To provide a fuller perspective on government action against the Branch Davidians, presenting a history of the group, daily life at the Waco compound, and damning weapon related allegations are necessary. The possibility that all actions handled in a way where death could have been avoided, still puzzles a lot of people. The actions the ATF and FBI used on the Branch Davidians were executed in a very unprofessional manner. If law enforcement agencies would have arrested David Koresh while he was in town, the people that died might still be here today.
The Branch Davidians are an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Like the church, they believe in the "advent" or "Second Coming" of Jesus Christ, complete with the end of the world in a fiery apocalypse, the death of all sinners and the salvation of true believers. (Massacre at Waco, Texas) In 1935 Seventh Day Adventist Victor Houtoff declared himself a prophet, formed the Shepherd's Rod Church and established the first Mount Caramel Center in Waco. In 1955 Houtoff died and his wife Florence took over and established the current Mount Caramel further outside Waco. When the Second Coming of Christ did not occur on April 22, 1959, as she predicted, the group split. The largest contingent followed another "prophet," Ben Roden, who changed the Church's name to the Branch Davidians.
In 1978 Ben Roden died and his wife Lois Roden, a woman well-known in evangelical circles because of her pronouncement that the Holy Spirit was female, became the new Branch Davidian prophet. However, she soon found herself in power struggles with her son George Roden, whom most Branch Davidians considered too poorly versed in Scriptures and too erratic to lead the group. In 1981, after being "disfellowed" from the Seventh Day Adventist Church for proclaiming himself a prophet, rock musician and handyman Vernon Howell joined the Branch Davidians. His knowledge of Scripture and personable manner quickly gained him the confidence of Lois Roden and many Branch Davidians. It also earned him the enmity of George Roden, who saw Howell as his prime rival for Branch Davidian leader and prophet. In 1984 Howell married 14-year-old Rachel Jones. The battle between Roden and Howell escalated until finally, in 1985, a gun-toting George Roden drove Howell and his followers out of Mount Caramel. They established a community in shacks and buses on property they purchased in Palestine, Texas. (Massacre at Waco)
The rivalry with the paranoid and gun-obsessed Roden heated up after Lois Roden's death. In late 1987 Roden dug up the coffin of a long-dead Branch Davidian and challenged Howell to raise her from the dead. Howell complained to authorities about "corpse abuse," but they demanded proof of a crime. When Howell and seven armed followers snuck onto the property to photograph the coffin, Roden caught them and a gunfight ensued. All eight were tried for attempted murder of Roden; seven were acquitted and Howell's trial...