Synopses & Reviews
The 1993 government assault on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, resulted in the deaths of four federal agents and eighty Branch Davidians, including seventeen children. Whether these tragic deaths could have been avoided is still debatable, but what seems clear is that the events in Texas have broad implications for religious freedom in America.
James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher's bold examination of the Waco story offers the first balanced account of the siege. They try to understand what really happened in Waco: What brought the Branch Davidians to Mount Carmel? Why did the government attack? How did the media affect events? The authors address the accusations of illegal weapons possession, strange sexual practices, and child abuse that were made against David Koresh and his followers. Without attempting to excuse such actions, they point out that the public has not heard the complete story and that many media reports were distorted.
The authors have carefully studied the Davidian movement, analyzing the theology and biblical interpretation that were so central to the group's functioning. They also consider how two decades of intense activity against so-called cults have influenced public perceptions of unorthodox religions.
In exploring our fear of unconventional religious groups and how such fear curtails our ability to tolerate religious differences, Why Waco? is an unsettling wake-up call. Using the events at Mount Carmel as a cautionary tale, the authors challenge all Americans, including government officials and media representatives, to closely examine our national commitment to religious freedom.
This bold examination of the 1993 Waco tragedy, which resulted in the deaths of four federal agents and eighty members of the Branch Davidians -- including seventeen children -- offers the first balanced account of the seige. The authors have carefully studied the tenuous relationship between the Branch Davidians and the federal government, as well as the two decades of intense media activity which have profoundly influenced public perceptions of unorthodox religions in America. In exploring our fear of unconventional religious groups and how such fear curtails our ability to tolerate religous differences, Why Waco? is an unsettling wake-up call.
"The label "cult" can become a license to kill. . . . A courageous religious scholar, James Tabor, understanding what was at stake, tried valiantly to prevent the tragedy at Waco. Persevering in its wake, he and Eugene Gallagher thoroughly investigated the background, participants, and events leading to the destruction of the Mount Carmel Church and its members. Their findings are presented in this critically important book."and#151;Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General
"Here, at last, is a glimpse of 'the other side' of the tragic confrontation. . . . The authors offer an alternative to the common wisdom about Waco as well as a critique of the anti-cult ideology that helped misdefine the situation and bring about its fatefuland#151;and fataland#151;results."and#151;Dean M. Kelley, Counselor on Religious Liberty, National Council of Churches
"For public debate on a serious issue facing our society, this book deserves wide and sober reading."and#151;John R. Hall, author of Gone From the Promised Land: Jonestown as American Cultural History
In this bold examination of the 1993 Waco tragedy, the authors have carefully studied the tenuous relationship between the Branch Davidians and the federal government and offer the first balanced account of the siege. In exploring our fears of unconventional religious groups and how such fear curtails our ability to tolerate religious differences, Why Waco? is an unsettling wake-up call.
About the Author
James D. Tabor is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the coauthor of A Noble Death: Suicide and Martyrdom in Antiquity (1992). Eugene V. Gallagher is Professor of Religious Studies at Connecticut College and the author of Expectation and Experience: Explaining Religious Conversion (1990).
Table of Contents
1. What Might Have Been
2. Moving to Mount Carmel
3. Unlocking the Seven Seals
4. The Sinful Messiah
5. A Complex Hostage / Barricade Rescue Situation
6. The Wacko from Waco
7. The Cult Controversy
8. Waco and Religious Freedom in America
Appendix: An Unfinished Manuscript by David Koresh
A Note on Sources
List of Mount Carmel Branch Davidians
Illustrations following page 146