Look at doctrine
Whatever else has been said about the Mount Carmel tragedy, one thing more needs airing. No matter how long and loudly some churches strive to distance themselves from Vernon Howell, they need to examine the doctrines they themselves are teaching sensitive, idealistic children.
Howell was one of those children whose thinking was molded by interpretations of the Bible as a battleground between good (us) and evil (them).
I was brought up listening to many preachers plead with children to escape the wrath to come, the final battle between good and evil when the “saved” would be separated from the “lost.”
The Book of Revelation was a favorite text upon which to build a profound message to children and adults who sinned and fell short of the glory. Vernon Howell’s departure from those old-time preachers into the murky world of mental illness took a fatally tragic turn when he began using his undoubted magnetism to ratify himself and to control others.
I grieve for all the Branch Davidians at Mount Carmel and their lost little ones. And, yes, that includes little pony boy Howell, whose life might have been different if he had been less of a religious fanatic and more of a musician. Who knows?