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Branch Davidians

Discussion in 'Seventh-day Adventist Church DIR' started by Bishka, Jan 17, 2006.

  1. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    http://religiousmovements.lib.virginia.edu/nrms/bran.html

    1. Name: Branch Davidians



      The Branch Davidians were earlier known as The Shepherds Rod, the Branch Seventh-Day Adventist or Branch SDA's.
    2. Founder: Victor Tasho Houteff
    3. Date of Birth: March 2, 1885
    4. Birth Place: Raikovo, Bulgaria
    5. Year Founded: 1929
    <LI>
    1. Brief History
    2. Victor Houteff first heard the teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1918 at a revival meeting. He soon became an active and committed member. In 1929, he publicly announced his personal interpretation of the Bible which pivots on Micah 6:9 and the phrase "Hear ye the rod." Houteff believed Seventh-Day Adventist doctrines and teachings were inacurate and he called for reform. The church isolated Houteff and his followers with the result that Houteff broke from SDA and founded The Shepherd's Rod.
    3. Houteff saw himself as a divine messenger sent by God to reveal the secret information in the scroll mentioned in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 5. The scroll is protected by seven seals and within it reveals the events which are to occur prior to Christ's return and how the world will end.
    4. In addition, Houteff believed his task was to assembly a group of 144,000 Christians, as symbolized in the Book of Revelation 7:4. The group would travel to Palestine where they would establish the Davidic kingdom, which would lead to the second coming of Christ and the downfall of Babylon (i.e. the end of the world). Houteff compiled his beliefs in his book "The Shepherd's Rod."
    5. He began the process of attaining followers by founding the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas with eleven of his followers in 1935. Recruitment from within the SDA Church continued until 1942 when Houteff and his group broke completely from the Seventh-Day Adventist Church because the latter refused to allow for conscientious objection status during World War II. This event prompted Houteff to change the name of his group to the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Association. Recruiting internationally, numbers continued to rise. By 1955, there were about 125 members residing at the Mount Carmel Center with others in Los Angeles and around the country.
    6. In 1955, Victor Houteff died. His followers were astonished because they had come to regard him as the new Elijah who would "help usher in the reign of God." With his mission incomplete and his prophetic claims unfulfilled, unease swept throughout the group.
    7. Houteff's wife, Florence, assumed leadership of the movement despite splintering within the group. One such splinter group, the Branch Davidians, led by Benjamin Roden, would later take control of the Davidian movement. Before this occurred, however, Florence Houteff predicted that the time of God's judgement would fall on April 22, 1959 because the 1,260 days of Revelation 11 would be completed and on that day God would intervene in Palestine. Followers began to assemble at the New Mount Carmel, located east of Waco, on April 16, 1959, prepared to move to the Holy Land.
    8. When Florence's prophecy did not come true, intense splintering began within the group. Admitting her errors, Florence dissolved the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Association in 1961 and sold Mount Carmel to Ben Roden in 1965.
    9. Roden named his faction the Branch Davidian SDA's. Roden declared himself the fifth angel (Revelation 9:1), in the same vein as Houteff, who had declared himself the fourth angel (Revelation 8:12). He lead the Branch until his death in 1978, whereupon his wife, Lois Roden, assumed the role of the sixth angel (Revelation 9:16). She was regarded as a prophet and thought to possess new insight into the "femininity of the Holy Spirit".
    10. Vernon Howell joined the group in 1981 and Lois expressed her belief that he would be the group's next prophet. However, George Roden, Lois's son, forced Howell and his followers out of Mount Carmel in 1984. In 1988, Roden was sent to jail for contempt of court, a charge which stemmed from a series of obscene documents he filed with the court. With him behind bars, Howell took control of Mount Carmel and the Branch.
    11. In 1990, Vernon Howell changed his name to David Koresh (Koresh is a form of Cyrus). He chose this name from Isaiah 45, which states that Cyrus "was the only non-Israelite who was given the title 'anointed' or 'a messiah' or in Greek, 'a christ'." Koresh regarded himself as the Lamb from Revelation 5, and took it upon himself to open the seven seals and interpret the scroll (Revelation 5:2). If he could accomplish this task, Koresh believed, he would bring about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
     
  2. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    1. Sacred or Revered Texts:



      The Bible, particularly the Book of Revelation.
    2. Cult or Sect: Negative sentiments are typically implied when the concepts "cult" and "sect" are employed in popular discourse. Since the Religious Movements Homepage seeks to promote religious tolerance and appreciation of the positive benefits of pluralism and religious diversity in human cultures, we encourage the use of alternative concepts that do not carry implicit negative stereotypes. For a more detailed discussion of both scholarly and popular usage of the concepts "cult" and "sect," please visit our Conceptualizing "Cult" and "Sect" page, where you will find additional links to related issues.
    3. Size of Group: Prior to the government raid, standoff, and fire in the spring of 1993, there were approximately 130 members. Currently, there are estimates from only a dozen active members to 30 or 50 surviving and active members, including recent converts. There are also groups that have splintered from the Branch Davidians, but current membership is unknown.
     
  3. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    II. Beliefs of the Group



    1. The Branch Davidians "embrace the core teachings of the Seventh-Day Adventists." The SDA Church follows most of the conservative Christian beliefs: creation, original sin, the virgin birth, the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, belief in Satan as evil, the infallibility of Scripture, salvation by the atonement of Christ, etc. (Seventh-Day Adventist Church)

      Their beliefs, however, do depart from traditional Christian doctrine on several important points. Three major doctrinal differences exist. First, the written word of Ellen White is considered to be inspired by God and thus an authoritative source of truth. Secondly, they deny the concept of "innate mortality". They believe that when someone dies they remain unconscious until they are either resurrected into eternal life with God, which is only given to righteous Christians, or annihilated. Third, they believe that the second coming of Christ is imminent. Following the Second Coming believers who had previously died will be resurrected and taken to heaven and for the next 1000 years only Satan and his angels will live on earth. A second resurrection will occur and the righteous will return to a newly cleansed earth and establish the New Jerusalem. The unrighteous who died before the Second Coming will be consumed by fire, along with Satan and his angels. (Seventh-Day Adventist Church)

      In addition to these three doctrinal differences between SDA and conventional Christianity, there are also important behavioral differences. First, Seventh-Day Adventists observe the Sabbath on Saturday. Second, they strongly emphasize health, specifically vegetarianism. Third, they believe in conscientious objection with regard to military service. prophecy and fulfillment, he extensively utilized the Old Testament and the Book of Revelation. In true "millenarian" tradition, Houteff interpreted current events as signs of the end of time. Emphasizing that truth is gradually revealed over time, Houteff referred to his teachings as the "Present Truth." Houteff focused on establishing a true church of 144,000 believers and unlocking the biblical secrets because he believed the end was near.

      Ben Roden succeeded Houteff and built on the ideas of those who preceded him. Under Roden, the Branch Davidians created a logo to represent their beliefs. It was a circular field filled with a star of David and twelve perimeter stars. "Ensign" was written across the center and the reference "Isaiah 11:1" was placed underneath it. Superimposed upon the design was a plant with three designations: Jesse the Stem, David the Rod, and Christ the Branch. Roden saw himself as the leader of the final phase of the movement. The goal was to reproduce the character of Christ in the lives of the elect 144,000 in preparation for the Second Coming; an idea referred to as Adventist perfectionism. In his writings, Roden focused on anti-Catholicism, recovery of Israelite festivals, and General Conference reform. His intention was to create a Branch Davidian center in Israel. Roden also believed in the observance of ceremonial law of the Old Testament. According to Roden, it was important to observe Jewish festivals because "the ceremonial Law sets the time for the important events in the last days."

      In 1977, Roden's wife, Lois, experienced a vision. Following this vision, Lois Roden began to teach that the Holy Spirit was feminine. In addition, she proclaimed that at the Second Coming the messiah would appear in female form. After her husband's death in 1978, which she hailed as the day when the seventh seal in the book of Revelation was opened, Lois continued her mission of spreading the word about God's femininity to all believers. Lois became alienated from her son, George, because of his struggle for succession, and consequently allied herself with Vernon Howell. Vernon Howell (David Koresh) ultimately became the leader of the Branch Davidians and ushered in a new era for the Branch Davidians with his New Light doctrine and elevated prophetic status. Koresh furthered the work of his forefathers by continuing with the Adventist tradition, adopting a messianic role essential to human salvation, and ordaining the end time. With his focus on the Book of Revelation, Koresh desired to create a new lineage of God's children from his seed, making him the perfect mate for all female adherents. Thus, Koresh became the pivotal character in the restoration of humanity to its divine purpose. Koresh established what he called the House of David and in 1984 began taking "spiritual wives." Differing from past eras, he progressively linked his group's activities to an imminent future and not to past tradition. A key distinction within Koresh's era was his gradual revelation of the secrets of the seven seals in Bible study sessions, which convinced the group that they were living in the end time. Koresh stressed that the apocalypse would occur in America and not in Israel, and because of this the Davidians began to adopt survivalist tactics such as stockpiling food and weapons. In 1992, he renamed the Mount Carmel community "Ranch Apocalypse."
     
  4. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Under Koresh's leadership, the group adopted a much more communal form of organization and recruited heavily from the young adult population. Community organization became more communal as living at Mount Carmel was emphasized, marriages were arranged, all money went towards the group, and the "Mighty Men" (based on the guards at King Solomon's bed in the Bible) was established. The "Mighty Men" were Koresh's lieutenants who held various responsibilities within the community. Gradually, tension with the larger society increased as the Davidians moved toward prophetic movement organization. Perpetuating the conflict with the greater society and with the SDA, Koresh and the Branch Davidians concentrated on moving into the divinely ordained future, revealing the secrets of the seven seals, and awaiting the end of time with the Second Coming of Christ.

    III Contemporary Issues/Controversies:

    Dividian Update!
    Controversy Erupts Anew




    In late July, 1999 stories began to appear claiming anew that the FBI was responsible for starting the fire in the Branch Dividian compound that caused the death of 80 persons entrapped in the building. In a Washington Times story on July 30, Attorney General Janet Reno denied that the FBI was responsible for the fire. A month later, the nations' newspapers were full of stories about allegations of the use of incendiary tear gas cartridges, and the presence of the highly secret Army Delta Force on the scene. Clearly frustrated that information has been withheld from her, and that her own credibility was at stake, Reno vowed to get to the bottom of the matter and find the truth.

    With the appointment of former U.S. Senator John Danforth as the head of an independent inquiry about how the F.B.I. handled the Branch Dividian siege, and the forthcoming wrongful death trial, we can anticipate that there will be breaking news about Waco for many months.

    It is not possible for this site to maintain a current list of links to news coverage. What we have done is to update our links to the many tremendously valuable resources on Waco that are available on the Internet. And we have added, and will continue to add, annotations that we hope will assist readers in locating materials of particular interest to them.

    In accepting the position of independent investigator, Mr. Danforth pledged to focus on two "dark questions:" Did the federal government kill people? And was there a cover up? He also said that he was not going to try and second guess decisions made by field officers and their superiors. We hope Mr. Danforth will not so narrowly define his inquiry, for it was most certainly a series of poor judgments and decisions that led ultimately to the inferno that took the lives of so many persons who should not have died. If Mr. Danforth does nothing else but read the many carefully documented reports that are linked to this page, we believe he will come to the same conclusion. This is not to say, of course, that there is no need to investigate possible cover-ups. But there is already a great deal of evidence, and it should not be taken off the table because it may not fit Mr. Danforth's "dark questions".
     
  5. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    This segment on "Issues and Controversies" was written by Kimberly Post as part of the initial Branch Davidian page she created in Spring Term, 1997.

    Investigating possible firearms violations within the compound at Mount Carmel, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) agents raided the Branch Davidian compound on February 28, 1993. The fact that those who the agents were investigating were involved in what was believed to be a cult heavily influenced the way in which the agents went about dealing with David Koresh and the others suspected of firearms violations. This is evident in BATF agent Davy Aguilera's "Probable Cause Affidavit," which became part of the search warrant issued on February 25, 1993.

    Relying heavily on reports from a few former members of the Branch Davidians, Marc Breault (a former member and angry apostate) and Rick Ross (a deprogrammer and anti-cultist), Aguilera's affidavit delved into topics not under the jurisdiction of the BATF or part of the initial investigation into firearms violations, such as allegations of child abuse. His affidavit and the assumptions put forth by Breault and Ross decisively influenced the investigation and opinion of Koresh and his followers by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Attorney General Janet Reno, and President Clinton. Swayed primarily by the statements of Breault, and convinced that there was more than firearms violations going on at Mount Carmel, the BATF chose to serve the search warrant by raiding the compound, instead of apprehending Koresh while he was away from the compound. Ironically, the illegal activities that Koresh was being arrested for had to do with failure to properly register certain firearms and had nothing to do with the illegal possession of the alleged weapons. The nature of the compound and the fact that the Branch Davidians were considered a cult by the government convinced the BATF that because of its "cultic" nature bad things were going on inside Mount Carmel. As a result, the BATF raided the compound on February 28, 1993.

    After the unsuccessful raid, in which six Davidians and four BATF agents died and at least one Davidian and 24 agents were wounded, the FBI took over. Subsequently, a siege ensued which ultimately lasted 51 days. The FBI believed that the children inside the compound were being abused based on a report from a psychiatrist at the Baylor College of Medicine. (The report was apparently false and based on false memories implanted in the children). During the siege, several Branch Davidians left the compound. (Waco-Inside Story)

    Negotiations with Koresh were frustrating for both parties. On the one hand, the FBI did not take Koresh's message seriously and one agent referred to it as "Bible babble." On the other hand, Koresh agreed to surrender if his sermon was broadcast, which it was on March 2, but he changed his mind after receiving a revelation from God. On April 14, Koresh received a revelation in which he was instructed to write a description of the seven seals and then surrender. However, the FBI did not give him enough time and attacked only five days later. Consulting a number of psychiatrists, who knew little about new religious movements, the FBI decided it was safe to attack the compound with tear gas. However, numerous new religious movement experts warned the FBI about destructive cults and the potential for mass suicide if aggressive action was taken. Running out of patience and time (the FBI emergency response team was in need of refresher training and there was no replacement team), the FBI attacked the compound with tanks on April 19, 1993. Koresh and about 75 of his followers perished, including 21 children. Eight managed to escape. (Waco-Inside Story) Numerous debates ensued about the use of CS gas and how the fire started. The complete truth will probably never be known, but it does appear that three fires started simultaneously throughout the compound, implying that the Davidians started the fires. In addition, some of the members did not die from the smoke or falling debris but from gun shots. However, coroners have stated that the pattern of most of the bodies was not consistent with a theory of mass suicide. Following the inferno and subsequent investigation, eight Davidians were convicted on charges ranging from voluntary manslaughter to weapons violations. However, they were acquitted of most of the more serious charges. During sentencing, the judge handed down the most severe sentences possible with respect to the charges that the Davidians were found guilty of. Two BATF supervisors, Chuck Sarabyn and Phillip Chojinacki, were fired but later reinstated at lower ranks. No FBI agents have been officially disciplined. (Waco-Inside Story)
     
  6. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    IV. Links to Branch Davidian Web Sites



    Danforth Commission and wrongful-death lawsuit



    [size=-1]Findlaw: Waco Analysis & Commentary
    The most comprehensive collection of document available covering the period of the Danforth Commission and the wrongful-death lawsuit. This page of links includes hundreds of newspaper articles, print and electronic opinions and analysis, and much of the evidentuary documents and reports.
    http://waco.news.findlaw.com

    Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
    James Tabor and Phillip Arnold, two Biblical scholars, personally engaged in a struggle to create a foundation for negotiation between David Koresh and the FBI. They were responsible for getting Koresh to agree to leave the Dividian compound when he had completed writing his teatise on the Seven Seals. The evidence indicates that Koresh had nearly completed his work when the FBI pursued its fateful tank assault on the compound on April 19, 1993.

    Tabor later collaborated with another Biblical scholar, Eugene Gallagher on a book entitled Why Waco? . This web site was created by Reno Avraam, one of the nine survivors, and one of those now imprisoned. It is an enormously valuable and engaging web site which includes many original source documents Tabor and Gallagher used for the book including Koresh's manuscript on the Seven Seals, a transcript of Koresh's world wide radio address of March 2, 1993 and lots more There are several papers written by Tabor which provide plausible evidence that the flaming inferno was not an inevitable outcome. Before pursuing this site in depth, we would recommend reading the first chapter of Why Waco? which is available on the University of California Press web site.


    Tabor has developed a web site reflecting his own scholarly interests entitled "The Jewish Roman World of Jesus." There are several papers on this site that might be of interest to persons interested in better understanding the Branch Davidians as a religious movement. We especially recommend Patterns of the End: Qumran to Waco. http://home.maine.rr.com/waco/ww.html

    Waco - Inside Story
    This is the web site for Frontline a PBS program produced by WGBH TV in Boston. It contains extensive information about the incident at Waco, a chronology of the siege, pictures, biographies of Branch Davidian members, audiotapes, various readings, viewer reactions, videotapes, and transcripts. It has a vital and very useful reference section which contains information on books, articles, and government reports about Waco and the Branch Davidians.
    http://www2.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/waco/primary.html

    Waco: The Rules of Engagement
    For those who need an acclaimed film before they will believe that almost everyone involved in the Branch Davidian tragedy screwed up, this is it. Rules of Engagement was nominated by the Academy of Motions Picture Arts and Sciences as the best documentary film of 1998. This page is a promo for the film, but it includes lots of reviews and commentaries from news papers across the country. If you care about religious liberty, read the reviews, buy the video. If you want to know what others think, a "discussion board" on the site offers hundreds of comments from readers.
    http://waco93.com/"

    Yahoo Waco Investigation
    Yahoo has developed a very substantial set of links to current news items as well as key Branch Davidian pages on the Internet. Not sure how long this set of links will be on line, but for the moment it is the most comprehensive set of links we have found.
    http://fullcoverage.yahoo.com/fc/US/Waco

    [/size]
     
  7. Bishka

    Bishka Veteran Member

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    Dallas Morning News Coverage of Waco
    The Dallas Morning News provided some of the most comprehensive converage of the 51 day siege of the Branch Davadian compound in 1993. And, it was the Dallas Morning News that was responsible for several of the stories that led to reopening the Waco files in the late summer of 1999. This link is to the Dallas Morning News Archive. There are several ways to access back articles on Waco. At the present moment, the best route to an extensive listing of previous stories is: "Waco Reexamined." On a day when the Morning News runs a Davidian story, it is usually possible to access numerous articles from links that run beside the electonic version of the paper. If the "Waco Reexamined" segment disappears, try searching the archives which can be searched and downloaded for a small fee. Click here to access the front page of today's electronic version of the Dallas Morning News.
    http://www.dallasnews.com/specials/waco/
    http://archive.dallasnews.com/
    http://www.dallasnews.com/


    Waco, FBI and the Branch Davidians: Updates
    This Cesnur page presents a number of recent breaking news stories. They are mostly from U.S. papers, but a few are from Italy in Italian.
    http://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco_updates.htm

    Branch Davidians, a.k.a. Students of the Seven Seals
    This extended essay by Bruce Robinson on the Religious Tolerance page offers lots of objective information and a cool approach to a hot topic. http://www.religioustolerance.org/dc_branc.htm

    Waco Holocaust Electronic Museum
    This expansive site is presented by Public Action, which identifies itself as a "news and news service" group. It was an outgrowth of another ad hoc group that organized Waco Remembrance, demonstrations to commomorate the "Waco Holocaust." Any serious student of what happened at Waco will want to explore this site. While conspiracy theory is the unlying presuppostion of the group that created the page, there is a lot of factual material that was not available in the mass media, government reports, or the Congressional hearings. Much of the content is thought provoking. A thousand files are claimed, but there is no central index and the site lacks a search engine.
    http://www.mnsinc.com/SkyWriter/WacoMuseum/

    Student of the Seven Seals
    Originating from the OCRT homepage, this site provides extensive information on the Branch Davidians' history, beliefs, practices, and Waco. In addition, it contains hyperlinks to the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, doomsday cults, and implanted memories in children. It provides a very thorough and unbiased account of the Branch Davidian sect.
    http://www.religioustolerance.org/waco.htm

    Ashes of Waco: An Investigation
    This is the web site for Dick J. Reavis's book, "The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation." It contains excerpts from his book, congressional hearing transcripts, images, answers to frequently asked questions about Waco, and sound files from the 911 and negotiation tapes.
    http://rampages.onramp.net/~djreavis/

    Branch Davidian Homepage
    The Branch Davidian homepage was created by survivors and provides extensive information on the beliefs of the group and the corresponding biblical references. There is also a link to a new book that answers such questions as "Where did we come from?" In addition, there are email and mailing addresses to contact the group. Not a particularly hot site.
    http://www.branchdavidian.com/

    Seven Seals Homepage
    This page describes the beliefs behind the Seven Seals and the biblical references. In addition, it provides a link to latter day events according to prophecy. This page also links to the Branch Davidian homepage just above.
    http://www.sevenseals.com/

    The Massacre of the Branch Davidians
    Carol Moore, the author of this text, exposes alleged violations of rights, excessive force, and a cover up by government officials. This is a conspiracy theory volume, but one that deserves careful reading. Please note this web page is a single file that is about 130 pps long, so we recommend downloading rather than printing. A much more extensive version of the manuscript is available by the same title. See the bibliography below.
    http://www.shadeslanding.com/firearms/waco.massacre.html

    David Koresh Memorial
    http://www.everett.net/users/rorrim/koresh.htm

    Branch Davidian Trial Transcrips More than 4000 pages of transcripts of the trial of the Davidians. http://members.xoom.com/waco123/bdtt_toc/index.htm Watchman Expositor on Branch Davidians
    The Watchman is one of the two largest counter-cult organizations with a very substantial web site. As a counter-cult organization, there perspective is to rebut what they consider to be errant beliefs. This link is to the Watchman index. Scroll down the page to "Branch Dividians" to access a listing of ten separate papers.
    http://www.watchman.org/subindex.htm

    Waco: Waco Davidians, Branch Davidians and David Koresh
    This large posting of 80 or more stories about the Branch Davidians is on the homepage of Rick Ross, a leading anti-cultist in the U.S. Ross claims to have been an advisor to the BAFT and FBI both before and during the siege, but just how influencial he may have been remains unknown. Many of the items on this page are newspaper articles, including the series on "The Sinful Missiah" that began running in the Waco Tribune-Herald on the day of the BATF raid. Ross posts a disclaimer regarding the contents, indicating he offers the materials for the convenience of researchers. While many of the articles are straight forward reporting, a significant part of the content is skewed toward his anti-cult bias.
    http://www.rickross.com/groups/waco.html
     
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