David Koresh and the Davidians Essays and Papers

This essay has a total of 749 words and 4 pages.

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
David—hence the term Davidian—would 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 Center—renamed Ranch Apocalypse in 1992—would 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.
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