The Waco Tribune Herald concluded its nine-part series today with an article entitled, “Prophesying about Waco.”

The newspaper was seemingly taking a swing at foretelling the future, but not in any biblical sense. The article focused on the future of Waco, in an effort to burnish the image of the Texas town.

Baylor University is spending more than a $100 million dollars to expand its presence in Waco and some civic leaders hope that President George W. Bush might decide to build his presidential library there.

The series explored the town and its mood more than it delved into the facts about the Branch Davidians, at times it read like a brochure put out by the Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Ten years ago things were quite different.

Waco Tribune reporters Darlene McCormick and Mark Englund, who are no longer on staff at the newspaper, dug deep to produce an in-depth investigative series titled “The Sinful Messiah.”

If not for politics the two journalists might have picked up a Pulitzer.

That was then, and this is now.

Hard reporting seems to be the last thing anyone wants in Waco these days. What the Texas town is intent upon, is distancing itself from the cult led by David Koresh.

One civic booster even went so far as to point out that the cult standoff “happened outside of Waco.” And then offered these prophetic words, “I think we’ve got about as bright a future as we ever had.”


A Baylor professor chimed in, “Time has a wonderful way of curing things…My guess is that as time passes, the name ‘Waco’ – so indelibly marked in the minds of most Americans for a time [regarding the cult standoff] – will begin to fade.”

Well, Baylor certainly hopes so.

But the Waco Davidian tragedy was the second longest standoff in American history. And it is highly unlikely that it will “fade” anytime soon, despite the “prophesying.”

In fact it seems like some folks in Waco would rather ignore history altogether.

The paper appeared anxious not to anger anti-government conspiracy types. In a seeming bow to the fringe it reported a fire of “much-debated origin” ended the lives of the Davidians.

However, this ignores the facts as established by two congressional inquiries, an independent investigation and the verdict of both judge and jury in a civil trial.

The overwhelming evidence has conclusively proven that Koresh ordered the fire set.

In the final paragraphs of the recent Tribune series Baylor sociologist Larry Lyon offered his evaluation of the standoff’s enduring legacy.

He claimed, “It no longer means religious fanaticism. Now it’s a place where the government overreached.”

Perhaps this thinking is popular in Waco, essentially blaming the tragedy on outsiders. But the professor must be in an academic isolation tank.

Maybe he thinks the mass suicide at Jonestown was also the government’s fault, for not requiring that all Kool-Aide packages state, “Do not mix with cyanide.”

Kerri Jewell was only a child a decade ago, but her memory is more deeply etched that the professor’s. This is because she once lived in the cult compound.

Jewell said in a recent interview, “At some point we were going to have to die for him [David Koresh]. I didn’t expect to live past 12.”

Due to a bitter custody fight Kerri Jewell was not in the compound at the time of the standoff. Her mother was and she died in the fire.

ABC reported Davidian kids were taught “there were only two types of people: ‘good’ people who were inside the cult, and ‘bad’ people who were everyone else.”

Some Davidians still around Waco make it clear they feel the same. One told the Tribune there was still hope for the town though.

Clive Doyle said, “I believe God wants to save Waco, and I believe God works every day to change the minds of the people in Waco.”


Another Davidian put it less tactfully, “When David [Koresh] comes back, there’s going to be an earthquake so bad that Lake Waco, the shore, is going to drop 15 feet. When it does that, there’s going to be a flood here like you never seen.”

Now there’s some old time “prophesying.”

Waco will continue to be largely remembered as the place where a destructive cult chose to end its days.

And contrary to what Lyon concludes, Waco and other cult tragedies since, have proven the government rather than worrying about “overreaching,” often must take decisive action.

In 1995 Aum gassed Tokyo’s subways, sending thousands to hospitals and killing twelve. Next came the Solar Temple suicide in Switzerland, which initially claimed the lives of 74.

Americans were shocked in 1997 when 39 “Heaven’s Gate” cult members committed mass-suicide near San Diego. And the government had no interest in the group.

Criminal arrests and prosecutions in recent years, reflect law enforcement’s growing reach into the world of groups called “cults.”

A few examples include the Nuwaubians and House of Prayer in Georgia, the Church of God Restoration in Canada and California, the R.G. Stair’s Overcomers Ministry in North Carolina, the General Assembly Church of the First Born in Colorado and Polygamist groups in Utah and Arizona.

Since anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City murdering 168, with “Remember Waco” as his battle cry, the FBI has busted and put away many so-called “militia” members for weapons violations.

It is doubtful that Koresh would be able to stockpile illegal weapons today as easily as he did in 1992-93.

The FBI has learned to identify and deal with fanatics more effectively. The Freeman standoff in Montana, which ended peacefully, proved this.

But the Freemen were not the Davidians, with a leader comparable to Koresh. It is doubtful that the Waco standoff could have ended any way, other than the one chosen by the cult leader.

In the final analysis this is the greatest lesson of Waco.

Destructive cult leaders are often psychopaths capable of horrific acts. Cult followers frequently abdicate any meaningful autonomy in favor of total dependence upon their leaders. And they then rely upon the judgement of someone else that may be mad.

This can be a formula for disaster. Waco is proof of that.

David Koresh fathered most of the 25 children that died in the suicidal fire set by the Davidians ten years ago today.

But three Koresh children did not perish. All boys, they are now teenagers.

Two brothers live in Hawaii, while another resides in Southern California.

The tenth anniversary of the Waco Davidian standoff has generated some curiosity and press coverage. Reporters for interviews located the three boys and their families.

The Hawaiian boys are the sons of Dana Okimoto, who was one of Koresh’s “20 wives.” Okimoto now sees her Davidian involvement as “another life,” apart from her current existence. Her sons never knew their father, reports Hawaii

Koresh’s son in California was taken out of the compound as a baby before the standoff began and brought back to his mother Robyn Bunds. She still suffers psychologically from abuse experienced while a Davidian, reports the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

Bunds and her son would not speak with reporters, but her father did. He said his grandson also never knew his father. And added, “I didn’t like Koresh. He was too arrogant for me.”

This seems like an accurate appraisal of the man who once claimed he was both the savior of humanity and the “Lamb of God.”

Okimoto seems disillusioned with organized religion and says she no longer attends church. “I was young and idealistic and I had a very black-and-white view of the world,” she explained.

Some have observed that this Davidian “black-and-white” mindset was the result of “brainwashing.” Okimoto says her subsequent work as a psychiatric nurse helped her alleviate the after-effects.

Very few of Koresh’s former followers that survived the standoff remain faithful. Some still cling to the notion that the dead leader will somehow return to fulfill his failed prophecies. But only a mere handful ever meet for religious services.

Like so many cults historically, without the personality that drove and defined their group, they have fallen apart.

David Koresh’s once dreamt of re-establishing the “Throne of David” through a dynasty carried forward by his many children.

But the few that remain don’t consider that delusion seriously and have no memories of their father.

To his remaining children the cult leader’s legacy is something strange and approached with mixed emotions.

One son in Hawaii said, “Sometimes I think he’s this nice guy and sometimes I think he’s this big freak. My mind keeps shifting on images of him.”

However, history’s view of David Koresh is far less ambivalent. The apparent psychopath, who led his followers to destruction and death, carved out a distinct niche for himself historically.

But it is not amongst a pantheon biblical heroes.

Instead, it is alongside a cult villains such as Jim Jones and Charles Manson.

No doubt his progeny will struggle with that image for a lifetime.

The evangelical Christian missionary organization known as “Jews for Jesus” (JFJ) continues its annual “Passover” road show through churches across the United States.

JFJ has a sordid history of confrontation with the Jewish community. Many Jews consider their programs offensive and some say they are anti-Semitic.

The peripatetic proselytizers present “Christ in the Passover,” which superimposes Christian references upon long-established Jewish historical symbols and observances.

The JFJ programs largely ignore and/or negate the actual significance of Passover, which is based upon the biblical account of Exodus and celebrates freedom.

Ironically, many of the churches that support such events claim to “love the Jewish people” and Israel.

JFJ and organizations like it within the evangelical Christian fold collect more than $100 million in contributions each year.

Recent JFJ Passover stops included Tyler in East Texas and Toledo.

Ariel Ben Sherman, the leader of New Life Tabernacle in Tennessee, may not get away with child abuse after all, regarding the death of a teenage child in his obscure group.

Sherman and the mother of a Jessica Crank, a 15-year-old girl who died during September, have now been indicted by a grand jury, reports WATE Channel 6 News in Knoxville.

Previously charges had been dismissed against the pair, due largely to a provision within Tennessee law that allows religious groups to choose prayer over medicine.

Proper medical care was not given to Jessica Crank, who must have died painfully due to a grossly enlarged tumor.

Early treatment might have prolonged the girl’s life, or at least diminished her suffering.

Sherman has been charged before with child abuse.

Social workers in Oregon testified that he had children “bound with ropes and suspended from the ceiling for hours on end [and they were]…forced to squat in an empty pool and sprayed with cold water if they soiled themselves.”

Sherman fled those charges and eventually re-established his “ministry” in Tennessee.

Hopefully, he won’t get off as easily this time.

Sadly, Sherman does not face felony charges due to an apparent loophole in Tennessee law and is now only facing possible misdemeanor convictions.

The Crank case certainly points out the need for Tennessee to follow the example of Colorado, which passed a law protecting children from the consequences of their parent’s religious choices, if those choices might lead to death.

Former Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf has won a “cult following,” reports ABC News.

The man with the mouth has now become a pop icon for his famous invective.

“Sahafomania” has reportedly taken off and exploded.

Now known as just “M.S.S.” to his fans, no one knows where the Iraqi spin-doctor has gone, but the legend lives on.

When armored columns entered Baghdad he said these immortal words, “They’re coming to surrender or be burned in their tanks.”

Before abruptly leaving the Iraqi capital M.S.S. offered this parting and piercing analysis, “[The Coalition is] in a state of hysteria and haste…These villains will not win.”

Known for his endless wit, Saddam’s master of the one-liner offered delicious diatribes for almost any occasion. He called the allies everything from “louts of colonialism” to “wild donkeys.” And once said, “God will roast their stomachs in hell.”

This man obviously has a future as a professional pundit, if only a good agent could find him.

As statues of Saddam came down all over Iraq, a website was built honoring M.S.S. And it has as many as 500,000 visitors in a single day.

The latest info at the site says this master of spin may now be in Syria.

M.S.S. fans seem to resent that their icon was snubbed and didn’t make it into that notorious deck of cards, which includes the Iraqis most wanted by the US.


How many of those bad boys have their own fan site, with coffee mugs and T-shirts?

At the M.S.S. website you can even pick up a barbecue apron emblazoned with what else, “God will roast their stomachs in hell,” his unforgettable motto.

What a guy!

Every war produces its own unique and memorable characters.

The devoted followers of a controversial guru in New York City are apparently engaged in an ongoing Internet spamming campaign.

Guru Sri Chinmoy, often called a “cult leader,” has been the subject of repeated allegations of abuse made by his former followers.

Most recently some say that the supposedly celibate spiritual leader exploited them sexually. This disturbing information has been posted on websites and within discussion groups.

But it seems that Chinmoy’s devotees, in an effort to suppress that information and/or anything critical about their beloved guru, are now spamming search engines and weblogs to swamp search results.

One blogger claimed, “This would appear to be a sinister cult organization abusing to generate traffic for their propaganda.”

If you enter “Sri Chinmoy” on Google the result is largely a litany of “propaganda” links. This means that Web users will largely see what Chinmoy and his followers want seen.

The guru has a reputation as something of a narcissistic media hound and appears willing to pull almost any stunt to gain press attention. This has included outlandish claims, such as his ability to lift 200 sheep simultaneously.

But Mr. Chinmoy doesn’t like negative attention. So despite the growing presence of critical reports about him on the Internet, that information is seemingly being suppressed through the “sinister” use of spamming.

The guru once had a celebrity or two involved in his group, which included musician Carlos Santana.

But the multiple Grammy winner walked away and later said in a Rolling Stone interview, “Everything about [Chinmoy] turned to vinegar.” And added that after he left, the group became “vindictive.”

Well, it looks like the guru and his group are still “vindictive” and now they are turning out their “vinegar” on the Internet.

The man known for one of the worst scandals amongst evangelical Christians during the 20th Century, is now attempting to make a comeback in the 21st.

Disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker 63, convicted for fraud and sentenced to prison for cheating 150, 000 “lifetime members” of his former PTL Club, has resumed his TV career.

After making parole in 1995 Bakker immediately attempted to resurrect his seemingly dead vocation. First he worked quietly away from the cameras, apparently hoping to resuscitate his credibility.

But now with the help of a still loyal fan he is back on television. The “Jim Bakker Show” is currently being broadcast from a café in Branson, Missouri, reports the Charlotte Observer.

The TV preacher apparently is hoping for miraculous success. He claims, “Everywhere you look, there’s a miracle,” reported the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

But it will probably take a really big one to sustain interest in this fallen minister, who seems hopelessly past his prime.

In an understatement Bakker admitted, “I know there are some people who won’t like me.”

What happened to the other half of the dynamic Bakker duo, which once graced televangelism?

The flamboyant Tammy Faye Bakker divorced her husband during his prison term and moved on to another man once associated with their ministry.

But she did remain faithful to the over-application of mascara, that is her trademark. A recent documentary chronicled her bizarre life, titled “The Eyes of Tammy Faye.”

The senational film received decidedly mixed reviews. One critic said, “I came away with the same trashy opinion I had of her before this ‘mock’ documentary.”

The former Mrs. Bakker now over 60 has developed a “cult following” within the gay community, who apparently find her over the top appearance and “drama queen” status appealing.

Tammy Faye took her act on tour and she has a road show called “Doing it My Way.”

There was a bit of a glitch though regarding millions of dollars owed in back taxes, but the Bakkers seem to have somehow miraculously overcome that problem.

“Jay” Bakker, Jim and Tammy Faye’s son, went into the traditional family business. He calls his style of preaching “coffee house” evangelism. Maybe he will grab a cup at his Dad’s café set soon?

Bakker Jr. went through a booze binge before he repented and reformed. He says, “If sins could keep us out of heaven, no one would go.”

Many Christians that the Bakkers bilked would agree and seem willing to forgive them.

However, though Jim and Tammy Faye may doctrinally expect salvation in the hereafter, is there really any earthly reason they should receive respect?

Today the Montel Williams Show was supposedly devoted to children abused through the use of prescription psychiatric drugs such as Ritalin, specifically given to alleviate the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorders (ADD).

The talk show host claimed, “We just want the truth.”

However, there was more to this program than met the eye.

The featured organization on the show was the “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” (CCHR), founded by Scientology in 1969, which is an anti-psychiatry “watchdog group.”

CCHR’s international president once described psychiatry as a “malignant disease” that “threatens society and ultimately mankind.”

Montel’s guest today, CCHR president Bruce Wiseman agreed publicly with that statement. And during the show also compared “your friendly neighborhood psychiatrist,” to drug lords in Columbia.

At no time did the talk show host explore the wider agenda of the CCHR and/or its antipathy for the entire mental health profession.

Instead, Montel chatted up Scientology celebrity Juliette Lewis who appeared with Wiseman.

At one point the actress excitedly urged her audience to make “drug manufacturers and psychiatrists…accountable.”

Then there were cameo clips by other Scientology notables, Anne Archer and Catherine Bell. These two actresses chimed in their support for the CCHR and its war against psychiatric drugs.

However, despite the heavy Scientology lineup, the “S” word (Scientology) was never even uttered.

There was likewise no balance whatsoever, despite the fact that many of the claims made by the CCHR have been labeled “preposterous” by experts.

Montel offered up instead “expert” Mary Ann Block, a CCHR board member and award winner.

Block was introduced as a “doctor,” but is neither a psychiatrist, psychologist or even an M.D. She is an osteopath.

Block claims that ADD is a “made-up, psychiatric label.”

Ironically, the Association of Osteopaths, which represents Block’s specialty, officially recognizes the disorder.

This was just another fact never mentioned by Montel.

The talk show host seemed somewhat caught up in the formatted furor about Ritalin; he plaintively compared the fate of children prescribed psychiatric medication to “crack babies.”

Montel then added furtively, “Someone’s making a lot of money of our children,” an apparent reference to Scientology’s nemesis the “drug companies.”

Sadly parents and children, who are not Scientologists, but appeared on the program today, seemed like props manipulated by Scientologists to promote their agenda.

This is not the first time Montel’s show has essentially been co-opted by Scientology and served much like an infomercial for the controversial organization, which has been called a “cult.”

Earlier this year Montel repeated a program with Scientologist Kelly Preston, wife of Scientologist John Travolta, that touted the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of Scientology.

The Preston show, just like the recent one, didn’t mention Scientology and instead was supposedly about “environmental toxins” that hurt kids.

It seems that Montel has either gone from dumb to dumber, or is so desperate for celebrity appearances to boost his ratings, he will shill almost anything.

Has Montel become a Scientology stooge?

It has been a decade since the Waco Davidian standoff, but old conspiracy theories die hard.

Of course the few remaining diehard Davidians, which numbered five at a recent religious service, are still loyal to their selective memory of David Koresh and events at Waco.

But why do some journalists persist in groundless anti-government conspiracy theories and Davidian yarns?

A British reporter recently wrote just such fiction, but tries to pass it off as objective reporting instead, within the Independent Sunday.

The following statements were related as fact-based reportage:

“Whether the fire that consumed 76 men, women and children (24 of them British), including Koresh, on 19 April 1993 was started by the Davidians or federal agents remains in question.”

Ignored, is that numerous investigations have repeatedly verified through testimony and physical evidence that there is no “question.”

The fire was deliberately started by Davidians and ordered by Koresh.

This was proven by aerial infrared photography, audio recordings of Davidians discussing the fire and the residue of an accelerant found at the site.

Get ready for another whopper.

“The Davidians raised money by purchasing arms and selling them at gun fairs, a legal activity. Most of the weapons found at Mount Carmel were boxed for sale.”

A huge arsenal was recovered from the compound and it was clear that Koresh was stockpiling for Armageddon, not planning a “sale.”

The reporter offers a now discredited documentary without qualification, which somehow proves what went wrong at Waco.

But what was proven is that the FBI use of pyrotechnics cited in this film did not ignite the fire and fell harmlessly outside the wooden walls near concrete construction.

The reporter quotes Koresh’s lawyer who “was appalled by the lazy characterization of the Davidians as a cult, and their flimsy center as an ‘armed compound.'”

However, anyone who witnessed the initial barrage of gunfire directed against ATF agents, knows it was an “armed compound” that overwhelmed and ultimately murdered four federal officers.

And obviously it was the mindset of a “cult” that kept the Davidians within the compound for 51 days and cemented their loyalty to Koresh as the so-called “Sinful Messiah,” even if that meant death.

The journalist states, “Of the string of prophets and visionaries who had lead the [Davidians], Koresh was the most charismatic, and disillusioned Seventh Day Adventists flocked to him.”

This is hardly historically accurate.

The Davidian movement outside Waco peaked in its early days under founder Victor Houteff and Seventh Day Adventists never “flocked” to the compound to follow Koresh.

Despite constant proselytizing, David Koresh actually gained very few converts.

According to the reporter former Davidian Mark Breault is somehow an example of “betrayal.”

But it was largely Breault’s alleged “betrayal” that saved the life of Kerri Jewell, a teenager freed from the cult compound through a custody battle.

Later at 14 Jewell testified before Congress that Koresh sexually molested her at the age of 10.

In fact the depth of Koresh’s depravity is barely examined in the article.

It seemingly suffices to summarize; “Koresh was flawed.” Though the reporter allows that he likely fathered 17 children, many with teenage girls, all who perished in the fire.


The term most commonly applied to someone with this particular predilection is “pedophile.”

However, Koresh’s mother Bonnie Haldeman is given ample space to hold forth about her son the sexual predator.

She says, “David was so cute…I can see his smiling face, those dimples.”

Haldeman apparently thinks it’s important to point out that despite her son’s messianic claims she “certainly wasn’t Mary. It certainly wasn’t a virgin birth.”

Thanks for setting that straight.

And the mother, who still seems to be milking her brief moment in the media spotlight, glosses over the obvious truth about her son.

He was clearly a criminal psychopath, but let’s not forget a “cute” one.

Well, even though Haldeman is not the “Virgin Mary,” she is still a mother.

But what’s the reporter’s excuse for ignoring many of the facts about Waco?

It seems some European, Arab and extremely liberal journalists often exhibit the same sort of bias when reporting about Iraq.

Never mind that Saddam is or was a psychopath and that the Iraqi people suffered through an era of evil tyranny. Instead, what’s important is that the United States government is somehow “bad,” “negligent” and/or “criminal.”

Does such a bias at least partially explain the mythological aspects of the British reporter’s recent article about Waco?

If so, that prejudice is perhaps more pathetic than the final few still clinging to David Koresh through their strange imaginings.

After all we expect “journalists” to report the facts, instead of engaging in story telling based upon the fantasies embraced by true believers.

Scientology often attacks psychiatrists and the mental health profession through a closely associated organization, the so-called “Citizens Commission on Human Rights” (CCHR).

That group’s latest focus is a recent murder/suicide in Massachusetts, which involved a woman who was reportedly on antidepressant medication, reports the Boston Globe.

The CCHR claims the medication drove the woman to violence.

This so-called “watchdog group” seems willing to exploit any tragedy in an attempt to garner attention for its crusade against psychiatrists and/or other mental health professionals with meaningful credentials.

A Harvard Medical School psychiatrist called the group’s claim “preposterous.” Likewise, a drug researcher dismissed CCHR theories as groundless.

It should be understood that Scientology and the CCHR are not simply against antidepressant medication, but all prescribed psychiatric drugs and indeed the entire mental health profession, more specifically psychiatrists and psychologists.

Scientologists believe they alone possess the answers regarding mental health, as defined and established by their founder L. Ron Hubbard.

However, Hubbard had no degree in psychology or meaningful credentials in the field of mental health. He was instead a self-proclaimed “expert.”

A judge in California once said, “The organization [Scientology] clearly is schizophrenic and paranoid, and this bizarre combination seems to be reflective of its founder.”

Hubbard appears to have struggled with mental problems. One of his wives perhaps summed it up succinctly when she said her husband was simply “crazy.”

Is the CCHR and Scientology’s obsession with psychiatry a reflection of L. Ron Hubbard’s past “paranoid” fear that one-day he might be locked up in the “nut house”?