Cultic activity has taken place since the practice of religion was established thousands of years ago. Since then, literally thousands of denominations have been inoculated throughout the world, especially in the United States. A cult, according to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary is a system of religious beliefs and rituals. By definition, this includes organizations such as Baptists, Catholics as well as Satanists and Witches. While this maybe true, cults have been popularly perceived as Separatists who are consumed by the belief of apocalyptic events, and the leader is someone who believes he or she is chosen by God or some other deity to lead those who are to follow him or her. One group that fits this description is the Branch-Davidians. In the early 1990's the Branch-Davidians made national headlines when they had a deadly standoff with government agents in Waco, Texas, where many perished, including their infamous leader, David Koresh. To understand why this happened, we must understand the history, beliefs and the determination of the Branch-Davidians to defy the government by stockpiling arms, supplies and taking refuge in Waco, Texas. We must also enter the world of David Koresh to make sense of how he was able to have the impact he did on the minds of members of the Branch Davidians. The history of the Branch-Davidians can be dated back to 1831 to a man named William Miller. According to chronological studies, Miller began studying end of time prophecies of the Bible in 1833 and concluded that by 1843, the end of the world was imminent. The year 1843 arrived and to the disappointment of Miller and his followers, the world had not yet come to an end as predicted by Miller, this eventually led to him revising his prediction date to 1844. In 1844, Christ failed to appear once again. This second blundering prediction by Miller known as "The Great Disappointment" led to the disbanding of the Millerites. After the splitting of the Millerites, a group of former followers formed their own organization. They formed what is known today as the Seventh-day Adventist Church who eventually became a recognized denomination by 1863. Three people who stood out among the leaders of the Adventists were Joseph Bates, James and Ellen G. White. History shows that they were the nucleus of the group and among the three; Ellen grew into a gifted author, speaker and administrator. From White's development, followers saw her as a prophet from God through her teachings and prophecies that the Seventh-day Adventists were to be God's chosen people at the end of time. Since White was looked upon so highly among the Adventists, she would become and remain the Adventists trusted spiritual counselor for over seventy years until her death. No other leader of her stature would not emerge again until the mid 20th century. In the 1930's Victor Houteff an Adventist follower, began to claim that he was the chosen prophet of the Seventh-day Adventist church. Houteff believed that the Adventists' doctrines and teachings were inaccurate and attempted to implement his own teachings known as the "New Light." "New Light" are scriptures revealed by God to chosen prophets to show what the Bible was trying to teach what people have blinded to, thus showing ones chosen the way to salvation. Like William Miller and Ellen White, Houteff's teachings included areas of the apocalypse and the Second Coming of Christ as well as catastrophes and war. He also believed that the kingdom of ancient Israelite monarch David was to be reestablished in Palestine where it was his task to assemble a brood of 144,000 Christians as scribed in the Book of Revelation 7:4. Houteff's teachings were not accepted by many of the Adventists, and he was eventually ex-communicated from the church. After his dismissal, Houteff and a group of loyal followers who were also former Adventists migrated from Los Angeles, California to Waco, Texas. It was in...
Bibliography: Cohen, Daniel. Cults. Brookfield, Connecticut: The Millbrook Press, 1994.
Dansteegt, P. Gerard. Foundation of the Seventh-day Adventist Message and Mission. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman 's Publishing Company, 1977.
Jordan, Anne Deveraux. The Seventh-Day Adventists: A History. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1988.
Porterfield, Kay Marie. Straight Talk About Cults. New York, New York: Facts on File Inc., 1995.
Reavis, Dick J., The Ashes of Waco: An Investigation. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1995.
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