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Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America

Why Waco?: Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America
Author: James D. Tabor - Eugene V. Gallagher
ISBN 13: 9780520208995
ISBN 10: 520208994
Edition: 49995th
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: 1997-04-19
Format: Paperback
Pages: 254
List Price: $31.95

"The label "cult" can become a license to kill. . . . A courageous religious scholar, James Tabor, understanding what was at stake, tried valiantly to prevent the tragedy at Waco. Persevering in its wake, he and Eugene Gallagher thoroughly investigated the background, participants, and events leading to the destruction of the Mount Carmel Church and its members. Their findings are presented in this critically important book."—Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General

"Here, at last, is a glimpse of 'the other side' of the tragic confrontation. . . . The authors offer an alternative to the common wisdom about Waco as well as a critique of the anti-cult ideology that helped misdefine the situation and bring about its fateful—and fatal—results."—Dean M. Kelley, Counselor on Religious Liberty, National Council of Churches

"For public debate on a serious issue facing our society, this book deserves wide and sober reading."—John R. Hall, author of Gone From the Promised Land: Jonestown as American Cultural History

Publishers Weekly

Tabor, a University of North Carolina religious studies professor, was a consultant to lawyers mediating directly with David Koresh during the 51-day siege in Waco, Texas, in 1993 that left four federal agents dead and engulfed the Branch Davidian compound in flames, killing 74 members, including 21 children. He and Gallagher, a religious studies professor at Connecticut College, make a compelling case that the confrontation was avoidable and could have been resolved peacefully. Attorney General Janet Reno made her decision to end the siege by force, they claim, against her better judgment under pressure from officials who gave her reports containing unsupported allegations of child abuse and sexual misconduct among the Branch Davidians. Much less convincing is the authors' attempt to refute the media image of ex-Seventh Day Adventist Koresh as a cruel, megalomaniacal, polygamous fanatic who manipulated his devotees. Rejecting the label of ``cult,'' the authors view the Branch Davidians and kindred groups as genuine, albeit unconventional, religious movements whose critics misunderstand the dynamics of charismatic leadership. (Sept.)