Understanding the 1993 Waco Tragedy: A One Hour Tutorial

Thirty years ago…Some of my readers remember, others were not old enough, but heard from parents, and some not even born–like many of my students in their 20s. I asked an undergrad class of 70 last year–Who has heard of Waco, the Branch Davidians, or David Koresh? Five hands went up, but none knew much about it. The rest had no reference point with any of these three key terms.

My parents remembered FDR’s death, Pearl Harbor, and D-Day. I remember the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Robert Kennedy, Viet Nam, and the 1960s. Waco was 1993. But even September 11, 2001 is becoming too long ago for our college age kids.

That I was even so closely involved in the Waco confrontation with the BATF/FBI is a story in itself. My field is ancient apocalyptic  ideas, not new religious movements–but in this case the overlap and “fit” between understanding Waco and ancient constructs was rather tight. See my article, “Patterns of the End: Textual Weaving from Qumran to Waco,” which you can download and read free of charge.

So whether you remember April 19, 1993 or not, here it is In One Hour–the good, bad, and ugly of it all…This is one of the tightest summaries the whole Waco story that I have done over the years–from origins of the Branch Davidians in the 1930s to the disastrous end at Mt Carmel after the 51 Day siege in Waco, TX in 1993 (Feb 28-April 19).