Finishing Off the Branch Davidians

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by Judith Vinson

There is any number of ways to kill people. They can be shot, burned alive, gassed or otherwise condemned to some kind of hell. If the observation that hell is the loss of hope, then the surviving Branch Davidians are destined for Hell. Apparently, for some, their departure will not be soon enough.

Six months ago, there were about a hundred Americans from all over this country who decided to rebuild a modest church for the twenty surviving Branch Davidians. For the most part those survivors are elderly. Two are in there eighties. Some have been badly burned, with hands scarred into almost useless claws, or minus all their fingers, as in the case of one young girl who was 16 at the time. They have no families now, some no homes, and most are unemployable due to age or disabilities. When asked how they might be helped, they said they only hoped one day to have a little church in which to worship. It seemed a reasonable request considering this was America.

A bank account was set up at Bank of America in Waco, Texas, with the name, Rebuildthechurch.com. At the time, the bank’s name seemed more than appropriate. Rebuildthechurch.com was also the name of a web page where donors around the country might be shown pictures that have been put up every week showing the progress on the church. For six months now, donations have been received through that account.

So far, the total from all sources has been $76,859.00. — All spent on materials. Heroic volunteers who have given their Sundays for the last twenty-four weeks have donated the labor. One American hitch hiked all the way from West Virginia to donate a week of labor.

Two weeks ago, the donations stopped when the church was only 80 percent complete. The volunteers were hard pressed to finish by the dedication and memorial service planned for April 19. A call this week from donors both in Utah and in Florida informed them that their donations were no longer being accepted by Bank of America as the account was an “illegal” account. A spokesperson in the Florida branch informed them that it was actually an “incorrect” account. The three volunteers that have spearheaded the church effort were never informed of such a status for the account, nor do they have any idea of how many donations were not accepted by a bank that nevertheless opened the account according to their own rules six months ago.

They have now been informed that to have an account they must:

  • Form a corporation and furnish a corporate resolution.
  • Apply to the IRS for a 501 c 3 designation for a non profit corporation (a designation that historically is either, not granted, or requires a year or more to acquire.)
  • Remove any reference on the web page to Bank of America by March 15, 2000 as the bank used by Rebuildthechurch.com

None of the above is required by law for anyone wishing to do business with anyone in this country.

Presently there is no way to receive donations using e-commerce, or pay bills locally in a timely and acceptable manner. The possible slander involved in the matter is a weightier matter.

If this was the only problem with building the church one might believe there was no concentrated effort to spare these people no end to indignity or grief. Such is not the case.

When the church was started in September, there appeared a middle-aged couple with Idaho license plates. They said they represented a wealthy man who wanted to rebuild all of Mt. Carmel. (Never mind the Branch Davidians didn’t want it rebuilt, nor could they afford a fifty-room house.) They came every day for nine weeks getting in everyone’s way as they took pictures of volunteers and car license plates for the “wealthy donor.” He needed “more information” they said. When the Ku Klux Klan came to Waco, these two invited them to the site. They insisted the KKK wanted to “help.” The volunteers made a hasty trip to the courthouse where the Klan was speaking to inform them they weren’t welcome. Apparently it fell on deaf ears. After dark that night, three carloads of men came to the church site chanting, “burn, Baby, burn” as they threw matches from the car windows.

When accused by a large group of volunteers of being informants for the FBI, the couple from Idaho admitted it. They were asked to vacate the property. The “wife” of the couple was using a knife at the time on wallboard in the museum. She pointed it at talk show host, Alex Jones as she left, saying he was, “going to die.”

Almost every Sunday volunteers have someone arrested. First it was a raving man, who appeared “insane?” and who was behaving in a threatening manner. He was gone for awhile, but is back as of this week. Somehow he learned the email addresses of many of the volunteers and spent a number of days crashing their email with hundreds of ranting posts.

Next, there was a crazed woman who removed all her clothes, then ran naked all over the property while smashing granite monuments with a sledge hammer. A security guard managed to keep her away from the church windows.

The nude woman was followed the following week by the “snake people.” They are the people who worship God by handling poisonous snakes. They brought a five-foot alligator along too, for good measure.

A highly regarded professional who is a high profile donor to the church was accused repeatedly on talk radio of being a pedophile which required money spent for a slander suit.

A constant barrage of vile and almost hysterical comments about David Koresh goes on daily on talk radio from anonymous callers although he has been dead for seven years.

These are only a few of the incidents that plague the church volunteers and surviving Branch Davidians on a daily basis. There is not time or space to mention them all. As crazy as America seems sometimes, no project has had this amount of disruption. It is no coincidence. Waco doesn’t want them there, the government doesn’t want them there, corporate America doesn’t want them there, and many Americans don’t want them there, either.

What will it take for the government to feel it “won?” What will it take for America to feel “safe?” And how much joy will have to be stolen from a handful of old and disabled people worshipping in a simple, frame church in the middle of nowhere to make the rest of us feel secure in our own faiths?

As Americans, we should feel ashamed.

We were taught to sing, America, the Beautiful. And it once was. Once it had a “golden door” and was big enough for all of us. So big in fact, it was only bounded by two oceans half a world apart. And it was “good.” In School, we sang a prayer from an old hymn, and crown thy good with brotherhood, from sea to shinning sea. We don’t sing that much anymore, and we certainly don’t pray it. Some of us have come to believe we no longer deserve it.

March 3 , 2000

Judith Vinson is a Texas rancher.

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