Heaven’s gate gained wide acclaim in 1997 when 30 people commited voluntary suicide leaving the police scrambling for answers. It is categorized as a UFO religious cult. Marshall Applewhite, the founder of the cult, taped himself in “Do’s Final Exit”, speaking of mass suicide and “the only way to evacuate this Earth”. After asserting that a spacecraft was trailing Comet Hale–Bopp and that this event would represent the “closure to Heaven’s Gate”, he persuaded 38 followers to prepare for ritual suicide so their souls could board the supposed craft. Applewhite believed that after their deaths a UFO would take their souls to another “level of existence above human”, which he described as being both physical and spiritual. Their preparations included each member’s videotaping a errie farewell message.
Synanon was a sick and twisted drug rehabilitation center founded by Charles E. Dederich. He had a talent for making drug addicts think he had answers, and wanted to take his business to the next level. The rented a store in Santa Monica for 700$ a month, and developed “The Game”, a crucial aspect of this “rehabilitation center” while tripping on LSD. “The Game” consisted of people yelling at each other for their insecurities and beating the shit out of them if they made any response. Seeing the money he could make from this, Dederich eventually dropped the “graduation” model and went for “lifetime rehabilitation”. Once this happened, you signed over all of your possessions to Dederich. It is said that he was given over 300 cars, 20 houses, 3 planes, and over 500 acres of land.
When Jim Jones founded the Peoples Temple in Indiana in 1955, it appealed to many as a progressive organization advocating for civil rights, and operating homes for the elderly and those with mental health issues. In 1974, the Peoples Temple leased land in Guyana, where the group would flee media scrutiny in the United States and set up an agricultural commune. By 1978, the population of “Jonestown” in Guyana had grown to around 900, but a few disillusioned members tipped off the American media of the armed compound in South America and rehearsals of mass suicide. In November 1978 Congressman Leo Ryan traveled to Jonestown where he, three journalists and one defector were shot and killed, before Jones ordered his followers to drink a cyanide-laced drink, resulting the loss of 909 lives.
Aleph, formerly Aum Shinrikyo, is a Japanese doomsday cult founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. It carried out the deadly Tokyo subway sarin attack in 1995, killing 14, and was found to have been responsible for the Matsumoto sarin attack the previous year, which injured thousands. Asahara believed the world was going to end, and the only way out was to join his cult. They produced mass amounts of sarin, a deadly nerve agent that can kill in minutes, and when police eventually raided its headquarters, they found a helicopter filled to the brim with unpurified sarin they planned to rain over Tokyo. If his plan were to succeed, it would have killed people in the thousands. Many of the cult’s members were once well respected members of society, but turned over to Aum to seek religious meaning in life. Asahara manipulated them to build that could have been the deadliest cult in modern times.
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