Top 10 Famous And Weird Cults Of All Time
A cult is a group that centers around a belief and distances itself from people of other beliefs. A typical feature of a cult is that there is often a strong leader that other members follow. Usually, but not always, cult members have to say goodbye to social contact outside the cult ultimately.
Most cults have other far-reaching rules and restrictions designed to distinguish members from non-members. There are an awful lot of such groups in the world, but some of them are pretty crazy! Below you can read about the top 10 famous and weird cults of all time.
Tom Cruise is a follower, and John Travolta also follows this cult, so there must be something in it, right? The Church of Scientology traces its roots to science-fiction author Ron Hubbard, teaching its followers that man, in reality, is immortal but has forgotten his true nature.
Members find spiritual rehabilitation in the process of ‘auditing,’ a kind of questioning and consciously re-experiencing traumatic experiences from the past. Members can purchase these reliefs and rehabilitation processes for a fixed price, known as a ‘fixed donation.’
As a member, you are actively encouraged to reject your non-believing environment, and if you want to leave the Church, other members will make your life miserable.
But it is not impossible to maintain connections outside the church members, nor is it impossible to get out of the Church (alive). In addition, Scientology has grown so enormously in recent years that we can hardly speak of a strict sect anymore.
In many countries, it is an official religion. Other countries, however, categorize Scientology as an official for-profit organization. Whether a cult, or an official religion, or a multinational corporation, Scientology is dangerous to your social network and even more dangerous to your bank account!
9. Unificationists or Moonies
In 1954, Sun Myung Moon founded the Unification Church in Korea. Most of Moon’s ideas are pretty similar to very conservative Christian beliefs, such as homophobia, anti-Semitism, and anti-atheism.
But Moon’s ideas go too far, even for conservative Christians. For example, Moon predicted that Jesus Christ would return a second time to finish his work; after all, he had been brutally interrupted during his first visit by the crucifixion.
In addition, a photo of Moon should be present when a married couple undertook “procreation,” and this act should be “wiped clean” afterward with a special holy towel, which should be washed separately from the rest of the laundry. However, although often accused of it, the claims of member brainwashing seem unfounded; members come and go as they please.
However, there is still a central leadership, no longer by Moon himself, but by his children, who have taken over the leadership.
8. The Manson Family
Charles Manson is a psychopath from the United States with a large and fanatical fan club. The ‘Family,’ a group of fanatical followers of Manson who called themselves that, made the States unsafe in the 1960s.
Women, in particular, who believed they were carrying out Manson’s will themselves, murdered several people and wrote Beatles song-lyrics with the blood of their victims on the walls surrounding the murder site. Why the Beatles? Manson himself was convinced that a race war was taking place and that the Beatles knew about it.
They would write their lyrics as a direct message to him. Manson and his followers were believed that they would become the new leaders of the blacks who were going to win the race war. Manson himself is white, by the way. He’s serving life in prison, but some followers are still out (although inactive)!
7. The People’s Temple
In 1978, as many as 900 people committed suicide. An international shock! Why? Because their leader, “priest” James Warren Jones, saw it as the only way out. He had cherished the idea of creating a socialist state in a kind of concentration camp in South America called Jonestown.
The United States sent an investigator to Jonestown after pleas from relatives of cult members. However, this researcher, Leo Ryan, cut short his visit because he was too alarmed by what he saw.
However, Priest Jones’ guards shot Ryan as he tried to leave with some cult members who preferred to go home. When this happened, Jones saw for himself that the United States would not take this, so Jones ordered his followers to commit mass suicide. The only way out!
They poisoned themselves with cyanide, forced children to drink it, and only 33 members managed to escape by fleeing into the jungle. A horrific cult with deadly consequences for both loyal and unfaithful members.
6. Heaven’s Gate
The People’s Temple mass suicide wasn’t the only mass suicide action among weird cults. Although on a smaller scale, Heaven’s Gate leader Marshall Applewhite convinced 39 members to commit suicide.
They believed that the Earth would soon be cleaned up and recycled, and the only way to avoid this fate was to leave the body and be ‘picked up’ as a spirit by aliens. Convinced that the aliens that would “pick up” this was flying in the wake of Comet Hale-Bopp (under NASA’s radars), the members committed suicide in 1997 as the comet passed Earth.
Oddities: They all carried a $5 bill and three quarters in their pockets (a ticket to Mars was apparently cheap that year), wore identical black shirts and sweatpants and Nike sneakers, next to a bracelet that read “Heaven’s Gate Away Team” on it.
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5. Students Of The Seven Seals
The Students of the Seven Seals followed David Koresh. They were a split from the Davidians, who in turn were a small group of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (a split from the mainstream Christian faith). Koresh claimed that he had prophetic powers and because not all Davidians believed him, he broke away from his mother sect with some followers.
He believed that he was either the new messiah himself or its father, and thus only he and his many wives were allowed to have intercourse; the rest were not.
Age didn’t matter because he was accused of raping 10-year-Olds. The government eventually became too greedy, and in 1993 his Texas ranch was raided in search of ‘illegal weapons.’ Koresh and his followers, however, defended themselves tooth and nail, convinced that the Apocalypse had erupted.
Four officers and six of Koresh’s followers were killed in the first wave, and a siege of the ranch ensued. This siege lasted a whopping 51 days when the FBI took over. Exactly how it happened is still ‘investigated,‘ but the result was shocking; as many as 80 people, including 22 children, died because they did not want to or could not flee. And it’s all for the messiah.
4. Aum Shinrikyo
Let’s leave Americans behind for a while and turn to the East, To Japan, to be exact. Aum Shinrikyo means Supreme Truth, and Shoko Asahara founded the sect in 1984.
It started as a yoga class, progressed to severe physical testing and training, targeted killings of cult opponents (and their families, before the certainty), and culminated in mass murders and attacks in 1994 and ’95.
When the police finally stormed into Shoko’s headquarters, they found biological weapons and chemical raw materials in sufficient quantity to kill millions of people! In addition, they found tons of money and cells with prisoners inside.
After its leaders were sentenced to death, the organization experienced a rebirth under the name Aleph, promising a peaceful continuation of its legacy. In 2005 there were around 1650 members of this Aleph.
3. The Triumphal and Universal Church
Back to the United States. Officially called “Church Universal and Triumphant,” this sect was founded by Mark Prophet in 1958. Members believe their leaders can communicate with the dead, ghosts, and other mythical figures.
The cult came to the attention of the FBI in the 1980s, when members suddenly began to dig bomb shelters and collect weapons frantically. However, when the wife of the now-deceased Mark, named Elisabeth, a prominent priestess in the Church, also passed away, the Church broke into splinter groups.
This sect does not encourage mass murder or suicide (as it is known), but it is notorious for its influence on members over their private lives, social lives, and even their daily diet. Roots take pride in place as the food of the prophets. Oh yes, and tinfoil has been banned because it attracts aliens’ attention!
2. The Fellowship of Friends
Not to be confused with Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Ring, this brotherhood finds guidance from Robert Earl Burton, and Burton claims that he is an Angel. Located in sunny California, they own an art museum and well-known winery.
However, appearances are deceiving; the life of a brother in this brotherhood is not one of glorious exuberance but subject to strict rules. For example, they are not allowed to swim, joke, and smoke (well, the latter may not even be so absurd).
What members eat is also determined in advance, and how long they sleep (in any case, never longer than 6 hours!). Members donate large portions of their income to the fraternity and sometimes even their entire income.
But, in return, membership does give you something: Burton has predicted an Armageddon in which the members will be the only ones to survive. So you do get value for money!
1. The Remnant Fellowship
Remnant is another cult with a strange name that means ‘remnant‘ or leftover. After all that heavy stuff about suicide and mass murder, we wanted to close this list with a slightly easier cult to digest. Literally!
The leftover fraternity is a weird mix of dietetics and faith. Dietitian Gwen Shamblin claimed in the 1990s that eating less is entirely in line with self-sacrifice to God and Christ, and overeating is a grave sin.
That all looks pretty reasonable until you learn that a child may have died in 2003 from “disciplinary actions” taken by the parents for the infractions the child had committed (presumably eaten a Mars). Whether this is the cult’s fault or just crazy parents remains to be seen.
As much as one wants everyone to agree, disagreements will always exist, as will people’s need to belong to a ‘club.’ There are countless innocent sects, groups, and clubs that have a slight (often positive) influence on their members. There’s no problem as long as people realize that there is a world outside their sect and don’t want to exclude it.
But what if members can choose to come and go more voluntarily, or when the social pressure is so high that hardly anyone can say no anymore? At such a moment, all it takes is one crazy leader, and mass murder situations arise! Group feelings are understandable, but they can be exaggerated.
So, these are the top 10 weird cults of all time. Most people want to belong to something. In fact, it’s hard not to belong; there’s always a group, family, association, or club you’re part of, whether you like it or not. However, some groups go further than others, and some clubs control the lives of their members so much that members hardly have a life outside that club.