Branch Davidians Still Exist In 2018, 25 Years After David Koresh’s Death
ABC's documentary Truth & Lies: Waco sheds light on a religious sect, an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventists, called the Branch Davidians — many of whom perished with their leader David Koresh in a deadly siege in 1993. But are there still Branch Davidians in 2018? The group neither rose nor fell with David Koresh, and still exists in some form today.
The subject of the documentary is the months-long siege, shootout, and fire that all began when Koresh was suspected of stockpiling illegal weapons and having sex with underage girls, also according to ABC News. The group, who was living together on a compound in Texas, all but vanished after the deadly raid.
According to NPR, there were nine surviving Branch Davidians after the raid, and those who were imprisoned have now been released. Two original members who lived through the raid named Clive Doyle and Sheila Martin were still meeting in Waco, Texas for Bible study every week as of 2013, when the interview was conducted. "We survivors of 1993 are looking for David and all those that died either in the shootout or in the fire," Doyle told NPR. "We believe that God will resurrect this special group."
Another survivor, Paul Fatta, moved on to the restaurant business in San Diego, but has also kept his faith. "I would like to see some divine intervention, for God to vindicate his people," he told NPR, "all those that have suffered over the years for truth, who've been misunderstood, have been mocked, ridiculed, [and] thrown in prison."
Back in Waco, there is also a new group called "Branch, The Lord Our Righteousness" that has erected a memorial for the lives lost in the incident, and taken over the land where Koresh's compound stood. The new leader is an herbalist named Charles Pace. "I came back here after the slaughter and I feel that the Lord has anointed me and appointed me to be the leader," said Pace in the same NPR interview. "I don't claim to be a prophet. I'm a teacher of righteousness, that's the only thing I claim." In 2013, again, when NPR researched this piece, there were 12 people living on the complex.
Pace and Doyle weren't in complete agreement about the direction of the group back in 2007, according to a New York Times report from that year. There was a dispute about the Koresh memorial and museum on the property. See, Pace may be leading a new branch of Branch today, but he left Koresh and his followers in the '80s after disagreeing with some of the leader's controversial and illegal practices. Pace's return actually sparked Doyle to leave, as Doyle remains loyal to Koresh. “I just felt I needed to be here to represent the true church," Pace told the Times about his return.
One of Pace's followers, Ray Feight Sr., told The Washington Post that part of the community's goal in the present day is to change the negative public view of the Branch Davidians. "We want the David Koresh thing to be history; we want to go on," Feight said. "It's daunting. We don't have the finances or the means to do all this. It seems like when God calls people to do this, there's no way, but it's all about restoration and healing. The image of this scarred land needs to be healed."
Pace's group still seems to still exist today in 2018. They have a website, and Pace was giving interviews as recent as 2016 on the subject of the Waco siege. So while they aren't going as strong as they were in 1993, and have had a schism in the more recent years that distanced most of its members from Koresh's memory, the Branch Davidians do still exist and reside in Waco.