Cults: Here Today, But What About Tomorrow?

lucydru

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Or what about the cults that once were around and now never really hard about?

Like what happened to the Heavens Gate? The hale bop cult that comit suicide. Well 40 were ment to but one backed out because the was "told" to spread the word of the cult around. Where is that guy? Is he still preaching or whatever you call it about the cult?

Do you know about this or other cults that have disappeared? Do you know of any cults that you think may "vanish" in the near future?


luce
 
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Anonymous

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Jim Jones' Peoples' Temple - they're no longer with us. Koresh and his sub division Branch Davidians. Order of the Solar Temple, an offshoot of the Order of the Temple, an esoteric group that combined Rosicruican and Neo-Templar ideas - formed in 1984 by Joseph Di Mambro, whose body was, contrary to rumours, found among the dead. Aum Shinrikyo have now disociated themselves from Shoko Asahar, although they still follow his teachings they no longer accept him as leader or guru. They are now known as Aleph. The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments leaders (names escape me at the moment, although it was in FT last year) did a runner with all the proceeds though, while over 900 members committed what we shall euphemistically term 'assisted suicide'.

As for Heaven's Gate and Marshall Herff Applewhite, I can't remember whether he was already dead when they shuffled off this mortal coil and went to join the choir invisibule. The difference with Heaven's Gate to all the others is that they willingly went to their deaths, every one of them. There was no catalyst, like Peoples' Temple or Branch Davidians, who hands were forced, as it were, by outside influences. They just saw the sign in the sky and knew it was their time to go. For them, it would have been suicide to stay. They were all older people, no children died - all in all it was a very well organised and 'happy' event. Reminds me of early Christians singing and being happy to be fed to the lions.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Hm, the notion of people "happily" following a leader who encourages
them to sacrifice themselves takes us well into Grand Inquisitor
territory.

On a lighter note, I think it was Saki, H. H. Monro, who suggested
the line "It's the Early Christian that catches the lion" as an
antidote to cheerful early risers. Though "Up with the cock" sounds
more fun than a worm breakfast. :rolleyes:
 
A

Anonymous

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Lucy,

I read on the Hartlepool Mail website (I know, I'm dull, but I have to keep up with my local news back home!) an apology because a few weeks ago they had ran a recruitment advert for a Danish cult of some sort. I don't remember the details (maybe you saw it yourself?) but I think I read on CNN also that they were being investigated because they are suspected of being a suicide cult.
If that is the case, than it will be a matter of here today, gone tomorrow!!
 

lucydru

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Huh! How did I miss something like that!


luce
 
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Anonymous

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What Danish cult is that? I can't remember any distinct danish cults?

I saw some guys advertising for the Rael religion the other day. If I see them again maybe I should point to the sky and go "Oh my god, a UFO!" just to annoy them. But I have to say it is one of the best made religions I have seen. Probably because it is so new so it can be made to be fitted with what we know of the world today.
 
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Anonymous

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How FRUSTRATING!!! I have searched on the H/Pool Mail archives, and at CNN.com but cannot find the articles. What is going on? It was only about two weeks ago I read the stories. The one on CNN stated that police were investigating the cult who were trying to recruit in Miami (I think) and had heard that their idea was to all kill themselves if the Second Coming doesn't occur on a certain date. They were particularly concerned because there are a lot of children involved in the cult.

In the Mail, it wasn't an article as such, it was more of just an apology for having ran the recruitment advert as they had no idea that that was what it was.
There was a little bit about a guy who had gotten involved with them and said that he had gone on what he thought was a training course with them, but had then been brainwashed by them:eek!!!!:

So why can't the articles be found now???? I know I didn't imagine the stories:confused:
 

lucydru

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Would this advert have anything to do with getting people to go to Denmark for 6 weeks trainning before being sent off to Mozambique (and another place)?

That is the only advert that I can think of that fits in with all this. If it is the one then it has been running for a few months in the job section. The amount of times I have looked at it and thought what a cool thing it would be to do! If it was that then whoa!


luce
 
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Anonymous

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I'm not sure lucy, I only saw the apology they posted on their site. It does sound like the description of the advert though. Is it still running in the Mail? If so then it isn't the one because they said that they had pulled the advert from the paper as soon as they were given notification of what the advertisement was really about.

Wish I could find those bloody articles!!!!:mad:
 

lucydru

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Dad thinks the mail might of taken it from the site to cover their backs.

It is possibe that it is what you are talking about as it is the only one I recall that was for anything like that. I haven't seen it in the paper recently but I do not read it often.


luce
 
A

Anonymous

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Yes, from what I remember of the piece on the Mail website, it sounded very much like the advert you've seen. I wondered the same thing - that perhaps the Mail felt a wee bit embarrassed about the whole thing and would rather wipe it from their memory and hope that it is fast forgotten by the public also.

(Have to say though I was on the verge of calling my dad and getting him to rifle through his recycle bin in the hope of finding the article!!! Don't think he'd oblige somehow though!!)

It's weird that I can't find the other story about the same group that was on CNN.com...hmmm....

:confused:

Edited to ask: do people have recycle bins in England?? They don't do they? God - I've been away too long...
 

lucydru

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I just found this link to guess what? THE HEAVENS GATE WEBSITE! It's still around!


luce
 

lucydru

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After having a look around the site. I have found that it is all old information. One part is written by it's "present representative" Do (the leader), this is the guy who along with 38 others (should of been 39) killed himself. By killing themselves they didn't really kill themselves just there "vehicle" (human body) and were moved on to the Level above Human.

Still would like to know if it is still going on in some shape or form. It's highly interesting.


luce
 

intaglio

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(pant pant pant) Sorry I'm late ...

Cults don't go away everytime. Jehovah's Witnesses, Mormonism, Theosophy, Menonites, Plymouth Bretheren, Christadelphians all still with us
 
A

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An old chestnut

It's that old religion/cult thing again:D

Noone's ever been able to conclusively prove to me how to differentiate a cult from a religion.

Anything will survive as long as people adhear to it, or as long as there are sources about it to discover. If one Heaven's Gate leaflet or web site was to survive for a thouand years then there would still be one or more people who would rediscover it and possibly believe it.

It is the nature of religious as well as political groups to continually mutate, split, hibernate, reform, contract and expand. As long as there is at least one person alive in the world who believes the propositions of the cult/group/religion in question it will not disapear.

Ideas have a much longer life than people.
 

Mighty_Emperor

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There is a follow up on the remaining Branch Davidians after Waco in the Grauniad:

Of the survivors, some have moved on, some are still in prison (indicted on charges of conspiracy to murder and murder), and some, including Koresh's mother, Bonnie Haldeman, remain in Waco, committed to the Davidian leader's ideology.

Although those left at Mount Carmel insist they are not evangelising, Ron Goins has only been around for five years and is already a convert. Describing himself as a "volunteer" he says he was traumatised by what happened. "I believe David was a messenger from God," he says. "We're all coming back. That's the promise. I believe in the resurrection. I believe I'm here for a reason. I'm not attracted by a cult."

On the site of the original compound stands a large white wooden church, built this year by various well-wishers, including Goins. Opposite the church are 7ft-tall cyprus trees, with a plaque at the bottom of each commemorating a Davidian member who lost their life. One reads: "David Koresh, 33."

The Davidians who still attend church at Mount Carmel every Saturday believe Koresh is coming back in the not too distant future. To them, he wasn't just a prophet - he was Christ.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1072236,00.html

Why does that all give me a bad feeling?

Emps
 

TulipTree

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Originally posted by markbrown
Noone's ever been able to conclusively prove to me how to differentiate a cult from a religion.

Maybe the difference is that a religion survives after the original cult personality who started the group has died.

There could be some argument that all cults begin because of a persuasive leader. If the leader dies, without taking his followers with him, and the followers persevere, the cult takes on the status of a religion.

"Religion" = a teaching followed by a group of people that gives meaning or purpose to their lives.

"Cult" = a group of people following a leader who gives meaning or purpose to their lives.

In other words, without the unstable personality of Koresh himself, the Branch Davidians could become relatively respectable with tax free status and their own version of the bible available in all Family Book stores. :D

Just musing...
 

MrRING

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James Whitehead said:
Hm, the notion of people "happily" following a leader who encourages
them to sacrifice themselves takes us well into Grand Inquisitor
territory.
Yeah, that and castrating themselves willingly. What kind of unholy hold did Applewhite have?
 

Anome

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It's one of those irregular verbs again.

I follow a religion.

You are a member of a sect.

He is in a cult.

A religion is one of the respectable faiths that has either been around for a really long time, or has managed to gain respectability by other means. (eg: Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism)

A sect is either a splinter group of an actual religion, or just a faith that has all the hallmarks of a religion, but not the respectability. (Zoroastrianism, Black-hat Buddhism, Shi'ite Islam)

A cult is a religious group that's only believed by weirdos. The definition of weirdos including anyone who belongs to a cult. (Scientology, Heaven's Gate, Moonies)

Not a good definition, you say?

Well, none of them are, because they're all arbitrary, really.
 

TulipTree

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I like your definitions, Anome.
 
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Anonymous

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Perhaps -

a Cult follows a leader who is still alive, and recognises that leader as a supreme being (if not The Supreme Being).

Religion - follows set of instructions passed down by Bearded Face in Sky through a set of Prophets, some of whom may claim decendance from said Bearded Face in Sky.

So - Cults die out when the leader dies (and/or his immediate acolytes)

Religions carry on, and get very confused about what they were started for in the first place.

Of course, I am generalising....
 

Mythopoeika

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Wow, I had no idea that any of them were still alive.
 

Coastaljames

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AgProv

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Lucy,

I read on the Hartlepool Mail website (I know, I'm dull, but I have to keep up with my local news back home!) an apology because a few weeks ago they had ran a recruitment advert for a Danish cult of some sort. I don't remember the details (maybe you saw it yourself?) but I think I read on CNN also that they were being investigated because they are suspected of being a suicide cult.
If that is the case, than it will be a matter of here today, gone tomorrow!!
At the risk of resurrecting a "zombie thread" (just noticed the original post was from 2001...) this thing about the contradiction inherent in a local newspaper which is dependent on advertising revenue, that suddenly realises the people from whom it was happy to take advertising revenue are a bit dodgy and suddenly become newsworthy in their own right, for all the wrong reasons.

Some years ago the dear old Manchester Evening News was caught out like this. It reported on several local "massage parlours" that had been busted by police and Immigration for importing Eastern European ladies under duress. The last line of the article asked for further information on the people responsible and promised anonymity for stories.

the paper was deluged with replies along the lines of "Talk to your advertising department. They've been taking these peoples' adverts for months now, look in your own back pages under "Adult services" and "Massage"." or "I was delighted to send the police recent copies of your advertising pages as evidence. Can't you be busted for aiding and abetting, or "living on the proceeds of prostitution"?" (It even got to Private Eye). The M.E.N. still accepts this sort of small ad... lots of them....
 
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AgProv

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On cults.... the big difficulty is definition. The religious establishment has a lot of clout and perhaps I'm being cynical, but it likes to restrict membership to the "club". It might boil down to controlling who gets access to the collection plate - established players really don't like any newcomers trying to get their snouts in the trough? And Christianity is a surprisingly nebulous entity. You can place most denominations on a continuum running roughly Orthodox - Catholic - Protestant, but rather like those maps that have to put the Shetland Islands/Channel Islands on little inset boxes because they simply wouldn't fit on the same page (substitute Hawaii/Alaska on maps of the USA), some groups go off the scale. But just as Hawaii is still clearly one of the fifty states, or the Shetland Islands are clearly (for now) part of Great Britain, they still clearly belong.

Groupings like the Christian Scientists, the Mormons or the Jehovah's Witnesses clearly still count as Christian, but their theology and concepts are not "mainstream". I think "heterodox" is the appropriate term. But they'd still only tick a few, not all, of the accepted markers for "cult" status.

A real cult might be something like the Worldwide Church of God, an organisation I had an appalled fascination with for a long time. Older readers might recall a truly weird magazine called "The Plain Truth", that you could pick up for free at many newsagents. I used to read this, pretty much for the fortean value, and - wow. This organisation I'd heard of through its extensive advertising in the Reader's Digest: promising interested people the plain and simple reasons why American and by extention Western civilization was going to Hell in a handbasket, and what could be done about it. I gathered from context (RD being not exactly left-wing liberal) that the issue was liberalism and the answer was a combination of right-wing political values and old-time religion. Hmm. The promise of simple black-and-white answers to simply stated black-and-white problems. That's got to be a draw for many people.

And then you discovered the Worldwide Church of God was everywhere. Not all newsagents - but a hell of a lot - had a presentation point for this absolutely FREE! publication that promised to convey the secret of how the wicked fallen world could sort itself out and return to a state of Godliness. You picked up the magazine, you read the articles, you wrote off for more information, and eventually you'd be invited to a temple. It was as if whoever was responsible for this had moved on from the doorstepping technique of the JW's and LDS: this was doorstepping religion with the Post Office doing the knocking on the door for people who actively wanted to get the mailings, done by proxy. Evidently a product of a shrewd mind. But how did they pay for it all?

I wrote off for a few of the books. Fair play, they were free, but were accompanied by strongly worded suggestions that I should make a contribution, we suggest $x, to further the Great Godly Work. (Hey. I was a student and living in genteel poverty. I appreciated a free read. What do you think I did?)

And... wow. A new world unfolded. And if FT has never covered the theology, history and social dynamic of the WWCoG, then there's an article - or a series of articles - going begging here.

The USP of this church, I discovered, was not a new idea in Christianity. But certainly a strange one, albeit one which that very elastic book, The Bible, is capable of supporting with a theological infrastructure. British Israelism, but recast for the USA in the latter part of the 20th Century.

British Israelism is a religious world-view that begins with the observed Biblical concept that there were once twelve tribes of ancient Israel. Following the first diaspora - the expulsion of the Israeli people to Babylon following the LORD removing his favour from them, whence there was much weeping beside the river in Babylonian exile - ten of those tribes drop out of the Biblical account and only two remain. only Judea and one other are allowed to return to Israel and eventually - and maybe - become first fathers of the people we today know as Jewish. But where did the other ten tribes go?

After this the logic of the story departs from the Bible and takes strange turns. BI believers assert all ten tribes, wandering in exile, turned to Europe. In defiance of known history, ethnology, archaeology, lingusitic reconstruction and the beginnings of written European history, those ten tribes became the parents of (generally Western) European peoples and nations. One with early promise became Greece and Rome, but the LORD withdrew his favour when the Romans turned to paganism, and cast down the Roman Empire. Despite their adopting a version of Christianity, seemingly. Others became Belgium, Holland, Scandinavia, Germany, France, et c. The most powerful and favoured of all became Britain, and was allowed stewardship of the world in the name of the LORD, until we all voted Labour in 1945 and fell from grace. Stewardship of the world fell to the descendents of Mannaseh (Great Britain) who had fled to new colonies and who had avoided the Satanic taint of socialism and liberalism. Yes, we are talking the good ol' USA here. (This is an editorialised paraphrase of WWCoG theology here, you understand).

And - yes - the real truth was, due to Satanic manipulation, lost to mankind until God's anointed prophet, Herbert W. Armstrong, arose in the early-middle 20th century to speak plain truth into the wilderness and found a Church.

Enter Herbert, a true autocrat and former advertising executive. And one who brooked no argument nor dissent.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_W._Armstrong
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert_W._Armstrong
At the heart of a cult, there's generally one charismatic, autocratic, dictatorial, individual. Who founds a sort of personal empire where he is in charge. and if he also knows how to sell ideas to draw people in... you get an interesting (from the outside) machine. The history of the WWCoG under Armstrong is comparitively banal (no Jonestowns) but demonstrates what a well-organised toxic ideology can do with regard to social control, propagation of some crazy ideas, the degree to which members surrender personal autonomy, and - crucially - a steady flow of money and resources from the membership to the leadership. No accident the Church was headquartered in Pasadena (now more famous as the location for The Big Bang Theory). Pasadena, California, has been described as the home of the real three R's: Right-wing, Reactionary, and Republican. A religion appealing to all three would find its home here. I remember that while the British edition of The Plain Truth was at least superficially tailored to British perceptions, one article asserted that the National Health Service was a symbol of why Britain had fallen from favour in God's eyes, as socialised medicine was clearly Satanic, sapping the will and desire of the people to be self-sufficent and for them to be content to live forever on welfare without needing to pay a doctor's bill at least once. No wonder Britain's once-legendary hardiness and self-reliance had evaporated, and THERE WILL BE A RECKONING COME THE DAY!

In full accord with his philosophy of hardy self-reliance, Armstrong insisted church members paid up to three tithes of all their earnings each year to the Church, restricting himself to the penury of only three Californian mansions and one private jet. The real hardship imposed by the financial demands was ignored, and because the Day of the Second Coming was near, members who took out pension plans or worried about things like banktruptcy or inability to repay debts were berated for lack of faith.

The whole show collapsed after his death, and today there are three or four splinter groups claiming to be the true Church, which all hate each other - largely because no one of them is getting all the money and legal wrangles continue over who gets the real estate - and terrible slanderous stories persist as to why Herbert disowned his son, the famous Garner T. Armstrong. One of the most Satanic is that Garner T. walked in one day to witness his father performing a seemingly Ungodly act with his sister. Herbert apparently said this is Biblical, as Lot, on the death of his wife, had no alternative other than to seek to perpetuate his genes through the distasteful act of sleeping with his daughters. (and, ye Gods, this is what happened after the pillar of salt business. Or so the Bible tells us. And does God's infallible word lie?)

But, if you want a cult that made it big and avoided any of that unproductive Jonestown/Solar Temple stuff (as dead people cannot continue to contribute to the Great Work, wills excepted). I give you the Worldwide Church of God and its Plain Truth. Thank you.
 
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AgProv

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Shaking off this Mortal Coil.

Celibate cult of Shakers down to two members, after death of Sister Frances Carr. RIP :(

I wondered if there were more Shakers elsewhere - but it seems not.

Shame - but nice furniture with a price to match!
I recall from general reading on weird and odd things (Yes. I freely admit to being addicted to oddness) there was an American religious cult called something like "Oneida". Its tenet was that all sorts of consensual sexual expression were freely permitted to believers. Which for the late 19th Century was pretty advanced thinking. The catch was.... male members were expected to refrain from orgasm and emission of seed as this was held to be fatally weakening to the male constitution. Women, apparently, were allowed all the orgasms they liked. (OK, I could see me as a member... "Oh, sorry. Damn my frailty and weakness! I'm evidently not there yet. But you are bound to carry on showing me the Way. Can we try again in maybe an hour, and perhaps with God's will I can get it right? Bless you, sister...")

I guess there was no shortage of new members... for a while, at least. But if you were doing it properly, there'd be no need for a Sunday school for the Oneidan children as there probably wouldn't be second-generation oneidans.... (EDIT: aware on re-reading as to what unfortunate implications might apply here. Have to state, for the record, that the Oneida people emphasised consenting sexual relations between adults. But this was subject to nineteenth century perceptions as to what constituted adulthood; there was no "age of consent" as we understand it now. Puberty would have been the deciding factor and that would have happened a little later than it does now. Broadly, if a girl was physically capable of bearing children, she was adult. And Oneidans certainly preached that if a boy could emit semen, he was part of the adult community. Aware in some respects this is still squick, but probably OK by the social perceptions of the time... does this cult persist anywhere in any form? Sounds like it might overlap with tantric yoga, but approached by a different route).
 
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GNC

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AgProv, if you wrote an article for FT about the WCoG I'd happily read it.
 

AgProv

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Thank you! Makes me want to check out any style guide FT provides for contributors, and to give it a go....
 
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