Tragedy at Waco 1993

     David Koresh, leader of the Branch Davidians in Waco, TX, was an expert at making conventional Christian doctrine and ideology support himself as the second Christ.  Using the Bible, particularly the Books of Daniel, Psalms, Isaiah and Revelation, he preached to his followers about the impending apocalypse and his own involvement in causing its start.

     Koresh’s Biblical apocalypticism was based on sacred text, (The Bible) an inspired interpreter, (Koresh) and the fluid context which an interpreter finds himself in.  (The government controlled the context ie: hostage rescue)  Koresh and his followers were deeply devoted to studying Biblical text.  Drawing from the Book of Revelation Koresh’s message was “highly systematic, rigidly consistent, and internally logical.”  According to his interpretation, Babylon, found in the Book of Revelation was the “evil government” and the federal agents sent on the purposed rescue mission were representing the 5th Seal.  To Koresh and his followers, surrendering to anyone but God was out of the question unless Koresh received word from God to do so. 

     This delay caused by Koresh waiting to receive God’s instructions irked those in charge.  The FBI was frustrated at the stand-off and showed little interest in hearing what Koresh had to say.  To them his words were senseless and those of a man with psychological problems.  The letters Koresh had written to explain his ideologies were passed off as babble and very little attention was given to understanding Koresh’s true intentions. 

     Sadly, the FBI promoted the persecution of Koresh and charged that he was a cult leader, child abuser, and rapist.  During the stand-off no proof was ever found to back these vicious statements.  As with Early Christians, persecution of new ideas was common.  Koresh expected to be persecuted just as Jesus Christ himself had been.  The Early Christians were prisoners to Roman Authority and now in 1993, Koresh who declared himself the second Christ based on Psalms and Isaiah mentioning the second Christ by the name Koresh, was under the same threat.   He believed and convinced his followers that they were being taken prisoners under governmental authority. 

      The whole scenario of this hostage rescue situation has an apocalyptic theme.  Preaching of the immanent return of Christ has taken place ever since his death.  It is a violent, fiery prediction based on the Book of Revelations.  In Koresh’s eyes, the attack of his fortress could only be viewed as the start of apocalyptic times.  There was no other way for this group of devoted Christians to view it as anything but the end.  The only statement Koresh gave to the FBI was they would leave the compound when God told him it was time.

     During the stand-off Koresh spent the majority of his time reading The Bible and trying to understand for himself what was taking place.  The letters he wrote and gave to his lawyer were passed on for examination to a college professor with no religious background,.  His determination that a peaceful end to the stand-off was not possible led to the FBI’s use of a gas attack on the compound.  The attack was tragic as the compound caught fire, trapping the innocent people inside and taking their lives. 

     There are many ways this stand-off could have gone differently.  Had the FBI made sincere attempts and sent agents with religious backgrounds to handle the negotiations or even brought in an outsider with knowledge of The Bible, perhaps this could have ended peacefully.  I don’t believe Koresh was purposely trying to cause the 5th Seal to be broken thus leading the government to attack.  Based on the reading, Koresh appeared to be forth-coming with his beliefs and reasoning for the accumulation of weapons.  The FBI was angered by Koresh’s absolute refusal to surrender to them and chose to take matters into their own hands.

     The entire rescue mission, based on false information of abuse ended the lives of 130 men, women and children.  Clearly these were unnecessary deaths at the hands of government intent on forcing a man to follow their commands.  Had someone in charge had the sense to send in people open to understanding a new religious ideology, this tragedy could have been avoided.  This incident left a black mark on our government’s historical record of backing religious freedom and ended the careers of many high level figures of the U.S. government.


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