BRANCH DAVIDIAN FACTIONS

Although it is not common knowledge, there are actually a number of Branch Davidian factions. There are ANTI-Koresh Branch Davidians, while the survivors of Mt. Carmel are themselves undergoing a schism. Here is a summary of these factions, ranging in size from one person on up.

PRO-KORESH:

Mt. Carmel Visitor's CenterThe Majority: Most of the survivors have rallied around Clive Doyle as their pastor and spokesman. However, it is important to note that while they respect him as a minister, he does not hold himself out as a prophet. Also, while some survivors still live in the Waco area and regularly study with him, others have scattered out and have looser ties. Other important figures among the survivors include Livingstone Fagan, a Davidian prisoner regarded as one of their foremost theologians; Catherine Matteson, who unofficially led the survivors prior to Clive's acquittal and release from prison; and David Thibodeau, who frequently gave talks about what happened.

These survivors have an "official" Mt. Carmel Survivors site, run by a sympathizer whose efforts they have "blessed." I noted originally that they didn't appear too directly involved with it, but they too have been affected by the "onlining" of America, and there is now a discussion board where they sometimes answer questions. It does not have as much on their theology as one might expect- for that, see the Research Center, which features writings by Livingstone Fagan and some others, and has gone back online. Also, David Thibodeau has a page up for his new book while a short Waco page on his former band's website remains up.
 

Hidden Manna: A new faction has arisen among the survivors, led by one of the Davidian prisoners, Renos Avraam. He teaches that he is the "Chosen Vessel of the Remaining Bride," a prophetic figure who is meant to lead the students of the Seven Seals prior to David's Return. He originally expected this on August 6, 1999, then October 20, and now March, 2012. (Clive has eschewed date-setting.)

Back in 1997, converts related to me the story of Hidden Manna's genesis. It begins with a woman who would change her name to Shekinah. She was into New World Order conspiracy theories, and when she learned that a Davidian was imprisoned nearby, she began visiting him to get information. Initially not very interested in his religion, she grew more and more so, bombarding him with question after question about his theology. But no matter how many questions she threw at him or how tough they were, he always had an answer. They came to the realization that he was being inspired by God. She began collecting and editing his teachings into a book, which explains his teachings in a clear, comprehensible, and systematic way. Surprisingly, he has convinced some other survivors, as well as new converts. Relations with the other survivors are rocky, and his book warns direly that those of David's former followers who reject his message will be the FIRST to be slain when David returns.

While the other survivors have something of a "let the mountain come to Mohammed" attitude, Hidden Manna is evangelistic. This shows on the web, where Hidden Manna has staked out the sevenseals.com, branchdavidian.com, davidkoresh.com, and seventrumpets.com domain names. In fact, since the split is not well-known, a number of links pages I've seen treat their site as the Branch Davidian site. There was also a GeoCities page that I strongly suspected was put up by them, but has apparently been taken down.
 

Ron Cole: A college student, Cole rushed to Waco right after the fire and befriended many of the survivors. He wrote a totally pro-Davidian book, Sinister Twilight, based on their accounts. Eventually, he became a Branch Davidian, but declared that David Koresh had failed to complete his mission as the Seventh Angel- and that task now fell to him. The survivors didn't take that too well! He has, however, been accompanied on his adventures by Wally Kennet, who had studied with David but had left Mt. Carmel before the standoff, and by a non-believer, Kevin Terry. Later, he founded the First Colorado Light Infantry militia, and then the North American Liberation Army, a plan to ally with the Zapatistas and other foreign rebels against oppressive governments. During the McVeigh trial, he and his two friends were arrested on illegal weapons charges. They have now been released from prison.

Ron Cole has gone back online. While his website was offline, I substituted links to Gary Hunt's Outpost of Freedom page, which has detailed information on his arrest, and to the Boulder Weekly, whose archives not only contain articles about him, but a few pieces penned by him. I also linked to an article on him in Wired magazine. Also, he posted to newsgroups; interested readers could try searching Google News, which bought out Dejanews. (Be sure to look in past posts. I also recommend adding a keyword like "militia" to your search, then doing an author profile to get the rest of his posts, or you will have to slog through tons of posts from other Ron Coles.)
 

Andrew X98: "Andrew" is the alias of Robert Arnold, an ex-convict who came to Waco a few years ago to study with the survivors. He became a sort of handyman for Clive Doyle, one of the things he did being to guard the Mt. Carmel property at night. (Amo Roden described him as a hired thug, whereas he struck me as a true believer.) Long interested in world religions, Islam was his first Abrahamic faith. Andrew became known for his fascination with the "X" symbol, which he regarded as the "true" cross.

However, in 1999 he broke with Clive Doyle and other survivor leaders, charging that they began work on the new chapel on the Sabbath, desecrating Mt. Carmel. He went on to accuse them of racial prejudice, and claimed that Livingstone Fagan, the black prisoner, was the rightful leader of the survivors. He then came to believe the theories of Carol Valentine, who thinks that many of the survivors are actually in league with the government to push a false, easily-discredited theory of how the Davidians were killed on April 19, in order to cover up the evidence of how they were "really" murdered.

As "Ali Andrew," he began an e-mail ministry, which promised to reveal true Branch Davidianism "as taught by Livingstone Fagan;" argued that David's teachings, that "Koresh is coming from Iran to destroy the Great Satan," are in harmony with the Koran; and denounced Clive Doyle as an undercover agent of the Zionist-controlled government. Andrew's health problems, reportedly due to AIDS, finally ended his life on February 28, 2006, exactly 13 years after the ATF raid, bringind his syncretistic Shi'ite Davidianism to an end.
 

Others: There are other individuals who have been drawn into the Branch Davidian orbit. During the siege, Jesse Amen was one of two men who managed to sneak into the compound, and he apparently absorbed some belief in David Koresh as a prophet into his idiosyncratic faith, before he wandered off. Andrew Hood claimed to be a prophet and wanted to set up a church on the Mt. Carmel property, but I don't think he claimed to be a Branch Davidian prophet. At any rate, he left and has vanished. Phillip Pope was portrayed by a documentary, "Surviving Waco," as having joined the Branch Davidians. However, he wants to correct the record: he explains he was only aiding the survivors, not joining them.
 

ANTI-KORESH:

George Roden: The most well-known of David's rivals, George was the son of Ben Roden, founder of the Branch offshoot of the Davidians, and his wife Lois. George tried to assume leadership when his father died in 1978, but lost out to his mother. When a young Vernon Howell appeared on the scene, his status as her successor was challenged. In 1984, he called an election, declared himself the winner, and drove out rivals Howell and Charlie Pace. However, his erratic leadership cost him support, and in 1988 Howell's group was able to reoccupy Mt. Carmel. George then ended up in a mental institution after killing a former Branch Davidian. He never gave up his messianic claims, but he no longer had believers, and with his passing away in December 1998, this faction has been rendered defunct.

Amo Roden's shack and display, April 19, 1999Amo Roden: In 1987, Amo met George Roden, and became his wife and a Branch Davidian. Soon they were in the midst of marital wrangling, establishing the ambivalent attitude towards him that she has today. After David's followers took over Mt. Carmel, she slipped into obscurity, but the siege provided her with an opportunity to resurface. Some weeks after the fire, she discovered that Mt. Carmel was no longer being guarded by the authorities, and began a one-woman occupation of the grounds. The survivors were none too happy, and she accuses them of trying to harass her into leaving. The survivors finally established a foothold on the Mt. Carmel grounds in 1998, and began gaining the upper hand. Several court dates to resolve the property issue were postponed, and when the jury finally heard the case, they decided that neither Amo nor the survivors were the rightful owners!

I have posted some of her writings on my site. I am doing so as a service for the interested, not to endorse her accounts or views.

Charlie Pace's church in Mt. Carmel's old dairy barnCharles Pace: Charlie Pace is a Branch Davidian from Canada, who ran afoul of Lois Roden by expanding on her teaching that the Holy Spirit is feminine, adding the Holy Daughter to the Trinity. However, when Lois' authority weakened, he came south in 1984 to press his claims. Driven out by George Roden, he regrouped his followers in Gadsden, Alabama. After Amo Roden established herself on the Mt. Carmel property, he entered into uneasy alliance with her and moved onto Mt. Carmel himself with his family. Later, however, he soured on Amo and re-established his ties to Clive Doyle. This relationship has held up, though there are other survivors who regard him as an interloper just like Amo and would like to drive him out. Unlike the two Rodens, he has a following backing him, though I heard at the 1997 anniversary that he had lost support over the intervening year.

Pace used to have a website, but took it down. According to him, his reason was that some survivors were misinterpreting the purpose of the site, and so it was interfering with his personal ministry to them.

Teresa Moore: When Lois Roden died, her will appointed Teresa Moore and another woman to carry on her work. She also has a congregation, headquartered in Pennsylvania. She apparently believes that she has been the target of assassination attempts since 1989. Amo claims to be on good terms with Teresa. She and her group have not gotten directly involved in the current battle for the Mt. Carmel property, but Amo has used an appointment as a trustee by Moore in her court fight against the survivors. Overall, I have to say that I know very little about Moore and her group.

Doug Mitchell: Mitchell surfaced in late 1997, when he suddenly joined the court case over Mt. Carmel, declaring that God had called him to lead the Branch. Mitchell joined the Branch under Ben Roden, and worked on Lois Roden's Shekinah magazine, but regards the current crop of leaders as false prophets. He also has a small following, and a website.

Note on Other Davidians: It should be noted that there are other Davidians besides the Branch Davidians. The Branches were founded in 1955, when Ben Roden claimed that God had called him to succeed Davidian founder VT Houteff. Though Houteff's widow, Florence, led the Davidians into a debacle in 1959-1962, a number of groups claiming the Davidian mantle emerged. These groups have also undergone their share of schisms. These other Davidians are not discussed on this page, though I may discuss them in another page later.


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