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DAVID KORESH AND THE DAVIDIANS Branch Davidians American religious movement that became widely known in 1993 when most of its members were killed in a fire that destroyed their headquarters near Waco Texas The fire marked the end of a 51-day siege by United States federal agents Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia 1993-1997 Microsoft Corporation All rights reserved The Branch Davidians trace their origins to the Davidian movement a splinter group of Seventh-Day Adventists founded by Adventist leader Victor Houteff in Los Angeles California in 1934 Houteff retained the traditional Adventist belief that the apocalypse the end of the world and the Second Coming of Christ were imminent and would be preceded by catastrophes and war Houteff also taught that the kingdom of ancient Israelite monarch Davidhence the term Davidianwould be reestablished in Palestine After splitting from the Adventists Houteff led his followers from Los Angeles to Waco where they established the communal Mount Carmel Center Houteff died in 1955 and the Branch Davidian movement itself eventually splintered Vernon Howell the future David Koresh attended various schools before dropping out after the tenth grade Vernon spent hours in agonized prayer and Bible study He became leader of one faction of the Davidian movement and in 1990 legally adopted the symbolic name David Koresh David signifies the kingdom of David to be restored in Palestine Koresh emphasized the apocalyptic element in Davidian theology teaching that the Davidians at the Mount Carmel Centerrenamed Ranch Apocalypse in 1992would be assaulted by forces of evil Communal life focused on recruiting new members hard studying of the Bible and preparing for the coming cataclysmic events by stockpiling food weapons and fuel By 1993 accusations of various kinds of abuses were being leveled at the group by anticult activists including some former members and the United States federal Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms ATF decided to search the complex for illegal weapons The tragedy began with a military
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