Cults of the Century


Save the Planet; Kill Yourself. Photo Credit: Occult Museum.

Grace Kim, Photojournalist

“We were taught that to sacrifice one’s self will and serve the church was the only way to salvation.” Lilia Tarawa belonged to a strict religious cult founded by her own grandfather in New Zealand called the Gloriavale Christian community. This group of followers believed in having a strict hierarchy where the children submit to their parents, a wife must submit to her husband, a husband must submit to the church, and the church followed the advice of God. After enduring countless instances of physical abuse, Lilia Tarawa decided to runaway. Lilia Tarawa’s escape sparked mass attention from public media like The Guardian. Due to the strange nature of cults, the public have taken interest in hearing the absurd rituals and followings of certain practices. Christine Ding (11), “believes that cults are interesting to hear about, because they are so secretive and different.” Although cults have existed throughout history, some cults are just too strange to bypass. Here are three absurd cults that had existed or still existing today.


  • Jonestown: November 18, 1978 marks the day in which 900 Americans were found dead due to drinking poison. These 900 Americans were all members of a cult called the Peoples Temple led by Reverend Jim Jones. The People’s Temple was a political cult that preached about unconventional socialist and progressive ideas. After moving the community to a secluded area in Guyana, Venezuela, Reverend Jim Jones became almost paranoid that authorities was going to arrest them. When U.S congressman, Leo Ryan, was shot by a member of the Peoples Temple, Reverend Jim Jones planned a massive suicide by poisoning.


  •  Heaven’s Gate: Heaven’s Gate is probably the most peculiar cult among this list. The main belief behind Heaven’s Gate was hardcore “doomsday”. They believed that the end was near, and the only way to survive was to leave Earth immediately. According to Heaven’s Gate beliefs, everyone should stop believing in any other religions because they are all lies told by evil space aliens called Luciferians. Although the followers of this cult has decreased since the death of 39 members who participated in a massive suicide event to reach comet Hale-Bopp, this cult still exists today.


  • The Church of Euthanasia: The Church of Euthanasia is based on one core belief, “Thou shalt not procreate”. (Procreate is another word for reproduce). Members of this organization are basically extreme environment conservationist. In fact, one of their most popular slogan is to “save the planet,[by] killing yourself.” As there is an increasing number of human population, the delicate balance between humans and the remaining species on the Earth are at danger. The only solution: suicide, abortion, cannibalism, and sodomy.