ 10:42 am

  5. thank God the pretty one (Lauren) got away. her parents only told her the fire and brimstone scenario—not the mercy and forgiveness parts. from all the balanced thinking Christians, we love you Lauren.

    Comment by JR — November 25, 2011 @ 11:23 pm

  6. Thank the Lord Almighty for Lauren getting away from that cult. She doesn’t need her family. But let’s not stop praying that they learn the truth about God’s word and decide to leave that church as well. We should also pray that those children are taken away from their families and put into foster care. I would rather have them in a broken system rather than dead or injured when someone comes to kill everybody in that church. Believe me it will happen soon enough. Nobody can keep so much anger held inside themselves for too long. I believe that cult is going to die by someone’s hand or by their own hands. Remember Jonestown?

    Comment by Tim — November 30, 2011 @ 5:13 am

  7. […] article at Thinking Out Loud: The Westboro Children (story of Lauren […]

    Pingback by Westboro: Two Phelps Family Members Flee « Thinking Out Loud — February 11, 2013 @ 6:52 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Your Response (Value-Added Comments Only)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: