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Why Waco? Cults & the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
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Why Waco? Cults & the Battle for Religious Freedom in America

3.64  ·  Rating details ·  78 Ratings  ·  7 Reviews
The 1993 government assault on the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, resulted in the deaths of four federal agents and eighty Branch Davidians, including seventeen children. Whether these tragic deaths could have been avoided is still debatable, but what seems clear is that the events in Texas have broad implications for religious freedom in America.

James Tabor an
Paperback, 254 pages
Published April 19th 1997 by University of California Press (first published 1995)
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Lacy Beatty
Nov 05, 2015 rated it it was ok
I should have known how the book was going to go based on the opening chapter where the authors claim they tried to offer their services to the FBI to talk to Koresh and if they had been taken up on the offer the whole mess would have been avoided.
The details of the religious beliefs of the Branch Davidians was interesting to read about as religion always is. However, the rest of the book was a rant on how the former members, media, and talk show hosts were all biased against Koresh while the a
Shea Mastison
Nov 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a very well-written book, examining the tragedy at Waco; along with offering some very valuable insights concerning religious freedom and police militarization in America.

I had only ever briefly studied the Waco fiasco prior to this. Having such a detailed explanation of how the Branch Davidians were rooted in Seventh Day Adventist theology was a total surprise; the media (out of laziness, or spite) really painted David Koresh as a Jim Jones-esque cult con man, but the reality is that h
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: midd-senior
Since a lot of the stuff surrounding Waco was recorded, it's more fruitful to watch a documentary about it and see things for yourself. The book itself I found pretty lackluster; it goes into the Waco siege and the origins of the Branch Davidians for the first half but the second half is just theoretical mumbo-jumbo about cults in general, bringing each point back to Waco briefly to establish relevance. It's not a great book if you can just skip the last half of it, now is it?
In February 1995, Federal forces arrived outside a large home owned by a religious sect living in expectation of the apocalypse and led by a man who claimed to be the Messiah. Alarmed by rumors of child marriage and the fact that members of the group were involved in the gun trade, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms arrived to execute arrest warrants. An exchange of fire that killed six residents and four agents prompted them to back down and lay siege instead. After token e ...more
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
This book was divided into 2 sections. The first section dealt directly with Waco and the incompetence of the officials that led to the fire (the author does not speculate how the fire started, which remains a mystery) he is of the opinion that the only way the Koresh could've been reasoned with was theologically – he says that the officials considered David Koresh's talk as "Bible Bible" but they should have been paying more attention. He believed that if someone with the knowledge of the Scrip ...more
Jul 17, 2009 rated it it was ok
Why Waco? is less about what happened at Waco and why and more about what the author thinks of as the contemporary American anti-cult movement. It is true that so-called cults and the mainstream reaction to them do raise thorny questions about tolerance and freedom of religion. Tabor puts forward the proposition that Koresh's group can't really be catagorized as a cult like the People's Temple, and that Koresh was a serious biblical scholar entitled to religious legitimacy.

However, Tabor's book
Erik Graff
Jun 07, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Americans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: religion
When travelling, I bring a book along for the ride, usually with the intention of giving it to my host upon completion. This one went along on a visit to John McGough in New York City, staying behind upon my departure.

Early on during the Clinton administration, in 1993, there was a fifty-day confrontation between the government and an apocalyptic Christian religious cult in Texas, the Branch Davidians, an offshoot of Seventh Day Adventism. Ostensibly it was about illegal arms possession, but the
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Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte where he has taught since 1989. He previously held positions at Ambassador College (1968-70 while a student), the University of Notre Dame (1979–85), and the College of William and Mary (1985–89).
More about James D. Tabor