Is Waco’s Lois Roden Inspired by an Actual Person? How Did She Die?

As a five-part miniseries we can only describe as the haunting sequel of Paramount’s ‘Waco’ (2018), Showtime’s ‘Waco: The Aftermath‘ (2023) is truly a crime drama production unlike any other. That’s because it delves into the absolute reality of what transpired both before and after the federal authorities’ horrific 51-day early 1993 siege against the titular Texan Branch Davidian sect. It thus comes as no surprise the latter’s once leader Lois Roden is often brought up throughout this narrative — so now, if you simply wish to learn more about her, we’ve got the details for you.

Lois Roden is Based on a Real Branch Davidian

Well, yes — the character of Lois (played by none other than ‘Rectify’ as well as ‘Succession‘ star J. Smith-Cameron) has been entirely inspired by an actual individual bearing the same name. The truth is there are minor differences between the reel and the real her for entertainment purposes, yet the fact remains that she was the rightful denomination President from 1978 to 1986. It was actually her husband Benjamin Roden who’d established this Seventh-Day Adventist Church apocalyptic group in the 1950s, but she too held a lot of sway within owing to her strong beliefs.

As per reports, Lois always asserted women were no different than men in their image and likeness of God, only to then (in 1977) have a revelation that even the “Holy Spirit” is a female entity. She’d ostensibly received a vision from the “silver angel, shimmering in the night” herself, enabling her to not just evolve into a leader but also bring in ideals parallel with the Feminist Movement. Therefore, once her husband passed away at the age of 76 in October 1978, she became the sole prophet of Branch Davidians, that is, until the gradual emergence of David Koresh in the 1980s.

Lois’ presidency was outrightly challenged by her son George Roden in 1979 as well as David Koresh (then known as Vernon Howell) in 1983, but she managed to stay strong through it all. Both these incidents did draw away some members of her congregation, yet the fact she’d established a religious magazine, SHEkinah, to publish her message ensured she still had support. However, arguably the most intriguing aspect of her life was that prior to David turning against her while also marrying a teenager, she’d allegedly had an affair with him despite their 40+ year age gap.

No matter what, though, it can not be denied that the Seventh-Day Adventist Church’s Branch Davidian group thrived while it was under the sole command and control of Lois Roden. “Followers are in the thousands,” she once revealed. “We hear from Africa and India, where whole denominations and conferences of churches are interested in aligning with the Branch. We’re having an increase in the response in Canada. On every hand, our work is growing.” The fact she supposedly prioritized kindness as well as teaching with proof over everything else, plus went above and beyond for every task herself, played a crucial role in this success.

Lois Roden Died From Breast Cancer in 1986

It was November 10, 1986, that Lois unfortunately passed away from breast cancer aged 70, leaving the Branch Davidians and their Mt. Carmel compound to her son George until David took over in 1987. The latter hence led the apocalyptic sect for only around five years before they faced the ultimate tragedy of burning to the ground following the siege on their home from February 28, 1993, to April 19, 1993. Regardless, it’s imperative to note that Lois was the one who significantly shaped both her predecessor Benjamin and her successor David to creatively as well as resourcefully run their denomination.

Read More: David Koresh Wives and Kids: How Many and Who Were They?