By Patty Duggan / Source: Mind Control 101
Scientology has been highly controversial since its foundation by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard in 1952. It has been described as a cult by several media organizations, governments, former believers, and other religious groups. One of the main reasons is the cult's tier system, in which practitioners must pay higher levels of money to discover more information about the religion. Scientologists also believe that souls reincarnate and have lived on other planets before earth, and they condemn the practice of psychiatry, believing that it is destructive.
Currently known as "Aleph" (the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet), this Japanese religious group was founded by Shoko Asahara in 1984. Asahara published a book in 1992 in which he declared himself as "Christ" and outlined a doomsday prophecy where the U.S. would instigate World War III and ultimately bring destruction to humanity, apart from the select few who join Aum. In March of 1995, the group carried out a Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway, and Asahara was arrested and sentenced to death a few months later. The group is considered a terrorist organization by several international entities. It currently has about 1,500 members.
This cult began in the 1960s and had many recruits from the hippie movement. Their message was of salvation and spiritual "revolution against the outside world, or "the System." In the 70s and 80s, many female members practiced a method of evangelism called "Flirty Fishing," in which members would use sex to win converts, sometimes resulting in the birth of "Jesus Babies." Numerous allegations of child abuse have been held against the cult, which has since tried to change its image with a new name, The Family International.
This is one of the most notable UFO religions and was founded in 1974 by a man now known as Rael. They believe that extraterrestrials, called the Elohim, created life on earth. They attracted media attention for supporting a woman who claimed to have been cloned and gave birth to her clone in 2002. They also encourage people to be open to their natural sexuality and accent any legal, safe and consensual adult sexual activity.
6. The Manson Family
Led by the notorious serial killer Charles Manson, this was a commune that he developed in the 1960s in San Francisco. After a troubled early life, he established himself as a guru to the hippie community and attracted many young followers, most of them female. He taught them that social uprising was upon them, following the assassination of Martin Luther King and other political events as proof. In 1969 he directed them in committing several murders, leading to his life sentence in prison.
This was another UFO religion, led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. They combined apocalyptic elements of the Bible with science fiction and believed that the Earth was about to be "wiped clean," but that they would be saved by UFOs, leaving their "flesh bodies" behind. In 1997, 38 members and Applewhite committed suicide because they believed that an alien spacecraft was waiting for them beyond the Hale-Bopp comet.
Known as l'Ordre du Temple Solaire in French, this group was a secret society in Geneva that was based on the myth of the continuation of the Knights Templar. Like Heaven's Gate members, they believed that they would be the only ones to escape the Apocalyse – through suicide. In 1994, a member's three-month old son was killed because one of the leaders thought it was the Anti-Christ. A few days later, 13 members performed a Last Supper, followed by mass suicides a few days after that.
This group branched off of the Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Church in 1955, and was led by David Koresch beginning in 1983. Koresch taught followers that the U.S. government was the enemy of God and had them relocate to a compound in Waco, Texas, which also contained hoards of illegal weapons. Koresch practiced polygamy and is alleged to have sexually abused girls as young as twelve. In 1993, the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms raided the compound, resulting in a 51-day siege that ended in the deaths of 75 members and Koresch. Much controversy still surround the siege.
Perhaps the most famous of cults, the People's Temple was founded by the infamous Jim Jones in 1955. He rejected the Bible, instead preaching a type of apostolic socialism in which the surviving elect would create a new Eden on earth after the apocalypse. It had over a dozen locations in California, but he and his followers fled to Guyana in 1976 after government allegations of violence and abuse, settling in a commune named Jonestown. In 1978, he ordered his followers to drink Kool-Aid laced with cyanide, resulting in 909 deaths – the largest mass suicide in history.
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