The Conflict between Federal Agents and the Branch Davidians: A Special Virtual Issue from Nova Religio

Twenty-five years ago, between 28 February 1993 and 19 April 1993, a conflict on property named Mount Carmel outside Waco, Texas between American federal agents and members of the Branch Davidian community resulted in the largest loss of life in law enforcement actions in the United States. Subsequent to the Mount Carmel conflict, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions became the journal of record on Branch Davidian history and the events in 1993.


This virtual issue of Nova Religio contains eight articles about the case that FBI agents named WACMUR (Waco Murder) after they took charge of the Mount Carmel property on 1 March 1993. The day before, on 28 February 1993, a shootout had occurred between Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (BATF) agents and Branch Davidians as the agents attempted a “no-knock,” “dynamic entry” into the residence to serve warrants, resulting in the deaths of four BATF agents and six Branch Davidians. FBI agents presided over what became a fifty-one-day siege, with agents carrying out a tank and CS gas assault on 19 April 1993 that culminated in a massive fire in which seventy-six Branch Davidians of all ages died.

What was the cause and who bears responsibility for this deadly conflict? How do new sources and revelations uncovered in the last twenty-five years help us understand the situation? What kinds of narratives have been constructed around these events, including, most recently, the Paramount Network fictionalized mini-series titled Waco?

This special virtual issue from Nova Religio investigates the Mount Carmel conflict via eight peer-reviewed articles that are freely available from February 28 – April 30, 2018.

Inside the virtual issue

Editor’s Note
Catherine Wessinger

Revisiting the Branch Davidian Mass Suicide Debate
Stuart A. Wright (Vol. 13 No. 2, November 2009)

Deaths in the Fire at the Branch Davidians’ Mount Carmel: Who Bears Responsibility?
Catherine Wessinger (Vol. 13 No. 2, November 2009)

“A Baptism by Fire”: The Branch Davidians and Apocalyptic Self-Destruction
Kenneth G. C. Newport (Vol. 13 No. 2, November 2009)

““Showtime”” in Texas: Social Production of the Branch Davidian Trials
James T. Richardson (Vol. 5 No. 1, October 2001)

The Use of the Military at Waco: The Danforth Report in Context
Jean E. Rosenfeld (Vol. 5 No. 1, October 2001)

A Decade after Waco: Reassessing Crisis Negotiations at Mount Carmel in Light of New Government Disclosures
Stuart A. Wright ( Vol. 7 No. 2, November 2003)

Traces of the Mount Carmel Community: Documentation and Access
Matthew D. Wittmer (Vol. 13 No. 2, November 2009)

Why Waco Has Not Gone Away: Critical Incidents and Cultural Trauma
Jayne Seminare Docherty (

UNLOCK ACCESS TO ALL NOVA RELIGIO CONTENT: When you subscribe to Nova Religio, you get access to all current and archival content dating back to 1997. Click here to subscribe or recommend the journal to your institutional library.

Must-Read Issues for the 2017 AAR & SBL Annual Meetings

This week, the joint meetings of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) and the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) are convening in Boston, MA from November 18-21. Whether or not you are attending #AARSBL17, we invite you read the following free sample issues from two of our journals in these disciplines, Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions and Studies in Late Antiquity

Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions
Special Issue: New Religions in Eastern Europe
Vol. 20, No. 3


Introduction: New Religions in Eastern Europe: New Forms, Recent Developments
Milda Ališauskienė
Baltic Paganis

Baltic Paganism in Lithuanian Neoshamanic Communities: Neoshamanic Interpretations of a Local Indo-European Religious Tradition
Eglė Aleknaitė

A Catholic Pyramid? Locating the Pyramid of Merkinė within the Religious Landscape of Lithuania
Milda Ališauskienė

Survival Strategies of New Religions in a Secular Consumer Society: A Case Study from Estonia
Ringo Ringvee

“What if it is actually true?” Vissarion’s Followers from Eastern Europe and their Path to the Last Testament Church Community in Siberia
Joanna Urbańczyk

Hit Gyülekezete: A Sectarian State Megachurch in Hungary
Holly Folk

Studies in Late Antiquity
Vol. 1, No. 1


Why Does the World Need a New Journal on Late Antiquity?
The Editor and Associate Editors

Community Matters
Elizabeth DePalma Digeser

Late Antiquity and World History: Challenging Conventional Narratives and Analyses
Chengpang Lee, Ling Han

How Perilous was it to Write Political History in Late Antiquity?
Anthony Kaldellis

From a Classical to a Christian City: Civic Evergetism and Charity in Fifth Century Rome
Michele Salzman

3 Must-Read Journals at #SBLAAR16

To celebrate the 2016 joint meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, commencing in San Antonio, TX from November 19-22, we’re offering free access to special content from our religion and ancient history journals. For those attending #sblaar16 in person, don’t forget to visit UC Press at booth #710 to see our wide selection of books and journals in religious studies!

Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 3.18.30 PMMulti-discilpnary and international in scope, Nova Religio is a premier source of scholarship on alternative and emergent religions, religous groups, and religious movements. The journal is pleased offer a free sample issue that includes original research, literature reviews, and conference updates.

#sblaar16 attendees: Don’t miss a special reception hosted by the New Religious Movements Group and Nova Religio on Saturday, November 19, 7:00-9:00pm (Marriott Rivercenter, Conference Room 11, Level 3).



Religion & American Culture

Screen Shot 2016-11-17 at 3.17.52 PMReligion & American Culture is devoted to promoting the ongoing scholarly discussion of the nature, terms, and dynamics of religion in America. Understanding religious and social dynamics in American life has never been so important, especially in light of the 2016 presidential election. To contribute to undertsandings of a particular facet of American history and contemporary life—immigration—RAC offers free access to a virtual issue on Religion & Immigration in America

#sblaar16 attendees: The editors of RAC invite you join them at reception on Sunday, November 20, 8:00-10:00pm (Hyatt Regency-Rio Grande East, Ballroom Level).


Studies in Late Antiquity – Launching in February 2017!

unnamedStudies in Late Antiquity is the latest online, quarterly journal from UC Press launching in February 2017. The journal will publish scholarship on a wide range of topics pertaining to the world of Late Antiquity (150 – 750 CE), and a defining focus of the journal will be fostering multi- and interdisciplinary research that emphasizes the interconnectedness of the Mediterranean with other parts of the late ancient world.

Read Q&A’s with SLA‘s strong team of editors (and keep your eye out for them at the conference!):

Elizabeth DePalma Digeser, Editor, UC Santa Barbara
Emily Albu, Associate Editor, UC Davis
Ra’anan Boustan, Associate Editor, UC Los Angeles
Susanna Elm, Associate Editor, UC Berkeley
Michele Salzman, Associate Editor, UC Riverside
Edward Watts, Associate Editor, UC San Diego
Ryan Abrecht, Book Reviews Editor, University of San Diego

Celebrate the CESNUR annual conference with Nova Religio: The Journal of Alternative and Emergent Religions

4.cover-sourceIn honor of the 2016 annual meeting for the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), we are pleased to offer free access to the latest issue of Nova Religio: a special issue on New Religious Movements and the Visual Arts (Vol. 19, No. 4), guest-edited by CESNUR director, Massimo Introvigne.

Featuring seven articles and a guest-editor’s introduction, readers can enjoy free access to this special issue today through the end of the conference on July 10.


Table of Contents:

New Religious Movements and the Visual Arts 
Massimo Introvigne
An overview of the types of influence of new religious movements on artists, and artists who have created new religious movements.

Mona Lisa’s Mysterious Smile: The Artist Initiate in Esoteric New Religions
Per Faxneld
A discussion of the views of nineteenth-century art critics and other authors of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa (La Gioconda) as containing hidden meanings and of Leonardo as an esotericist.

‘Theosophical’ Artistic Networks in the Americas, 1920-1950
Massimo Introvigne
Traces the networks of artists and persons in artistic circles in the Americas influenced by Theosophy, Rosicrucianism, and Agni Yoga.

Rose Cross, Saturn’s Menagerie and the Coal Mines of Silesia: Strange Visions of Teofil Ociepka
Karolina Maria Hess and Małgorzata Alicja Dulska
Introduces the fascinating visionary paintings of Teofil Ociepka (1891-1978), one of the Polish Naïve Art painters of Silesia. The fantastic flora and fauna in his paintings were influenced by his study of Western Esotericism and alchemy, Rosicrucianism, and a 1841 book by Jakob Lorber.

Esoteric Themes in the Artistic Works of Janina Kraupe
Izabela Trzcińsk
Discusses the art and esoteric thought of the internationally known Polish artist Janina Kraupe (1921-2016), and her appropriation of ideas from Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Zen Buddhism, and other alternative religious ideas in Poland. 

Cosmic Philosophy and the Arts: The Cosmic Movement and the Idéal et Réalité Circle
Boaz Huss
Describes the history and artistic philosophy of the Cosmic Movement founded by Max Théon (1848-1927) and his wife Théona (Mary Ware, 1843-1908) in the first decade of the 20th century, and its continuation in the Idéal et Réalité Circle in Paris.

Influence of Emanuel Swedenborg’s Religious Writings on Three Visual Artists 
Jane Williams-Hogan
Discusses the influence of the religious writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) on three significant visual artists: English sculptor and illustrator John Flaxman (1755-1826); French painter Paul Gauguin (1848-1903); and American sculptor Lee Bontecou (b. 1931).

‘All the Heavens in your Hands’: Oberto Airaudi and the Art of Damanhur
PierLuigi Zoccatelli
A photo essay depicting and explaining the religious significance of the “selfic paintings” of Italian artist Oberto Airaudi (1950-2013), known as Falco in the community that he founded near Turin, Italy named the Federation of Damanhur.

Want more articles from Nova Religio? Enjoy access to a free sample issue from now through December 2016.