‘Mad Man in Waco’: The haunting rock ballads of cult leader David Koresh

Charles Manson wasn’t the only rock & roll cult leader. As you may have learned from watching the Paramount Network’s new miniseries Waco, David Koresh of the Branch Davidians was also known to pick up the axe from time to time…

In an era plagued by gun violence and incessant mass murders, the siege at Waco remains to be one of the most memorable shootouts in American history. As several sources have depicted the tragedy, the situation at Mount Carmel could have been handled more delicately by the ATF and the FBI, who conclusively relied on force as a method of negotiation. What began as a federal search warrant for a suspected cache of illegal weapons, erupted quite literally into a gun battle between religious cult zealots and the United States government. The standoff lasted 51 days, until the iconic conclusion on April 19th, 1993, when a tear gas attack by the FBI prompted a fire that would engulf the Mount Carmel Center. By the close of the standoff, a total of 76 people would die—including leader David Koresh.

The Branch Davidians arose in 1955 from a rupture within the Shepherd’s Rod, a derivative of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. The original sect was led by self-proclaimed prophet Victor Houteff who, twenty years prior, had established its headquarters at the Mount Carmel Center near Waco, Texas. When Houteff unexpectedly passed, many disagreements within the church brought about splinter groups like the aforementioned Branch Davidians, now led by the quasi-prophet, Benjamin Roden. Similar to the doctrines preached in the Shepherd’s Rod, the Branch Davidians believed they were living in the final period of Biblical prophecies, right before absolute judgement and the second coming of Christ.

David Koresh joined the Branch Davidians in 1981. Known then as Vernon Howell, the Koresh of his early-twenties seduced Lois Roden, the now-widowed leader of the commune, who was in her late sixties. The following year, Koresh declared himself to be the true prophet of the group and relayed that he had been instructed by God to bear a child with Lois, who would be considered the “Chosen One.” Upon Lois’ death, her son George Roden took over leadership of the Branch Davidians and exiled Koresh from the compound in fear of his rising influence. This was up until 1989, when Roden was convicted of murdering follower Wayman Dale Adair because he was believed to have been sent by Koresh. The former Vernon Howell then changed his name to that of celestial significance (after King David and “Koresh” being the Biblical name of Cyrus the Great) and he, along with his followers, raised enough money to buy-back Mount Carmel from the US government. From that moment forward, David Koresh became the final prophet of the Branch Davidians.

David and the Bros
Besides stockpiling weaponry, Koresh lived above the law through his teachings of the “New Light Message.” The men who practiced at Mount Carmel, even those who had committed alongside their wives, were to now lead a celibate life. The women, however, would be sexually and reproductively committed to Koresh, who insisted upon a harem of available women known as the “House of David.” The reasoning was, you guessed it, because of God’s commandments, that Koresh was to hold “spiritual weddings” with any woman that their Lord had instructed him to. Many of the women of the Branch Davidian cult became wives of Koresh, several of which had already been legally married—or were underage. At least one follower in particular, Michelle Jones, had her first child with Koresh when she was fourteen years old. The two had begun a sexual relationship years prior while her older sister, Rachel Jones-Koresh, remained the prophet’s only legal wife (whom she also married when she was fourteen). The parents of Michelle and Rachel Jones had been lifelong Branch Davidians and had given David permission to bed & wed their daughters.

It is believed that Koresh had fathered over fifteen children with the women of the group. He expected his children to be perfect and that they would eventually become the ruling elders after the apocalypse and the alleged second coming of Christ. The ideology of the Branch Davidians was heavily focused on Judgement Day and it was Koresh’s prophesy that only he could open the “Seven Seals” as foretold in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation. This action would bring about the calamitous end of times, wherefore those devoted “Koreshians” would be led into the heavens by their divine leader. Koresh and his followers’ reaction to the standoff at Mount Carmel was that the Seven Seals had been opened and mankind’s decimation was upon them.

Just a day before the initial raid at Mount Carmel, the Waco Tribune ran its shocking, multi-part expose’ on the cult of David Koresh titled “The Sinful Messiah.” Among the story’s heinous depictions of child abuse, statutory rape, polygamy, paranoia, and a heavy artillery, another persona of David Koresh had also been characterized—that of a rocker. At 22 years of age, Koresh was kicked out of his mother’s Seventh-day Adventist Church in Houston for trying to marry the pastor’s daughter. An aspiring musician, Koresh then moved to Los Angeles in hopes of becoming a rock star. His attempt was considered an “utter failure,” and this is what led Koresh to Waco, Texas.

It could be said that David’s rock ambitions were what led him to literally try to become Jesus Christ. Plenty of rock stars regard themselves in self-idolatry, so the career trajectory checks out.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bennett Kogon
09:48 am
Who are these apocalyptic ‘Twelve Tribes’ Jesus freaks following Bob Dylan around?
03:25 pm

Have you heard about the Twelve Tribes group of “Amish-style” hippies—the men have beards, headbands, and ponytails and the women dress like Old West extras on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman—who have been following Bob Dylan’s tour around in a bus handing out a freaky 24-page ‘zine (“Dylan: What Are You Thinking?”) about how Dylan’s some kind of religious prophet?

The sect’s fascination with Dylan can be traced back to an incredibly strange interview he gave to SPIN magazine in 1985:

All that exists is spirit, before, now and forever more. The messianic thing has to do with this world, the flesh world, and you got to pass through this to get to that. The messianic thing has to do with the world of mankind, like it is. This world is scheduled to go for 7,000 years. Six thousand years of this, where man has his way, and 1,000 years when God has His way. Just like a week. Six days work, one day rest. The last thousand years is called the Messianic Age. Messiah will rule. He is, was, and will be about God, doing God’s business. Drought, famine, war, murder, theft, earthquake, and all other evil things will be no more. No more disease. That’s all of this world.

What’s gonna happen is this: you know when things change, people usually know, like in a revolution, people know before it happens who’s coming in and who’s going out. All the Somozas and Batistas will be on their way out, grabbing their stuff and whatever, but you can forget about them. They won’t be going anywhere. It’s the people who live under tyranny and oppression, the plain, simple people, that count, like the multitude of sheep. They’ll see that God is coming. Somebody representing Him will be on the scene. Not some crackpot lawyer or politician with the mark of the beast, but somebody who makes them feel holy. People don’t know how to feel holy. They don’t know what it’s about or what’s right. They don’t know what God wants of them. They’ll want to know what to do and how to act. Just like you want to know how to please any ruler. They don’t teach that stuff like they do math, medicine, and carpentry, but now there will be a tremendous calling for it. There will be a run on godliness, just like now there’s a run on refrigerators, headphones, and fishing gear. It’s going to be a matter of survival.

People are going to be running to find out about God, and who are they going to run to? They’re gonna run to the Jews, ‘cause the Jews wrote the book, and you know what? The Jews ain’t gonna know. They’re too busy in the fur business and in the pawnshops and in sending their kids to some atheist school. They’re too busy doing all that stuff to know. People who believe in the coming of the Messiah live their lives right now as if he was here. That’s my idea of it, anyway. I know people are going to say to themselves, “What the fuck is this guy talking about?” But it’s all there in black and white, the written and unwritten word. I don’t have to defend this. The scriptures back me up. I didn’t ask to know this stuff. It just came to me at different times from experiences throughout my life. Other than that, I’m just a rock ‘n’ roller, folk poet, gospel-blues-protestest guitar player. Did I say that right?

Uncle Bob’s yer prophet!

The New Yorker’s John Clarke noticed the Twelve Tribers (full name “The Twelve Tribes of the Commonwealth of Israel” ) at the Dylan show he attended and contacted the group. Clarke was told that joining the Twelve Tribes sect requires forsaking all material possessions, communal living, and working without monetary compensation in one of “the group’s cafés, stores, farms, or construction companies scattered across the United States.”

Writing about the “Dylan: What Are You Thinking?” publication, which alternately describes Dylan as a religious prophet before chiding him to make a return to the The Twelve Tribes/Commonwealth of Israel fold, Clarke says:

The most entertaining, and perhaps the most depressing, parts are the testimonials from members. “Bob” joined up because, as Dylan sings, “everybody has to serve somebody.” Another follower named “Thomas” discovered Dylan as a confused, pot-smoking teen-ager “going downhill fast.” He quotes from Dylan’s “My Life in a Stolen Moment” and “Masters of War,” and urges others to join: “You can come for a day or to stay. This is the answer that Dylan saw dimly. This is what he has wanted. Please come.”

Then there’s “Rose,” a lost teen who wandered around the country until she met and married a man who loved Dylan as much as she did. It was 1976, a year after “Blood on the Tracks” was released. “We clung to every word,” she writes. “The deep passion of our romance was radiated through every word Dylan uttered. It says in scripture that a cord of three strands is not easily broken. [Dylan] was our third strand.” At her first Dylan show, in Gainesville, Florida, she took LSD. “He had us in the palm of his hands,” she writes. “We were his.” Since that time, she has written to Dylan about the Twelve Tribes. At a show in Massachusetts, Rose managed to slip a note addressed to Dylan to someone in his entourage. That was in the late nineteen-eighties. She has yet to hear back. “We haven’t given up,” she writes.

The original mission of the Twelve Tribes dates back to 1987, when the group started following the Grateful Dead with a band of musicians, singers, and dancers, offering emergency medical care in venue parking lots. They also provided a place for lost friends to meet, and helped people coming down from bad acid trips. The author James McCallister ran into Twelve Tribes at a Grateful Dead show in 1990. “I viewed their seemingly predatory behavior as a vile cancer on the scene,” he said. “The operation seemed like a bear trap set in otherwise peaceful woods, a trap designed to ensnare those in vulnerable psychological states.”

In addition to following around Dylan’s endless tour, the Twelve Tribe “Peacemaker” bus has also dogged Phish, as well as Grateful Dead spin-off bands RatDog and Furthur.

Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger
03:25 pm
Sinister, spooky or goofy: Never-before-seen footage of secret Mormon Temple rituals!
07:59 pm

According to Andrew Jackson,  author of The Mormon Faith of Mitt Romney: What Latter-day Saints Teach and Practice, the Romney family’s roots are as deep as they go in the history of the Mormon religion. The Romneys have been a leading presence within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints since the days of Joseph Smith himself.

Romney’s great-great-grandparents were first generation Mormons. His great-great-grandfather Miles Romney converted to the faith in its first decade, and another great-great-grandfather, Parley P. Pratt, was an early LDS leader. Back in the days when Mormonism was still considered to be a freaky polygamy cult. Mormonism, you might say, was the Scientology of the 19th century. It’s not that their beliefs have really changed much over the intervening centuries—or that most non-Mormons even know what they believe—it’s just that there are so many of them today. All religions start off as cults, obviously and Mitt Romney, fifth generation Mormon, comes from a genetic line of true believers.

Very, very little has been said regarding Mormonism during the 2012 election cycle. I’m surprised that neither Romney’s GOP primary opponents nor the Obama campaign, took the matter on, but who wants to be accused of religious bigotry (and who didn’t want to be reminded of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright over and over again)?

But why aren’t any of the Democrat-leaning SuperPacs taking on the weirdo beliefs of Mitt Romney’s religion? Mormons believe in some crazy shit, let’s face it. I’m worried enough when conservative Christians get into elected office, so I can’t say I’m any more thrilled about the prospect of the Mormon equivalent of a Mayflower descendant getting within hailing distance of the White House, for Kolob’s sake!

This video was posted on YouTube with the following description:

Mormon temple ceremonies are a closely held secret. Until now.

For the first time in the 170+ year history of secret Mormon temple activity, those activities have been captured on film with a hidden camera.

Watch with your own eyes the sworn oath, known as the “Law of Consecration,” that US Presidential candidate Mitt Romney has raised his arm to the square and vowed to obey, an oath that requires faithful Mormons to consecrate 100% of their current AND FUTURE time, talents and everything they will ever be blessed with, to the Mormon church and it’s goal to achieve a worldwide theocracy headed by Mormons.

I think at least one member of the mainstream media might want to ask Mitt Romney—before the election—if he’s ever made the pledge to accept the “Law of Consecration.” Actually, not if, but how many times?

Click here to see the full Mormon temple Endowment ceremony video.

Via Joe.My.God

Posted by Richard Metzger
07:59 pm
Get in the weekend mood with The uplifting sounds of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple Choir!
11:26 am


“He’s a friend – to the friendless
He’s a father – to the fatherless
He’s your joy – he’s your sorrow
He’s your hope – for tomorrow”
(“He’s Able”)

This week I’ve been busy putting various menial finishing touches to an exciting forthcoming Headpress release on music and the occult by Mark Goodall, Gathering of the Tribe: Music and Heavy Conscious Creation. The collection includes essays on various “occulted” artists ranging from Captain Beefheart to John Coltrane, the Beatles to the Wu Tang Clan, and features contributions from Mick Farren, David Kerekes and myself, among others.

For the last day or two, I’ve been mostly embroiled in the book’s final chapter “Mindfuckers: Cult Groups, Outsider Artists and Their Sounds,” and so by osmosis have ended up predominantly listening to music made by psychopathic demagogues and their unfortunate minions. Most distinctive of these, perhaps, is the saccharine, sunny, seventies pop gospel of Jim Jones’ People’s Temple Choir, almost all of whom would be wiped out in the Jonestown massacre about five years later, resulting in the re-release of their 1973 He’s Able album with a far darker cover (see above) than the one in which it first appeared. The playlist below treats you to the entire life-affirming record – which was once described as, “coming out of your stereo speakers like a sunbeam through a stained glass window.” 

Hands up who’s in the mood for a refreshing glass of Kool-Aid?  

Posted by Thomas McGrath
11:26 am
Longtime Republican leaves authoritarian Reichwing ‘cult’

Michael Lofgren is a Republican staffer, who was, until recently, serving the Senate Finance Committee. Lofgren has worked on Capitol Hill for nearly three decades. He explains why he left his job in a recent column for TruthOut. The Republican “11th Commandment”Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican—is repeatedly violated in this barn-burner.

Some choice excerpts here, but the whole thing is a must read. His main target is the Republican Party, of course, but the Democrats are not spared, either:

But both parties are not rotten in quite the same way. The Democrats have their share of machine politicians, careerists, corporate bagmen, egomaniacs and kooks. Nothing, however, quite matches the modern GOP.

To those millions of Americans who have finally begun paying attention to politics and watched with exasperation the tragicomedy of the debt ceiling extension, it may have come as a shock that the Republican Party is so full of lunatics. To be sure, the party, like any political party on earth, has always had its share of crackpots, like Robert K. Dornan or William E. Dannemeyer. But the crackpot outliers of two decades ago have become the vital center today: Steve King, Michele Bachmann (now a leading presidential candidate as well), Paul Broun, Patrick McHenry, Virginia Foxx, Louie Gohmert, Allen West. The Congressional directory now reads like a casebook of lunacy.

On burning his GOP bridges:

I left because I was appalled at the headlong rush of Republicans, like Gadarene swine, to embrace policies that are deeply damaging to this country’s future; and contemptuous of the feckless, craven incompetence of Democrats in their half-hearted attempts to stop them. And, in truth, I left as an act of rational self-interest. Having gutted private-sector pensions and health benefits as a result of their embrace of outsourcing, union busting and “shareholder value,” the GOP now thinks it is only fair that public-sector workers give up their pensions and benefits, too. Hence the intensification of the GOP’s decades-long campaign of scorn against government workers. Under the circumstances, it is simply safer to be a current retiree rather than a prospective one.

If you think Paul Ryan and his Ayn Rand-worshipping colleagues aren’t after your Social Security and Medicare, I am here to disabuse you of your naiveté. They will move heaven and earth to force through tax cuts that will so starve the government of revenue that they will be “forced” to make “hard choices” - and that doesn’t mean repealing those very same tax cuts, it means cutting the benefits for which you worked.

On the debt ceiling nonsense:

Everyone knows that in a hostage situation, the reckless and amoral actor has the negotiating upper hand over the cautious and responsible actor because the latter is actually concerned about the life of the hostage, while the former does not care. This fact, which ought to be obvious, has nevertheless caused confusion among the professional pundit class, which is mostly still stuck in the Bob Dole era in terms of its orientation. For instance, Ezra Klein wrote of his puzzlement over the fact that while House Republicans essentially won the debt ceiling fight, enough of them were sufficiently dissatisfied that they might still scuttle the deal. Of course they might - the attitude of many freshman Republicans to national default was “bring it on!”

It should have been evident to clear-eyed observers that the Republican Party is becoming less and less like a traditional political party in a representative democracy and becoming more like an apocalyptic cult, or one of the intensely ideological authoritarian parties of 20th century Europe. This trend has several implications, none of them pleasant.

On “Real Americans”:

You can probably guess who those people are. Above all, anyone not likely to vote Republican. As Sarah Palin would imply, the people who are not Real Americans. Racial minorities. Immigrants. Muslims. Gays. Intellectuals. Basically, anyone who doesn’t look, think, or talk like the GOP base. This must account, at least to some degree, for their extraordinarily vitriolic hatred of President Obama. I have joked in the past that the main administration policy that Republicans object to is Obama’s policy of being black. Among the GOP base, there is constant harping about somebody else, some “other,” who is deliberately, assiduously and with malice aforethought subverting the Good, the True and the Beautiful: Subversives. Commies. Socialists. Ragheads. Secular humanists. Blacks. Fags. Feminazis. The list may change with the political needs of the moment, but they always seem to need a scapegoat to hate and fear.

On the wimpy idiocy of the Democrats, their rhetorical incompetence and their amateurish PR:

How do they manage to do this? Because Democrats ceded the field. Above all, they do not understand language. Their initiatives are posed in impenetrable policy-speak: the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The what? - can anyone even remember it? No wonder the pejorative “Obamacare” won out. Contrast that with the Republicans’ Patriot Act. You’re a patriot, aren’t you? Does anyone at the GED level have a clue what a Stimulus Bill is supposed to be? Why didn’t the White House call it the Jobs Bill and keep pounding on that theme?

You know that Social Security and Medicare are in jeopardy when even Democrats refer to them as entitlements. “Entitlement” has a negative sound in colloquial English: somebody who is “entitled” selfishly claims something he doesn’t really deserve. Why not call them “earned benefits,” which is what they are because we all contribute payroll taxes to fund them? That would never occur to the Democrats. Republicans don’t make that mistake; they are relentlessly on message: it is never the “estate tax,” it is the “death tax.”

On this point, I could not agree more. I do not understand why Democrats can’t master simple messaging. It always has to be nuanced, complicated, and wonky. Things I might understand but would have to boil down into far simpler terms for the average voter. It boggles my mind that Democrats (and this includes the President) cannot get a simple, easy message out there and hammer it home. Republicans seem to have mastered that.

And then there is this amazing excerpt describing the far reichwing of the GOP taken from a letter President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote to his brother Edgar in 1954. How times have changed.

“Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid.”

Their numbers are no longer negligible, but they’re certainly still stupid… At least one of their ranks wised up.

Read more:
Goodbye to All That: Reflections of a GOP Operative Who Left the Cult (TruthOut)


Posted by Richard Metzger
07:48 pm
He’s back: An interview with Australian cult leader ‘Jesus Christ’

Alan John Miller AKA “Jesus Christ” poses with Mary Suzanne Luck, who believes herself to be the reincarnated “Mary Magdalene.”

Remember Alan John Miller AKA “Jesus Christ,” the smiling Australian cult leader who claims to be the son o’ God? Australian TV’s Today Tonight recently did an investigation of Miller and his flock and it’s fascinatingly strange.

Until I watched this, I was unaware that he’s predicting an impending apocalypse next year, but apparently if you’re with him in Queensland’s bible belt, you’ll be safe. But of course!

Dig “Jesus”/Miller in action at one of his lectures:

Posted by Richard Metzger
01:49 pm