DAVID KORESH AND THE DAVIDIANS
Branch Davidians, American religious movement that became widely known in 1993, when most of its members were killed in a fire that destroyed their headquarters near Waco, Texas. The fire marked the end of a 51-day siege by United States federal agents. (Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.)
The Branch Davidians trace their origins to the Davidian movement, a splinter group of Seventh-Day Adventists founded by Adventist leader Victor Houteff in Los Angeles, California, in 1934. Houteff retained the traditional Adventist belief that the apocalypse (the end of the world) and the Second Coming of Christ were imminent and would be preceded by catastrophes and war. Houteff also taught that the kingdom of ancient Israelite monarch Davidhence the term Davidianwould be reestablished in Palestine. After splitting from the Adventists, Houteff led his followers from Los Angeles to Waco, where they established the communal Mount Carmel Center. Houteff died in 1955, and the Branch Davidian movement itself eventually splintered.
Vernon Howell, the future David Koresh, attended various schools before dropping out after the tenth grade. Vernon spent hours in agonized prayer and Bible study. He became leader of one faction of the Davidian movement and in 1990 legally adopted the symbolic name David Koresh. David signifies the kingdom of David to be restored in Palestine. Koresh emphasized the apocalyptic element in Davidian theology, teaching that the Davidians at the Mount Carmel Centerrenamed Ranch Apocalypse in 1992would be assaulted by forces of evil. Communal life focused on recruiting new members, hard studying of the Bible, and preparing for the coming cataclysmic events by stockpiling food, weapons, and fuel.
By 1993 accusations of various kinds of abuses were being leveled at the group by anticult activists, including some former members, and the United States federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) decided to search the complex for illegal weapons. The tragedy began with a military style raid on February 28, complete with helicopter gunships firing down upon the women’s and children’s quarters. Then followed a long siege. On April 19, the US government sent tanks to gas the building where the people lived. The government said they decided to gas the Davidians because they were concerned about the sanitary conditions for the kids and innocent people inside the house, and because the FBI agents were getting tired.
The tanks tore big holes in the walls, drove into the house, and knocked down whole sections of the building. The government said they were only making make holes in the building so they could get the gas in, and let the people out. But no Davidians came out. To some, it seemed the tanks were demolishing the Branch Davidians’ home while the people were still inside.
A fire broke out as the tanks were driving about. The fire became an inferno, lasted 40 minutes and burned the house to the ground. Much public concern was focused on the circumstances surrounding the deaths of the 33 women, children, and babies whose remains were found in a concrete room, which served as a pantry and food storage area off the kitchen in the Mt. Carmel Center.
The events at Waco culminated in a tragic loss of life – on that everyone involved in law enforcement and in the official inquiry agrees. There is a view within the FBI and in the official reports that suggests the tragedy was unavoidable. This report is a dissenting opinion from that view. There is obviously no definitive answer, like most historical events; Waco can be view from a variety of perspectives. But in my perspective, I think that what happened in Waco was one of many tragedies that the U.S. had been throw. Like many others this is one that many people could talk about and never agree on really what happened on that day. One of the main things that affected what happened on that day is that the Davidias believed in something different. Something that drove them to kill them self and their childrens, this kind of believes are very strong, and that kind of situations is the kind that they are just waiting for, to do something crazy. They also believed in someone very intelligent (David Koresh), who believed that he was God. Someone that believes that can do anything without concerning the things that could happen.