So, when will the world end? Well, no one really knows! Not even those who claim to know it. That question is one of the statements that have caused more suffering to humanity than anything else. The peak of it is the rise of doom’s day cults which prey on people’s fears of the apocalypse to brainwash them into doing things they would never do on a normal day. If the fates of the past doom’s day cults are anything to go by, then you shouldn’t be worried about the end of the world at all. Enjoying your life in this world while it still lasts will help you avoid the fate of these poor souls.
It is not every day that a man convinces people to commit mass suicide using a sci-fi-based doctrine. Marshall Applewhite met Bonnie Nettles in a psychiatric hospital in the 1970s, and the two got married. They also agreed on a doctrine that God was an alien and that he would send a spaceship to carry all his true followers one day. He sold the doctrine to people through his tour of the US in 1974 and managed to gather a huge following.
Bonnie Nettles died in 1985, but that didn’t open Applewhite and his followers’ eyes to the fact that no spaceship was coming. In March 1979, The Hale-Bopp comet was passing, and Applewhite convinced his members that the comet was also the ship that would come to take them to “Heaven’s Gate.” So they ate apple sauce laced with cyanide and died thinking they would transition to the new world. The police discovered the bodies of 39 members of the cult dressed in tracksuits and sneakers a few days later.
The Kanungu Cult In Uganda
The massacre of 700 members of The Movement for The Restoration of the 10 Commandments On March 17, 2000, in Uganda, is still fresh in the memory of most people in the region today. The cult started as a breakaway from the catholic church, with the leaders claiming that the world would end on January 1, 2000.
When the world didn’t end at the beginning of the millennia, the leaders adjusted the date to Friday, March 17th. On the fateful day, they locked all the members in the church, bolted the doors from outside then set it alight. The Catholic church had already denounced the movement, and the leaders disappeared after the massacre, so no one was ever prosecuted for the crimes.
The People’s Temple
Jim Jones was a powerful preacher who managed to convince thousands of people to follow his socialist teachings in the 1970s. He created what looked like a resort for everyone welcoming homeless people and even people of colour at a time when racial segregation was a big problem in the US. With the huge following came lots of media scrutiny as some people questioned whether the utopic community Jones preached was as good as it sounded.
Jim Jones decided to lease land in Guyana, off the coast of Venezuela, and convinced his followers to move there and live in the jungle away from the corruption of America. Life in the jungle was tough, and rumours of suffering and abuse reached the US, which prompted the US congressman to visit the settlement, then named Jonestown in November 1978. It is not clear what happened during the visit, but the congressman was shot dead before Jones ordered his followers to poison themselves. Photos of over 900 followers, including children dead, still shock the world today.
The Mason Family
Charles Mason, who died in 2017 after his death penalty was overturned to life imprisonment, remains one of the most notorious criminals in US history. He was a criminal who had served time in several prisons before forming the cult he called the Mason family that consisted of wannabe celebrities, mostly teenage girls. He convinced his ‘family’ that a race war would start soon and that black people would be the ones to start it.
He also believed that when the war started, the family would move to a cave and wait it out, then emerge after the war and rule the world. When the war didn’t come as first as he hoped, he decided to start one himself by killing celebrities in upscale homes in LA, hoping the crimes would be blamed on black people and stir up a race war. He committed double mass murders, including killing Tate-Labianca and her friends. He and most of his family ended up in prison. One named Lynette Fromme attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in 1975 but wasn’t so lucky.
The events of February 28, 1993, have haunted the US government for years. It all started when ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms) agents stormed Mount Carmel in Waco, Texas, to search for illegal firearms believed to have been stockpiled by David Koresh, the leader of the Waco branch of the Branch Davidians. The Davidians themselves are a breakaway group of the Seventh Day Adventists church whose leaders believed that the rest of the church had become too worldly. The Waco group believed that Koresh was the messiah and that the end of the world would come once the members of the sect achieved moral perfection.
Under Koresh’s leadership, the Mount Camel group was accused of child abuse after he took most of the single members of the group and made them his wives, some underage teenagers. The community also started a retail business for guns which startled the authorities as they thought they would attack Waco and the rest of their neighbours. When the agents stormed the complex, the community attacked them, killing several agents. Then they started a standoff that ended in the deaths of 80 members of the sect when a fire burned down the entire compound.
Aum Shinrikyo or just Aum means the ultimate truth. It was a religious organization that started in the 1980s by Shoko Asahara, who claimed to be the reincarnation of both Jesus and Buddha. The organization gained thousands of followers worldwide until the 90s, when it predicted that the end of the world was imminent and that it would be caused by a global war. The leader taught that only members of the cult would survive the war and that the rest of humanity could be saved if they were killed by Aum members. They started killing people using Sarin gas in two separate attacks on Tokyo trains between 1994 and 1994, killing over a dozen people and injuring thousands. The organization was declared a terrorist organization, and eight of its leaders, including Asahara, were hanged in 2018.
Lou Castro or Danie Perez was sentenced to life in prison in 2015 in a trial that most people agree should have resulted in the death penalty. He was the leader of a cult named Angel’s landing, which started as a commune in a compound in Wichita, Kansas. He managed to convince a couple of people that he was a centuries-old angel from heaven who could fix people’s problems and see their future.
He also said he needed to have sex with underage girls to stay alive, which is why sexual abuse of girls as young as eight happened on the compound, and no one did anything about it. The worst came when it was discovered that he was somehow killing or causing members of the cult to commit suicide after taking life insurance policies then cashing out on their insurance. He was not convicted for most of the murders because they could not be linked directly to him, though.
The True Russian Orthodox Church
Like the Branch Davidians, the True Russian Orthodox church started as a breakaway group from the main church that argued that the Russian Orthodox Church had fallen. Pyotr Kuznetsov, the leader of the group, declared himself as the prophet and prophesized that the world would end in the spring of 2008 and that members of the cult could survive by hiding in a cave in the Penza region of Russia.
The 34 members hiding in the caves didn’t include the leader though, he only ‘blessed’ them before sending them into the caves with supplies to wait out the apocalypse. The authorities tried to force them out, but they threatened to blow themselves up with 400 litres of gasoline if the authorities forced them. In the end, two people died in the cave, and the stench from the rotting bodies became too hard to withstand; some members came out voluntarily. More people died before the authorities managed to end the standoff.
Order Of The Solar Temple
Luc Jouret started this cult in the late 1970s, and it was keen on recruiting rich members, mostly Swiss and Canadians. Jouret drew his doctrine from the 12th-century order of the Knights Templars, a military order of priests that was disbanded by the pope. Joiret’s group preached that the end of the world would be brought by catastrophic events in the 1990s and that members of the Solar Temple were a super-human race that would survive and rule the world after the apocalypse. However, Jouret was also using his influence to extort money from the rich members, and that brought friction that led to his ouster in the early 1990s.
The new leader, Master Robert Faraldeau, was more radical than his predecessor, though. He managed to convince his members to commit mass suicide and murders in Switzerland and Canada. They then burned down the houses where the killings happened, leading to a public outcry that led to the arrest of many members. In total, 53 cult members are believed to have committed suicide, while another three, including a newborn baby, were stabbed to death because members were convinced that it was the antichrist.
Church Of The Lamb Of God
The Church Of Jesus Of the Latter Day Saints, also known as Mormons, abolished polygamy in the 1920s, but not everyone agreed with that abolishment. Some members, led by a man named Alma Dayer Lebaron, moved to Chihuahua, Mexico, where polygamy was allowed and set up their own cult. In the 1960s, his brother Ervil Lebaron ousted him and created the Church Of The Lamb Of God, which agreed to blood atonement alongside polygamy.
They believed that a sinned had to bleed and die for their sins to enter heaven, and he, Ervil, who had now declared himself a prophet, decided who died. He ordered the killings of over 20 people before being arrested, but while in prison in Utah, he released a kill list of 50 people to his members. The killings continued long after his death. While the cult faded after Ervil’s son and successor Arturo was killed, the rest of the cult split into small groups, which turned into gangs around the US.