Twenty years ago, Janet Reno sent federal agents down to Waco, Texas, to investigate a cult called the Branch Davidians led by a self-styled prophet named David Koresh (real name: Vernon Wayne Howell) who was said to be stockpiling weapons and bedding teenagers and accumulating wives.
A 51-day seige became a raid became an all-consuming fire that killed Koresh and more than 80 of his followers trapped in the Mount Carmel Center compound. Four ATF agents also died in the raid.
Accusations flew about who set the fire and whether the feds were precipitate in their actions, etc. etc. That Koresh was a nut, there is little doubt. The Davidians were a cranky offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which “disfellowshipped” the original group back in 1929/30 or so. A “branch” broke off that group, and Koresh, also disfellowshipped from the SDA for “moral” reasons, wormed his way into their midst, finally foisting himself into the conga line of supposedly “spirit-filled” prophets whose job it was to lead a group of purified non-flesh-eating saints to await the final judgment, at which point the whole holy gang would be allowed to leave Waco and venture into, oh, San Antonio.
Well, the survivors of that deadly raid have persevered in their faith, despite the calamity that befell their little sect two decades ago. Which is irrefutable evidence that Koresh was a prophet of God and the Branch Davidians were members of his One True Church.
That was sarcasm.
Clive Doyle, a 72-year-old Australian-Texan, still lives in Waco and still has Bible study every Saturday with another survivor, Sheila Martin. Doyle has become the Davidians’ unofficial historian and spokesman. He says they are still waiting on the resurrection of Koresh.
“We survivors of 1993 are looking for David and all those that died either in the shootout or in the fire,” Doyle says. “We believe that God will resurrect this special group.”
Today, all nine Davidian survivors who were convicted for various offenses related to the initial ATF raid have been released from federal prison. Paul Fatta, who spent nearly 13 years in prison on weapons charges, was released two years early for good behavior. Now 55 years old, he lives in San Diego where he manages his family’s Hawaiian restaurant. Fatta, too, still believes.
“I would like to see some divine intervention, for God to vindicate his people,” he says, “all those that have suffered over the years for truth, who’ve been misunderstood, have been mocked, ridiculed [and] thrown in prison.”
Amen. Now get back on your medication.
The Davidians are just an extreme example of many other sects that have a tangential relationship to Christianity (in some cases so tangential as to be just gential) and that enforce extra-biblical rules as necessary for salvation, thus turning “grace” into a chore to be completed by men and monitored by despots. Also keep in mind that self-called leaders who answer to no ecclesiastical authority (or their congregation) are 99 times outta a hundred misfits, pervs, and thieves.
Two rules for life: never take a job that requires a nickname (like in the Mafia—Sammy “Two Gizzards” and the like), and never join a church that says you can’t eat chocolate-covered lamb shanks stewed in coffee with just a hint of Anisette.
No good and merciful Creator would do that to you.