David Koresh & Davidians

Waco Doomsayer: David Koresh and the Branch Davidians

David Koresh and his Branch Davidians WERE:
- The Branch Davidians were a schism of the Shepherd’s Rod, who were themselves a schism of the ‘mainstream’ SDA Church – i.e. an offshoot-of-an-offshoot.
- In 1993, worldwide attention was given to the group when a raid by US Federal authorities on the Davidian compound in Waco Texas resulted in the deaths of some 76 people – including Koresh himself. 
Koresh bizarrely TAUGHT the following:
- He was the reincarnated ‘Lamb of God’ – the Christ and Son of God.
Koresh disturbingly BEHAVED in the following manner:
- He carried out various sexual abuses, including paedophilia, adultery and polygamy.
- He fathered thirteen of the group’s children by seven different mothers.

Probably the best-known ex-Adventist cult leader was David Koresh.  Born Vernon Howell (b.1959-d.1993), Koresh was leader of the Branch Davidians (although other offshoots challenge his use to that name). The Branch Davidians were formerly associated with the Shepard’s Rod, which was itself an offshoot of the ‘mainstream’ SDA Church. Thus, the Branch Davidians were actually a schism-of-a-schism from the official Adventist Church. 
As observed by the Texas State Historical Association, Koresh lived a communal life with his followers, over whom he exercised authoritarian control:
‘Howell [i.e. Koresh] perpetuated the distinctive emphases of Davidian tradition-the authoritarian leader, communal life organized apart from society, and expectation of the imminent end of the world. He changed his name to David, suggesting his messianic task, and to Koresh, suggesting that his role was to destroy the enemies of God as King Cyrus had destroyed the Babylonians, enemies of Israel. However, whereas Adventists and Houteff had been pacifists, Koresh stockpiled weapons and ammunition.’
One may recall that in 1993 the group came to worldwide attention over a raid by the US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI). The raid became a 51-day siege of the Davidian compound just outside Waco Texas.  Tragically, Koresh, 54 other adults and 28 children were later found dead.

Parallels to the SDARM and ultra-conservative Adventism
Koresh and his Davidians adopted a number of ultra-conservative positions somewhat reminiscent of the SDARM or more conservative aspects of Adventism. As observed by the Texas State Historical Association:
‘They practiced vegetarianism and observed strict rules of conduct (no tobacco, dancing, or movies). Women used no cosmetics and wore distinctive long dresses.’
Koresh also seemed to use the well-trodden ‘proof-text’ method of scriptural interpretation discussed elsewhere in this blog.  As explained in the Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas” by the US Department of Justice:
‘The key to Koresh's hold on his followers was his ability to recite lengthy portions of the bible from memory, and to "harmonize" disparate, seemingly unrelated scriptures by showing how they "tied together." This ability, combined with Koresh's charismatic/mercurial personality and the low self-esteem of his followers, created an environment in which Korosh was elevated to near God-like status.’
As similarly observed by SDA Pastor Mike McCabe, in his article “My Trip to Waco” of 27 Dec 2012 in Independent Adventist magazine Spectrum, on a meeting with Koresh-lieutenant Steven Schneider, who would later die at WACO with his wife and 2-year old child:
It wasn’t long before the study began and they were right, this guy could quote Bible verse after Bible verse, which too often leads to the wrong conclusion that what they are saying is right. Steve was smart, no doubt. The problem was his train of thought was so disjointed it was very hard to get a bead on what he was trying to say. But after awhile a theme began to emerge. He seemed fixated on verses having to do with King David. He jumped from Isaiah to Daniel to Luke to Revelation and back to the Psalms and Genesis and everywhere in between.’
Then describing the sort of authoritarian control typical of SDARM and other ultra-conservative Adventist groups, McCabe goes on to explain:
‘This freedom is not something the Davidians had. They had surrendered the first part of the equation: their own beliefs, and chose instead to totally accept those of a maniacal lunatic whom they felt compelled to defend to the bitter end.’

Bizarre Beliefs: Reincarnated ‘Lamb of God’
Importantly in explaining this tragedy, the Davidians, like many ex-Adventist offshoots, were extremely apocalyptic to the point of being a doomsday cult.  As noted by the Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas”:
‘Koresh and his followers inside the compound manifested strong attitudes on a variety of subjects relevant to the negotiation process. Their attitudes toward religion and Koresh's deified status, law enforcement and organized government, and death and suicide all posed obstacles to a successful, peaceful end to the standoff.’

Most bizarrely, Koresh taught he was the Lamb of God – the Christ and Son of God.  As explained in “David Koresh & The Cuckoo’s Egg”:
‘And David proclaimed Christhood -- that he was the Son of God, the Lamb who could open the Seven Seals -- from Jerusalem in January 1985. He was already accepted as a prophet long before going to that filthy city.’

Disturbing Behaviours: Sexual abuse
Disturbingly, Koresh’s unfettered power within the Davidian group ultimately manifested in various forms of sexual abuse – of a paedophiliac, adulterous and polygamous nature.  As noted in the Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas”:
‘Koresh's charismatic hold permitted him to take extraordinary liberties with his followers. Koresh preached that as the "Lamb of God" only his "seed" was pure, meaning that only he could have sex with the over-puberty aged girls and women in the compound, and that none of the men could have sex. Koresh even convinced Schneider to give up his wife, Judy, to Koresh for sexual purposes. Koresh would humiliate Steve Schneider by talking about his sexual experiences with Judy in front of all the Davidians at their Bible study sessions. But Schneider believed in Koresh to the end.’
As similarly observed by the Texas State Historical Association, later DNA evidence proved Koresh had in fact fathered thirteen of the group’s children by seven different mothers:
‘Finally, he believed that members of the New Kingdom should be children of the Messiah: DNA evidence gathered after his death indicated that he sired thirteen of the Davidian children by seven mothers.’
Koresh and the Davidians are the ‘gold standard’ or template by which most other ex-Adventist cults can be compared.  The more similarities an offshoot group has to the Davidians, the more we should worry.

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