The Branch Davidians (also known as "The Branch") are a religious group that originated in 1955 from a schism in the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists ("Davidians"), a reform movement that began as an offshoot from the Seventh-day Adventist Church ("Adventists") around 1930. The majority of those who accepted the reform message had been disfellowshipped (removed from membership) from the Seventh-day Adventist Church because of aberrant teachings.
From its inception in 1930, the reform movement believed themselves to be living in a time when Bible prophecies of a final divine judgment were coming to pass as a prelude to Christ's second coming. The name "Branch Davidian" is most widely known for the Waco siege of 1993 on their property (known as the Mount Carmel Center) near Waco, Texas. The 51-day siege, by the ATF, FBI, and Texas National Guard, resulted in the deaths of the Branch Davidians' leader, David Koresh, as well as 82 other Branch Davidian men, women, and children, and four ATF agents.
In 1929 Victor Houteff, a Bulgarianimmigrant and a Seventh-day Adventist Sabbath School teacher in a local church in Southern California, claimed that he had a new message for the entire church. He presented this message in a book, The Shepherd's Rod: The 144,000—A Call for Reformation. The Adventist leadership rejected Houteff's message as contrary to the Adventists' basic teachings and disfellowshipped (removed from membership) Houteff and his followers. However, there was some controversy over the method the leadership took to disfellowship Houteff.
In 1935 Houteff established his headquarters to the west of Waco, Texas. After Houteff died in 1955, the segment of the group loyal to Houteff continued as the Davidian Seventh-day Adventists.
But a splinter group, the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists, was begun by Benjamin Roden and headed after Roden's death by his wife Lois Roden. After Louis Roden died a bitter power struggle ensued between Lois Roden's son George Roden and her designated successor David Koresh (then still using his birth name of Vernon Howell), eventually won by Koresh.
By the time of the Waco Siege, Koresh had encouraged his followers to think of themselves as "students of the Seven Seals" rather than as "Branch Davidians." During the standoff one of his followers publicly announced that he wanted them to thereafter be identified by the name "Koreshians".
^Newport, Kenneth G.C. (June 22, 2006). "The Branch Davidians of Waco: The History and Beliefs of an Apocalyptic Sect". Oxford University Press. ASIN0199245746. ISBN978-0199245741.Missing or empty |url= (help);|accessdate= requires |url= (help)
^"Mr. Ricks [FBI negotiator] said today that Ms. Schroeder had told him that members of the sect, a renegade offshoot of Seventh-day Adventists, henceforth wanted to be known as Koreshians." By Robert Reinhold, Published: March 15, 1993 New York Times [brackets added].