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The Branch Davidians: A History

To: talk.religion.misc
From: (Dan Drazen)
Subject: The Branch Davidians: A History (9407.dvdhist.dd)
Date: 49940705

In article (T. L.
Burnett-Vinz) writes:
>Is the breakoff of the Branch Davidians one you might be willing to
>I have not heard the whole story, and would be interested... Quite. 

Don't say I didn't warn you, TL.

It all began in 1929 with Victor T. Houteff.  A Seventh-day Adventist
from (where else?) California, he began an offshoot movement based on a
belief in a literal Remnant of 144,000 (cf. Revelation 7:4-9, 14:1) and
in the need for reform of the church.  Though the group took the name
"Davidian Seventh-day Adventists" in 1942, they were popularly known as
"The Shepherd's Rod" (after the title of Houteff's first book).  In
1935, Houteff, eleven followers and their families migrated from
California to Waco, Texas.  They settled on a farm which they referred to
as Mount Carmel Center.  This was to be the temporary headquarters of
the 144,000 until their sealing and their eventual transport to
Palestine to re-establish the Davidian theocracy.  This, in turn, would
coordinate the closing work of spreading the Gospel, thus setting the
stage for the Second Advent.

That was the theory, at any rate.  The Mount Carmel complex probably
held no more than 125 people when Victor Houteff died in Feb 1955.  With
Houteff's death, the movement began splintering.  Most followed
Houteff's widow, who claimed that April 22, 1959, would see the
intervention of God to clear both Jews and Arabs out of Palestine in
order to establish the Davidian kingdom.  Several hundred people
gathered at Waco in anticipation.  When the date came and went, so did
the people.  By 1962, the leadership admitted the movement had been a
false one and officially disbanded.

Several smaller factions, however, vied with each other for control of
the Waco property.  George Roden, son of Benjamin Roden (a dissident
from an anti-Houteff faction) assumed control of the property, only to
lose control (under a hail of gunfire) to one Vernon Wayne Howell in
1978.  Howell later changed his name to David Koresh and the rest is

For information on the Branch Davidians before the Waco standoff went
down, see "The Madmen of Rodenville", _Wittenburg Door_, Feb-Mar 1988,
pp. 16-22, as well as the article "Davidian Seventh-day Adventists" in
the _Seventh-day Adventist Encyclopedia_ (vol. 10, SDA Commentary
Reference Series).

Daniel J. Drazen

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