The Branch Davidians are an indirect splinter group of the Seventh‐day Adventist Church (SDA) whose members believe in the imminent return of Jesus and that living prophets can interpret God’s Word in the Bible.
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The Branch Davidians trace their roots to the work of Victor Houteff (1885‐1955), who claimed unique insights into the Book of Revelation, and who founded the General Association of the Davidian Seventh‐day Adventists. In 1935, Houteff established the Mount Carmel Center in Waco, Texas. This property was sold by the group after his death and a new property purchased outside of the city of Waco also named Mount Carmel. The General Association of Branch Davidian Seventh‐day Adventists was founded by Benjamin Roden (1902‐1978), a follower of Houteff, after Houteff’s death in 1955. David Koresh (then called Vernon Howell) (1959‐1993) joined the Branch Davidians in 1981, becoming leader of the core group of Branch Davidians by 1984. Koresh claimed to be the son of God, the Christ for the Last Days and the Lamb of Revelation.
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians are now synonymous with the events that unfolded at the Mount Carmel Centre between February and April 1993. On 28 February, a raid by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) led to the deaths of six Branch Davidians and four ATF agents. There then followed a 51‐day siege and the eventual assault of the residence by the FBI on 19 April. The tank and CS gas assault culminated in a fire in which 76 Branch Davidian members died: 53 adults and 23 children.