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Branch Davidians

Developments since the tragedy

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Topics covered in this essay

bulletThe Branch Davidians today
bulletRecent developments
bulletBooks on Waco
bulletInternet sites with information on Waco

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The Branch Davidians Today

The Branch Davidian movement continues, but is divided into two factions:

bulletone is an anti-Koresh group which claims to be the original Branch Davidian group before David Koresh took over. They erected a museum on the site which was both anti-Koresh and anti-government. However, this appears to have been abandoned and taken over by the following group.
bulletThe other group of about 24 members reveres the memory of Koresh and are still attempting to comprehend the events in Waco in the light of Bible prophecy. They anticipated that David Koresh would return to earth on 1996-DEC-13, and that they would have been reunited with the members who have died. If that had happened, it would have been a unique event in the history of the world. It didn't occur on schedule. The current Branch Davidian theology believes that the 2300 day interval prophesized in Daniel 8:14 began at the time of the mass deaths at Waco, on 1993-APR-19 They felt that about 1999-AUG-6, the sixth seal will be fulfilled. The Cleansing of the Sanctuary will occur, and 5 months of torment will begin. Again, their prophecies did not materialize. As of 2004-JUN, they are still meeting in the expectation that David Koresh will return and lead them to the promised land. The Chicago Tribune reports that: "There aren't many Branch Davidians left, their numbers having dwindled over the years due to death and dispersal and disillusion. Only half a dozen show up for the Saturday prayers; an additional 20 or so less fervent believers are thought to live in the area." They quote member Clive Doyle as saying:  "Our hopes are that God will intervene prior to the rest of us dying. But we do have to face facts: Eventually everyone gets old and dies. We worry that we will go the way of the Shakers and other groups that didn't get new members or have children." He remains absolutely convinced that Koresh will be resurrected. He said: "If it was all a deception, and yet we were convinced it was right, then how can we ever know the difference between good and evil, and right and wrong? If I was misled by God, then how would I ever believe anything ever again?" 5
bulletAbout 250 surviving Branch Davidian members and relatives of the dead are suing the Federal government. They believe that the fire was started when federal agents punched holes in the walls of the compound and fired tear gas inside. They allege that the gas canisters caught fire and started the conflagration that burned down the entire compound.
bulletOn 1997-SEP-7, US District Judge Walter Smith re-imposed long prison sentences on five Branch Davidian members. Four men received 10 years for voluntary manslaughter and 30 years for using a firearm in a violent crime. The fifth was received 10 years for possessing a hand grenade and 10 years for using a firearm.

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Recent developments:

bullet1999-AUG-25: The U.S. Justice Department had long held that, during the assault at Waco, the FBI did not use any pyrotechnic devices that were capable of setting a fire. Danny Coulson, a former FBI official told the Dallas Morning News on AUG-23 that two potentially incendiary M-651 tear gas grenades had actually been used against the Branch Davidian compound. They were thrown at a concrete construction pit that contained a tunnel entrance which led into the compound. They bounced off of the bunker roof and landed harmlessly in a nearby puddle. This occurred  about 300 feet from the wooden compound buildings. (Another source said 90 to 120 feet; the A.P. reported 120 meters or 394 feet 1) The grenades appear to have been unrelated to the blaze. They exploded at 6:07 AM, some 6 hours before the fire broke out. "An investigation by a panel of independent arson experts concluded that the April 19 fire began simultaneously just after noon in three separate places inside the compound. FBI bugs intercepted Branch Davidians discussing spreading fuel and planning a blaze for hours before the compound burned. Arson investigators also found evidence that accelerants, ranging from gasoline to charcoal lighter fluid and camp stove fuel had been poured in the compound." 2,3
bullet1999-SEP-1: The FBI is pushing for an independent investigation into why it took 6 years for them to acknowledge use of incendiary tear-gas canisters at Waco. A second proposal has been made to create a joint House-Senate commission to investigate the affair. Meanwhile the House government-reform committee is proceeding with its own investigation. 1
bullet2000-SEP-9: Attorney General Janet Reno appointed former Senator John Danforth, (R-MO) as special counsel to head up an independent investigation into the Waco tragedy. He is an Episcopal priest, and had been the attorney general in Missouri for eight years.
bullet2000-JUL-14: The relatives of some of the victims in Waco held that the federal government was responsibility for the loss of life in 1993. They had initiated a 675 million dollar wrongful death lawsuit. The Texas jury decided that the government was not responsible for the tragedy. The judge will make the final ruling in this case.
bullet2000-JUL-21: Former Senator John Danforth, (R-MO) chairperson of a ten month independent investigation, announced that the blame for the Waco catastrophe rests solely with David Koresh. 4
bullet2000-JUL-28: According to Maranatha Daywatch, Attorney General Janet Reno revealed that she had discussed with President Clinton plans to storm the Waco compound on the day before the raid was implemented.
bullet2000-AUG-15: The judge in the Branch Davidian wrongful death lawsuit will order a court-appointed expert to provide testimony on whether FBI agents shot into the Waco compound the day that it caught on fire.
bullet2000-SEP-20: According to DayWatch news service: "U.S. District Judge Walter Smith cleared the federal government...of wrongdoing in the deaths of 80 Branch Davidians during the 1993 standoff with federal agents at the cult's Waco, Texas compound. Smith laid the entire blame for the deaths at the feet of cult leader David Koresh. Special Counsel John Danforth and an advisory jury reached the same conclusions earlier this year."

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Books on Waco:

A number of books have been written about the Waco tragedy. We recommend the three books written by academics.

bullet K.G.C. Newport, "The Branch Davidians at Waco: The history and beliefs of an apocalyptic sect," Oxford University Press, (2006-MAY). He argues that the tragedy at Waco was, according to an Amazon.com review: "the culmination of a long theological and historical tradition that goes back many decades. The Branch Davidians under David Koresh were an eschatologically confident community that had long expected that the American government, whom they identified as the Lamb-like Beast of the book of Revelation, would one day arrive to seek to destroy God's remnant people. The end result, the fire, must be seen in this context." Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store
bulletJ.D. Tabor & E.V. Gallagher, "Why Waco: Cults and the battle for religious freedom in America," University of California Press, (1997). This book is written by two theologians who had contact with Koresh during the standoff. They express concern about the public's irrational fear of new religious movements. Read reviews or order this book
bulletS.A. Wright, Ed., "Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspective on the Branch Davidian Conflict," University of Chicago Press," (1996) This contains 15 essays by sociologists, historians, lawyers and theologians covering all aspects of the tragedy. Read reviews or order this book

There are also many book written from a non-academic perspective:

bulletCarol Moore, "Davidian Massacre: Disturbing questions about Waco which must be answered," Legacy Communications, (1996) This takes the position that the government intentionally massacred the Branch Davidian with machine guns from helicopters. Ms. Moore is an investigative reporter. Read reviews or order this book
bulletD.J. Reavis, "The Ashes of Waco: an investigation," Syracuse University Press, (1998).  An account of the tragedy by a journalist. Read reviews or order this book
bulletD.B. Kopel, P.H. Blackman, "No more Wacos: What's wrong with federal law enforcement and how to fix it," Prometheus Books, (1997). Chosen as a main selection by the Conservative Book Club. Read reviews or order this book
bulletDavid Thibodeau, Leon Whiteson, "A placed called Waco: A survivor's story," Public Affairs, (1999-SEP) A book by one of the 9 Branch Davidians who survived the fire. He blames the government for the loss of life. Order this book

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Internet web site with information on Waco and the Branch Davidians:

bulletS.A. Wright, "Armageddon in Waco", University of Chicago Press, Chicago IL (1995)
bulletV.T. Houteff, "The Great Controversy Over 'The Shepherds Rod", Universal Publishing Assoc., Waco TX (1954)
bulletJ.D. Melton, Ed, "The Encyclopedia of American Religions, Vol. II", Triumph Books, New York (1991), P. 676
bulletT. Miller, Ed, "America's Alternative Religions", SUNY Press, Albany (1995), P. 149-158
bulletD. Koresh, text of taped sermon recorded on 1993-MAR-02. Analysis by Stephen Tice included. See: gopher://wiretap.spies.com/00/Library/Religion/Fringe/koresh.txt
bulletD.J. Reavis "The Ashes of Waco. Featured at http://rampages.onramp.net/~djreavis/ The site also has a FAQ at: http://rampages.onramp.net/~djreavis/Ashes_faq.html
bulletJ. Tabor, E.V. Gallagher, "Why Waco", University of California Press (1995). Featured at: http://home.maine.rr.com/waco/ww.html 
bulletThe PBS program Frontline has a FAQ list on Waco. See: http://www.boston.com/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/topten.html
bulletAn expose "GOP keeps focus on ATF'S mistakes in Waco" is available at: http://www.nando.net/newsroom/nt/nation7.html
bulletAnother expose, by K.S. Van Horn "Abuses of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms is at: http://www.access.digex.net/~croaker/koramer.html
bulletThe Waco Massacre is at: http://www.magnet.ch/serendipity/waco.html 
bulletThe "Internet Crime Archives" contains descriptions of various "killer cults [which] tend to be led by charismatic megalomaniacs who pit themselves and their churches against the rest of the world". They include the Branch Davidian group. See: http://www.mayhem.net/Crime/cults.html
bulletA list of 45 references to the Branch Davidian group and to its leader can be accessed at: http://www.unc.edu/~elliott/koresh.txt
bulletCongressional testimony by Dr. Bruce Perry concerning treatment of children at Waco is at: http://www.bcm.tmc.edu/civitas/publications/congress.html
bullet"Real History Archives" has links to two conspiracy-minded WWW sites about the Waco incident. One includes a map to the compound. See: http://www.webcom.com/~lpease/waco.html
bullet"...the official website of many Branch Davidian survivors who were with David Koresh during the 51 day siege at Mt. Carmel" has three domain names":
bulletSeven Seals Revelation, Book 1 at: http://www.sevenseals.com
bulletSeven Seals Revelation, Book 2 at: http://www.branchdavidian.com
bulletSeven Trumpets (material in text and audio) at: http://www.seventrumpets.com/
bulletThe Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum describes the Waco disaster as an intentional government extermination. They appear to accept the existence of flame-throwing tanks. See: http://206.55.8.10/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/

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References used:

  1. Michelle Mittelstadt, "FBI wants impartial probe of Waco tear-gas admission," A.P., 1999-AUG-31. 
  2. Lee Hancock, "Waco: FBI to acknowledge use of pyrotechnic devices - New account on Branch Davidian fire expected," Dallas Morning News, 1999-AUG-25. See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco.htm 
  3. "Reno orders probe as FBI reverses on Waco gas," New York Times news service, 1999-AUG-27. See http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco1.htm
  4. "Waco: Who's telling the truth?  John Danforth's investiation," Policy.com, 1999-SEP-20, at: http://www.policy.com/
  5. Howard Witt. "Waco Sect Survives," Chicago Tribune, 2004-JUN-14, at: http://dickstaub.com/

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Copyright 1995, to 2006 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally published: 1995-SEP-28
Last update: 2006-APR-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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