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.

It’s official, Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. is now “on the lam.”

The leader of the group known as the “House of Prayer” was convicted for “child cruelty” and then sentenced to jail time and ten years probation.

But Allen, who once claimed he “should be congratulated” and “given a medal” for the brutal beatings of children within his church, apparently won’t allow any court to lord over him.

So instead the pastor chose to skip town along with some of his flock. He is now a wanted fugitive, reports the WXIA TV in Atlanta.

Allen previously proclaimed that the terms of his probation would not allow him “to preach all the Bible” and that would be “just ungodly.”

However, most Christians would readily observe that the whippings House of Prayer children endured were “ungodly.”

The fleeing pastor will eventually be caught and have a “day of reckoning.” This won’t be his final judgement, but it will likely require extended incarceration. Allen can then “preach all the Bible” behind bars.

Leader of the “House of Prayer” Arthur Allen Jr. and two of his followers, failed to show up at court yesterday, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Warrants were subsequently issues for their arrest.

But it looks like Allen and two members of his group may have skipped town.

The three were sentenced to probation for the brutal beatings of children within the church, but failed to meet the requirements of that sentence.

Allen appeared arrogant during trial, often stating his practices were somehow “God’s” ways and that he would never submit to any worldly authority, such as the laws of Georgia.

It now looks like he was serious.

The two parents also convicted for “child cruelty” and placed on probation said not allowing them to whip children violated their “religious convictions.”

It appears that Allen and his devoted disciples may soon be practicing their faith behind bars. And the worldly authority that might eventually govern their daily lives could be prison guards.

Arthur Allen and two of his followers from the “House of Prayer” have a deadline to meet today. They must appear in an Atlanta court at 1:00 PM or warrants will be issued for their arrest, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Allen and a married couple from his church were convicted of criminal “child cruelty,” due to the beatings children endured within the controversial Georgia group. They received jail time and probation.

Conditions of that probation include attending anger management classes and signing a written agreement not strike children with objects.

The parents refused to sign the document. Now they must come to court and comply or their probation will be violated.

In recent years there has been a crackdown on religious groups that abuse children.

Children were removed from a group in Canada called “The Church of God Restoration,” as a result of beatings. Parents from a branch of that church in California were arrested for medical neglect.

Dwight York, the leader of another group in Georgia named the “Nuwaubians,” was arrested and prosecuted for more than 200 counts of sexually abusing minor children in his group. York signed a plea agreement and is now serving a prison sentence.

Polygamist groups in Canada and the United States are being scrutinized for their treatment of children and some of their members have also been prosecuted for abuse.

Increasingly in North America authorities seem to be determining a boundary between legitimate religious practice and criminal child abuse.

Arrest warrants have been issued for the leader of a controversial church in Georgia called the “House of Prayer” and two of his followers, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Rev. Arthur Allen Jr. has apparently violated the terms of his probation, the result of a criminal conviction for “cruelty to children.”

Allen and church members routinely engaged in brutal beatings and whippings of children.

The leader and his followers had agreed to stop such discipline as a term of their probation. But it seems the fanatical Allen and his flock may have failed to follow that agreement.

Throughout the trial and subsequent press coverage Allen always appeared arrogant and unwilling to submit to any authority other than “God.”

However, Allen like many other fanatical leaders, seems to rely upon his own interpretation of what “God” wants, based upon his understanding of scriptures.

It appears the pastor has no meaningful accountability to a denominational authority, or an independently elected board that may fire or discipline him.

In what seems like an effort to retaliate against child protection services and the courts House of Prayer members have recently filed a federal lawsuit, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Regardless of whatever litigation his followers may file Allen seems destined to spend time soon within jail. Perhaps the pastor may make the jailhouse, his new “house of prayer.”

The Greek Minister of Education and Religious Affairs has rejected Scientology as “a house of prayer, on the basis that it does not constitute a church,” reports the Greek Orthodox Church.

And an appeals court in Athens said, “[Scientology] is an organization with totalitarian structures and it …deceivingly acts…to attract members who in turn undergo… brainwashing.” It has also been “classified among dangerous and antisocial organizations.”

Hmmm, it seems the Greeks, who know all about “Trojan horses,” don’t want one possibly wheeling into there country.

Rev. Arthur Allen Jr., leader of the “House of Prayer,” ended his three-month jail sentence last week for whipping children in his church.

But three months in the cooler hasn’t changed the arrogant preacher. Allen said, “I should be congratulated. Given a medal,” reports The Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Apparently the jury didn’t agree. They convicted Allen for “cruelty to children” and “aggravated assault.”

The “House of Prayer” leader still has ten years of probation ahead of him. Allen says, “[Probation] doesn’t allow me to preach all the Bible, so that’s just ungodly.”

Apparently the preacher forgot to read verses within the New Testament that enjoin believers to obey civil authority.

Six more members of “God’s Creation Outreach Church” have been charged related to a child abuse investigation undertaken after the death of a nine-year-old boy, reports the Kansas City Star.

The boy’s parents and leaders of the church Neil and Christy Edgar, who gagged their son, which allegedly led to his death were previously charged.

Five other members of the Edgar church have now also been charged regarding the gross abuse of other children in the group, which is located in Kansas City, Kansas.

Horrific child abuse has often taken place within relatively obscure groups and churches. In such independently run and somtimes isolated organizations there is little if any meaningful accountability for the leaders and the minor children of members have no control over their lives.

Just last year alone groups such as the Nuwaubians, “The Body,” Four Winds Commune, House of Prayer, Order of Saint Charbel, Church of God Restoration, the Wright Family and New Life Tabernacle faced charges regarding the sexual and/or physical abuse of minor children.

In some groups children died due to medical neglect.

The treatment of children, within groups often called “cults,” is a scandal. Child protection services often respond too late or do too little to protect these innocents.

It should be understood that minor children are only in such groups because their parents have joined.

Children are often brought into “cults” like so much baggage and frequently endure a living hell. This may include brutal corporal punishment, substandard living conditions, malnutrition and/or medical neglect.

More official intervention is necessary if minor children, who are often little more than hostages in such groups, are to be protected. Religious and/or parental rights certainly do not include the doing anything without restriction in the “name of God.”

Lucille Poulin the dictatorial self-proclaimed “prophet” of a “cult” commune on Prince Edward Island was sentenced to eight months in jail, reports CBC.

She brutally beat and abused children within her “Four Winds” commune.

Poulin showed no remorse at sentencing and actually seemed to threaten the judge saying, “One day, everyone will face the eternal judge to answer for what they have done.” As if the judge that sentenced her needed to worry about the eternal consequences of his decision.

Poulin ranted in a rambling pre-sentence statement about her “mandate” from “God” and justified her actions through a delusional and often bizarre understanding of scripture.

But the judge concluded, “People cannot assault children without criminal law consequences.” And added, “These children were born into this environment. They were in captivity. They took the punishment and they had nowhere to turn.”

The prosecutor noted, “There are other Lucille Poulin’s out there.”

This was something of an understatement. The rise criminal cases regarding child abuse in Canada and the United States concerning “cult” groups with children is alarming. The “Nuwaubians,” “House of Prayer” and “Church of God Restoration” are examples of this serious and growing problem.

Poulin said, “Regardless of what happens to me here, He will keep my soul from hell.” It seems doubtful that most Christians would agree with that opinion.

One thing is certain, 78-year-old Poulin now has eight months of earthly hell or at least purgatory ahead of her. And as her niece said at sentencing, “It’s her turn now for punishment.”

An excellent editorial appeared in the Edmonton Journal written by Paula Simons regarding the background history of a Canadian “cult” child abuse case.

Lucille Poulin, the leader of the “Four Winds Commune” was convicted on five counts of assault for beating children within her group. Her defense was essentially that “God” told her to do it. However, the court found that invoking the name of God did not protect Poulin’s behavior.

Perhaps more disturbing than Poulin’s destructive delusions is how long it took authorities to take action.

According to records beginning in 1995 social workers knew what was going on—so why did it take so long to stop Poulin? Apparently they tried to protect the children seven years ago, but were frustrated by a judge who turned them away. Later one child died from medical neglect.

Reviewing the pattern of missed opportunities in the Poulin case is not unlike the sad histories of other “cults” that have abused children.

Groups that have been called “cults” such as the “Twelve Tribes,” “Children of God” and the so-called “Krishna Consciousness” movement have all at one time been the focus of child abuse allegations. Yet over and over again, such groups often escape law enforcement.

Child abuse was eventually proven to be rampant within the Waco Davidian sect, but Texas Child Protection workers once gave David Koresh a pass. Later, the testimony of one of Koresh’s young victims before Congress made it chillingly clear how wrong they were.

Krishna is now the defendant in a class action lawsuit filed by its former children who allege horrific acts of physical and sexual abuse.

The “Twelve Tribes,” just like the Poulin group was investigated for child abuse, but a judge also stopped that process and returned more than a hundred children to the group’s Vermont compound. Years later its children have recounted their experiences of abuse.

Former childhood members of the “Children of God” have discussion/support groups to help each other heal and recover from the abuse they experienced. The group’s founder David Berg has been exposed as a pedophile who engaged in incest and preached a doctrine of sexually stimulating children beginning at the age of four.

Another Canadian group “Church of God Restoration” was also recently found guilty concerning the abuse of its children through brutal beatings. But many within the Canadian press seemed to defend the parental prerogative of group members to inflict such punishment. In another case involving the same church in California a child also died due to medical neglect.

“Cult leader” Dwight York now faces more than 200 criminal counts for sexually abusing and exploiting minor children in his group called the “Nuwaubians.” According to the charges filed against him that abuse was apparently ongoing for years.

Arthur Allen Jr., the leader of the group known as the “House of Prayer” just began serving his jail sentence for a child cruelty conviction. Allen actually made such abuse a spectacle by brutally beating children publicly before his flock.

The story of Lucille Poulin is hardly unique. And the blunders made by authorities that allowed her to continue unchecked for so long are not uncommon either. Sadly, within the bureaucratic maze and legal due process of North America many children within “cults” are victimized.

Authorities seem to be reluctant in dealing with abuse within religious groups. Such groups almost always claim that any interference regarding their behavior is somehow “religious persecution.”

The lot of children born or brought into destructive cults like so much baggage is a scandal. Who will protect them? As Paula Simons laments in her editorial for the Edmonton Journal, “So much unnecessary suffering. So many unanswered questions.”

Perhaps the precedents recently set by court cases in both Canada and the United States will help. But it seems that so often, it is too little or too late.