chapter
24 Pages

Introduction

The FBI was clearly reluctant to widen the circle of advisors, and although the reasons for this reluctance are speculative at best, again, context may offer some insights into the considerations then at play. Much of that reluctance may have had to do with the increasingly outspoken criticism of the FBI by religious studies scholars – particularly those concerned with the study of new religious movements. This criticism reached a crescendo in the bloody aftermath of Waco, and in many ways, it is yet to abate. Much of the literature of the time – often no more than op-ed pieces printed in local newspapers, emit far more heat than light and are notable today primarily for the (hopefully) momentary triumph of emotion over analysis.9 For some in the field, that anger is seemingly yet to abate.10 The angry defense of the Branch Davidians by many (if not most) in the community of new religious movement scholars, combined with the attempt by James Tabor and Phillip Arnold to intervene as the crisis was yet ongoing, could not have endeared new religious movement scholars to the FBI.