The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect

The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect

The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect

The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect

Excerpt

This is a book about religious belief. It is about the kind of religious belief that may lead a person to come to the conviction that God has called him or her to lead a community of the faithful and to teach them the ways of God. It is about belief that may lead a person to take action—to move thousands of miles, to establish a place on earth where people may be prepared for heaven, to devote oneself to the writing and spreading of religious tracts. It is about belief that looks for the self-revelation of God in scripture and in the spoken word of living prophets. It is about the kind of belief for which one may choose to die.

The story told here is the story of 'Waco'—the name of a pleasant enough Texan town now synonymous in many people's minds with religious extremism and/or government heavy-handedness. What took place there in the spring of 1993 is now etched upon the American psyche, and despite the passing of a dozen years 'what really happened' continues to be a matter of grave concern. It was, for example, of grave concern to Timothy McVeigh, who on the second anniversary of the Waco Wre bombed the Alfred P. Murrah building in Oklahoma City in an act of revenge. It continues to be of grave concern to those who lost loved ones at Waco, the mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, other family members, and friends of the eighty-four who died during the Wfty-one days.

It is hoped that this book will contribute to the understanding of 'Waco' in a number of ways. First, every attempt has been made to set the events in context. The Branch Davidians were not a new movement in 1993 and to understand them it is necessary also to understand something of their history. Even more important, however, is the need to understand something of their theology, for it was theology that drove them; it was theology for which they lived and theology for which so many of them died. My task has been to understand some of that theology and some of that history in an effort to see beneath the surface of events that for a while so dramatically hit the world's TV screens. It has not always been an easy task nor always a pleasant one. I remain convinced, however, that it was necessary. There will be other Wacos, and if this book assists in some small way in understanding the one we have already had, there is some hope, even if only a small one, that it might assist too in seeking to avert the kind of outcome we witnessed on 19 April 1993. In this case my time will have been well spent.

This book has grown considerably in the writing and the end product is nearly Wfty per cent longer than had originally been contracted. In the end . . .

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