Monday, October 14, 2013

Banished...what brainwashing can do to people..

Recently I finished reading a very interesting and unique book, Banished-A Memoir, Surviving my years in the Westboro Baptist Church by Lauren Drain (with Lisa Pulitzer). I love public library system of USA, I borrowed this book from New haven public library,  all public libraries in US are free to people living in that area and one can borrow most books published in US. This book is about life and experience of a girl (Lauren) born in moderate or liberal family but eventually ends up living in very conservative and sectarian Christian environment. The book and its main characters are specially related with Westboro Baptist Church. It's not that I didn't know about this church before reading this book, I read about their disgusting and provocative pickets and banners saying very derogatory things about people from their own community, they do these things all the time to get local and national media coverage. It was interesting to read how this whole enterprise is designed and managed by few people who think that they are the only authorized agents of some God and his book and they believe that they have moral right to preach and dictate God's message to rest of the world. This book also shows what systematic and planned brainwashing can do to some people and their families, this particular book talks about very conservative Christian atmosphere but readers should not get wrong impression that this phenomena is associated only with any particular religion but this is very common with all religions and cult movements.

I don't want to discuss the story of the book or get into details mentioned in the book I advise readers to read that book if they are interested in knowing complete story f Lauren and her family. I guess anyone who has seen very conservative religious or sectarian environment can relate with the experiences of a girl living and growing up in a such environment where she is constantly told that whatever values her family believes and follows are ONLY right values and all others are WRONG, not only others are wrong but it's their duty (she and her family or community) to teach or preach RIGHT things to them even if people may not like it because those teachings are from God and God has given them responsibility and privilege to do this. We all see fanaticism or different forms of terrorism or gender discrimination practiced all over the world in the name of religion (almost all religions and cult movements are guilty of this, there is no exception) or they mainly do this because some book (word of God) preaches them do so, many of these books are written in such a way that they are open to many type of interpretations and everyone interprets them in their own way. People or group of people hate other people or group of people just because they believe in different Gods and books, they do it so passionately and convincingly because they think they have blessings or licence or order from their God to do it. This mindset is result of planned brain washing, a strategy which every organized religion or cult movements use very effectively to trap and recruit their subjects who then propagate similar ideology.

For me religion is very personal thing and individual choice, something like food, I can choose whatever dish I like from available choices or make my own if I want but I can not or should not force my choice on others, I should not assume that something which suites my test or needs is good for everyone. I don't think anyone will say that I have right to hate or kill someone just because they are eating some different dish than what I love to eat. Most people might agree with me if I say these things in relation with food but I am sure many will object if I bring religion into picture, people feel obliged to follow their religion and defend it, they feel it's not wrong to kill innocent people to defend their religion, we see and read about this all the time during terrorist attacks and communal riots. This is because of years of brainwashing by various institutes belonging to various branches of organized religions. Our minds work differently when we start talking or thinking about religion, we always feel that our own religion is better than others, similar thinking pattern follows when we think about our own caste or race or gender, based on our social and cultural upbringing we get trained or brainwashed to think that particular race or caste is superior to others, one gender is superior to other. Everyone following any religion likes to claim that their religion doesn't preach any violence or discrimination or hatred but still we find lot of communal tension all over the world, WHY? Even within the same religion there are many fractions who fight with each other, why religion in its current form can't stop all this? I can understand arguments, discussions and debates but what purpose killing innocent people (even kids) in name of god, or spreading venom of hatred serves?

This book describes Lauren's journey, it gives an insider's perspective, I think most of us can relate with her character, her story is gripping, tragic, heartbreaking but at the end leaves us with some hope. There are many hateful groups like this present all over the world, they belong to all religions, we can not and should not blame any particular religion for doing this, basically they all do it (or did it sometime in past), they target people of all ages, they brainwash them, groom them to make their brand ambassadors, who can go and spread their false propaganda. I am not against any religion but I am against anything which spreads hatred, which encourages discrimination based on anything, we need to stop this, we need to spread love and unity instead of hatred and discrimination. We need to enlighten people, encourage critical thinking rather than brainwashing because brainwashing can only create fanatics, doesn't matter who does it, whether its any religion, sect, cult movement, conservatives, liberals or science, we don't need brainwashing but we need enlightenment of our mind and our society.

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

1. Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church


  1. What's worse, Vinay, is that most of the organised religions in the world do not give you an option to think and criticise. If it's god or a holy book, you are supposed to take it as it is and never question. There is hardly any room for freedom of thought. And religion is so effortlessly passed on to a child that by the time the child grows into an adult most of the 'damage' is already done.

    By the way, this book is a nice find. Will surely read it in the near future.

    1. You are right, that's why I think we should encourage critical thinking from very young age, parents have to play important role in this. Everything should be open for debate and questioning.Constructive criticism should be welcomed, all these things will definitely help to improve things otherwise situation will go from bad to worse.