Being part of a cult is a super scary concept that we are not very familiar with in France. We know it’s strange, that we shouldn’t go near it, but we don’t necessarily know the atrocious things that may have happened in the past. Obviously, these sects would be nothing without a charismatic leader and we are going to introduce you to the scariest ones, those you should never come across in your life.
Today, everyone knows Charles Manson and his sect, the Manson Family. In 1967, Manson founded his hippie community after years of imprisonment and wandering. He moved to a ranch near Los Angeles where he lived with about fifteen people, mostly very young women who later said they had been regularly raped. Community members scavenge neighborhood trash for food and live off theft and drug trafficking.
What made Charles Manson’s cult famous were the assassinations of Sharon Tate and her friends and the LaBianca couple in August 1969. Most members of the cult at that time were Manson fanatics who remained loyal to him even after his incarceration.
2. Marshall Applewhite
In the 1970s, Marshall Applewhite founded a sectarian group, Heaven’s Gate. According to him, extraterrestrials are at the origin of life on Earth and they will only be saved from human extinction by worshiping them. Little by little, followers join him and Applewhite makes a hypothesis that turns into certainty: the world is going to be “recycled” and the only chance of survival is to leave it first. When a comet lights up the sky in 1997, Applewhite convinces all followers that a ship is hiding behind the star and that it will come looking for the cult members after they die. He therefore committed suicide with 38 followers of the sect by swallowing barbiturates. Such a weird and dangerous guy.
3. Shoko Asahara
Shoko Asahara is the leader of the Japanese sect Aum Shinrikyo, founded in 1984 and still active today. To recruit followers, Asahara promises them divine experiences. These visions are actually the consequences of a lack of sleep and the consumption of LSD and amphetamines (amazing).
People who try to leave the sect or who speak ill of it are regularly murdered and investigations never go back to the guru. Until 1995 when Asahara organized a sarin gas attack in the Tokyo subway which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000. He was then condemned to death by Japanese justice and executed 23 years after his crime.
4. Jim Jones
Jim Jones is the scariest cult guru in history because his cult, The People’s Temple, caused the death of 914 people in 1978. As early as the 1960s, Jim Jones recruited followers in the United States to who he claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus. He asserts his dominance over them by taking possession of all their property, subjecting them to sexual intercourse with him, forcing them to confess in writing to crimes they did not commit, and making them believe that the CIA continues. In 1977, Jones moved to Guyana with his community of 1000 people to live in self-sufficiency and baptized his village “Jonestown” after his name. The working conditions are atrocious for the faithful, they work 11 hours a day and are often punished.
On November 18, 1978, reporters and an American politician who had come to investigate the sect were murdered by followers. Jim Jones then decides it’s time to put his plan into action and plans a “mass suicide” the same day, supposedly to send a message to the government. He has a mixture of lemonade and cyanide prepared to poison all the members and also drinks it. Among the victims were about 300 children.
5. David Koresh
In 1981, David Koresh joined a sectarian religious community and decided to become its leader. He decides to impose a doctrine of polygamy and has sexual relations with very young girls, some of them barely 12 years old. These different girls give birth to at least 15 children of which Koresh is the father and these children, like the others of the sect, undergo military training from the age of 6 years. In 1993, the American government tried to free the members of the sect but this initiative led to a siege of the residence which lasted more than 50 days and ended with a terribly deadly fire (82 people including 21 children and the leader of the sect die). We still do not know if this fire, far from being accidental, is a collective suicide or a mass murder.
6. Keith Raniere
Keith Raniere is the leader of NXIVM, an American cult that operates as a pyramid organization. The goal of the sect was to recruit vulnerable and impressionable women by promising them personal development seminars to regain control of their lives. In reality, recruited women became sex slaves and were sentenced to forced labor within NXIVM. These women were branded and had to give compromising information about themselves as collateral. In 2017, an article in the New York Times denounced the practices of the sect and the media impact led to arrests, including that of Keith Raniere.
7. Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro
In 1984, Luc Jouret and Joseph Di Mambro thought it might be fun to found a sect in Switzerland and that is how the Order of the Solar Temple, inspired by the organization of the Templars in the Middle Ages, was born. People passing through, in search of meaning, quickly become faithful. Thanks to holograms and accomplices, the gurus make believe in supernatural appearances during ritual ceremonies. The two men collect a lot of money and live luxuriously while the members, ruined, are sexually exploited and must engage in forced labor.
In 1994, it is the carnage. In Switzerland, the gurus are organizing a “collective suicide” session (but it is very likely that some of the members have been murdered). Other massacres will take place in France and Quebec where corpses are discovered shot, poisoned or immolated. In all, 74 people were found dead, including several children and the two leaders of the sect.
8. David Berg
Originally, David Berg was an evangelical Christian pastor, but in 1968 he decided to create his own movement which he called “The Children of God”. He convinces hippies to quit drugs to convert to the Christian faith, which gives his sect a good reputation. In truth, daily life within the group is terrifying. Several former followers have disclosed sexual abuse; many children of the sect were beaten and raped by David Berg.
9. Adolfo Constanzo
In the 80s, Adolfo Constanzo founded a religious sect in Mexico and brought together followers from several backgrounds, both drug traffickers and police officers. After a few years, human sacrifice becomes a common practice within the sect. Constanzo has his rivals murdered in occult ceremonies until the day the police investigate and find the sect. Constanzo and his men fire on the police and the leader, determined not to go to prison, ends up asking one of his followers to kill him.
From the 1960s to the 1990s, Indian guru Rajneesh (also known as Osho) was adored by thousands around the world. He practices what he calls dynamic mediation and opens a center in the United States. The problem is that Rajneesh’s influence is so great that followers commit misdemeanors, even crimes, for him. Residents of the city where the center is located are poisoned by followers who want to prevent them from going to vote (in order to promote the center). Also, it was revealed that many followers of Rajneesh had sex with children. Horrible.