OVERVIEW: The 1990s Go to Chronology Overview

David Koresh

David Koresh

Branch Davidian Compound Branch Davidians
The 1993 conflagration at Waco, Tex., became a rallying point for both sides in the controversy over how governments should respond to extremist groups. The Branch Davidians were a Christian spinoff from the Seventh-day Adventist Church that had various leaders before Vernon Howell joined in 1981. Howell, who changed his name to David Koresh, gathered about 130 followers at "Ranch Armageddon" in Waco. Calling himself a "sinful" incarnation of Jesus, he talked of government conspiracies and told followers that women were exclusively for his sexual gratification and procreation. In 1993, a 51-day siege between the Davidians and federal authorities ended with a fire that killed Koresh and 81 followers.
Post archive articles and photos

Order of the Solar Temple
This group of several hundred people was virtually unknown until 1994 when more than 50 members, including founder Luc Jouret, killed themselves in Canada and Switzerland. More Solar Temple suicides occurred in 1995 and 1996. Jouret (right), a doctor of obstetrics, persuaded members to give up jobs and turn over assets to the group. He held pseudo-Catholic services filled with alarmist hysteria about the end of the world.
Post archive articles

The Aum Supreme Truth
Leader Shoko Asahara and members of his Buddhist sect were accused of releasing a lethal nerve gas on crowded subway cars beneath Tokyo in 1995. Two years later, Asahara, an admirer of Adolf Hitler, went on trial in Japan for murder in connection with the subway gas attack. His attorneys resigned in March, saying the trial presumed Asahara's guilt. A U.S. congressional report said the Aum Supreme Truth had secretly developed a global network of front companies and agents to make illicit weapons such as chemical and biological arms. The group had as many as 60,000 members in Japan and thousands more in Russia, the report said.
Post archive articles and photos

Asahara Shoko Asahara


David Van Sinderen
Heaven's Gate victim

Bo and Peep Heaven's Gate
Marshall Applewhite (left) and 38 followers committed suicide in California in March 1997. Applewhite won converts in the '70s with a doctrine woven from science fiction, millennialism and Christianity. Heaven's Gate denounced sexuality, and many members, including Applewhite, were castrated. The group believed a UFO following comet Hale-Bopp would take them to a higher level existence. Applewhite's band reflects America's millennial culture in a time of strange beliefs.
Post articles and photos

1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s
Go to Chronology Overview | Go to Main Menu

© Copyright 1997 The Washington Post Company