I have a friend who was a Branch Davidian when the Waco raid took place. Well, in fairness, he’s a Branch Davidian to this day. He was a very young adult when the botched raid happened, and had actually left the compound before the fire.
My friend is an artist and design professional whom I became close to for work reasons. I never supported the Waco raid, and of course I deplored the outcome. But I was deeply suspicious of the “cult”-like appearances of the Davidians.
It was only after becoming acquainted with Ron and sitting down with him for hours talking about his life in the compound before the raid that they became humanized for me.
You’re right — the “C” word is very damaging. It stopped me from seeing them as regular people, which going by Ron’s tales is exactly what they were.