An enclopedia describes the famous incident at Waco, Texas this way: "In 1993 a deadly shootout near Waco between federal officers and a religious cult headed by David Koresh led to a 51-day siege that ended in a blaze that killed 83 people." This is an example of the superficial treatment religion gets by the media. The real truth is that the media often are not religious people and simply cannot understand religion when they see it. There are evil people in some religious communities, just as there are evil people in every type organization. Anti-Moon writers and activists like to point out the few horror stories and then lump all small religious groups into the category of dangerous and abusive. People are abused in every organization. No group is perfect. Most religious groups are not "dangerous." One of the most dramatic events surrounding a small religious commune was what happened in Waco. Because of the media presentation who constantly interview the anti-Moon writers, even I felt that this group was dangerous. The truth seems to be very different.
A couple made a documentary film that was nominated for the Oscars that one person described as: "An explosive documentary film. Waco: The Rules of Engagement is the first full length work to present the complete picture of the tragic events outside of Waco, Texas that resulted in the killing of four federal agents and the gassing and fiery deaths of 76 men, women and children of the Branch Davidian religious sect."
The movie reviewers Siskel and Ebert praised the film saying: "GENE SISKEL: The Unites States Congress investigates the debacle that four years ago killed 76 men, women, and children who belonged to the Branch Davidian religious sect based in Waco, Texas in a new documentary called "Waco," which clearly attempts to establish that the agents from the FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms lied to Congress and the American people, and needlessly harassed and ultimately murdered religious worshippers."
"ROGER EBERT: Thumbs way up for me, too. And you know, although it does have a particular point of view, it tries to be fair."
"And what it amounts to here is that the American people were sold a bill of goods about the Branch Davidians that wasn't necessarily true, that these people were demonized..."
"ROGER: But of course, at the time there was no information available about the other side! And now, when you see this film, what's interesting is if you're looking for people who are unbalanced zealots..."
"ROGER: ...you don't find them among the Branch Davidians, you find them among the FBI and the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms; those are the people in this movie who deserve to be feared, I think."
"GENE: Well, but what I'm saying is that when we do these religious cult stories, when the media does these stories, then they better do a little bit harder reporting. I think that's one of the things you take out."
"ROGER: Yeah, well, they should stay away from the trigger words like "cult" and "compound." How about calling it a "religious group and their church?" That would have changed the entire perception of what went on."
"GENE: Because to me the stunner is who was in that compound. Weren't those..."
"GENE: Seemed like it."
"ROGER: ...sincere people who were not under the hypnotic leadership..."
"GENE: This is not Jim Jones, and the film makes the Guyana story, repeatedly makes that comment."
"GENE: Two thumbs up for the shocking documentary "Waco: The Rules of Engagement," a special motion picture."
"In brief, the Davidians are a branch (offshoot sect) of the Seventh Day Adventist church. The Davidians first broke away in the mid-1930s, and they eventually formed a religious commune in east Texas."
Roger Ebert wrote in his newspaper review:
"Like many news-drenched Americans, I paid only casual attention to the standoff at Waco, Texas, between the Branch Davidians and two agencies of the federal government. I came away with the vague impression that the ``cult,'' as it was always styled, was a group of gun-toting crackpots, that they killed several U.S. agents, refused to negotiate and finally shot themselves and burned down their ``compound'' after the feds tried to end the siege peacefully with tear gas."
"Watching William Gazecki's remarkable documentary "Waco: The Rules of Engagement,'' I am more inclined to use the words "religion'' than "cult,'' and "church center'' than "compound.'' Yes, the Branch Davidians had some strange beliefs, but no weirder than those held by many other religions. And it is pretty clear, on the basis of this film, that the original raid was staged as a publicity stunt, and the final raid was a government riot--a tragedy caused by uniformed boys with toys."
"If the film is to be believed, the Branch Davidians were a harmless if controversial group of religious zealots, their beliefs stretching back many decades, who were singled out for attention by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms for offenses, real or contrived, involving the possession of firearms--which is far from illegal in Texas."
"Whatever happened at Waco, these facts remain: It is not against the law to hold irregular religious beliefs. It is not illegal to hold and trade firearms. It is legal to defend your own home against armed assault, if that assault is illegal. It is impossible to see this film without reflecting that the federal government, from the top down, treated the Branch Davidians as if those rights did not apply."
I remember watching some of the tv coverage of this event. They would interview so-called anti-cult experts like Rick Ross. These people only fuel the flame of hysteria and are partly responsible for the over reaction people have to what is non-conformist. They are the true rabble rousers.
According to their definition of "mind control" President Clinton is a master of abuse to women. He has damaged the lives of so many women who were caught up in his charisma and later hate him and even sue him. He was even impeached because he lied under oath about his deviant lifestyle. This is a fallen world. The problem we have is to discern what is truly evil and prosecute it, and leave the rest alone. President Clinton should have gone to jail for his behavior and Rev. Moon should not have gone to jail. Rev. Moon is a force for good. President Clinton is a force for evil. Anti-Moon people cannot discern what is the baby and what is the bathwater. They are on the side of Satan. They are the ones who break up families. They are ones who psychologically hurt people. God's way is to give his truth through minorities. God's way is to give maximum freedom for what anti-Moon people look upon as nut cases. They do not respect people. They are the truly arrogant people who have nothing better to do than bother people. They create an atmosphere of book burnings. As crazy as anti-Moon and anti-religious people think the lunatic fringe should be actively given "exit couseling," it is from those kinds of people that the greatest truths have always come. They should be acting the opposite and be respectful for the preciousness of freedom. They should get on tv and say the opposite. They should educate people that Jesus was seen as the most dangerous radical in history. Even today, he is outlawed in many parts of the world. His teachings in the Bible are banned in many countries. Mankind should have an attitude of tolerance. Anti-Moon people are bigots in love with their narrow status quo view of life. They are not freedom fighters. They incite people to kidnap and make laws against non conformists who don't fit in to the norm.
Anti-Moon people are experts at being stupid. They are not just wasting their time; they are hurting people far more than helping them. They are teaching people to look at how God works in this world in the wrong way. Mankind should honor the Thoreau's who go off to Walden Pond and write about hearing a "different drummer." Perhaps those who died at Waco would be alive today if the media had done their homework and if sick people like Rick Ross and Steve Hassan had not helped to incite those who have tanks with their "expert" advice.
They should take some responsiblity for the death of those at Waco. And they will understand someday the damage to lives they have caused because they kept people away from the most precious ideology this world will ever hear, the Divine Principle. They take the life saving words of Rev. Moon, the very truth that will set this world free of evil, and twist them like communists do with words to turn people away from the truth that will give them happiness. Anti-Moon writers are the epitome of those in 1984 who rewrite history. Words are powerful. Satan uses people like Rick Ross, Steve Hassan and famous tv journalists like Tom Brokaw of NBC news to give mankind the big lie. They are on the side of evil that always takes words and mangles them so badly and confuses people so much that the result is that the greatest man who has ever lived is put in jail in Danbury, Ct. Martin Luther King would have been a dangerous radical to Steve Hassan if he had been an adult back then. Listening to them talk about the meaningless phrase "coercive persuasion" is like listening to a socialist/feminist talk about "equality." The result is that anti-Moon people end us with a society where there uses tremendous coercion just like socialist/feminists create a society that has less equality than those societies they write against have.
But anti-Moon people and socialists/feminists are on a roll. They are on their crusade for freedom. There will always be a Cain and Abel split in mankind until everyone accepts the Divine Principle. Until that day we have a fight on our hands. St. Paul wrote about how we are to fight the likes of Steve Hassan, Margaret Singer, and the Underwood family. We have to write books to match their diabolical books. I am joining in the conversation by writing this book. If you learn from this book that the anti-Moon writers are the bad guys and the Moon people are the good guys, please help. Please do something. Even if you just put my book in the library, that will mean a lot. Let's have my book and other true books next to the sick books of the anti-religious crowd. They argue they are the good guys. They are not. They have the right to print their books. I am for freedom of speech. But they must not dominate the debate. The truth must be heard. Please join with me on a crusade to match their crusade. They distort the teachings and lifestyle of the Unification Church and many other groups. Let's expose them.
The following is an excellent article about the misuse of power due to a profound lack of understanding of freedom of religion and freedom of property:
by Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX)
The Free Market March 1994
The moral promise of a free society involves the boundaries of private property. The promise is this: property boundaries cannot be legally invaded or trampled upon. When property is protected, people can keep the fruits of their labor and investment, and not have them plundered by others. People can own land, for example, and this land can be used as the owners see fit. Private property allows wide latitude for experimentation. Property holders can form communities with internal cultures. Just as business can conduct its own affairs, people can separate themselves out entirely from the rest of society if they so desire. They need only respect the rights of others to do the same.
It's the nature of private property and a free society that it allows room for diversity of work, modes of production, and ways of life. That's how Mr. Jefferson wanted it, and that's what the authors of the Constitution promised. In the sixties, for example, hippie communes sprang up all over the country. The participants were eccentric and the utopias didn't work, but the attempts were tolerated by society and state.
Today the promise of private property is routinely violated by both private criminals and government. The attack on property began subtly at first, but today it has become explicit, sometimes brutal, and sometimes even deadly.
The community of faith that once lived at Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas, believed the promise of free society. They chose to separate themselves from society, as so many others have done in our nation's history. This was not allowed in Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or Maoist China. That's one reason we regard these regimes as tyrannical.
Yet in its dealings with the Waco religious dissenters, the central government revealed that it has become intractably opposed to any individual or group that represents a challenge to its singular authority. To counter this challenge, the central government resorted to tactics that resulted in the death of 86 men, women, and children. As for the survivors, the government has put them on trial.
This sort of brutality is inevitable in a system of absolute and centralized power. A government that invades private business by demanding confiscatory taxes, imposes unbearable regulations, and rules over business culture through pervasive labor controls, builds an appetite for even more power. As the power builds, so does the extent of corruption at the top and the disinformation that covers up the truth about its tyranny.
So it was in Waco, where the tragic events combined all the elements of a government out of control. Most of what the public thinks it knows about David Koresh, the group's spiritual leader, is false. But as with war, military invasions, and other acts of state as J.S. Griffey of the University of Houston argued in an outstanding article in the Southern Partisan the first impression is the one that lasts.
For example, most people probably believe that the government attacked the Waco Christians because they were "stockpiling" weapons. Were they? Texans own 60 million firearms, about 3.5 per person. At Mt. Carmel there were two firearms per person, most of them locked away. The rest of their protection consisted of hay bales and plywood.
The stockpiling accusation was an act of projection, for the real stockpiler was the government. In the attack on Waco, agents used MI 13 personnel carriers, M2AO Bradley fighting vehicles, Sikorsky Blackhawks, Apache and UH-1 Bell helicopters, Abrams MI tanks, 7.62mm machine guns, FBI SWAT snipers, two varieties of hand grenades, and the FBI's psychological warfare experts. The government even fired canisters of CS gas, banned in warfare by international treaty, through windows and walls.
The BATF got their helicopters from the Texas National Guard. Under the law, the military cannot be involved in domestic law enforcement. But a special provision of the U.S. Code allows the government to use military equipment in drug cases. So the BATF told Texas governor Ann Richards that they suspected Mount Carmel had a drug lab. This canard was not in the BATF's search warrants and it hasn't been mentioned since.
Did Koresh want a confrontation with law enforcement agents? All evidence indicates he desired good relations with the law. In 1992, Koresh had actually invited the BATF into the compound so agents could see for themselves. But the government reneged. "Why do you all have to be so big all the time?" Koresh asked the FBI during the month-long standoff. "Why didn't you just talk to me?"
Did the community have a death wish? Twenty minutes before the fire began, the community hung out a sign reading: "We want our phones fixed." (The government had cut them off, along with the electricity.) That's not a message sent by people hungering for the Apocalypse. None of the survivors report discussion of suicide plans.
There is still no evidence that the religious people set the fire that destroyed their building. The place was a firetrap, entirely made of wood and sealed shut. Since the government had cut off their electricity, lanterns were their only light. The government shot out the windows, so sheets were their only protection from the weather. The tanks that battered the building probably set the fire, either accidentally or deliberately.
The initial raid was on February 28, 1993. Several people say the government shot through the roof from a helicopter, but we cannot know for sure. The physical evidence is reduced to ashes, and the government plowed the land over a week after the home went up in flames.
As the standoff continued, the women and children were upstairs because they were afraid of the government. The tanks destroyed the stairways that would have allowed them to escape the fire. The underground shelter was destroyed as well.
After the fire, the FBI made three claims it later retracted. First, the Bureau said that two agents saw community members lighting a fire. Second, the Bureau said one agent saw someone dressed in black "cupping his hands," as if to light a fire. Third, the Bureau said some members trying to flee the fire were shot by others. All assertions were false and were subsequently dropped.
The Justice Department contributed its share of lies. Spokesmen said an "independent arson investigator" concluded that members of the community started the fire. But the "independent investigator" turned out to be Paul Gray, an agent for the BATF from 1962 to 1990 whose wife stills works for the agency as secretary to the man who planned the raid. They apparently could not be sure a genuinely independent investigator would come to the preordained conclusion.
The stated purpose of the raid was to save children from abuse. Yet Janet Reno lied about that too. The information she used was already discredited, and she later admitted it. The real child abuse was committed by the government: to harass community members, the FBI turned on massive floodlights at night and played recordings of Buddhist chants, dental drills, and screaming, slaughtered rabbits. Reno herself ordered the house to be saturated with CS gas, knowing that the community's gas masks couldn't fit the children.
In ways that have become typical, the media and government worked together in this disaster. One day before the raid, the Waco Tribune-Herald started a series on "The Sinful Messiah." On the morning of February 28, 1993, before BATF arrived at Mt. Carmel, at least 11 reporters were on the scene already. After the religious community was torched, the entire media participated in the beatification of Janet Reno for her actions in Waco.
The consequences for the victims were public humiliation and death. There were zero consequences for the perpetrators, unless we consider the three agents who were suspended with pay and perks, which is no punishment at all.
The methods and strategies of the government's assault against Waco had been used for years by the military, but against foreign governments and their leaders, not against the domestic citizenry. The most familiar case of foreign intrigue was the government's attack on Manuel Noriega, in which it used similar tactics (blaring music, planting evidence, spreading disinformation), and therein lies the connection between foreign policy and domestic. Anything a government allows itself to do to foreign countries will eventually be done at home. That's one reason George Washington warned us against foreign entanglements.
We may never know the full truth about Waco or the extent of government perfidy, but we can draw lessons from the experience. This particular event was a fiasco, but it also tells something about what our government has become: "the organizer-in-chief of society," as Bertrand de Jouvenel said, which is "making its monopoly of this role ever more complete." It is a parasite and a monster that acts to protect itself. Mises was right: government's nature is coercive. It is "beating, killing, hanging." Coercion is necessary in society to protect the rights of property holders against those who do not respect property. But when government itself become the source of arbitrary violence, we have tyranny. That's why unchecked power should never be invested in a centralized government, even one with a democratic mandate. This power will invariably be exercised at the expense of peaceful social relations.
In its dealings with the community of believers at Mount Carmel, the central government abandoned the moral promise of a free society, and, as all tyrannies eventually do, ignored its own standards of law and ethics. But it paid the price of losing some measure of public confidence, which is already at historic lows. A government that governs by fear alone eventually finds itself unable to govern at all.
Dr. Ron Paul is a Republican member of Congress from Texas.