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The Black Flower Bus Leaves at Dawn: Sects, Drugs and Rocks and Roll - An Abbreviated Profile of New Religious Movements Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook

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* Reviewed in the book industrys leading magazine "The Enlightenment series is based around a variety of "cult" themes and personalities, and include studies of the work of enduring popular American authors such as William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. These products ... are extremely well put together and stylishly packaged, with extensive explanatory notes." (17 March 2000)

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Religion is a touchy subject. In general, personal beliefs are the business of the individual. There can be no 'right' or 'wrong'. What is appropriate to one may be totally useless to another. In the West one is often assumed to be a Christian by default. Recently, multiculturalism in Britain and other European countries has seen the rise of other belief systems particularly Hinduism, Islam, and, most recently, Neo-Pagan Movements. Many people are finding increasingly that the established Church conflicts with their beliefs. And the insistence of fundamentalists that every word in the bible is literally true, including much that many believe to be obviously allegorical, alienates those whom science has persuaded otherwise.

A sect is a breakaway group. Where the teachings of the established church are found to be inappropriate, members often form their own offshoot. A cult - a term often used pejoratively - is a group that focuses on a charismatic leader, his or her teachings and beliefs. Cult members are generally supposed to indulge in bizarre behaviour, wear strange clothing and engage in questionable practices. No wonder they're so popular. Destructive and Doomsday cults are the most feared.

These curious organisations like to focus their activities on physical or mental cruelty, often with implications of animal or human sacrifice, or with prophecies of the impending Apocalypse: the End of the World.

Destructive cults have been in the headlines numerous times over the last 30 years, beginning with the Tate/LaBianca murders masterminded by Charles Manson in 1969.

But possibly the most notorious event of all, after the Manson killings, is the Waco Siege in Texas. In this case, it was not the cult leader who ordered the deaths of his followers, but agents of the FBI.

The Branch Davidians were initially an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist Church. In 1935, a schoolteacher named Victor Houteff (hoo-teff) established a small community near Waco, and in 1942 they were named The Davidian Seventh Day Adventists.

Houteff's wife prophesied that Christ would return in 1959. After he impolitely failed to show up, the movement drifted apart.

Many new groups were formed, one of which was led by Benjamin Roden, who named his group the Branch Davidians. He died in 1978, and his wife, Lois, took over.

David Koresh was born Vernon Howell, in 1959. He joined the Branch Davidians in 1983, and soon came into conflict with the Rodens' son George, who, in true cult tradition, proclaimed himself the new Messiah. George fell out with his mother and the following year he tried to assert his supremacy by raising a long-deceased Church elder from the dead. Vernon Howell, yet to be renamed David Koresh, informed the police. A gun battle ensued. George Roden went to prison, and Howell walked free. He assumed control of the movement and in 1990 renamed himself David Koresh - David after the biblical king and Koresh after the Persian king, Cyrus.

By now, the former Vernon Howell had decided that he himself was the Chosen One. He married a 14-year-old girl, and had two children by teenage mothers. He was a groovy Messiah. He played the guitar. He was handsome. He had sex with any woman he chose, on the grounds that it was imperative for his eminent seed to proliferate. His partners included the twelve-year-old sister of his legal wife.

He was also a registered arms dealer. Preparations for the coming millennial apocalypse included stockpiling food and weapons, many of which he allegedly intended to sell on.

This attracted the attention of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, who staged a raid on the community's compound, in order to find the weapons cache. A gun battle ensued, during which four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians were killed. Soon after the FBI moved in. Following a 51-day siege they lost their patience and began to attack the compound with CS gas (an illegal operation) and ram-raided the walls with tanks. At this point, the ammunition store exploded. Over 80 members of the movement died, including 20 children. The FBI justified the raid by saying that it was the only way they could arrest Koresh. This was not true: he often went shopping in the local town during the siege and could have been picked up at any time.

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