Cults differ from religions in several ways. Cults are known for having small memberships and deviate from the worship of a God figure, often turning to worship the inner self or a central human figure.
There are many weird, hilarious and occasionally dangerous cults in the world. In this article, I’ll be sharing some information on some of the most bizarre ones I’ve come to learn about.
CHURCH OF EUTHANASIA
The One Commandment in Life?
‘Thou shalt not procreate’.
According to the ‘church’ website, inspiration came to Reverend Chris Korda in a dream. An alien intelligence known as ‘The Being’ spoke to her of Earth’s failing ecosystem, a secret that was allegedly being covered up by the world leaders. Korda awoke from her dream moaning what would become the Church’s slogan ‘Save the planet – Kill yourself’ (1).
Though it discourages murder (As it’s not an voluntary means of population control), it’s four main pillars of faith are abortion, cannibalism, sodomy and suicide (2). Disturbingly enough, the website has instructions on how to commit suicide, and even on how to eat dead bodies.
The website was forced to remove several pages involving instructions on suicide, after a 52-year-old woman followed through in 2003.
Perhaps the greatest irony of all is that Korda is still alive, and clearly hasn’t followed her own advice.
This cult was brought to my attention by actress Michelle Pfeiffer. In her younger years, she was taken in by a seemingly friendly couple as she was trying to make it in Hollywood. From this point onwards, she was immersed into the cult, up until being saved by husband, Peter Horton (3).
What do Breatharians believe?
They think that food isn’t necessary for human survival and a person can live a healthy life entirely off sunlight. Essentially believing that humans are like plants in the process of photosynthesis.
As anybody with any common sense (Or a high school understanding of biology) could have guessed, the practitioners of Breatharianism often die. One unfortunate casuality, Verity Linn from Scotland, referenced the teachings of the self-proclaimed prophet, Jasmuheen in her diary (4).
Jasmuheen, born Ellen Greve, denies any responsibility and claims that the lifestyle she advocates is being improperly conducted – “If you haven’t found the light that will nourish you, you may have the intention to become a breatharian, but in fact you may be putting yourself through food deprivation. There is one known case where a person died when trying to become a breatharian.” (5)
It would seem, that in a world where people have been drawn into such a frenzy over the chemicals in their food, that they can be misled into diets that are blatantly destructive.
This addition, though a cult, is also classified as a terrorist organisation.
On March 20th 1995, members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult dropped five plastic bags of liquid sarin onto a Tokyo subway train in rush hour. In what was described as a ‘coordinated attack’, the cult members pierced the packets with metal-tipped umbrellas, unleashing the deadly gas within upon the commuters. 13 people were killed, and more than 6,000 others were left suffering from ‘vision problems and fatigue’ (6).
Following the attack, 200 members of the cult were convicted – including the leader, Shoko Asahara, who remains on death row to this day.
Asahara started the cult in the 1980s, drawing upon elements of Christian, Buddhist and Hindu teachings (Shiva, the Hindu God of destruction is a primary deity in the cult). He declared himself to be the saviour of the world, and claimed to possess supernatural powers. As he claimed the world would come to and end, people flocked to him to be saved- with the cult gathering around 40,000 followers (7).
Disturbingly enough, the cult’s following seemed to gain momentum after the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway. In 1998, the cult made £30 million selling computers from shops. It was still distributing books about how to gain supernatural powers, and there was even a band representing the cult – Perfect Salvation, who performed songs written by Asahara himself.
Bizarrely, though Japan could have outlawed the cult under a 1952 law against subversive activities, the government decided they didn’t pose a ‘immediate and obvious threat’ to the public. Despite the group’s open admission that they want to hasten the apocalypse, the group only lost its status as a religion and remained under surveillance, rather than being outright banned.
What is it about cults that appeals to people?
It can be argued that all cults offer something universally appealing : friendship, identity, respect and security (8). They can also offer world-views, with clearly defined moralistic standpoints – a solid definition of right and wrong in a world where the lines are often blurred. By offering answers to the big questions, cults are successful in luring people into their traps.
Though the ludicrous and unusual beliefs of cults are amusing to outsiders, there is no question that these organisations are dangerous. They take people away from their families, brainwash them, drain their bank accounts and on some occasions, take their lives.