For this assignment, you will analyze this well-known and widely debated incident where policing style played a factor. You will need to do basic research on the (Branch Davidian Standoff), which took place in Waco, Texas, in 1993. Then, analyze the case according to the instructions below.
Provide a historical overview of the facts of the Branch Davidian Standoff.
Analyze the factor of police negotiation during the siege.
Explain how non-law-enforcement personnel (e.g., compound residents, media) impacted the efforts of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to end the siege.
Discuss how, in retrospect, the siege could have been handled differently by the FBI and ATF agencies to produce a different result.
Imagine if a similar incident took place today. Discuss how changing police styles enable law enforcement to adapt to changes in society.
You must use at least three credible sources to support your case study, two of which must be from the CSU Online Library. All sources used must be properly cited. Your case study should present an insightful and thorough analysis, contain a strong argument and evidence, and show correlation to concepts learned in this unit.
Your case study must be a minimum of three pages in length, not counting the title page and references page. Your case study, including all references, should be formatted in APA Style
For this assignment, you will analyze this well-known and widely debated incident where policing style played a factor. You will need to do basic research on the (Branch Davidian Standoff), which took
Title: The Branch Davidian standoff: an American tragedy Authors: Wood, James E., Jr. Source: Journal of Church and State. Spring, 1993, Vol. 35 Issue n2, 233-240 Publisher Information: Oxford University Press, 1993. Publication Year: 1993 Subject Terms: Church and state — Laws, regulations and rules Law Philosophy and religion Political science Branch Davidians — Laws, regulations and rules Subject Geographic: United States Description: There are several lessons to be learned from the tragedy which ended the standoff between the Branch Davidians and the FBI near Waco, TX in 1993. Government agencies must make a good-faith effort to understand the beliefs of religious groups involved in a church-state confrontation. As long as religious groups appear to be following the law, whether they are considered cults or not, all their constitutional rights should be protected, even if their beliefs seem bizarre to the mainstream. Military action against a religious group not charged with a crime is never warranted. Document Type: Editorial ISSN: 0021-969X Rights: Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved. Accession Number: edsgac.A14194685 Database: Gale in Context: College Section: EDITORIAL THE BRANCH DAVIDIAN STANDOFF: AN AMERICAN TRAGEDY For fifty-one days, the drama of the Branch Davidian standoff in Central Texas was given daily coverage by the media throughout the world. From the time of the assault on the Branch Davidian compound on Sunday morning, 28 February 1993, by approximately one hundred federal agents, during which four agents and six Davidians within the compound were killed and sixteen agents and an indeterminate number of Davidians were wounded, to the drama’s fateful fiery climax on Monday, 19 April, in which at least eighty-six persons in the compound (including seventeen children) lost their lives, the flow of news stories remained constant. Daily reports were released by the press, radio, and television, with several feature cover stories appearing in weekly news magazines. Cover stories of the standoff appeared in major news magazines such as Time and Newsweek. From the very beginning, the confrontation between federal agents and the Branch Davidians provoked a storm of controversy and acrimonious debate. It should be kept in mind that the Branch Davidians had not been charged with any crime. The initial assault by approximately one hundred armed agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms on the compound occupied by little more than one hundred Branch Davidians, more than half of whom were women and children, was itself an unprecedented government operation against a religious group. The use of a powerful chemical, O-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (CS), by the FBI on the final day of the standoff raised further questions as to the methods employed by the government in its assault on the Branch Davidians. The fine white powder chemical was blown into the compound for approximately six hours. Banned for United States military use and earlier this year banned at the Chemical Weapons Convention in Paris by more than one hundred nations, including the United States, CS has been declared by Amnesty International to be “particularly dangerous” when “launched directly into homes or other buildings.” One weapons expert, Paul Hoven, charged that he doubted with the use of CS that members of the compound would have been able to find theft way. “Exposed to CS,” he said, “I doubt they would have been able to run and get the kids. Certainly, the children would have been out of control and it would have been a very difficult situation. All the more puzzling was the government’s stated purpose for this type of military operation: to issue a search warrant to David Koresh to determine if his group, which had no history of committing acts of violence or manifesting hostile resistance to government authority, was in possession of illegal weapons–namely fully automatic weapons. Many asked why was it necessary to have approximately one hundred armed agents encircle the compound, with three helicopters overhead, to issue a search warrant or even a warrant for the arrest of the group’s leader? In a recorded telephone conversation with the ATF in the first few hours of the raid, the leader of the group, David Koresh, informed the federal officials that the assault was unnecessary to deliver a search warrant. “It would have been better if you just called me up or talked to me,” Koresh said. “Then you all could have come in and done your work.” In the past, outsiders, including neighbors, friends and family members of residents, as well as public officials on occasion, frequently visited persons in the compound, known as the Mount Carmel Center. While a search warrant had been issued to investigate the group’s possible possession of an arsenal of weapons, the mere possession of such an arsenal, if legally purchased and not thereafter illegally altered, is not itself a violation of Texas law. Upon payment of $10.00, a permit may be obtained to purchase arms virtually without limit, as persons may do who engage in the business of buying and selling arms either as collectors or as commercial enterprisers. After the initial Sunday assault, government agents charged that illegal modifications had apparently been made to convert some of the cache of arms to automatic weapons. After the assault by federal agents, it was frequently stated that a second reason for the action was based on reports of child abuse. While the charge must be regarded as a serious one, the ATF has no authority in this area. In fact, child abuse is not under federal jurisdiction. Previous visits to the compound by Texas state child welfare workers had been unable to substantiate any charges of child-abuse and state officials had virtually closed their investigation some months earlier. On 23 April 1993, the Texas Department of Protective and Regulatory Services provided the following summary of a nine-week investigation it conducted the previous year of charges of child abuse by Koresh: “None of the allegations could be verified. The children denied being abused in any way by any adults in the compound. They denied any knowledge of other children being abused. The adults consistently denied participation in or knowledge of any abuse to children. Examinations of the children produced no indications of current or previous injuries.” Meanwhile, Texas child protection officials declared that they had received no further abuse allegations since last spring. Furthermore, these officials disclosed after the tragic fire engulfing the compound that they had received no allegations of child abuse from either the ATF or the FBI, “either before or after the Feb. 28 raid.” Texas officials also reported that they found no evidence of physical or psychological abuse in their examinations of the twenty-one children released from the compound during the early stages of the standoff. As the standoff continued for some weeks, Texas officials reiterated that they had no new evidence of child abuse. To be sure, these reports by public officials and agencies do not provide a final word as to whether or not child abuse did in fact take place, but they do underscore the fact that Koresh and the Branch Davidians had not been, at any time, legally charged with any crime of child abuse at the time of the assault by federal agents in February. The question that remained was if conditions were so abusive for Branch Davidian children, why was nothing done by local or state authorities earlier? At the time of the assault on the Branch Davidian compound, few persons outside of Central Texas and members of families associated with this religious community knew of the Branch Davidians, but by the end of the standoff perhaps few could deny some awareness of this religious community even if its religious identity remained unknown to all but a very few. The armed clash between the Branch Davidians and the ATF provoked widespread controversy and debate not only throughout the United States but throughout the world. In some countries resistant to religious pluralism and religious freedom, the incident was used as a reminder of what may happen in a nation which permits a wide array of religious associations without government certification and jurisdiction. In registering from Waco at a Moscow hotel during the time of the standoff, this author was immediately asked, “What is religion like in Waco”? The shock of the tragedy that resulted from the Davidian standoff was compounded for many because it involved a religious community with which they had no acquaintance and was, therefore, entirely unknown. In the face of the tragedy that resulted from the confrontation between this almost unknown religious community and the federal government, the question naturally arises: Who were the Branch Davidians? From the beginning, the Branch Davidians, as the Davidians from which they originated, held to a radical separation from the world of unbelievers and to a radical apocalyptic belief in the imminent Second Coming of Christ and the approaching battle of Armageddon. Indeed, it may be said that the Davidians, as well as the Branch Davidians, were obsessed with the Second Coming and the end of time. In addition to its radical apocalyptic emphasis, the Davidians have been dominated by an acknowledged prophetic leader, whose revelations form the basis of their understanding of the Bible and their beliefs and teachings. This feature is readily manifest throughout their history. The roots of the Branch Davidians may be traced back almost sixty years, to 1934, when a splinter group of Seventh-day Adventists was founded by Victor Houteff, who had emigrated from Bulgaria to the United States at the close of World War I. A former member of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church, from which he had disassociated himself before leaving Bulgaria, Houteff joined the Seventh-day Adventists in 1918 soon after his arrival in the United States. In time he became the assistant superintendent of a Seventh-day Adventist Church Sabbath school in Los Angeles. As in Bulgaria earlier, Houteff once again found himself in conflict with the religious views of church leaders. As a result he formed his own group and in 1935 moved the group to the outskirts of Waco, Texas, and established a commune known as the Mount Carmel Center. Not all members of the group, however, ever embraced communal living. Because of his belief in the imminent establishment of David’s kingdom on earth with the Second Coming of Christ and his emphasis on Sabbatarian observance, he gave his group the name of Davidian Seventh-day Adventists. Because the group had no organizational ties to the denomination known as Seventh-day Adventist, Houteff and his followers were generally referred to as Davidians. The years passed without the Second Coming of Christ, which Houteff maintained was at hand virtually from the time of the establishment of the Mount Carmel Center. With the death of Houteff in 1955, his wife, Florence Houteff, assumed the role of prophet and leader of the Davidians. She predicted that on 22 April 1959, during the Jewish Passover, the kingdom would be established on earth. Hundreds of Davidians, from as far away as California and the West coast, sold their homes, properties, and businesses and came to Waco only to wait for the Second Coming. For several months, the faithful gathered in tents and house trailers waiting outside the city of Waco for the end to come. In the aftermath of this experience, Ben Roden challenged Florence Houteff’s leadership and subsequently led the majority of the Davidians to form a splinter group, to be known as Branch Davidians. With the expansion of the city, the group sold their original Mount Carmel Center in Waco, and acquired property near Elk, ten miles east of Waco, the site of the recent standoff with federal agents. Upon Roden’s death in 1978, his wife, Lois Roden, became the prophetic leader of the group. She traveled to different parts of the world, reportedly meeting with political leaders of some of the countries she visited, in an effort to win followers to the Branch Davidians. Thereby, she increased the group’s international membership, which had been a feature of the group from the days of its founder. Another potential split occurred upon the death of Lois Roden in 1986 over a struggle for leadership which ensued between Roden’s son, George, and Vernon Howell (later to be known as David Koresh), who, ironically, was favored by Lois Roden over her son, George. In 1987, following a shootout between George Roden and Vernon Howell and some of their followers, Howell was found innocent and a mistrial was declared in his favor. Later George Roden was charged with the murder of a man from Odessa, but was found not guilty for reason of insanity and sent to a Texas state hospital where he remains. Since 1987, Vernon Howell, who changed his name to David Koresh (David, the king of Israel, and Koresh, the Persian ruler known as Cyrus), served as the undisputed leader and prophet of the group, finally declaring himself to be the Messiah himself. There are surely lessons to be learned from the tragedy of the Branch Davidian standoff. First and foremost there is the need for government agencies to try to understand and take seriously the beliefs held by a religious group brought into any church-state confrontation, particularly where there is the potential use of force involved. The principle is one that must be applied even when to outsiders the beliefs of a given religious group appear to be preposterous. Government agencies would do well not to rely, as they did in the case of Branch Davidians, on so-called “cult” experts and deprogrammers whose one purpose is to discredit the religious claims of nonconventional and unpopular religious groups and thereby promote intolerance and discrimination toward them. The repeated references in the press and the media at large to members of the Cult Awareness Network (CAN) as “experts” was misleading and unfortunate. The fact is that members of the Cult Awareness Network have a history of persecution of members of groups they deem to be “cults.” Actions of federal agents from the beginning confirmed for the Branch Davidians their adversarial relationship with the outside world, fueled even further by their strong belief that the end of time and the battle of Armageddon are near. The precipitous action of the ATF in its raid on the compound not only raises serious constitutional questions about the abuse of federal authority, but proved to be counter-productive. In fact, it may well be argued that the actions of the ATF and the FBI provoked a fanatical response in view of the very beliefs of the Branch Davidians. Since David Koresh was looked upon as the Messiah by his followers, as one professor of religion observed, “To come out with your hands up is not what a messiah is supposed to do.” There was little indication that government officials either understood or took seriously the beliefs and religious claims of the Branch Davidians. In any event, merely to suspect a religious group to be in violation of firearms laws cannot justify the severity with which the government acted against Koresh and his followers. A second lesson should reaffirm the need for far greater monitoring and regulation of the purchase of firearms, including the ordering of grenades and kits to convert guns into automatic weapons. In Texas, as elsewhere, there are no real limits on the stockpiling of weapons. Private collectors and traders in weaponry may amass large supplies of arms with a license that is easily obtainable. Religious groups, no less so than other voluntary associations, may amass large supplies of weapons with virtually no restrictions. In the words of Clinton Van Zandt, the FBI’s chief negotiator in Waco during the standoff, “Nothing in this country says you can’t own 100 rifles and a million rounds of ammunition.” As one observer wrote, in this country “even zealots have the right to own and carry guns.” Finally, as long as a religious group operates within the confines of the law, even though their teachings may seem fanatical, even bizarre, to the religious mainstream, theft teachings are irrelevant to their full constitutional rights and their religious freedom. As an editorial writer in the Los Angeles Times observed, if the state had intervened elsewhere in the world against a religious group as had occurred at the Branch Davidian compound, it would have been reported in the United States as an act of oppression. “Even if David Koresh might have been a maniac,” the editorial continued, “there is no good excuse for what happened. . . . Prattling on about thought control and deprogramming, profiling its leader as a nut case and his followers as social misfits do not alter that fact.” Although no attempt is being made here to justify the actions of the Branch Davidians in committing acts of violence against ATF agents both at the beginning and at the end of the fifty-one day standoff, far too little attention was given by both federal agents and the media to the circumstances of the assault against a religious group that had not been charged with any crime. Constitutional church-state issues were virtually obscured by the repeated use of the term “cult” by both government officials and the media to justify government action directed against a “cult” phenomenon. The very term “cult,” which invariably is directed at a religious group other than one’s own and a group with which one disapproves, has no place in American public law or jurisprudence. Aided and abetted by the Cult Awareness Network (CAN), “cult” deprogrammers have already begun meeting with surviving Branch Davidians. In the words of Bret Bates, “exit counselor” for the Texas chapter of the Cult Awareness Network, “Before they [i.e. the survivors] become productive witnesses in the prosecution, they have to realize that they were victims of mind control.” The tragedy of the Branch Davidian standoff had hardly come to an end before there were calls for a government investigation of “cults.” Such a broad government inquiry should be resisted. Any investigation of the Branch Davidian tragedy should be limited to this one case and it should not be used as an occasion for an expedition of inquiry into a broad range of so-called “cults.” To do otherwise would be to raise serious constitutional questions and to ignore the restraint that prohibits government action short of probable cause. Government action against a religious group cannot be predicated upon its being nonconventional, unpopular, or socially disapproved. Any inquiry into the Branch Davidian standoff should call into question the appropriateness of large-scale military action against any religious group not specifically charged with committing a crime. In any event, the use of force should come as a last resort. The concluding words of a feature article on this American tragedy in a recent issue of Newsweek are altogether timely: “Unless the Feds learn to deal astutely and carefully with religious cults [i.e. nonconventional religions], it is a tragedy that could occur again.” ~~~~~~~~ By JAMES E. WOOD, JR.
For this assignment, you will analyze this well-known and widely debated incident where policing style played a factor. You will need to do basic research on the (Branch Davidian Standoff), which took
Religious Studies and the FBI: Adventures in Academic Interventionism Steven P. Weitzman* Can the study of religion help to counter religious violence? In the wake of 9/11 many scholars argued that it could, but such claims have never been tested. What would happen if scholars were ever in a position to intercede in a real-life religious conflict? We can explore this question by considering an earlier effort to use scholarship in this way, a consultative relationship developed between scholars of religion and the Federal Bureau of Investigation that was meant to help avoid a repeat of the tragic Branch Davidian standoff in 1993. How did this relationship develop? Did it accomplish its goals? And what does it teach us about the interventionist aspirations of Religious Studies intensified by 9/11? IN THE WAKE OF THE TERRORIST ATTACKS of September 11, 2001, the American public and those charged with defending it were con- fronted by religiously motivated violence that was hard to understand and to defend against. How does one stop a terrorist who believes himself to be fulfilling a command of God? Is there any way to deter an attacker *Steven P. Weitzman, Stanford University, Religious Studies, Building 70 Main Quad, Stanford, CA 94305-2165, USA. Email: [email protected] I am indebted to a number of individuals for sharing their first-hand experience and insights: Michael Barkun, Nike Carstarphen, Eugene Gallagher, Steve Herrick, Bruce Lawrence, Jean Rosenfeld, Gregory Saathoff, and Catherine Wessinger. I am also grateful to Shahzad Bashir, Holly Folk, Sylvester Johnson, Kathryn Gin Lum, Jessica Rosenberg, and the two anonymous reviewers of theJAARfor very helpful feedback during research or on earlier drafts of this article. Journal of the American Academy of Religion, December 2013, Vol. 81, No. 4, pp. 959–995 doi:10.1093/jaarel/lft033 Advance Access publication on August 14, 2013 © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press, on behalf of the American Academy of Religion. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: [email protected] bent on martyrdom? As the events of 9/11 forced these questions into the public square, some scholars of religion found a new role for themselves as experts whose knowledge and perspective might help to prevent further terrorist attacks. This at least was the promise implicit in a number of publications that appeared in this period, studies of martyrdom and holy war that aimed to describe the mindset and motives of those who commit religious violence. Some of these works had appeared before 2001—Mark Juergensmeyer’sTerror in the Mind of Godis an example—but such works became newly relevant in its wake (Juergensmeyer’s book was reis- sued in a post-9/11 edition), and many new books appeared in this vein as well, studies like Charles Kimball’sWhen Religion becomes Lethal: The Explosive Mix of Politics and Religion in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, for instance, or Jessica Stern’sTerror in the Name of God.The goal of such scholarship was to explain and analyze—to illumine the mindset of suicide bombers, for example—but also to offer actionable advice, pre- scriptions for how the public or the government might prevent religious terrorism. Juergensmeyer’s book ends, for example, by reviewing different ways to“cure”religious violence; Stern’s with policy recommendations for U.S. foreign relations (Juergensmeyer 2004: 229–244; Stern 2003: 281–296). This trend also made its way into the pages of theJournal of the American Academy of Religion. Consider an article published there in 2009 by the late Thomas Sizgorich, a scholar of Islam who specialized in the interactions between Islamic and Christian culture in late antiquity. The article is a first-rate comparative study of the interaction between late antique Islam and Christianity, revealing many interesting things about Muslim–Christian interaction in late antiquity, but it is also a response to a contemporary event, a speech delivered on September 12, 2006 by Pope Benedict XVI. The Pope’s speech, occurring one day after the fifth anni- versary of 9/11, seemed to many Muslims to be an attack against Islam, stigmatizing it as irrational and violent, and it thus provoked demonstra- tions and even some rioting. Sizgorich framed his article as a response to the conflict provoked by the speech, seeking to counter the forces of antagonism on both sides by showing that the very religious practice that seemed to exemplify the violent potential of Islam—the act of jihad— developed through interaction with Christian ideas and practices. What connects his article to the trend we are focused on here is its self- representation as an act of“intervention,”an attempt to insert scholar- ship into a present day conflict in order to ease tensions and promote greater empathy and understanding (Sizgorich 2009). Journal of the American Academy of Religion 960 The interventionist impulse at work in these examples was felt by many scholars in the post 9/11 era, including those of us who studied ancient religion who felt that we too should try to be of help and believed we had something to contribute to this effort. Perhaps there was some- thing constructive to learn from studying religious violence in the ancient world, we believed, or by asking new questions of the ancient texts used to justify violence in our own day and age. Just a little more than year after 2001, John Collins, as president of the Society of Biblical Literature, called scholars to grapple with the Bible’s role in legitimizing religious violence (Collins 2003). Since then, there have appeared many studies by biblical scholars who believe that even their expertise, as disconnected as it may seem from contemporary religious life, can help illumine and over- come religious violence and conflict ( for examples, seeEllens 2003; Avalos 2005;Hess and Martens 2008). At the same time that scholarship was moving in this direction, 9/11 and its aftermath also created a public more receptive to such arguments, including influential government officials who came to realize in this period that a better understanding of religion could be useful. One post-9/11 convert to this view was Madeline Albright, former Secretary of State, who in the last few years has acknowledged that the State Department during the Clinton administration had been wrong to ignore the role of religion in situations like the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and has been advocating for commissioning religious advisors and leaders in diplomatic efforts (Albright 2006). One can see in her perspective a potential convergence of interests between Religious Studies and those in government seeking to combat violence and minimize intercultural conflict: just as there were scholars feeling the impulse to intervene against religious violence, there were government officials newly sensitized to the value of such expertise. Feeling such impulses myself now and then, I was drawn to try to understand more precisely what it was that scholars knew that might be helpful in this regard, and it was while searching for precedents, that I came across something that changed my perspective. As many readers of this journal will know, it did not take 9/11 to interest academia in the phe- nomenon of religious violence—the subject has been under scholarly scru- tiny for decades—nor were post-9/11 scholars the first to want to use their expertise to help prevent such violence. In the years just before 9/11, in fact, there were a number of scholars of religion, along with certain profes- sional staff from the American Academy of Religion (AAR), also keen to intervene in real world violence, only they did more than write about it. The effort of this group of scholars, spanning the period between 1993 and 2001 and continuing in a sporadic way to this day, struck me as a kind of experiment in how to inject the academic study of religion into the struggle Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 961 to end religious violence, and I wanted to explore its history as a way to think more deeply about the feasibility of such intervention in the future. The effort in question was focused on forms of religious violence and conflict rather different from that of the following decade, not martyrdom or jihad but violent confrontations with secluded religious communities like the Branch Davidians and the threat of apocalyptic violence posed by the turn of the millennium. In the most high profile of these cases, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) was drawn into the conflict, a role which brought it into confrontation with religious leaders and commun- ities that seemed resistant to conventional tactics of deterrence and nego- tiation, that thought and spoke in ways that were hard to understand or interact with, and the FBI sometimes approached these encounters with misinformation or deeply rooted preconceptions about the nature of reli- gion. This is where scholars in that period believed they had something to contribute. They felt that their scholarly expertise—their knowledge of new religious movements, their ability to understand and explain reli- gious mindsets and interpretation, their experience in moving between secular and religious mentalities—created possibilities for constructive intervention, for analysis, for advice, even for direct mediation. They were outsiders to the FBI, not the kinds of social-scientists and psychologists that it normally consulted, and a few behaved in ways that the FBI consid- ered annoying or meddlesome. With time, however, they were able to develop a respectful consultative relationship with the FBI. As it happens, the FBI in that period, or at least a part of it, was newly receptive to such expertise. FBI interest in unconventional religious com- munities long predates the 1990s, going back to within a decade after the establishment of the original Bureau of Investigation in 1908, when it began surveillance of pacifist religious groups like the American Friends Service Committee. In the following decades, what was eventually known as the FBI monitored and interacted with various religious groups—the Moorish Science Temple of America, the Nation of Islam, Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, the Catholic Church, among many others—and consulted experts along the way. What distinguished the situation in the 1990s was the FBI’s receptiveness to scholars of religion, reflecting the emergence of Religious Studies as a respected academic field, but also a shift in how the FBI defined and used scholarly expertise that we address below. It is really that receptiveness that makes this relationship such an interesting case study: for a brief period, a few scholars have been in a position to do more than theorize about how to overcome religious violence and conflict. The outcome of this experiment is far from conclusive. It really only had a few years to develop before the events of 9/11 shifted the terrain in Journal of the American Academy of Religion 962 dramatic ways. Even at its height, it probably involved no more than a few dozen scholars of religion, with facilitation from the professional staff of the AAR. These were dispersed at multiple institutions, only able to gather for the occasional meeting and conference, and the Internet was only then taking shape as a medium of communication and organization. I have found that many scholars of religion do not know about their efforts—indeed, I once asked a former president of the AAR from this period about the effort and even that person did not know very much about it. The FBI’s involvement was very limited as well, mostly focused through a unit known as the Critical Incident Response Group that was formed in 1994 to provide field offices and other law enforcements agen- cies with expertise, training, and assistance for how to respond to crisis situations. Whatever it learned from its interaction with scholars could not easily be disseminated to other parts of the FBI (an immense organi- zation of 36,000 employees, 56 field offices, and 400 satellite offices), and we will see that some parts of the FBI still suffer from potentially danger- ous misconceptions about religion. The relationship had institutional factors working against it, and not a lot of time to develop, and whether it has had any real or lasting impact remains an open question. While this effort might be inconclusive, however, it nonetheless raises important questions for those hoping that their scholarship can somehow help to reduce the amount of violence and conflict in the world. It is one thing to publish analysis and advice; it is another thing to inject that advice into the political world, in real time, in a way that will actually have an impact on the course of events. A few scholars may be in a position to influence how the government behaves—Jessica Stern, for example, has served on the Council of Foreign Relations and other organizations that shape government policy—butmostscholarsarenotinthatposition,and their audience is usually limited to fellow academics. How does one per- suade nonacademics to pay attention to one’sscholarship,ortotakeitseri- ously, or teach them to distinguish between good scholarship and bad scholarship when scholars themselves struggle to make that distinction? And what are the implications if it turns out that such expertise does not have the impact scholars envision? The scholars who tried to work with the FBI faced such questions, and there is much to learn from their experience, including a clearer understanding of the interventionist impulses of Religious Studies. ALLIES AGAINST ARMAGEDDON As a first step, it will help us to sketch a history of how the FBI and the field of Religious Studies first came to engage each other, a Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 963 development that took place over the 1990s. The following is based largely on accounts and analyses published by scholars involved in this effort, supplemented by brief interviews and email exchanges with some of the participants. Its narrative is from the perspective of the scholars involved in this relationship—how they saw things and what they did— and makes less of an effort to reconstruct how things might have appeared from the perspective of the FBI, partly because the inner- workings of the FBI and the thinking of its agents are far less accessible, but also because my focus here is on the academic side of the interaction— what scholars hoped to achieve, whether the interaction with the FBI served their aims, and how the field should move forward in the light of their successes or lack of success. The FBI’s interest in religious communities goes back to its very beginning as an organization in the early twentieth century, but its efforts to engage the field of Religious Studies in the last few decades can be traced back to a more recent event, its standoff with the Branch Davidians in 1993. The Branch Davidians originated as an offshoot of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and their history went back decades, but by the time the FBI encountered them, they were an apocalyptically minded community under the leadership of Vernon Howell who believed himself to be a prophet and a messianic leader (hence his name change to David Koresh, a name derived from the biblical messianic figures David and the Persian King Cyrus). In February 1993, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) attempted to execute a search of the Branch Davidian ranch at Mount Carmel near Waco, Texas, and that encounter resulted in a gun battle that left four agents and six Branch Davidians dead. The FBI then imposed a siege on the compound which lasted for fifty-one days until, on April 19, it launched a second assault. In circumstances that still remain unclear to some extent, a fire broke out in which more than seventy community members were killed, including Koresh and more than twenty children. A government investigation released in 2000 exonerated the FBI of responsibility for starting the fire or improperly using armed force, placing the responsibility on the Branch Davidians, though it also found that the FBI did cover up some facts in a way that contributed to the public’s suspicions about what really hap- pened ( for scholarly debate, see the exchange betweenWright (1999)and Gallagher (1999a)or contrastNewport (2006)withWessinger (2009)). What is relevant about this confrontation here is a curious episode that occurred in the midst of the siege, an episode that was peripheral to the confrontation itself but would prove catalytic in the later relationship between the FBI and Religious Studies. As the confrontation was unfold- ing in March and April 1993, two scholars of religion—Phillip Arnold of Journal of the American Academy of Religion 964 the Reunion Institute in Houston and James Tabor, a scholar of New Testament at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte—made an effort to help resolve the conflict, hoping to use their understanding of religion to help broker a peaceful resolution. Neither had heard of the Branch Davidians prior to the standoff, but they saw connections to their own research as scholars of apocalypticism and believed that their exper- tise could be helpful for negotiations. Their efforts obviously did not prevent a tragic outcome, but it did impact the course of events after the standoff by establishing a paradigm of intervention that other scholars would learn from and emulate. Arnold was the prime mover of this intercessory effort. The Reunion Institute which he directed was itself an effort at intercession, founded in 1980 in response to the mass killing at Jonestown in Guyana as an effort to prevent misunderstanding of what were then known as cults, marginal, or alternative religious groups deemed threatening and coercive. Arnold’s aim was to help people to re-establish understanding with family members who had joined such groups, seeking to offer an alternative to cult deprogramming organizations that were hostile to such groups and were known to sometimes use coercion to remove family members from them. When he learned what was happening at Waco, Arnold’s interces- sory impulses asserted themselves again. His own research was focused on first-century Jewish Christians, but he immediately saw connections between that community and the scripturally inspired apocalypticism of the Branch Davidians—in his words,“my dissertation suddenly became real”(Carstarphen 1995: 12). If law enforcement had the knowledge of apocalypticism to understand the scenario that Koresh believed was unfolding, Arnold reasoned, it could avoid saying and doing things in its interaction with him that might confirm his sense that an apocalyptic battle was beginning. Exegetical expertise might also generate alternative interpretations of scripture able to persuade Koresh to reconsider his views and give up the fight without requiring him to abandon his mes- sianic convictions. Believing that no one at the FBI could know enough about apocalyptic religions to understand Koresh, and feeling what he described as“a moral obligation to try to save lives”(Carstarphen 1995: 12), Arnold decided on March 3 to drive to Waco to share what he knew with the FBI. The problem that Arnold faced from the onset was how to get the FBI to listen to him. He was not known to them previously; he did not repre- sent the kind of expert they were accustomed to working with, a social- scientist or psychologist; and he was not the only one offering advice to the FBI—it was inundated with information and offers of help, with agents on the scene complaining about“information overload”and concerned about Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 965 a“fax meltdown”(Ammerman 1993: 288). Arnold, however, was not deterred by their initial indifference. When he failed to get a hearing with the FBI at a press conference, he drove to the temporary headquarters of the FBI’s negotiators and left materials there, which did prompt a follow- up call from an agent. While the agent would not allow Arnold to listen to the negotiation tapes or speak with Koresh, he eventually revealed that Koresh believed he was in the fifth seal prophesied by the book of Revelation, which meant the end was near from his perspective. Since the agent was still declining his offer of help, however, Arnold felt it necessary to attend another press conference, only to find himself thrown out after speaking with a journalist. Despite all these setbacks, Arnold was still determined to help and thus looked for other ways to intervene. In the same period, he was invited for an interview on a radio talk show that was heard by Koresh and his fol- lowers. In fact, after hearing the interview, the Branch Davidians asked the FBI if they could speak to Arnold directly, a request that was declined. Arnold and Tabor, who had now joined him in the effort, convinced the talk show host to allow them to make a second appearance in which they would try to reach out to the Branch Davidians. They had also begun speaking with Livingston Fagan, who had served as a spokesperson for Koresh before the ATF raid but was now in jail in Waco. From him, they learned more about Koresh’s teachings, coming to realize that he was not certain of his interpretation, and that this uncertainty was an opportunity to influence his thinking (Carstarphen 1995: 18). They hoped their radio broadcast would assure Koresh that he was being taken seriously and per- suade him to rethink his interpretation of Revelation in a way that might lead him to surrender. As it happens, Koresh did not hear the broadcast himself, because he was meeting with his lawyer at the time, but he was told about it by others and communicated interest in it to the FBI. The FBI agreed to allow a copy to be sent into the compound, and a few days after it was delivered, Koresh released a letter in which he seemed to indicate that he and his followers would come out after he finished a new interpretation of the Seven Seals and was assured of its safe delivery to Arnold and Tabor. Arnold and Tabor believed that Koresh would probably surrender within two or three weeks, as soon as he finished his interpretation, but the FBI saw things differently, that Koresh was just stalling for time, and it had reached the end of its patience. The final assault occurred just as Koresh was beginning to compose his interpretation, with a draft preserved on a computer disk, delivered to Arnold and Tabor, and subsequently published (Tabor and Gallagher 1995: 191–203). Journal of the American Academy of Religion 966 Here then is an instance of scholars“intervening”in violence in a very direct way, and the intervention would have been successful, Tabor would argue in subsequent publications, were it not for the fact that the FBI knew so little about religion. Thanks to their understanding of a biblically-based apocalyptic world view, Tabor and Arnold believed that they were able to have an influence on the thinking of the religious actors in this crisis, to communicate with them in a way that did not require them to abandon their beliefs, and to open new interpretive possibilities in the scriptural texts that might have allowed Koresh to accept surrender as part of the eschatological drama he was living. The problem as they saw it was that although the Branch Davidians were open to the scholars’ perspective, the FBI was not. It did consult at least thirteen outside experts, but very few of these were from Religious Studies and did not understand or take seriously the Branch Davidians’religious beliefs and scriptural interpretation, dismissing Koresh’s apocalyptic claims as delu- sions or ruses (also disturbing to later critics is that the list of experts included Rick Ross, not an academic but a cult deprogrammer who, as noted by an FBI interview report, had“a personal hatred for all religious cults”). In the view of Arnold and Tabor, the crisis need not have ended tragically if only the FBI had been more open to Religious Studies and better able to distinguish between the dubious ideas of Ross and the scholarly expertise that Arnold and Tabor themselves offered. Whether Arnold and Tabor are right that they could have prevented the tragedy at Waco we will never know. Because of what happened at Waco, however, the government became newly open to the argument they were making. The FBI had not respected the expertise of Arnold and Tabor during the standoff itself, but their involvement in the crisis helped to make them experts after the fact and garnered much attention for their views, and they used that opportunity to champion their ideas in the public square. Arnold was actually brought in by the FBI in response to a similar crisis that happened in Montana in 1996 (discussed below), while Tabor was asked to testify before Congress as an expert witness. In addition to Arnold and Tabor themselves, moreover, the aftermath of Waco also gave an opening to other scholars to argue similar views. As part of its effort to understand what went wrong, the Justice Department commissioned reports by the sociologists Lawrence Sullivan of Harvard and Nancy Ammerman of Emory who reached the same basic conclu- sion: law enforcement needed to learn more about religion. Ammerman’s analysis found that the FBI had been unable to take religion seriously as part of the social world with which its agents had to engage, that it relied too heavily on the advice of Ross who was committed to destroying groups that he identified as cults, and that it ignored its own behavioral Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 967 scientists and agents–some of whom, it turns out, were also counseling that the FBI take Koresh’s religious views seriously. In her view, Arnold and Tabor’s approach had been the best hope of resolving the conflict peacefully (Ammerman 1993; see alsoAmmerman 1995). Sullivan’s analysis was similar, finding that many agents operated with misconcep- tions about religion or thought it irrelevant, and that ignorance of religion was ingrained into agency culture. In the hundreds of interviews con- ducted with participants in the standoff, he found that investigators put no questions to them about religion. This blind spot in their investiga- tions was perhaps inevitable since, as Sullivan also found, treatment of religion was absent from the curricula of the more than seventy enforce- ment agencies trained by the Departments of Justice and the Treasury (Sullivan 1993). The culture of the FBI, the authors of these reports also contended, gave it little reason to take religion seriously or to try to factor in what scholars had learned about it. Many agents saw religion as a mere cover for criminal behavior, believed their own independent study of the subject was sufficient, or had a hard time understanding religious orienta- tions different from their own. Prior to Waco, the FBI had reason to believe it could resolve such standoffs without the benefit of academic expertise. After these reports, things looked different. The recommenda- tions of Ammerman and Sullivan were endorsed by no less an authority than Deputy Attorney General Philip B. Heyman, who called for federal law enforcement to reach out to a wide range of experts, including schol- ars of religion (Heyman 1993: 11; compareU.S. Department of Justice). Thus began the period that we are concerned with here, a period of intermittent contact and exchange between the FBI and scholars of reli- gion. Following up on the recommendation of Ammerman and Sullivan, the Department of Justice contacted the AAR in 1994 for help in educating law enforcement officials. The newly formed Critical Incidents Response Group, also formed in response to the Branch Davidian siege to better coordinate tactics, investigation, and expertise, established an advisory committee to formulate recommendations for how the FBI could gain access to a wider range of advice in crisis situations. The committee, which met in late 1995 and early 1996, included Michael Barkun, an expert in millenarian movements, and a psychiatrist, Dr. Gregory Saathoff, who would soon help to facilitate connections with other scholars in Religious Studies. After a meeting with Barbara De Concini, executive director of the AAR, and its associate director of external relations Steve Herrick, Saathoff affirmed the AAR as a forum for future contacts between the FBI and scholars of religion (Barkun 2002:102). Journal of the American Academy of Religion 968 The year 1996 also saw another incident which only seemed to vali- date the value of such contacts. That incident was another standoff, this time with an armed Christian Identity group settled in Montana known as the Justice Freemen. The creation of the Critical Incidents Response Group, together with contacts now established between the FBI and aca- demia, seemed to pay off. The FBI now turned to scholars such as Michael Barkun, Jean Rosenfeld, Catherine Wessinger, and even Philip Arnold himself for advice—and the conflict was resolved without a shot fired. At least for the scholars involved, these two facts were connected. Rosenfeld and Wessinger have published accounts of what happened, and both note communication problems with the FBI and a certain level of distrust (Rosenfeld 1997;Wessinger 1999; in a personal communication, Barkun does not recall any issues of communication). Despite encounter- ing some of the same resistance from the FBI that had existed at Waco, however, both also conclude that scholarly involvement had a positive impact: the FBI’s behavior was consistent with the advice that they were giving. In marked contrast to how he was treated by the FBI at Waco, Arnold himself was brought in to help with negotiations, brokering con- tacts that led to one family within the community voluntarily surrender- ing. Rosenfeld would go on to describe the experience as a“landmark success,”proof that academia could indeed help to peacefully resolve potentially violent crises (Rosenfeld 1997: 85). The scholarly contribution was also reportedly acknowledged by the head of the Crisis Incident Response Group, Robin Montgomery, who told Arnold,“your method works”(Wessinger 1999: 41). 1 Building on such progress, contacts became a bit more regularized over the 1990s. At the invitation of the AAR, an agent attended a session about the Oklahoma City bombing at the AAR annual conference in Philadelphia, and others attended sessions at the conferences in 1996 and 1The Justice Freeman experience was reproduced a year later at the level of local law enforcement when police in Garland, Texas called on Lonnie Kliever, a scholar of religion at Southern Methodist University, for consultation about an unusual Taiwanese religious community that had recently moved into town and raised concerns. The community was under the leadership of a prophetic teacher, Hon-Ming Chen, who had predicted that on March 13, 1997, God would show up on his front law in the form of a human being, that the world would end in a nuclear Holocaust in January 1999, and that a flying saucer would come to save the elect. The prediction worried people that the group was similar to Heaven’s Gate, a UFO-centered religious community that committed mass suicide earlier in 1997. Kliever advised the Garland Police on the group’s beliefs, stressing that they need not lead to violence; the situation resolved itself peacefully (March 13 came, and Chen announced that the people on his front lawn were the human manifestations of God, thus fulfilling his prophecy), and Kliever later wrote about the incident as evidence of how scholars can constructively contribute to the resolution of such crises by working with law enforcement behind the scenes(Kliever 1999). Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 969 1997. The agents did not seem to find much value in listening to AAR papers, but they worked with the professional staff of the AAR to develop more informal, by-invitation only colloquies ( fourteen between 1998 and 2000) attended by members of the Crisis Negotiation Unit of the Critical Incidents Response Group and of the National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime, brought together with Barkun and other scholars. Topics ranged from millennialism and violence to violent religious rhetoric on the internet to misconceptions about Islam and violence. A session I wish I could have observed myself occurred at the conference in Nashville in 2000 when FBI agents presented a simulated crisis negotiation with a gun-wielding pastor who was supposed to have taken refuge in a nearby house to escape arrest for refusing to pay taxes. According to an account written by Steve Herrick, the AAR official in charge of government rela- tions, seventy-five scholars were invited and twenty-five attended (Herrick 2001). A particularly interesting aspect of the experience must have been the moment when the pastor began quoting biblical passages, and one wonders what was going through the minds of the negotiators when some of the scholars observing the simulation began to speak up to recommend a particular response while others advised against it. By this point, however, it was also becoming clear that progress was not going to be easy to achieve. The Critical Incidents Response Group was one small part of the FBI, and the issues identified in the reports by Ammerman and Sullivan—the institutionalized culture of ignorance about religion, the biases and stereotypes, and the inability to distinguish between authentic and pseudo-expertise—seem to have continued in other parts of the FBI, as illustrated by an episode that garnered a lot of attention in 1999: the publication of an FBI document known as the Megiddo Project. Made public in October 1999, the Megiddo Project was intended as an effort to warn law enforcement agencies about the potential for vio- lence by extremist religious groups who believed the world was destined to end in the year 2000. Much of it is a survey of religious groups deemed to be dangerous, from Christian Identity groups to the Black Hebrew Israelites, and includes a list of characteristics that make some“cults” more prone to violence, including a sequestered communal life, the use of violent language, and the inclusion of people familiar with weapons or with military training in the group’s inner circle. The report had been produced by an FBI division not involved in Waco or connected to the Critical Incidents Response Group. At first, the production of such a report seems to suggest that the FBI had come to recognize religion as an important motivator rather than just as a pretext for criminal activity. To the Religious Studies scholars Journal of the American Academy of Religion 970 who had been working with the FBI, however, the report was disappoint- ing, marred by stereotypes, operating with questionable ideas about how cults operate, and oblivious to the recommendations made in the reports by Ammerman and Sullivan (seeBarkun 2002;Gallagher 2002;Beit- Hallahmi 2002). The report makes little or no use of the scholarship of Barkun, Wessinger, Rosenfeld, and others who had been working with the FBI—to Barkun, in fact, it is not clear that the authors had consulted anyone outside of the Bureau (Barkun 2002: 104). As Gregory Saathoff was keen to point out, to understand the signifi- cance of this incident, one has to note what happened after the publica- tion of the Megiddo Project, a follow-up discussion between the authors of the report and scholars arranged a month or so later in the context of the 1999 annual meeting of the AAR in Boston. Three analysts from the Counterterrorism Unit who had participated in the drafting of the Megiddo project agreed to attend, engaging in a conversation with Barkun and other invited scholars who were critical of the report’s tone and conclusions (Barkun 2002: 103). 2Saathoff cited that exchange as a sign of progress in its own right. The relationship between the FBI and scholars of religion was only then beginning to develop, he explained, and the FBI is such a large organization that it can be difficult for one part to know what other parts have learned. In such a context, it is not surprising that what one unit was in the midst of learning from scholars of religion had not yet been disseminated throughout the FBI, and he added that one should also take into consideration that even the authors of the report itself were willing to engage scholars, hear their criticism, and share their perspective. The Megiddo Project itself was flawed, but the candid exchange that it led to was a sign that the relationship between the FBI and Religious Studies was maturing. Even as scholars and FBI agents were building bridges, however, the Megiddo Project suggested that the institutional ignorance about religion that Ammerman and Sullivan observed in the FBI in 1993 was persisting, and not just because of ignorance or bias among individual agents but because of deeper institutional issues. The FBI experiences much more rapid turnover than is the case in the academic world—new Attorneys General and FBI directors get appointed (at the time I write this, there have been eight regular or acting Attorneys General since Janet Reno left office in 2001), and agents are frequently reassigned, promoted, or retire, 2Herrick attended this conference, held under the auspices of the Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University, and remembers the scholarly response to have been a mixture of appreciation and critique. In a personal communication, Barkun recalls that the conversation was“spirited”and that they“raked the authors over the coals.” Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 971 which changes priorities and complicates the development of personal relationships, trust, and institutional memory. Scholars also soon realized the tension between academia’s ethos of open-criticism and deliberate reflection and the FBI’s need for discretion and for clear-cut, easily accessed information (Docherty 1999,2001;Barkun 2002). The cultural and institutional differences between the FBI and academia went well beyond the subject of religion itself, and made it difficult for scholars to have a deep or lasting impact on FBI practices. It also seems to have been unclear to those involved in the relationship between the FBI and academia how exactly to develop their interactions. Writing in the wake of the Megiddo Project, Barkun registered the lack of institutional guidelines governing the relationship between the FBI and outside academic consultants, which could lead the two sides to develop incompatible conceptions of their expected roles, of what information needed to be shared with the other, for example, and of how to handle con- fidential information. Barkun notes an attempt to organize a panel on this issue at the 2000 AAR annual meeting, but that effort was not successful and so far as I know, no such guidelines were ever developed. And then, of course, 9/11 happened, though its role in the story we are telling was rather different from what I was initially expecting. One might have expected that event to have galvanized the effort to develop a working relationship between the FBI and Religious Studies, especially given the calls for scholarly intervention that we noted at the beginning of the article, but what has struck me as I have tried to reconstruct the sit- uation in the last decade is that 9/11 does not in fact seem to have had much impact on how things have developed. To be sure, the institutional contacts begun before 9/11 continued in its wake—the FBI sent agents to the AAR annual meeting in 2001 to discuss the role of religion in the 9/11 attacks and continued to send agents to annual meetings until 2007, after which budget cuts, and a meeting scheduled outside the United States in Montreal made it difficult for them to attend. 3The FBI met with scholars in other settings as well, and has made extensive outreach efforts to religious communities themselves over the course of the last decade. And yet, it is not clear to me from my communication with those involved in the initial conversations with the FBI—Michael Barkun, Gregory Saathoff, Catherine Wessinger, and Eugene Gallagher—that the relationship with academic Religious Studies has developed in any quali- tative way beyond where it was in 2000. 3Herrick, email, September 16, 2011. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 972 If anything, in fact, the aftermath of 9/11 introduced new complica- tions that arguably made it more difficult for scholars and the FBI to develop their consultative relationship. For one thing, 9/11 introduced changes in the institutional culture of the FBI that eclipsed some of the relationships and institutional experience developed in the 1990s. As the FBI’s focus shifted from hostage negotiation, managing crises, and solving crimes to preventing terrorist attacks before they happen, and from new domestic religious movements to a globalized Islam, scholars of religion found themselves facing new counterparts in the FBI who had not always been privy to whatever insight had been gleaned before 9/11. The experience of Barkun may be illustrative in this regard. In the 1990s, he emerged as a mutually trusted intermediary between the FBI and academia, playing an important role in the Critical Incidents Response Group, the Montana Freemen incident, and in the scholarly exchange with the FBI that followed the Megiddo Project. In 2006, at the annual meeting of the AAR in Washington, DC, he and three other scholars were invited to FBI headquarters to meet with a group of twenty-five or so FBI terrorism analysts, a significant step since all his previous meetings had been with the Critical Incidents Response Group. What is striking about this episode for our purposes is that five years had passed since 9/11, and yet, according to Barkun, this may well have been the first contact between the FBI’sterror- ism unit and the AAR. 4Why hadn’ttheFBI’s relationship with the AAR been activated earlier given the contacts developed in the 1990s? Barkun suggests that part of the answer is structural: the highly com- partmentalized nature of the FBI makes it difficult for one unit to com- municate with or learn from the experience of others. It seems possible that the reorganization prompted by 9/11 has made this problem worse in some respects—at least one might reasonably draw such an inference from recent news reporting which suggests that one reason that anti- Muslim bias has crept into FBI training is the structural autonomy of the FBI’s counterterrorism unit, which is so independent of other parts of the FBI that it develops its own training module for the broader curriculum of FBI training at Quantico with minimal vetting (Temple-Raston 2011c). In the wake of 9/11, the mindset of many academics also changed, and the idea of cooperating with federal law enforcement became less appealing for many. Two events had a particular impact on how scholars of Islam thought about the government in this period: (i) a piece of proposed legis- lation known as“The International Studies In Higher Education Act,” passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in 2003, which included a 4Barkun, email, March 23, 2011. Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 973 provision for the monitoring of academic work in Middle Eastern Studies programs that received federal funding (Hussain (2008)registers the concern this caused scholars of Islam) and (ii) the barring of the controver- sial scholar Tariq Ramadan from the United States by the Department of Homeland Security for undisclosed security-related reasons, an event directly relevant to the AAR which became party to a lawsuit against the department of Homeland Security for having prevented Ramadan from speaking at its conference that year. 5Some argue that academia’sfearsin this period were overblown (O’Neil 2010), and the provision in the Higher Education act did not become law in the end, but at the time such incidents reinforced the concern among academics that a“new McCarthyism”was setting in, an ethos of heightened government surveillance and interference in academia similar to what happened during the Cold War when the FBI surveilled academics like Margaret Mead (Keen, 1999;Beinin 2006;Price 2004,2008). More recently, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has released documents which show that the FBI’s San Francisco Division used“community outreach”to Muslim communities as a pretext for pro- curing intelligence about them (ACLU 2012)—a revelation which suggests that it is not entirely an overreaction to worry that the FBI might use infor- mation learned about a particular religious community in ways that threaten their civil liberties. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that in this period a kind of suspicion or disengagement crept into the thinking of even those scholars who had been active in reaching out to the FBI in the 1990s. Catherine Wessinger has gone on to publish scholarship raising questions about the behavior of FBI agents during the siege, arguing that they knowingly pressured the Branch Davidians to act on their theology of martyrdom in the hope of destroying evidence of illegal actions committed by federal agents (Wessinger 2009). Based on those conclusions, she does not expect to be invited to meetings with the FBI in the future. 6Barkun has remained in active contact with the FBI, but he too has questioned its behavior in the aftermath of 9/11, raising concerns about its surveillance of Muslim com- munities (Barkun 2006). The contacts with scholars continue, but the optimism that fueled the outreach efforts in the 1990s seems to have abated significantly, replaced by suspicions of the FBI’s intentions or by a sense that it has not really internalized the lessons of the 1990s. I found a telling example of this increased wariness in a comment made in an email by Shaun Casey, a scholar recently asked to coordinate the meetings 5For the AAR’s lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security, seehttp://www. investigativeproject.org/documents/case_docs/246.pdf(accessed July 11, 2011). 6Wessinger, email, March 22, 2011. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 974 between scholars and the FBI at the AAR annual meeting. Whereas scholars in the 1990s defined their goal in positive terms—to save lives, to peacefully resolve conflicts—Casey defines his role in a way that suggests a bit more leeriness of the FBI, to“reduce the harm which the FBI may do in the course of their work.” 7 LESSONS UNLEARNED The FBI and Religious Studies have had a number of intellectual exchanges; the FBI has even consulted with scholars during actual crises, but the results of their efforts are equivocal at best: participant–observers in the Justice Freemen standoff like Wessinger and Rosenfeld understood their impact to be have been a positive one, but even they do not really know whether the FBI heeded their counsel, and more than fifteen years later, recent media reports reveal that the FBI is still beset with some of the same problems—insufficient or misguided training procedures that perpetuate outmoded or biased information and a relationship with Religious Studies that remains sporadic, unstructured and without clear guidelines or measures of success. Twenty years after Waco, the field of Religious Studies might well ask itself a series of questions. Is there some- thing more that scholars could have done to have made more progress in the last decade? Could their efforts at intervention ever have been truly successful given the culture of the FBI and its differences from academic culture? And what should scholars be doing now? Engaging the FBI more deeply, or differently, or not at all? To illustrate what is at stake in these questions, consider two episodes that have recently come to the public’s attention: (i) In September 2011, just days following the tenth anniversary of 9/11, U.S. news agencies publicized recent FBI training documents used to prepare field agents to surveil Muslims as part of the FBI’s counter- terrorism program. The documents were shockingly anti-Muslim, including claims that Muslims are prone to be terrorist sympathizers, that Muhammad was a“cult leader,”and that adherence to the Qur’an (in contrast to adherence to the Bible) is causally linked to committing terrorism (Ackerman 2011a). 8The FBI has undertaken a 7Casey, email, October 7, 2011.8As it happens, the mischaracterizations of Muslims in FBI training documents have a long history. In research for a forthcoming monograph, Sylvester Johnson has uncovered an FBI training manual produced for its field offices in 1955 that aims to distinguish what it refers to as the“mongrelized”cult practiced by the Nation of Islam—that is, a false religion that masks racial hatred—from the authentic religion of Islam. Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 975 review of its training materials, initially purging over seven hundred pages of documentation from some three hundred presentations given since 9/11, but the problem may not be so easy to root out, extending to problematic books found in the FBI’s library at Quantico, inflammatory seminars, and presentations on the FBI’s private intranet (Ackerman 2011b). The problem has been recog- nized as so serious that it garnered the attention of FBI director Robert Mueller himself, and it continues to generate political contro- versy as I write this, with a Republican member of Congress, Louie Gohmert, recently questioning the FBI’s refusal to disclose the iden- tity of three outside agency subject experts brought in to help with the purge, worrying that it has removed material out of political correctness (Flatten 2012). (ii) In June 2011, National Public Radio (NPR) reported that three years earlier, in 2008, the FBI had invited members of the Westboro Baptist Church to participate in law enforcement training at Quantico, a move that backfired in a number of ways. The Westboro Baptist Church is known for picketing military funerals and organizations that it deems supportive of gays, and it is labeled as a hate group by many watchdog organizations. The anonymous official responsible for inviting the church is quoted by NPR as saying that while he found the group dis- tasteful, he thought that FBI agents needed to learn how to engage people they disagreed with and find ways to build relationships with them. The FBI hosted at least four sessions with members of the Westboro Church that involved more than two hundred officials and agents, but the effort hardly fulfilled the aspirations of the program. Many of the FBI participants left upset, sending memos afterward asking why the group had been invited, while for its part, the Westboro Church indicated that its participants had no idea that they were part of a domestic terrorism curriculum and suggested they had been lied to. In the face of criticism from within and outside the FBI, the program was abruptly cancelled by the assistant director of the training division (Temple-Raston 2011a). At first glance, incidents like these would seem to be textbook examples of why the FBI needs the expertise that the field of Religious Studies aims to provide. Couldn’t the FBI have avoided serious problems for itself and for many others if it had been working with scholars who knew some- thing about the religious communities in question, if it had consulted with them about what to read and how to interact with antagonistic reli- gious groups? If we follow up the thinking that developed after Waco, these episodes represent“I told you so”moments, validating the need for Journal of the American Academy of Religion 976 scholarly intervention. At least one of the scholars who worked to try to resolve the Montana Freeman incident, Jean Rosenfeld, though perfectly mindful of the challenges of working with the FBI, still maintains that there are important lessons to draw, or rather yet to be drawn, from her and others’research and experience for how to address the threat of reli- gious terrorism. 9 One can also argue, however, that these episodes illustrate the reverse: the inefficacy of scholarly intervention. Given the contacts between the FBI and Religious Studies developing since the 1990s, why did the FBI not already know to consult with external experts in the review of its Islamic training materials? Did it simply forget about its own institutional experience? In any case, it takes no great expertise to know not to deni- grate an entire religious community as terrorist sympathizers or to see the folly of inviting a religious group known for picketing military funerals to a military base. The problem in these cases, one can well argue, is not a lack of Religious Studies expertise but a deeper sociological and institu- tional dysfunction within the FBI, issues that a scholar of new Religious Movements or contemporary Islam is in no practical position to address. Looking back at this history two decades after it began, the interaction between Religious Studies and the FBI arguably exposes a mismatch between scholarly aspirations and reality. Arnold and other scholars involved in the initial stages of the relationship felt a sense of urgency and importance in what they were doing—they were trying to save lives—but in retrospect, the impact of their efforts seem comparatively modest. Beyond the Critical Incidents Response Group, the FBI does not seem to have fully absorbed the recommendations that Ammerman and Sullivan proposed in the aftermath of Waco—the same lack of understanding and bias evident in the Megiddo Project has surfaced in the anti-Islamic train- ing materials which the FBI now has to purge. There may have been a few success stories in the late 1990s, notably the peaceful resolution of the Montana Freemen standoff, but even that case does not necessarily demon- strate what scholars at the time believed that it did. When one scrutinizes the later accounts of the standoff, it becomes clear that even they were never quite certain whether their advice was actually heard or truly helped. Wessinger notes that some in the FBI found their involvement beside the point and even a distraction because of their incessant demands for more data (Wessinger 1999: 41), and it is more than plausible that the FBI could have achieved a peaceful resolution without the assistance of scholars, as it did before Waco, in 1985, when it was able to negotiate the surrender of an 9Rosenfeld, email, July 11, 2012. Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 977 armed Christian Identity group known as“The Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord.” And yet, despite its modest and inconclusive outcome, I would argue that this relationship deserves the attention of the field as an instructive case study in scholarly intervention. The basic challenge that scholars were grappling with in cases like the Waco standoff was one of negotiation— how to find common ground between the FBI and the religious commun- ities it faced—and they believed their expertise gave them the power to bridge between these perspectives, a kind of mediation they came to refer to as“world-view translation.”The scholars consulted by the FBI had an opportunity to test this model in the field as it were, and they were con- vinced that it worked, but were they right to draw that conclusion? Drawing on the history that we have recounted here, I want to reexamine world-view translation as a possible model of scholarly interventionism, not to argue for its efficacy, which remains unproven, but to explore the intellectual and ethical issues that it raises and their implications for those in the field seeking some way to act on their own interventionist impulses. WORLD-VIEW TRANSLATION AS MAGICAL THINKING Like other kinds of experts, scholars of Religious Studies can provide reliable information that may be helpful for understanding a particular religious actor or community. Scholars like Eileen Barker have recognized the public’s need for reliable information and have worked hard to make it accessible, establishing resources like INFORM, a charity established to provide reliable information about nonconventional religions. 10 In this role, the scholar functions in the background of the crisis as a kind of informant. The scholars we have been talking about envisioned a more interventionist role for themselves. During the Waco standoff, Arnold and Tabor literally tried to interpose themselves between the FBI and the Branch Davidians as mediators, seeking ways to communicate with Koresh and to explain his perspective to the FBI. Their efforts did not work to avoid a tragedy, but they did help to establish a model for how a scholar might meaningfully and productively intervene in a conflict—the role of world-view translation. 11 10For the INFORM website, go towww.inform.ac/.11So far as I know, the term“world-view interpreter”was first used in reference to Waco byLucas (1994). Judging from the use of this or similar terms by scholars like Carstarphen, Docherty, and Wessinger, it took only a year for it to be embraced by others. SeeWessinger (1999): 44, note 15. Journal of the American Academy of Religion 978 The need for such an intermediary was premised on the idea that the conflict between law enforcement and a religious community like the Branch Davidians was not just one of clashing interests but also of differ- ent conceptions of reality. On the one hand, the FBI operated within a secularized world-view that inclined it to interpret Koresh’s religious claims as an indication of mental illness or as a cover for criminal behav- ior. On the other hand, Koresh and the Branch Davidians interpreted reality from within a religious orientation, understanding their encounter with the FBI in light of scriptural prophecy. Their differing world views led the two sides to interpret and talk about reality in different ways—to the FBI, Koresh’s scriptural references seemed like“Bible babble”while to Koresh, the FBI’s behavior seemed a fulfillment of scriptural prophecy— and the result was misunderstanding and distrust. Thus the need for a third party, a mediator not identified with either side, someone who could offer the kind of evidence-driven, rational expertise the FBI valued but who could also understand, empathize with and communicate with a religious perspective. What qualifies a scholar to play the role of world-view translator? The FBI’s negotiators were perfectly aware of the group’s religious orientation, and made an effort to accommodate it, but they simply did not know enough about religion to communicate effectively with the Branch Davidians or to see all the negotiating options that existed within their understanding of scripture. This, at least, was how scholars saw things after the fact (on the struggles of the negotiators to understand Koresh’sreli- gious views, seeGallagher (1999b)). Trained as biblical scholars, and having some understanding of religious psychology, Arnold and Tabor believed they could understood Koresh’s perspective in a way the FBI could not—and the proof that they were right was Koresh’s responsiveness to their claims, his request to meet with them, and his effort to produce a new interpretation of Revelation that might have provided scriptural justifica- tion for surrender, had the FBI allowed him to complete it. One might argue that a scholar specializing in the Branch Davidians might have more pertinent expertise than did two biblical scholars, but more important than the focus of a scholar’s research was his or her abilities as a world-view mediator, the ability to understand religious texts and beliefs and to explain these to law enforcement. Later scholars like Barkun and Wessinger would bring expertise in sociology and new religious movements, but at the time, Arnold and Tabor believed their understanding of biblical interpretation and apocalypticism gave them unique insight into the mind of David Koresh. The role of the Religious Studies scholar as a world-view translator did not emerge out of nowhere. It drew on the earlier conception of the Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 979 anthropologist as a cultural translator, a self-conception bequeathed to the field of Religious Studies and becoming wide-spread by the 1980s. It is reflected, for example, in the writing of one of the leading scholars of the field, Jonathan Z. Smith who argued in his now classicImagining Religionthat such translation was possible even for a religious community as seemingly irrational as the group that committed mass suicide at Jonestown. As incomprehensible as their behavior might seem, Smith contended, it reflects beliefs and behavior that have parallels in the histor- ies of other religious communities, and one can seize on that similarity to make it understandable. The intellectual effort involved was not essen- tially different from that involved in making a text written in one lan- guage comprehensible to people using another language (Smith 1988: 105). The concept of the world-view translator emerged out of such argu- ments; what seems to have been new to the 1990s was the effort to put it into practice in real-world conflicts. Once scholars began to deploy the concept in this way, however, they soon realized that world-view translation was not in fact the same as translating a literary text. With a literary translation, the object of the translation is fairly stable, a text that is more or less fixed in content. Not so the object of world-view translation, a religious mindset or the collective mentality of a group that can be unstable, inconsistent, and unpredictable. A further complication emerged when scholars came to realize that there existed a world-view gap with the FBI itself. As observed by Jayne Seminaire Docherty, a scholar of conflict studies, FBI agents and Religious Studies scholars are separated not just by different professional and ethical responsibilities but also by different conceptions of reality, which incline each group toward different explanations for human behav- ior and different ideas about how to respond to it. One can see this differ- ence reflected in Tabor’s accounts of the Waco standoff where, as we have noted above, he has a harder time understanding the perspective of the FBI than he does the Branch Davidians. It takes more than good will to overcome these differences, Docherty argued; it takes its own process of world-view translationbetweenscholars and the FBI. Docherty suggests ways that scholars and the FBI might overcome this difference—reading each other’s work, cross training, joint research projects—but the process she describes requires time and commitment, and it is not clear that it could actually work given high turnover rates in the FBI and a limited budget that makes it difficult for the FBI to consistently send even a few agents to AAR meetings. Resolvable or not, the world-view gap she describes helps to explain the difficulty that scholars like Arnold and Tabor encountered when Journal of the American Academy of Religion 980 offering their expertise to the FBI, and beyond that, it raises a question about the feasibility of world-view translation in this context: how can scholars realistically expect to mediate an unusual religious world-view to the FBI if they are unable to bridge between their own perspective and that of the FBI? It did not take long for scholars to realize complications like these. What is not noted in any of the pertinent scholarship from the 1990s that I have read is a more fundamental problem with world-view translation, a problem that can be traced back to the anthropology from which the role was inherited. In 1986, Talal Asad published a critique of British anthropol- ogy and its use of translation as a model for how scholars interact with the cultures they study. The focus of Asad’s critique was the anthropologist who understood himself as a cultural translator able to render the mindset of primitive or alien cultures comprehensible to a modern Western mindset. The cultural translation performed by such figures casts itself as neutral and empathetic, but that posture masks an underlying reality.“The process of‘cultural translation’is inevitably enmeshed in conditions of power— professional, national, international,”Asad argued,“and among these con- ditions is the authority of ethnographers to uncover the implicit meanings of subordinate societies”(Asad 1986: 163). Advantaged by his political position relative to the people he is representing, the anthropologist claims the power to identify the implicit meaning of its behavior whether or not that meaning is acknowledged by the people itself. By constructing this meaning, he does more than translate its culture; he invents thoughts and intentions that the people supposedly having them would never be able to recognize. No one at the time thought to apply this critique to the concept of the world-view translator, but it does have potential implications for how we understand this role. Though their intention is to act as benign interme- diaries, such translators may also not be as neutral as they appear. They have their own professional interests, and they too assume a position of authority that allows them to conjure thoughts and intentions that may not correspond to how the religious actors in question actually think and feel. Consider the case of James Tabor, Arnold’s partner in the effort to broker a peaceful resolution to the Waco standoff. Tabor is certainly a very different kind of scholar than those that Asad critiqued, but his role as a world-view translator lends itself to a similar kind of analysis, depending on his ability to determine implicit meanings. In his published accounts, Tabor is critical of the psychologists that the FBI relied on for their understanding of Koresh’s mental state, arguing that they had no real evidence for their conclusions given their lack of direct access to Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 981 Koresh (Tabor and Gallagher 1995: 168–169;Tabor 1994,1995). For his own conclusions about Koresh’s intentions, however, what evidence does Tabor have? One of his key contentions is that at the end of the siege, largely under his own influence, Koresh had rethought his interpretation of scripture and was in all likelihood willing to surrender at the time that the FBI launched its assault. The basis for this claim was a partially com- pleted manuscript that Koresh was working on at the time of the assault, and especially the final concluding statement:“Should we not eagerly ourselves be ready to accept this truthand come out of our closetand be revealed to the world as those who love Christ in truth and in righteous- ness”(Tabor and Gallagher 1995: 203, italics mine). Tabor and Gallagher cite this line as evidence for what Koresh had in mind that last evening, taking it to mean that he intended to come out of the compound. This interpretation is consistent with an earlier letter that Koresh dispatched from the compound where he also indicated his willingness to“come out,”but it is, in the end, an inference: like the rest of the commentary, Koresh’s statement here is written in evasive apocalyptic code, its exact interpretation is uncertain, and it is an open question what it reveals about Koresh’s intentions. Was he thinking about surrender in the sense of leaving the compound or did he have another kind of coming out in mind? Given the apocalyptic context, it seems equally possible that he was referring to eschatological self-disclosure, as if he were a hidden messiah who was thinking about when to disclose himself to the world. Nothing in the evidence can resolve the ambiguity, and it is even conceivable that Koresh was being deliberately vague in order to keep his options open. Whatever conclusions one draws on the basis of this document are actually beside the point, however, for the fact is that Arnold and Tabor would have had no access to this document during the siege at the time that they were trying to intervene: it was preserved on a computer disk which survived the fire and then was later passed on to Arnold and Tabor through Koresh’s lawyer. During the siege itself, Arnold and Tabor had no direct access to Koresh or others in the compound; their understand- ing of his intentions was based on inferences from his public statements and what they learned from others about him. This is where their role as world-view translators resembles that of the cultural translators critiqued by Asad: their authority as mediators depends entirely on whether or not one accepts that their expertise gave them a telepathic ability to detect implicit meanings. Where Tabor differs from the British anthropologists of Oxford that Asad was talking about is that he could not simply assume such authority for himself. On the contrary, as we have noted, the FBI was very reluctant Journal of the American Academy of Religion 982 to give them a hearing during the standoff. Tabor would eventually have considerable success in establishing his authority with the public as an expert, often appearing in the media and even testifying in congressional hearings, but that did not happen until later, and as Christopher Eisenhart shows in a 2006 analysis of Tabor’s performance as a public expert, it took rhetorical effort on Tabor’s part to secure that status. In fact, Eisenhart’s analysis suggests that Tabor’s representation of what happened at Waco was part of this effort. In publications likeWhy Waco?, Tabor shapes his representation of the Waco standoff in ways that stress the contrast between his special grasp of the Branch Davidians’perspective and the lack of understanding that marred the response of law enforcement and com- peting experts (Eisenhart 2006:163–165). Theirs was considered the more authoritative perspective, but his was the correct one, and his narrative underscores the cost of not recognizing his understanding. In Eisenhart’s reading, Tabor’s narrative amounts to advocacy for the legitimacy of his own expertise, using the Waco experience to illustrate a social problem (the threat to religion caused by the government’slackofunderstanding)that, as it happens, only he as a scholar of Religious Studies was able to solve. Even if Tabor derived professional benefit from his role as a world-view translator, that does not necessarily refute his understanding of the situa- tion or discredit the role he tried to play in it. Later scholars agreed that his and Arnold’s approach was the most likely to yield a nonviolent outcome. What one learns from Asad and Eisenhart, however, is that the role of the world-view translator may not as disinterested as it appears. As noted by Hart (1999), academic Religious Studies has been struggling to find a rationale for itself ever since it detached itself from its origins in seminary education and began the quest for legitimacy as a part of secular academia. World-view translation would seem to provide a rational for Religious Studies, a concrete, secularized way to contribute to the public good, and that itself is a reason to be suspicious of its neutrality. I do not question the sincerity of the scholars who seek to operate in this way, but the fact remains that they stand to gain real benefits from playing the role of world- view translator whether they acknowledge those benefits or not: a sense of legitimacy as a public expert, heightened attention, the feeling of doing something useful. The lure of such roles incentivizes world-view transla- tions that make scholars’own expertise essential to a positive outcome. Even if there is such bias, however, is that so terrible? After all, all that scholars like Arnold and Tabor were arguing was that the FBI should take the self-conception of religious communities seriously, that it should look for negotiating opportunities within their belief system or at least avoid doing things that might seem, from within their sense of reality, to justify violence. This is such sensible advice that the same basic Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 983 recommendation had advocates among the FBI’s own experts, people like Pete Smerick and Mark Young, psychological profilers for the FBI who, six weeks before the final assault at Waco, were also urging the FBI to take into account the Branch Davidians’religious views (Sullivan 1996: 219–220). If there is a chance that Religious Studies scholars can help to clarify that world-view, and thereby contribute to the saving of lives, is not that worth whatever risk comes with claiming knowledge they might not really have? That is certainly a possibility in specific cases, but there is another side to this coin that has emerged since 9/11, a disturbing twist to how the government has made use of scholars’benign intentions that needs to be factored in as well. The experience in question did not involve either the FBI or the field of Religious Studies—it involved the military and the field of anthropology—but it is relevant here for what it reveals about an ethical problem that may well be inherent in the role of world-view translator. A few years after 9/11, the U.S. military launched an initiative known as the Human Terrain System (HTS) project, which sought to embed anthropologists and social scientists in military teams operating in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to the HTS website, the project was intended to fill in a gap in the military’s understanding of the culture of the peoples it encountered in the field. 12 In the words of General Peter Chiarelli as quoted on the site,“I asked my Brigade Commanders what was the number one thing they would have liked to have had more of, and they all said cultural knowledge.”The project was designed to provide that knowledge in a form that commanders could access in the field, in a way that could benefit military decision-making and improve relationships with the local population. Research showed, for example, that many IED attacks were the result of actions by U.S. troops that vio- lated local cultural sensitivities. Better cultural understanding seemed likely to help reduce the number of such attacks. With such a goal in mind, an HTS team was deployed in Afghanistan in 2005, and others deployed in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. What is relevant about the HTS project here is that it was rooted in a need for“cultural translators”not unlike that which led to the collabora- tion between the AAR and the FBI. 13 The military saw academia as a con- venient and relatively inexpensive source of ethnographic analysts, 12http://humanterrainsystem.army.mil/(accessed August 3, 2011). See alsoU.S. Army and Marine Corps 2007. 13Note that the anthropologist Richard Shweder explicitly described the role of the scholars in the program as that of a“cultural translator”(cited inGonzalez 2009: 53). Journal of the American Academy of Religion 984 advisors, and intermediaries. For their part, the anthropologists and social scientists who participated in the project saw themselves as benign intermediaries there to help the U.S. military but also the peoples that it was encountering in Afghanistan and Iraq. When asked why he was par- ticipating in the program, for example, archaeologist David Matsuda responded:“I came here to save lives, to make friends out of enemies”—a self-description similar to Arnold’s description of his motivation for intervening at Waco. 14 Not long after the establishment of the program, however, it became clear that it suffered from serious problems. Critics accused the program of being a tool for espionage, intelligence gathering, psychological warfare, and public relations (Gonzalez 2009;Price 2007), but even if one took it at face value, there were reasons for concern. After a year-long study, the American Anthropological Association rejected the project as a violation of its ethical code, finding that participation in the program created a conflict of interest for academics who could find themselves having to choose between their obligation to support uniformed col- leagues and their duty as scholars to the peoples they study. 15 Was the AAA’s opposition to the program colored by an underlying opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Maybe, but it was also responding to an ambiguity inherent in the role of cultural translator. For whose benefit is the act of translation taking place? What if the interests of the two sides cannot be reconciled even when they are clear to one another? And what are scholarly intermediaries to do if they know their work as translators will harm the communities they are hoping to help? The military’s enlist- ment of academics posed these questions in ways that had implications for thousands, and for the AAA, they could not be answered in a way that honored the scholar’s obligations to her or his research subjects. The relationship between the FBI and the field of Religious Studies has been conducted on a much smaller and less costly scale and it never involved an effort to directly conscript academics as part of the FBI, but the HTS program illustrates the potential problems that such a collabora- tion can lead to, the conflict of interest it can create, and the harm it can do to the credibility of Religious Studies. World-view translators see themselves as defending the interests of religious communities, helping to make their position more understandable, but they do not control how 14For the interview with Matsuda, see“US Military, Oblivious of Iraqi Culture, Enlists Anthropologists for Occupation,”World Middle East Online(January 19, 2008).http://www.alternet. org/world/74326/(accessed May 30, 2012). 15For the AAA’s statement on the Human Terrain System Project, seehttp://www.aaanet.org/ about/Policies/statements/Human-Terrain-System-Statement.cfm(accessed August 3, 2011). Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 985 their knowledge and insight is used by the people to whom they make it available, and as noted above, there have been civil liberty concerns about how the FBI has used the information it has gleaned about various com- munities. If it embraces the same principles that guide anthropology—the field that invented the role of cultural translator—might it be best for Religious Studies to also avoid relationships that might put its scholars in a similar double-bind and risk their relationship with the communities they study? Apart from ethical concerns it raises, the HTS program calls the role of the world-view translator into question for another reason as well: it did not work. Its benefits have been so unclear, in fact, that, as of 2010, its funding has been suspended by Congress pending a review (Forte 2010). Particularly valuable insight into why the program failed comes from a former participant, Zenia Helbig, a graduate student in Religious Studies at the University of Virginia hired after a fifteen-minute interview and later released after she made a quip that, for the military, raised questions about her loyalties. Even after her firing, Helbig defended the goals of the program, believing that academia has a responsibility to civilian popula- tions that could not be left to a military without the right training or interest in their culture, but she acknowledged that HTS was a complete failure in this regard despite the millions of dollars invested in it, so understaffed and poorly managed that it simply was not capable of doing the things its critics were worried about. The problem, she contended, was not just organizational but intellectual: the military was so incapable of thinking creatively or independently that it did not know what to do with the expertise it had recruited or even really know how to recruit such expertise (Helbig 2007). The differences between HTS and the relationship that developed between the FBI and scholars of religion are important. There was never any effort to conscript scholars into the FBI in the way that anthropolo- gists were conscripted into the military (Helbig recalls that the focus of her brief job interview with the director of the program was whether she had the right height and weight for a military uniform), and this has meant that at no point have scholars of religion ever had a reason to repress their independence of judgment. Granting such differences, however, one also notices that Helbig’s criticism of HTS is similar to an issue that surfaces in the writing of Tabor and other scholars frustrated by what they regard as the obtuseness of the FBI, not just its lack of knowl- edge about religion but more deeply ingrained habits of thought that impaired its ability to make use of such knowledge. One of the lessons that we might take from the short and ill-fated career of the HTS program is that the most obvious steps one might take to overcome this Journal of the American Academy of Religion 986 disconnect—the investment of more funding into the relationship, for example—are not necessarily going to solve the problem. Like any kind of translation, world-view translation requires a mastery not just of the“source culture”—the culture being translated from—but also the“target culture”, the culture to which the translation is addressed. Whatever knowledge they have of“source cultures”like the Branch Davidians or Islamic terrorists, little in the history we have recounted here suggests that scholars have mastery of the target culture they are trying to address, the FBI itself. Even before 9/11, at the height of outreach efforts between Religious Studies and the FBI between 1993 and 2001, it is not clear that the two ever fully understood each other, and the suspiciousness introduced by 9/11 may have made it even harder for the two cultures to relate to the other. If we understand the FBI itself as a text, in other words, it has been and remains an imperfectly translated one—a perspective that Religious Studies does not fully understand or know how to make intelligible to itself—and the same seems to be true in reverse. How can the field successfully provide world-view translation for an audi- ence which is opaque in its own right? Based on what we have seen here, it is hard to answer this question as optimistically as some scholars did in the 1990s. None of this means that scholars cannot provide useful expertise to organizations like the FBI. The recent disclosure of an anti-Islamic bias in FBI counter-terrorism training suggests some of the roles that scholarship might have played in the last decade and precisely in the realm it knows best—education. It appears, for example, that scholars could have been more involved in book acquisition for the FBI library at Quantico, or played more of a role in reviewing curricula and online training—and perhaps they are now involved in the effort to vet the teaching materials used in counter-terrorism training. What is in question here is not the utility of Religious Studies as a reference source, but its power to intervene in conflict, a power that it has claimed for itself both before and after 9/11. When we suggest that a better understanding of the Bible can help defuse the violent potential of apocalyptic discourse, or when we propose to know things about the mindset of a jihadist that should have an impact on foreign relations, we are endorsing the view of Religious Studies that has now been tested by the relationship between the FBI and Religious Studies, and the results of that test, as inconclusive as they may be, reinforce doubts about the interventionist aspirations of scholarship, exposing the practical challenges of partnering with a nonacademic ally as well as intellectual and ethical problems in how scholars conceive their role as translators and mediators. Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 987 INTERVENING AGAINST THE INTERVENERS The kind of scholarly interventionism we have described here may rest on debatable intellectual premises and pose significant ethical risks, but there is one counter-consideration that needs to be factored in as well: a refusal to intervene can create an expertise vacuum that other kinds of experts are all too willing to fill and in ways that can be very harmful. This fear of nonacademic experts was part of what motivated the orig- inal outreach efforts between the FBI and Religious Studies after Waco. One of the issues that concerned scholars like Arnold, Tabor, and Ammerman and others was not just the FBI’s lack of understanding about religion but its inability to decide what counted as relevant exper- tise or to distinguish between reliable and unreliable expertise. The FBI may have had a hard time taking scholars like Arnold seriously, but appa- rently, it did sometimes listen to other kinds of self-styled experts in how religious people think, figures like the cult-buster Rick Ross whose approach to the Branch Davidians was colored by ideas like brainwashing (that charismatic cult leaders like David Koresh used mind control tech- niques to maintain control over their members) that have been repudi- ated by scholars of religion and by the American Psychological Association (Wright 2009). In the post 9/11 age, a new kind of nonaca- demic expert has emerged, the counter-terrorism expert who claims to understand the motives and ideology of Muslim terrorists, and such a figure poses a similar kind of problem inasmuch as it, too, advocates for discredited ideas about religion and religious communities. In fact, reli- ance on this kind of expertise seems to have contributed to the anti- Muslim bias that has emerged in FBI counter-terrorism training to the discredit of the bureau (Ackerman and Schactman 2011). To illustrate the power and impact of such expertise, we might note a recent incident involving a state government employee named Omar Al- Omari. Omari worked for the state of Ohio and was well known to state law enforcement as the leader of a Muslim outreach program considered so successful that federal counter-terrorism officials had sent him over- seas to talk about it. Everything changed for Omari, however, when at a seminar for local law enforcement he was accused by a counter-terrorism expert named John Guandolo of having links to terrorism himself. The accusation came as a great surprise to the law enforcement officers who knew Omari personally, and they called on an FBI official who came the next day to assure participants that Omari was not, in fact, a terrorism suspect. Even then, however, many in the class continued to side with Guandolo, a former FBI agent himself. Omari was not arrested or tried, Journal of the American Academy of Religion 988 but he did eventually lose his job, not because of any ties to terrorism but because the investigation process revealed unrelated problems in his job application (Temple-Raston 2011b). The fact that so many were willing to believe Guandolo in the face of testimony from fellow law enforcement officers, a respected FBI agent, and the head of the local Joint Terrorism Task Force shows the influence that this kind of alternative expertise can have on law enforcement thinking. Episodes like this call for nuancing one’s skepticism about scholarly interventionism. Twenty years after Waco seemed to persuade the FBI that there is value in understanding more about religion, parts of the FBI seem still to be struggling with basic religious illiteracy and bias, and if scholars do not try to intercede to help shape its understanding of reli- gious people, they are leaving an opening for less vetted forms of expertise which is sometimes hostile to the religious communities it claims to know something about. One might argue that scholars of religion should intervene as world-view translators despite the problems with this role if only to counter the more egregious mistranslations introduced by other kinds of expert. Beyond acknowledging this point, however, there is another reason I mention such experts here. As different as they are from academics, the cult deprogrammer and the anti-Muslim counter-terrorism trainer share certain traits in common with the scholars of religion we have been consid- ering here. They too assert authority as experts; they might even have academic credentials or root their claims in academic scholarship. Rick Ross, the cult deprogrammer involved at Waco, grounds his views in the work of Margaret Thaler Singer, a psychologist known for her study of cults and mind control. William Gawthrop, an FBI analyst charged with anti-Islamic bias in recent disclosures about the FBI’s counter-terrorism training program, has an MS in strategic intelligence and serves as a faculty member at the American Military University. Scholars of Religious Studies might dismiss their training and ideas, but there is not always a clear line between their expertise and that of the scholars we have been focused on. What this kind of expert represents, I would suggest, is not just an antago- nist for Religious Studies but a distorted reflection of its interventionist impulses. It might represent a travesty of legitimate scholarship, but it also mimics its qualities, including the claim to have special insight into reli- gious mindsets and the desire to use its knowledge for the benefit and safety of the public. Religious Studies scholars may have a duty to counter such figures, but they should also recognize something familiar in how they operate as experts—and take care that they do not, through well-intended interventions, become one of them. Weitzman: Religious Studies and the FBI 989 REFERENCES Ackerman, Spencer 2011a“FBI Teaches Agents:‘Mainstream Muslims are ‘Violent, Radical’.”Wired. September 14, 2011. http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2011/09/fbi- muslims-radical/all/1(accessed May 24, 2012). 2011b“New Evidence for Anti-Islam Bias Underscores Deep Challenges for FBI’s Reform Pledge.” Wired. 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