The Waco Branch Davidian Tragedy: A Failed Utopian Vision?

I have written a lot about the April 1993 tragedy outside Waco Texas where the apocalyptic group we came to know as the Branch Davidians were confronted by the BATF. Most experts now agree, including the conclusions of several Congressional hearings, that the whole thing was unnecessary from start to finish. I was directly involved, along with my colleague Dr. Philip Arnold (Ph.D. Rice University). Both of us used our expertise in understanding the structure of ancient apocalypticism–such as that we find among the Dead Sea Scrolls community and the John the Baptist/Jesus movement, to understand what was going on with this devout Branch Davidian community. My 1995 book, co-authored with Dr. Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America lays out my own involvement and perspective of the whole situation–both what happened and what could have been. Also, here is a previous blog post that will refresh you memories on the basic Waco Branch Davidian tragedy: “The Waco Tragedy Twenty-Give Years Later: Getting the Facts Straight.”

Here is an article I wrote in 1997 for the journal Political Geography that I have just made available as a PDF. It offers some key insights about not only Waco but our own time and place in history just before the “turn of the new millennium.”

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