I have had quite a few younger readers write me asking about my involvement in the 1993 Waco Branch Davidian tragedy. So far as I know this remains the worst law enforcement disaster in American history in terms of loss of life. There are a lot of things in the works for the 30th anniversary next year in April 2023, including a major new book by best-selling journalist author Jeff Guinn. In the meantime this post, along with my co-authored book with Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco, see the links in “A New Take on What We Have Learned and Not Learned.”
Our core Waco team recorded this 2.5 hour video covering all aspects of what happened–you can watch it on Youtube on my Channel–please subscribe Channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/jamestaborvideos,as I will be posting regular videos this year related to my blog posting and the courses I have taught for the past 43 years.
The team put together this comprehensive Bibliography for researchers on Waco, now archived at the World Religions and Spirituality Center, but I will post it here as well:
Bibliography for the Scholars’ Discussions in The Waco Branch Tragedy
I thank Dr. Cathy Wessinger for overseeing this compilation and Dr. Philip Arnold of Reunion Institute to funding the 2.5 hour discussion above.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? (2:53:00) Houston: Reunion Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ASYZbOPpXQ&t=1786s.
The movie consists of a discussion among four scholars—J. Phillip Arnold, James D. Tabor, Catherine Wessinger, and Stuart A. Wright—about what they have learned from their years of research on the Branch Davidian case.
Ammerman, Nancy T. 1993. “Report to the Justice and Treasury Departments Regarding Law Enforcement Interaction with the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas. September 3. http://hirr.hartsem.edu/bookshelf/ammerman_article1.html.
Arnold, J. Phillip. 1994. “The Davidian Dilemma—To Obey God or Man? In From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco, ed. James R. Lewis, 23–31. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Bible scholar J. Phillip Arnold discusses the Branch Davidian theology and different ways that they may have understood the meaning of the fire based on Bible passages.
Arnold, Phillip, and James Tabor. 1994. “The David Koresh Manuscript: Exposition of the Seven Seals.” Houston: Reunion Institute.
Available at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/gopher/text/religion/koresh/Koresh%20Seals.
In keeping with David Koresh’s request of them before his death in the fire, Drs. J. Phillip Arnold and James D. Tabor provided without charge the manuscript of Koresh’s interpretation of the First Seal of the New Testament book of Revelation, to which they added their “Editorial Preface.” This manuscript was brought out on floppy disk by Ruth Riddle, who survived the fire on April 19, 1993. This manuscript is also found in the appendix of James D. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher, Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (1995).
Arnold, J. Phillip. 1995. Prepared Statement of J. Phillip Arnold, Ph.D., Reunion Institute, Houston, Texas. In Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies toward the Branch Davidians, House of Representatives subcommittees, Part 2: 206-11. [Pages 212-17 in the pdf.] Committee on the Judiciary Serial No. 72. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
1995 Statement to House of Representatives Hearings on Waco.
Arnold, J. Phillip. 2013. “The Resolution of the Branch Davidian Dilemma.” Lecture in the “Reflecting on an American Tragedy: The Branch Davidians 20 Years Later” symposium. Baylor University. April 18.
See lecture at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwPJGFBwu2w
- Phillip Arnold describes how he became aware of the standoff between the Branch Davidians and federal agents initiated by the February 28, 1993, attempted “dynamic entry” of their residence by Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms agents. He traveled from Houston to Waco, Texas, and offered his services to FBI agents as a “worldview translator” based on his expertise as a scholar of the Bible and apocalyptic religious groups. His offer to communicate directly with David Koresh was rejected. After he was tipped off that FBI agents were planning a tank and gas assault against the Branch Davidians’ residence, he and colleague James D. Tabor proposed to a Dallas radio talk show host that they discuss the Bible’s apocalyptic prophecies during the radio show. This was done on April 1, 1993. In their discussion, they pointed out that biblical prophecy was not “deterministic” about predicted events, but the events predicted in a prophecy could be changed or postponed. They argued that the Branch Davidians were not destined to be martyred as a conclusion of the siege overseen by FBI agents. The radio broadcast by J. Phillip Arnold and James D. Tabor inserted the two scholars into the symbolic universe of the Branch Davidians and suggested that the Branch Davidians could pursue other options beside waiting for their martyrdom, as Koresh had predicted would happen based on his interpretation of biblical prophecies. On April 14, the day after the conclusion of Passover, David Koresh sent out a letter spelling out his plan to end the standoff and be taken into custody. In the letter, Koresh stated that after he wrote his “little book” containing his interpretations of the “Seven Seals” of the book of Revelation, and the manuscript was placed in safekeeping with Drs. Arnold and Tabor, he would come out along with his followers. Although David Koresh made progress in the composition of his commentary on the First Seal, the FBI decision-makers were not moved by the social interactions between the two scholars and the religious group that had resulted in a new interpretation of the prophecies by Koresh. On April 19, 1993, the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team carried out the tank and CS gas assault, which after six hours culminated in a fire in which 54 adults and 22 children died.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? (2:53:00) Houston: Reunion Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ASYZbOPpXQ&t=1786s.
The movie consists of a discussion among four scholars—J. Phillip Arnold, James D. Tabor, Catherine Wessinger, and Stuart A. Wright—about what they have learned from their years of research on the Branch Davidian case.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Prelude: 911 Calls. (1:18) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 1: Introducing the Four Scholars and the Topic (20:57) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 2: Introducing Branch Davidians and David Koresh (10:59) Houston: Reunion Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xX4LwxLds58.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 3: The First Day of the Siege (4:39) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 4: Who Are the Branch Davidians? (29:03) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 5: FBI’s Involvement and Escalation (22:02) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 6: The Role of Religious Studies (22:29) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 7: Despite Efforts of Scholars, Tragedy Strikes (17:38) Houston: Reunion Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wmqktEdLYW8.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 8: How Can We Understand the New Religious Groups Better? (13:06) Houston: Reunion Institute. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2Pcx8q2dDY.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Part 9: FBI Missed Opportunity (31:28) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Arnold, J. Phillip, prod., Minji Lee, dir. 2020. The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: What Have We Learned or Not Learned? Epilogue: Koresh Performing “Book of Daniel” and Teaching His Bible Students – Names of Branch Davidians in 1993 (6:14) Houston: Reunion Institute.
Bromley, David G., and Catherine Wessinger. 2011. “Millennial Visions and Conflicts with Society.” In The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism, ed. Catherine Wessinger, 191–
- New York: Oxford University Press.
The chapter compares three millennial movements that came into conflict with society—Twelve Tribes, The Family International, and the Branch Davidians—and draws conclusions about the factors shaping their different trajectories and outcomes.
Docherty, Jayne Seminare. 2001. Learning the Lessons from Waco: When the Parties Bring
Their Gods to the Negotiation Table. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
Dr. Jayne Seminare Docherty, whose PhD is in conflict resolution, analyzes the negotiations with the Branch Davidians in 1993. She highlights that the FBI agents as well as the Branch Davidians had a worldview with an ultimate concern, and that both parties brought their respective outlooks to the negotiations. Negotiators need to be aware of their own worldviews so they can be managed so they will not adversely affect the negotiations. Negotiators need to study the worldviews of the persons they are negotiating with and take into account their ultimate concerns.
Doyle, Clive, with Catherine Wessinger and Matthew D. Wittmer. 2012. A Journey to Waco:
Autobiography of a Branch Davidian. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9780810895287/A-Journey-to-Waco-Autobiography-of-a-Branch-Davidian
This autobiography of Branch Davidian survivor Clive Doyle is based on 31 audiotapes of interviews recorded by Catherine Wessinger. Doyle became a Branch Davidian and moved from Australia to Mount Carmel Center outside Waco, Texas, while Ben Roden and then Lois Roden were prophets. Doyle was among the long-time Branch Davidians who accepted Vernon Howell as the next inspired prophet. Howell subsequently changed his name to David Koresh to indicate he was the messiah or Christ for the Endtime. Doyle describes the history and phases of Branch Davidian life. He was present for the ATF assault on February 28, 1993, the ensuing siege, and the FBI tank and CS gas assault on April 19, 1993, and he escaped the fire. His book contains a chapter explaining David Koresh’s theology.
Eisenhart, Christopher. 2006. “The Humanist Scholar as Public Expert.” Written Communication 23, no. 2 (April): 150-72.
A study of the “rhetorical practices of James D. Tabor during and following the Waco catastrophe of 1993” as he functioned as a public expert on David Koresh, the Branch Davidians, and their apocalyptic interpretations of the Bible.
Gallagher, Eugene V. 1999. “Negotiating Salvation.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 3, no. 1 (October): 27–35.
Dr. Eugene V. Gallagher discusses the negotiations between the Branch Davidians and law enforcement agents during the siege at Mount Carmel Center in 1993 in light of David Koresh’s reliance on apocalyptic interpretations of the Bible. FBI agents failed to appreciate Koresh’s perspective, “that’s all that I am is religion.” Koresh and the Branch Davidians framed the negotiations very differently from the law enforcement agents who had their own worldview. Gallagher describes Koresh’s exit plan that he proposed on April 14 of the siege, based on an interpretation of the Bible’s prophecies. The two parties in the negotiations held “competing definitions of the situation, understandings of authority, conceptions of justice, and visions of the future.” The physical and psychological violence done to the Branch Davidians, which escalated during the siege by FBI agents increasing the tactical pressure on the Branch Davidians, sabotaged the possibility that the siege could be resolved via negotiation and the safe exit of the Branch Davidians from the residence.
Gallagher, Eugene V. 2000. “The Persistence of the Millennium: Branch Davidian Expectations of the End after ‘Waco.’” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 3, no. 2 (April): 303–19.
This article describes David Koresh’s teachings in light of the fact that millennialism involves the interplay of 3 elements: 1) the sacred apocalyptic text; the “inspired interpreter” of the text; and the “fluid context” in which the apocalyptic prophecies are interpreted.
Gallagher, Eugene V. 2000. “‘Theology Is Life and Death’: David Koresh on Violence, Persecution, and the Millennium.” In Millennialism, Persecution, and Violence: Historical Cases, ed. Catherine Wessinger, 82–100. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.
Bible scholar Eugene V. Gallagher quotes David Koresh’s statement in a negotiation telephone call, “Look, this is life, this is life and death . . . theology really is life and death,” to emphasize his view of the significance of the assault of ATF agents against the Branch Davidian community on February 28, 1993, and the ensuing siege. The chapter elucidates Koresh’s theology and statements in negotiations during the siege. Gallagher points out that people interpret apocalyptic Bible passages in light of changing events in the context, in the case of the Branch Davidians, the context involved the assault by ATF agents, the siege carried out by FBI agents, and the tank and CS gas assault by FBI agents. If the FBI agents had backed off the tactical actions, David Koresh and the Branch Davidians would have concluded that their time to die in a biblically predicted apocalyptic conflagration had not yet arrived. Gallagher concludes that neither the FBI agents, carrying out the tank and CS gas assault on April 19, 1993, nor the Branch Davidians wanted the siege to conclude with deaths in a fire.
Gladwell, Malcolm. 2014. “Sacred and Profane: How Not to Negotiate with Believers.” New Yorker. March 31.
An intelligent discussion of the Branch Davidians in relation to American history and culture, and mistakes made by the FBI in its interactions with the Branch Davidians in 1993, based on interviews with Branch Davidian survivor autobiographies, the publications of scholars including Dr. Jayne Seminare Docherty, the Branch Davidians’ videos made inside the residence, and interviews with Dr. J. Phillip Arnold and Dr. James D. Tabor.
Lucas, Phillip. 1994. “How Future Wacos Might Be Avoided: Two Proposals.” In From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco, ed. James R. Lewis, 209–12. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
In this essay, religious studies scholar Dr. Phillip Charles Lucas makes the proposal that law enforcement agents consult religion scholars with the expertise to serve as “worldview translators” when religious subjects are the focus of law enforcement cases.
Newport, Kenneth G. C. 2006. The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect. New York: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-branch-davidians-of-waco-9780199245741?cc=us&lang=en&
The study of the Branch Davidians of Waco by British scholar of the Bible, apocalypticism and millennialism Dr. Kenneth G. C. Newport is based on two types of sources. Based on his research in archival materials in the Texas Collection at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, the first half of the book illuminates the Bible passages that were interpreted to the effect that the faithful at Mount Carmel Center would at some point have to go through a “baptism by fire.” This interpretation originated with Victor Houteff (1885–1955), the founder of the General Association of the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists (Davidians), was perpetuated by Ben Roden (1902–1978), founder of the General Association of the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists (Branch Davidians), was taught by Ben’s wife Lois Roden (1916–1986) who succeeded him as prophet of the Branch Davidians, to Vernon Howell (1959–1993) who displaced Lois Roden as the group’s prophet and changed his name to David Koresh and who taught this interpretation to his Bible students. This first section of the book succeeds in fleshing out Davidian and Branch Davidian theology and provides archival evidence for it. The thesis articulated in Newport’s book is that because the Branch Davidians at Mount Carmel Center were “theologically primed” to be ready to die in a fire after being assaulted by federal agents, after the raid by the ATF agents on February 28, 1993 and the 51-day siege conducted by FBI agents began, there was nothing that FBI agents could have done to avoid the deaths of Branch Davidians in a fire. American scholars who stress that the Branch Davidian case involved an interactive situation disagree with Newport’s conclusion. The second half of Newport’s book describes the events in 1993. For this section of the book, Newport draws primarily on The Danforth Final Report (2000) by Special Counsel John C. Danforth, which concluded that FBI agents did not take any actions that contributed to the deaths in the fire on April 19, 1993 that followed a six-hour tank and CS gas assault. From the perspective of American scholars of the Branch Davidian case, Newport fails to ask critical questions of the government’s narrative of the events that is reflected in The Danforth Final Report.
Newport, Kenneth G. C. 2009. “‘A Baptism by Fire’: The Branch Davidians and Apocalyptic Self-Destruction.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 13, no. 2 (November): 61–94.
This article appeared in a print symposium in Nova Religio on the fire that killed 76 Branch Davidians, including children, which concluded the FBI tank and CS gas assault on April 19, 1993. In the print symposium, the articles by Dr. Stuart A. Wright and Dr. Catherine Wessinger present their interpretations of the evidence. This article by Dr. Kenneth G. C. Newport summarizes the arguments in his book, The Branch Davidians of Waco (see above), and responds to the articles by Wright and Wessinger, which are critical of his conclusion.
Noesner, Gary. 2010. Stalling for Time: My Life as an FBI Hostage Negotiator. New York: Random House.
After the botched ATF raid on February 28, 1993, FBI agents were brought in because four ATF agents had been killed. The FBI handles cases where federal agents have been killed. Gary Noesner was the negotiation coordinator at Waco from March 1 to March 24, 1993. While he was negotiation coordinator a total of 21 children and 14 adults came out of the residence at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel Center. Noesner was removed as negotiation coordinator because he protested aggressive actions taken against the Branch Davidians whenever they cooperated with negotiators. The aggressive actions included turning the electricity off and on and finally off for the duration of the siege, bringing tanks onto the Mount Carmel property and using those that were Combat Engineering Vehicles to knock over fuel tanks and to demolish and move other property belonging to the Branch Davidians, blasting high-decibel irritating sounds and music toward the Branch Davidians via a loudspeaker, and shining spotlights at the residence during the night. In the book’s chapter titled “Negotiating with the Sinful Messiah,” pages 94–132, describes how the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team operators were used to sabotage the negotiations with the Branch Davidians by taking aggressive tactical actions against them. This was done with the agreement of Special Agent in Charge from San Antonio, Jeffrey Jamar, other Special Agents in Charge who came to Waco to assist, and the FBI officials they reported to in Washington, D.C. There was no coordination between the efforts of the negotiators and the Hostage Rescue Team, because Special Agent in Charge, as the on-site commander, was partial to listening to the views of Dick Rogers, who was the commander of the Hostage Rescue Team.
Noesner, Gary. 2013. “The Challenges of Negotiating at Waco.” Lecture presented at Reflecting on an American Tragedy: The Branch Davidians 20 Years Later symposium. Baylor University, April 18 (47:09). Sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.
See video at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4q3qvHVHj0.
Retired FBI negotiator Gary Noesner discusses the challenges of negotiating with the Branch Davidians during the siege. He mentions that he consulted with a religion scholar at Baylor University to gain insight on David Koresh’s theology of the Seven Seals of the book of Revelation.
Noesner, Gary. 2018. Interview comments in Revelations of Waco–Episode 5: How Not to Negotiate with Believers (9:03 mins). Austin: Emergent Order. https://vimeo.com/297184937
Revelations of Waco produced by Emergent Order in Austin, Texas is a series of “mini-documentaries” that were published originally on the Paramount Channel webpage for the fictionalized and dramatized 6-part mini-series Waco, based partly on Gary Noesner’s book, partly on the autobiography of Branch Davidian survivor David Thibodeau, as well as the research of writer/directors Drew Dowdle and John Erick Dowdle. Episode 5 of the Revelations of Waco series, How Not to Negotiate with Believers, features Gary Noesner, who was FBI negotiator at Waco from March 1 to March 24, 1993. Noesner explains the disconnect between the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team and the negotiators at Waco. Noesner describes the frustration on the side of the Hostage Rescue Team that Koresh and the adults were not coming out faster. Noesner explains that when negotiating with a barricaded subject it is important to speak with one voice. But the actions of the Hostage Rescue Team contradicted what the negotiators said to build trust with the Branch Davidians to persuade them to come out and be taken into custody. Other people interviewed in the video include retired FBI negotiator Byron Sage, Branch Davidian survivors Clive Doyle, Sheila Martin, and David Thibodeau. The survivors report how their trust in the FBI was destroyed by the actions of the Hostage Rescue Team during the siege. Noesner describes what he calls the ”paradox of power,” which he defines as “the harder you push the more likely you are to get resistance.” Noesner tried to explain this to the “on-scene commander” (Special Agent in Charge Jeffrey Jamar), but he would not listen to Noesner. A parallel that Noesner mentions is that to get a dog to do what you want, you reward it; “You don’t kick it.” Noesner’s “trickle-flow-gush” theory was that he did not expect all the Branch Davidians to come out at once due to negotiations. He and the negotiators to persuade people to trickle out first, with the expectation that the trickle would increase to a flow, and then ultimately the gush would be when the rest of the Branch Davidians would come out. However, whenever Branch Davidian adults came out, the Hostage Rescue Team took tactical actions to punish the people remaining in the building. Noesner states in the interview that he learned that there was pressure from “the tactical side” to have him removed from the Waco case by March 24, so the Hostage Rescue Team could carry out a tactical plan. (This tactical plan was the tank and CS gas assault that Dick Rogers, the commander of the Hostage Rescue Team, had formulated with input from Delta Force (special forces) commanders.)
Reavis, Dick J. 1995. The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. New York: Simon & Schuster.
This is an in-depth investigation of the conflict between the Branch Davidians and federal agents by an award-winning journalist. This book aims to present the story of the conflict and the people involved that the news media did not provide in 1993. It provides information not found in other sources. It humanizes the Branch Davidians, who were dehumanized by federal agents and the news media as “cultists.” The book is factual based on Reavis’ investigation into multiple types of sources, incisive in its critique of the actions of federal agents and the news media, and poignant when describing the circumstances of the deaths at Mount Carmel.
Richardson, James T. 1995. “Manufacturing Consent about Koresh: A Structural Analysis of the Role of Media in the Waco Tragedy.” In Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict, ed. Stuart A. Wright, 153–76. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Sociologist Dr. James T. Ricardson draws on the work of Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky to analyze the media coverage of David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in 1993. Drs. Herman and Chomsky argue that the news media have the power to depict victims of violence as either “worthy victims” or “unworthy victims,” and thereby affect the general public’s view of the deceased victims. Dr. Richardson applies this analysis to the new coverage of the Branch Davidians and concludes that they were depicted as “unworthy victims,” thereby creating a social context in which FBI agents carried out a tank and CS gas assault with little concern about possible negative feedback from the public or news media.
Richardson, James T. 2003. “The Waco Tragedy: A Watershed for Religious Freedom and Human Rights?” In Waco: Ten Years After, ed. David Tabb Stewart, 1–20. Georgetown, TX: Southwestern University Fleming Lecture Series.
Available at https://www.scribd.com/document/303188239/Waco-Ten-Years-After-by-Stewart-and-others.
Rosenfeld, Jean E. 2001. “The Use of the Military at Waco: The Danforth Report in Context.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 5, no. 1 (October): 171–85.
Dr. Jean E. Rosenfeld’s close reading of the Danforth Final Report (2000) in light of other government reports reveals “inconsistencies, errors, omissions, terminology, and interpretations that raise questions about violations of the laws separating the armed forces from civilian police operations against United States citizens on U.S. soil” resulting in a defense of federal law enforcement agents and their actions against the Branch Davidians
Tabor, James D. 1993. “Apocalypse at Waco: Could the Tragedy Have Been Averted?” Bible Review 9, no. 5 (October): 24-33.
James D. Tabor’s early account of what happened at Waco leading up to, during, and after the siege and how it might have been avoided. This is written for a general audience and recounts the first-person involvement of Tabor and colleague J. Philip Arnold of Reunion Institute.
Tabor, James D. 1994. “Chronological Interpretive Log/Major Events.
Tabor’s compilation of a highly detailed day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and sometimes minute-by-minute interpretive log. It covers the period from February 28, 1993 when the BATF assaulted the Mount Carmel Center at 9:30 am and takes one through Monday, April 19 when the siege tragically ended in a fire. It also includes an appendix with evaluations of the Justice Department’s Report on Waco at key critical moments that are highlighted in the log.
Tabor, James D. 1994. “Did Waco Set a Dangerous Precedent for Religious and Civil Liberties?” Practice: Journal of Psychology and Political Economy (Fall): 31-36.
Tabor offers an overview of the Waco story and how it might have been avoided with a focus on what kind of issues are raised regarding religious and civil liberties by the actions of both the Branch Davidians and the BATF and FBI. The focus is on implications and how best outcomes might unfold in future crisis situations.
Tabor, James D. 1994. “The Waco Tragedy: An Autobiographical Account of One Attempt to Avert Disaster.” In From the Ashes: Making Sense of Waco, ed. James R. Lewis, 13–21. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
In this early autobiographical essay, Bible scholar Dr. James D. Tabor describes how he and Bible scholar J. Phillip Arnold studied David Koresh’s teachings, and attempted to advise FBI agents about David Koresh’s apocalyptic teachings. When agents failed to listen to them, they made an attempt to speak directly to David Koresh through a radio broadcast, hoping to prevent the siege from ending in deaths.
Tabor, James D. 1995. Prepared Statement of James D. Tabor to Congressional Hearing on July 25, 1995. In Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies toward the Branch Davidians, House of Representatives subcommittees, Part 2: 246-49. [Pages 252-55 in the pdf.] Committee on the Judiciary Serial No. 72.
1995 Statement to House of Representatives Hearings on Waco.
Tabor, James D. 1995. “Religious Discourse and Failed Negotiations: The Dynamics of Biblical Apocalypticism.” In Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict, ed. Stuart Wright, 263–81. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Tabor here offers an interpretive overview of the Waco tragedy with an emphasis on how religious studies and its insights on high demand religious communities and their “worlds” of belief and faith should have better informed negotiations. Mistakes were made along the way in categorizing the siege as a “hostage barricade situation,” rather than taking into account the way the Koresh followers viewed things based on their biblical interpretations.
Tabor, James D., and Eugene V. Gallagher. 1995. Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America. Berkeley: University of California Press. https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520208995/why-waco
The book by Bible scholars James D. Tabor and Eugene V. Gallagher discuss Branch Davidian history, David Koresh’s theology, the problems with the ATF document to obtain warrants, the “cult” perspective promoted by the new media about the Branch Davidians, the efforts of Dr. James D. Tabor and Dr. J. Phillip Arnold to advise FBI agents about Koresh’s theology and their radio broadcast to influence Koresh in order to prevent deaths, and how the Branch Davidian case relates to religious freedom in America.
Tabor, James D. 1998. “Patterns of the End: Textual Weaving from Qumran to Waco.” In Toward the Millennium: Messianic Expectations from the Bible to Waco, ed. Peter Schaeffer and Mark Cohen, 409–30. Leiden: E. J. Brill.
Scholar James D. Tabor compares apocalyptic themes found in the Dead Sea Scroll texts of the Qumran community and the teachings of David Koresh and his predecessors in the Davidian and Branch Davidian lineage in Waco, Texas. Their respective teachings drew on the same biblical texts and more.
Tabor, James D. 2004. “Are You the One? The Textual Dynamics of Messianic Self-Identity.” In Knowing the End from the Beginning: The Prophetic, the Apocalyptic, and Their Relationships, ed. Lester L. Grabbe and Robert D. Haak, 180–91. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press.
Professor James D. Tabor studies the ways that self-identified messianic figures from John the Baptizer and Jesus of Nazareth to David Koresh utilize prophetic texts in the Hebrew Bible.
Tabor, James D. 2005. “Koresh, David.” In Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., ed. Lindsay Jones, vol. 8: 5237–39. New York: Macmillan Reference USA.
This is an informative essay of David Koresh’s early years, his spiritual development, his role among the Branch Davidians, his identification as a Christ, and his final years.
Tabor, James D. 2008. Review of The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic by Kenneth G. C. Newport. Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 11, no. 3 (February): 130–32.
A critical evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of Newport’s book with an emphasis on the ways in which he fails to fully consider the potential difference the insights of religious studies focused on “apocalypticism,” both ancient and modern, would have made in the crisis situation.
Tabor, James D. 2010. “Apocalypse at Waco.” In Sociology of Religion: A Reader, 2nd ed., ed. Susanne C. Monaham, William A. Mirola, and Michael O. Emerson, 313-18. London: Pearson Education.
A broad overview of the Waco attack, siege, and its tragic aftermath with an emphasis on the role of the
academic study of religions might have played had the FBI properly communicated options to the decision makers at the Department of Justice.
Tabor, James D. 2017. “April 19, 1993—Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy Going On 25 Years.” Tabor Blog. April 19. https://jamestabor.com/april-19-1993-waco-branch-davidian-tragedy-going-on-25-years/.
Provides an overview of Dr. James D. Tabor’s publications on the Branch Davidians and of what Dr. Tabor regards as the most important facts of the case that members of the general public should know.
Thibodeau, David, with Leon Whiteson and Aviva Layton. 2018. Waco: A Survivor’s Story. New York: Hachette.
In 2018, this updated version of Branch Davidian survivor David Thibodeau’s 1999 book titled A Place Called Waco: A Survivor’s Story was published to correspond with the release of the dramatized mini-series Waco on the Paramount Channel. The mini-series is based in part on David Thibodeau’s autobiography and retired FBI negotiator Gary Noesner’s book. After the fire survivor David Thibodeau quickly emerged as an articulate and critical-thinking survivor. He published the first of several Branch Davidian autobiographies. His book is well worth reading.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2000. How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate. New York: Seven Bridges Press.
Available as pdf at https://www.academia.edu/4265382/How_the_Millennium_Comes_Violently_From_Jonestown_to_Heavens_Gate_New_York_Seven_Bridges_Press_2000_Entire_book_in_single_pdf_.
Religious studies scholar Dr. Catherine Wessinger develops three categories of millennial movements whose members become involved in violence: assaulted millennial movements, fragile millennial groups, and revolutionary millennial movements. These three categories are not mutually exclusive. A movement or group may combine characteristics of each of the categories, or shift from one to the other in response to events. In the chapter on the Branch Davidians, Wessinger concludes that they were an assaulted millennial group. It is possible that they became a fragile millennial group in their last moments of the tank and CS gas assault on April 19, 1993. An appendix to the chapter consists of transcriptions of audiotaped key discussions between David Koresh and negotiators.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2003. “Mt. Carmel’s Lessons on Millennialism, Persecution and Violence.” In Waco: Ten Years After, ed. David Tabb Stewart, 1–20. Georgetown, TX: Southwestern University Fleming Lecture Series. Available at https://www.scribd.com/document/303188239/Waco-Ten-Years-After-by-Stewart-and-others.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2006. “The Branch Davidians and Religion Reporting: A Ten-Year Retrospective.” In Expecting the End: Millennialism in Social and Historical Context, ed. Kenneth G. C. Newport and Crawford Gribben, 147–72.
Dr. Catherine Wessinger examines the religion reporting on the Branch Davidians from 1993 through 2003, with particular attention to series published by the Waco Tribune-Herald as well as other news articles. She documents how Waco Tribune-Herald editors took steps to publish the first installment of “The Sinful Messiah” series on February 27, 1993, before the ATF raid occurred, and the role of reporters in tipping off David Koresh that a raid was impending on February 28, 1993. She highlights the detrimental effects of news stories calling the Branch Davidians a “cult” on the outcome of the conflict in 1993.
Wessinger, Catherine, ed. 2007. Memories of the Branch Davidians: Autobiography of David Koresh’s Mother, by Bonnie Haldeman. Waco: Baylor University Press. https://www.baylorpress.com/9781932792980/memories-of-the-branch-davidians/
Memoir of Bonnie Haldeman, David Koresh’s mother, providing information about his early years and about her time living and traveling with the Branch Davidians while Koresh was their teacher. She was not present at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel Center in 1993 when the ATF assault, the 51-day siege, and the FBI assault and the resulting fire occurred, but she gives her responses to those events and the deaths of her son and many grandchildren.
Wessinger, Catherine, ed. 2009. Memoirs of a Branch Davidian Wife and Mother, by Sheila Martin. Waco: Baylor University Press. https://www.baylorpress.com/9781602580008/when-they-were-mine/
Sheila Martin is a Branch Davidian survivor whose husband, Wayne Martin, and four oldest children died in the fire on April 19, 1993. She was present at the Mount Carmel Center residence during the assault by ATF agents on February 28, 1993. She came out of the residence during the siege. Her memoir focuses on her family life, her children, life in the Branch Davidians’ camp near Palestine, Texas, and then at Mount Carmel Center outside Waco, and the other Branch Davidian children who died on April 19, 1993.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2009. “Deaths in the Fire at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel: Who Bears Responsibility?” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 13, no. 2 (November): 114–25.
This article was published in a print symposium in Nova Religio in which Dr. Kenneth G. C. Newport, Dr. Stuart A. Wright, and Dr. Catherine Wessinger debated the causes and responsibility for the fire on April 19, 1993 that killed 76 Branch Davidians including 23 children. In this article, Dr. Wessinger draws on a variety of primary sources, including audiotapes recorded by surveillance devices during the siege and immediately before the FBI tank and gas assault. She concludes that the audio recorded by the surveillance devices reveals that the Branch Davidians discussed their belief that they would die in a fire if they were assaulted by FBI agents in tanks in order to fulfill biblical prophecies as interpreted by David Koresh, and that this would have been reported to the FBI decision-makers, who nevertheless ordered the tank and CS gas assault on April 19, 1993. If the Branch Davidians set the fire after being gassed for six hours and after the mothers and small children had been gassed in an enclosed space (except for an open doorway through which the gas was sprayed), that decision occurred within an interactive context provoked by the FBI whose decision-makers were aware of the Branch Davidians’ apocalyptic theology of martyrdom.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2009. “Lee Hancock Collection: Federal and State Materials on the Branch Davidian Case.” Nova Religio: Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 13, no. 2 (November): 114–25.
This is a preliminary report on internal FBI documents and Texas Rangers reports in the Lee Hancock Collection in the archive at Texas State University. Dr. Catherine Wessinger would later discover additional FBI primary sources and utilize them in the book chapter titled “The FBI’s ‘Cult War’ against the Branch Davidians” (2017).
Wessinger, Catherine. 2009. “‘Culting’: From Waco to Fundamentalist Mormons.” Religion Dispatches. July 3.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2012. “‘Cults’ in America: Discourse and Outcomes.” In Cambridge History of Religions in America, ed. Stephen J. Stein, vol 3: 1945 to the Present, 511–31. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Dr. Wessinger traces the origin of “cult” becoming a word with a negative connotation that is utilized to stigmatize religions viewed as unusual and heretical, and how applying the “cult” label can prompt law enforcement agents to take aggressive actions against members of such groups.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2012. “Charismatic Leaders in New Religious Movements.” In Cambridge Companion to New Religious Movements, ed. Olav Hammer and Mikael Rothstein, 80–96. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Dr. Catherine Wessinger discusses the social scientific understanding of “charisma,” and offers a clear functional definition of “charisma” suitable for the study of leadership in religions. She discusses the issues and various manifestations of charismatic religious leadership, including that of David Koresh.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2013. “Assault on the Branch Davidian Community: A Photographic Retrospective.” World Religions and Spirituality Project. https://wrldrels.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Assault-on-the-Branch-Davidian-Community-A-Photographic-Retrospective.pdf.
Powerpoint slide show of photographs compiled by Dr. Catherine Wessinger.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2013. “Branch Davidians, 1981–2006.” 2013. World Religions and Spirituality Project. (6,586 words).
A succinct profile of David Koresh’s Branch Davidian group, which highlights the debated questions relating to the conflict with federal agents in 1993.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2013. “Branch Davidians, 1981–2006: Extended Profile.” World Religions and Spirituality Project. (23,143 words).
This extended profile of David Koresh’s Branch Davidians utilizes government reports, internal FBI documents including the FBI’s “WACMUR Major Event Log” about the case, and other sources to provide answers to some of the debated questions about the case.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2013. “How the Millennium Comes Violently.” Reprinted in Religion in Today’s World: Global Issues, Sociological Perspectives, ed. Melissa M. Wilcox, 482–94. New York: Routledge.
This is a reprint of the theoretical chapter from the book titled How the Millennium Comes Violently: From Jonestown to Heaven’s Gate (2000).
Wessinger, Catherine. 2013. “Listening to the Branch Davidians: Learning from the Survivors.” Lecture presented in the Reflecting on an American Tragedy: The Branch Davidians 20 Years Later symposium at Baylor University, April 18. Sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion.
Video of the lecture (51:44) is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxqCRu7W5_U.
Dr. Catherine Wessinger reports on her interviews with Branch Davidian survivors and the autobiographies that she edited for Bonnie Haldeman, David Koresh’s mother; Sheila Martin, who lost her husband and four oldest children in the fire; and Clive Doyle, who escaped the fire in which his youngest daughter died. Dr. Wessinger also interviewed survivor Catherine Matteson and the transcripts of those interviews have been placed in the Texas Collection archive at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. These survivors’ stories shed light on the history of the Davidians and Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas, and the conflict between David Koresh’s Branch Davidians and federal agents at Mount Carmel Center in 1993. At the conclusion of Dr. Wessinger’s lecture, Sheila Martin and Clive Doyle came to the front to answer questions asked from the audience; this part begins at 37:38 in the video. Good questions were asked and Sheila Martin and Clive Doyle gave thoughtful answers. The recollections of these Branch Davidian survivors demonstrate that the Branch Davidians were individuals from all walks of life, degrees of education, of diverse nationalities and ethnicities, who were united in their commitment to David Koresh’s interpretations of the Bible’s Endtime prophecies.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2017. “The FBI’s ‘Cult War’ against the Branch Davidians.” In The FBI and Religion: Faith and National Security Before and After 9/11, ed. Sylvester A. Johnson and Steven Weitzman, 203–43. Oakland: University of California Press.
Dr. Catherine Wessinger reports on her reading of internal FBI documents in the Lee Hancock Collection at the Texas State University archive, which includes the FBI’s “WACMUR Major Event Log.” The FBI internal documents and surveillance device audiotapes recorded during the siege reveal that the FBI decision-makers were well-informed about David Koresh’s apocalyptic theology of martyrdom, yet FBI officials decided to order implementation of the tank and CS gas assault. After five and a half hours of gassing, a Combat Engineering Vehicle (tank) was ordered to drive into the building and spray CS gas into a concrete room (with an open doorway) in which the mothers, young children, and two pregnant women had taken shelter. She points out that if there was an order inside the building to light the fire, it occurred shortly after the mothers and young children had been gassed by the FBI.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2018. “Collective Martyrdom and Religious Suicide: The Branch Davidians and Heaven’s Gate.” In The Oxford Handbook of Martyrdom, Self-Sacrifice, and Annihilation: Religious Perspectives on Suicide, ed. Margo Kitts, 54–84. New York: Oxford University Press.
Utilizing primary and secondary sources, Dr. Catherine Wessinger describes the views of Branch Davidians and the members of the Heaven’s Gate class on dying for their respective faiths. Neither group defined their deaths as suicides. The Branch Davidians believed that the Bible predicted that they would be martyred by a government aligned with Satan, and members of Heaven’s Gate believed that they were “graduating” from their class by “exiting” their bodies to go to the “Next Level.” Both viewed their deaths as a transition to a heavenly existence. Both groups held extreme apocalyptic worldviews that devalued earthly existence. Dr. Wessinger stresses that the Branch Davidians did not want to die, and expressed fear of dying, but if they were prepared to die to fulfill Koresh’s interpretation of biblical prophecies if they were assaulted by federal agents. Belief in catastrophic millennial or apocalyptic ideas does not necessarily result in religious martyrdom or suicide. Other causal factors are necessary in combination with belief that the world will soon be subjected to apocalyptic destruction. For the Branch Davidians the additional provoking factors consisted of the repeated assaults by federal agents (ATF and FBI) that appeared to fulfill Koresh’s prophecies about the events of the Last Days in which they would be martyred. For Heaven’s Gate students the additional factors were the fact that one of their teachers (Ti) had died and that their other beloved teacher, Do, was aging and all the members of the group were aging. Members of both groups held to their ultimate concerns so strongly they were willing to die for them. The Branch Davidians valued their lives and the lives of their children. They were armed for self-defense and used their weapons to defend the community when it was assaulted. The mothers and small children were placed in the safest room in the building on the morning of April 19, 1993, when the tank and CS gas assault by the FBI began. Branch Davidian adults wore gas masks to try to protect themselves from the effects of the gas. The fire erupted only after a Combat Engineering Vehicle gassed the mothers and young children. The nine Branch Davidian survivors of the fire responded with a normal reflex to try to escape the fire. It is unknown how many people may have attempted to escape, but succumbed to the effects of the gas, fire, and smoke. Many were subjected to mercy killings in the fire by gunshot. The deaths of the Branch Davidians in 1993 occurred within interactive contexts, their interactions with federal agents. Branch Davidian adult survivors are adamant that the deaths of their friends and loved ones was martyrdom inflicted by satanic federal agents.
Wessinger, Catherine. 2018. “The Deaths of 76 Branch Davidians in April 1993 Could Have Been Avoided—So Why Didn’t Anyone Care?” The Conversation, April 13. https://theconversation.com/the-deaths-of-76-branch-davidians-in-april-1993-could-have-been-avoided-so-why-didnt-anyone-care-90816.
Dr. Catherine Wessinger argues in this essay that the news media’s use of the word “cult” in relation to the Branch Davidians in 1993 had the result of dehumanizing them in the eyes of the general public. Therefore, when 76 Branch Davidians including 20 children plus two miscarried babies died in the fire on April 19, 1993, the majority of the American public did not care. Dr. Wessinger describes the key events of the siege and points out that on April 14 Koresh notified FBI agents of his exit plan and was in the process of implementing it in the following days, but the tank and CS gas assault on April 19 probably convinced Koresh and his adult followers that it was their time to die in predicted apocalyptic Endtime events. In effect, by carrying out the assault, FBI agents were fulfilling Koresh’s prophecies based on Bible passages. Dr. Wessinger cites sociologist Dr. James T. Richardson and the work of Drs. Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky when she points out that the news media have the power to define people as either “worthy victims” or “unworthy victims.”
Wright, Stuart A., ed. 1995. Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict. Chicago: University of Chicago. https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/A/bo3683688.html
This edited volume features prominent scholars addressing key aspects of the government raid on the Branch
Davidian community. The book offers critical analyses of government actions at Waco, challenging federal law
enforcement rationales and narratives, and suggesting ways in which the deadly siege could have been avoided.
Wright, Stuart A. 1995. “Construction and Escalation of a Cult Threat: Dissecting Moral Panic and Official Reaction to the Branch Davidians.” In Armageddon in Waco: Critical Perspectives on the Branch Davidian Conflict, ed. Stuart A. Wright, 75–94. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Dr. Stuart Wright argues that disgruntled apostates, who failed to get the attention of authorities to take down the Davidian leader, David Koresh, engaged in processes of “deviance amplification” and “moral panic” to compel authorities to act. In doing so, opponents of Koresh allied with anticult activists to exaggerate threats posed by the sect and made claims that were, in some cases, wildly inflated. Federal law enforcement agencies adopted these claims uncritically leading to the deadly siege and standoff.
Wright, Stuart A. 1995. Prepared Statement of Stuart A. Wright, Lamar University to Congressional Hearing on July 19, 1995. In Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies toward the Branch Davidians, House of Representatives subcommittees, Part 1: 81-92. [Pages 89-100 in the pdf.] Committee on the Judiciary Serial No. 72. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
1995 Statement to House of Representatives Hearings on Waco.
Wright, Stuart A. 1998. “Exposicion oral para audiencias del congreso sobre Waco.” In Sectas o Iglesias: Viejos o Nuevos Movimientos Religiosos, ed. Elio Masferrer Kan, 489–500. Mexico: Plaza y Vlades.
Expert testimony by Dr. Wright on Waco before the Congressional House Subcommittee on Crime and the House Subcommittee on National Security, International Affairs and Criminal Justice, July 19, 1995.
Wright, Stuart A. 1999. “Anatomy of a Government Massacre: Abuses of Hostage-Barricade Protocols During the Waco Standoff.” Terrorism and Political Violence 11, no. 2: 39–68.
Dr. Stuart Wright conducts a systematic evaluation of the FBI’s crisis negotiations with the Branch Davidians during the 51-day standoff in 1993. The analysis uncovers extensive violations of basic hostage-barricade protocols. The violations do not appear to be random or, incidental, or the result of disorganization, as officials claim. In this context, the standoff is analyzed as a government massacre. Motives for state violence are explored.
Wright, Stuart A. 1999. “A Rejoinder to Gallagher, Noble and Docherty.” Terrorism and Political Violence 11, no. 2: 87–92.
Dr. Wright responds to critiques of the government massacre theory from two other scholars and a law
enforcement consultant and former member of a militant sect who was involved in a crisis negotiation.
Wright, Stuart A. 2000. “Semantic Difficulties in Danforth Report on Waco.” https://www.cesnur.org/testi/waco114.htm. Accessed June 25, 2021.
Commentary on the Danforth Report published on CESNUR website.
Wright, Stuart A. 2001. “Field Notes from Waco: Isabel Andrade et al v. U.S.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 4, no. 2 (April): 157–64.
Dr. Stuart Wright served as a legal consultant in the 2001 civil trial against the U.S. government for “wrongful death” at Waco. This publication is a summary of notes taken during the trial.
Wright, Stuart A. 2001. “Waco Redux: Trial and Error.” Religion in the News 4, no. 1: 17–19.
Dr. Wright was invited to write an article for the Religion in the News describing key aspects of the civil trial for a non-academic audience.
Wright, Stuart A. 2001. “Justice Denied: The Waco Civil Trial.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 5, no. 1 (October): 143–51.
A critical analysis of the civil trial brought against the federal government for wrongful death at Waco.
Wright, Stuart A. 2002. “A Critical Analysis of Evidentiary and Procedural Rulings in the Branch Davidian Civil Trial,” In New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America, ed. Derek Davis, 101–13. Waco: Baylor University Press.
An expanded critical analysis of the civil trial brought against the federal government for wrongful death at Waco. Dr. Stuart A. Wright argues that a flawed verdict, exonerating the government of wrongdoing, was the result of evidentiary and procedural rulings by the trial judge that prevented the jury from hearing key evidence.
Wright, Stuart A. 2002. “Public Agency Involvement in Movement-State Confrontations.” In Cults, Religion and Violence, ed. David G. Bromley and J. Gordon Melton, 102–22. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
This chapter offers a general theory of state violence in confrontational incidents with dissident religious sects or
Wright, Stuart A. 2003. “A Critical Analysis of Evidentiary and Procedural Rulings in the Branch Davidian Civil Trial.” In New Religious Movements and Religious Liberty in America, ed. Derek Davis, 79–87. 2nd ed, Waco: Baylor University Press.
This is a reprint of the 2002 article cited above.
Wright, Stuart A. 2003. “Why Negotiations at Mt. Carmel Really Failed: Disinformation, Dissension and Psychological Warfare.” In Waco: Ten Years After, ed. David Tabb Stewart, 42–56. Georgetown, TX: Southwestern University Fleming Lecture Series. Available at https://www.scribd.com/document/303188239/Waco-Ten-Years-After-by-Stewart-and-others.
Dr. Stuart Wright argues that the FBI’s use of Psychological Warfare tactics during the 51-day standoff at Waco undermined peaceful and effective negotiations, contributing to the disintegration of communication, and the subsequent decision to attack the Davidian residence with tanks and CS gas.
Wright, Stuart A. 2003. “A Decade after Waco: Reassessing Crisis Negotiations at Mt. Carmel in Light of New Government Disclosures.” Nova Religio: Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 7, no. 2 (November): 101-10.
Dr. Stuart Wright identifies and discusses new government disclosures that cast doubt on previous explanations and rationales for the federal siege and standoff given by officials. He points to previously undisclosed accounts by negotiators that they thought the HRT was provoking the Davidians into a deadly confrontation.
Wright, Stuart A. 2005. “Explaining Militarization at Waco: Construction and Convergence of a Warfare Narrative,” In Controversial New Religions, ed. James R. Lewis, 75–97. New York: Oxford University Press.
The ATF paramilitary raid on the Branch Davidians was the largest and most violent enforcement action ever taken by this agency. The dynamic entry by the ATF’s Special Response Team was planned with military assistance by the U.S. Army Special Forces Rapid Support Unit (RSU) at Fort Hood in three days of training in Close Quarters Combat exercises. The raid plan, given the code name “Operation Trojan Horse,” involved eighty federal agents outfitted in camouflage and full combat gear, including Kevlar helmets and flak jackets, MP-5 submachine guns, semiautomatic AR-15s, Sig Sauer 9MM semiautomatic pistols, .308-caliber high-power sniper rifles, shotguns, and concussion grenades. The Army’s SFC Staff Judge referred to the plan as a “takedown.” Wright contends that Waco is the culmination of decades of police militarization.
Wright, Stuart A. 2009. “Revisiting the Branch Davidian Mass Suicide Debate.” Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 13, no. 2 (November): 4–24.
Dr. Stuart Wright responds to a new book by Kenneth Newport (The Branch Davidians of Waco), contesting the argument that the sect committed mass suicide. Wright reviews the extensive countervailing evidence to rebut the mass suicide thesis.
Wright, Stuart A. 2011. “Revisiting the Branch Davidian Mass Suicide Debate.” In Violence and New Religious Movements, ed. James R. Lewis, 113–32. New York: Oxford University Press. (Reprint).
A reprint of the 2009 article in Nova Religio.
Wright, Stuart A., and Jennifer Lara Fagen. 2011. “Texas Redux: A Comparison of the FLDS and Branch Davidian Raids.” In Saints under Siege: The Texas State Raid on the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints, ed., Stuart A. Wright and James T. Richardson, 150-77. New York: New York University Press.
A detailed comparison of the origins, developments, and dubious claims by organized opponents of the Branch Davidians and the Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) respectively.
Wright, Stuart A. 2013. “Interview with Dr. Stuart A. Wright: Deadly Encounter at Mount Carmel: The Branch Davidian-Federal Agency Confrontation, February 28-April 19, 1993.” World Religions and Spirituality Project.
An interview with Dr. Stuart A. Wright about his research on the Branch Davidian-Federal Agency conflict in 1993 and his conclusions. He highlights the “warfare narrative” that motivated the federal agents and the excessive actions that they took against the Branch Davidians. He also points out that ATF agents missed several opportunities to enforce the law without carrying out a high-risk paramilitary raid. He points to the ways that the FBI negotiations were sabotaged during the siege by actions implemented by the FBI’s Hostage Rescue Team.
Wright, Stuart A. 2013. “The Role of State Militarization in the 1993 Branch Davidian Conflict.” Lecture presented in the Reflecting on an American Tragedy: The Branch Davidians 20 Years Later symposium at Baylor University, April 18. Sponsored by the Baylor Institute for Studies of Religion. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LttE4giOZ1k
Dr. Stuart A. Wright spells out the extent of the militarization of federal agents who engaged in the conflict with the Branch Davidians in 1993.
Wright, Stuart A. 2019. “Waco after 25 Years: Media Reconstructions of the Federal Siege of the Branch Davidians.” Nova Religio: Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions 22, no. 3: 108-20.
A critical review of six Waco documentaries and one docudrama produced on the 25th anniversary of the tragic federal siege and standoff. Dr. Wright finds numerous misstatements of fact, misleading comments, and generally poor comprehension of the events at Waco.
Wright, Stuart A. 2020. “Deconstructing Media Framing of the Waco Siege and Standoff on the 25th Anniversary.” Theory in Action 13, no. 2:164–77.
A reprint of the 2019 Nova Religio article above, with some additional comments.
Wright, Stuart A. 2020. “The Branch Davidians.” pp. 95-96 In Sage Encyclopedia of Sociology of Religion, ed., Adam Possamai and Anthony Blasi, 95–96. London: Sage.
A brief overview of the Branch Davidian history, organization, and leadership.
Wright, Stuart A. 2020. “State Actions in Western Democracies Leading to the Dissolution of Religious Communities.” In The Demise of Religion: How Religions End, Die, or Dissipate, ed. Michael Stausberg, Stuart A. Wright, and Carole M. Cusack, 155–74. London: Bloomsbury.
A systematic analysis of seven new religious movements in France and the U.S. that were raided by state authorities resulting in the demise or destruction of these communities, including the case of the Branch Davidians.
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