Tag Archives | Cults

China: No Cult Zone

Naval_battle_between_Taiping-Qing_on_Yangtze

Actual photo of Naval battle between Taiping-Qing armies on Yangtze River. The caption in French says: “Canonnade des Taiping contre les jonques de guerre des Tsing qui assiégeaient la capital du Royaume céleste.” (“Taiping cannon fire against the Qing war junks that are assaulting the capital of the celestial kingdom”).

Remember the cult killing in a Chinese McDonald’s by members of the Church of the Almighty God? The Economist examines the history of “cults” in China in light of this recent crime.

via The Economist:

ON AUGUST 21st five members of a banned religious sect known as the Church of the Almighty God went on trial for a murder that has gripped the country. One evening in May, in front of stunned customers at a McDonald’s in the eastern city of Zhaoyuan, in Shandong province, the suspects allegedly beat to death a woman who had refused to give them her phone number.

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How To Escape From Scientology’s Sea Org

2008 06 Sea Arrrgh - I Joined the Sea OrgIt’s supposed to be near-impossible to leave the “church” of Scientology’s elite paramilitary offshoot Sea Org, but Vocativ reports that Jillian Schlesinger found a way:

On the morning that 29-year-old Jillian Schlesinger finally decided to leave the Church of Scientology, she awoke early and wondered whether she was losing her mind. Was she about to do something she’d always regret? A native Californian, she’d spent most of her life in the church. Her parents were Scientologists, as were her friends—basically everyone she knew. If she left, they’d disown her. On the other hand, if she stayed, her misery would continue. Either way, Schlesinger knew her escape attempt would change her life forever.

She was not just a member of the church, she was part of its elite, the Sea Organization, Scientology’s management body of members who sign contracts promising to serve the group for a billion years. She lived at Scientology’s big blue West Coast headquarters on Sunset Boulevard, known as the Pacific Area Command, or PAC Base.

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Raelian UFO Cult Seeking To Build Embassy In Cambodia

embassyWill Cambodia’s Phnom Penh be the greeting point for interplanetary visitors to Earth? The Phnom Penh Post on the Raelian movement’s setting up base:

The world’s largest UFO cult has reached Cambodia. “People are not [ready] yet, but we will keep trying to spread the message,” said Am Vichet, the head of the Cambodian chapter of the Raelian Movement, which believes advanced alien civilisations created life 25,000 years ago in a laboratory. Its mission on this planet is to prepare humankind for their eventual return.

One of the main goals of Raelism is to build a $20 million embassy for the Elohim, preferably in Israel. Perhaps due to Raelism’s symbol – a swastika enveloped in a Star of David – the movement is banned in the birthplace of Judaism.

So Raelians are looking eastward and, last January, applied to the Council of Ministers in a letter addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen.

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‘If Everything is Important, Then Nothing is Important’: The Cult of the White Panther

Pic: Image derived from public domain source.

Pic: Image derived from public domain source.

Here’s a great little piece from EsoterX on heirophany, religious revelation in the modern world, and the rise of the cult of the white panther:

Via EsoterX

Our modern, interconnected world is so saturated with significance that its seems highly unlikely that a new religion could find purchase, so we look upon the historical rise and fall of alternate theologies as quaint museum pieces, worthy of examination, but no more vested with cosmological import that the latest political scandal.  But all religions begin somewhere.  Nail a guy to a cross these days, and you better be ready to invoke “stand-your-ground” laws.  Renouncing your princely heritage and travelling South Asia as an ascetic philosopher seems like an exceptionally bad career move.  If you see a burning bush, you’d better call the fire department.  It’s not that these sorts of events go unremarked in the modern world, rather that absolutely everything is steeped in significance worthy of endless hours of commentary, social media exposure, and documentation for future generations.

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Documentary Looks Inside The Heaven’s Gate Cult

Quite possibly the craziest cult ever, Heaven’s Gate was founded by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. Heaven’s Gate members believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, renewed, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. While the group was formally against suicide, they defined “suicide” in their own context to mean “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered,” and believed that their “human” bodies were only vessels meant to help them on their journey. Inconversation, when referring to a person or a person’s body, they routinely used the word “vehicle”.

This documentary investigates an incident in 1997, where thirty-nine members of the San Diego-based cult “Heaven’s Gate” committed mass suicide. They intended to reach an alien spacecraft which they believed to be following Comet Hale-Bopp, which was at that time brightly visible in the nighttime sky.

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Jonestown: Paradise Lost (documentary)

This is a hybrid documentary about Jim Jones, Peoples Temple, Jonestown, and the victims. This includes the words of some of the survivors and dramatization of the real events. Please feel free to share your thoughts and recommendations.

via Top Documentary Films

An evangelical preacher led nearly a 1,000 followers from the United States deep into the jungles of South America. They would build a new community free of oppression and violence and it was to be their paradise on Earth, but outsiders threatened to expose the dark side of their leader. In one day two worlds collidedand paradise was lost. In November 1978 reporters around the world broke the news that Jim Jones and more than 900 of his followers died.

By the late 1960s and early 70s the streets of America erupted in violence and civil strife. War in Vietnam, civil rights marches and political assassinations played out on television.

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Hostile Spiritual Takeover: Thug Saints in the Cult of Maria Lionza

Maria Lionza RitualIn less than a month, tens of thousands of devotees to the cigar-smoking and liquor-swilling Venezuelan religious cult, El Espiritismo Marialioncero, will make their yearly pilgrimage to Sorte Mountain.  Located there is their most important spiritual site: a shrine to Maria Lionza, their highest deity, the spirit of a departed native chief’s daughter.

It is impossible to pin down exactly who Maria Lionza was, the differing accounts of her history being numerous and varied.  Whether or not she was an actual historical figure is still argued.  Few hints can be gathered from the many disassociated images of her, some showing a crowned, green-eyed girl surrounded by the forest and animals, and some, like the famous statue by Alejandro Colina standing beside the Francisco Fajardo Highway in Caracas, depicting a warrior woman, astride a tapir, holding a female pelvis above her head.

Maria LionzaOne of the more common stories places her birth sometime during the 16th century, among the native Nivar tribe.  Her birth name was Yara, which, in an attempt by the Spanish to Christianize her story, would later be changed to Maria.  It is said that the tribe’s shaman prophesied the coming of a green-eyed girl who would have to be sacrificed to the Great Anaconda to divert the destruction of the tribe.  Yara’s father, upon seeing her eyes, decided to save the baby from her would-be killers, and hid her in a cave.  She grew up there, watched over by twenty-two warriors, until the day she sneaked away and visited the nearby lagoon.  There, the Great Anaconda caught sight of her, and, falling in love with her, demanded she come away with him.  Yara refused, and in retaliation, he swallowed her whole.  But immediately, the Great Anaconda began to swell, displacing the waters of the lagoon, and flooding the village, destroying the tribe.  He continued to swell until he burst, and the unscathed Yara emerged.… Read the rest

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Social Media Recruiting Grounds for Cults

hare krishna zombieForget tambourines and flowers, the new cults (and some of the old ones) are recruiting via social media.

Via The Kernel:

The days of wearing hooded robes and waiting for initiates to slink furtively into your taffeta-draped S&M temple are, sad to say, long gone. As any cult’s social media manager (bear with us) will tell you, the easiest way to find new members for your crackpot cargo cult is to use websites like Facebook to spread your messages – however bonkers they might be.

The Cult Information Centre defines as a cult as an organisation which among other things uses psychological coercion to recruit, indoctrinate and retain its members.

So who fits the bill? Well, I know they don’t like being referred to as a cult, but the Church of Scientology certainly uses Facebook to share “resources” to both its existing members and people who haven’t encountered the “church” before.

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China’s Scary And Fast-Growing Cult Eastern Lightning

eastern lightning

Chinese Christians live in fear of being kidnapped and brainwashed into Eastern Lightning. Vice writes:

In some ways, Eastern Lightning are hilarious. For starters, the cult’s core belief is that Jesus Christ has been reincarnated as a middle-aged Chinese woman called Lightning Deng who now lives in Chinatown in New York. Then there are the bizarre evangelizing attempts to recruit China’s rural communities—stuff like the sudden appearance of live snakes painted with scripture and mysterious glow sticks hidden in people’s homes that somehow (I’m really not sure how) signal the second coming of Christ.

To their victims, though, Eastern Lightning aren’t a joke. The cult operates by infiltrating China’s underground house churches (proper ones are banned in China) and integrating themselves into the community, before allegedly seducing, kidnapping, bribing, or blackmailing members into joining them. Highly organized and comprised of more than a million members, according to some estimates, Eastern Lightning train their leaders to build trust slowly over months before making their move.

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Lord Steven Christ: Heaven is Only a Tattoo Away

Lord Steven Christ 01There’s nothing novel about someone claiming to be the returned Messiah.  In fact, with the dissemination of information being what it is these days, it’s hard to throw a palm branch without hitting one.  But few of them have been arrested for threatening to assassinate the President like Steven Joseph Christopher (aka Lord Steven Christ).

Steven’s arrest came in January 2009 after the following post was made on the alien-earth.org forum on January 11:

ok we have 6 days until my Presidential Assasination.
Yes, I have decided I will assasinate Barack Obama. It’s really nothing personal about the man. He speaks well, has a loving although controlling wife and two cute daughters. But I know it’s for the country’s own good that I do this. And I’m not racist either, my family is a little, but isn’t all Italian and European families? I mean how many times have you heard the word (racial slur) in the comforts of your home?

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