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Doomsday, destructive religious cults

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We define Doomsday/Destructive/Apocalyptic cults to be religiously based, very high intensity, controlling groups that have caused or are liable to cause loss of life among their membership or the general public.

It is important to realize that out of the tens of thousands of new religious groups worldwide, only a very few meet these criteria.

We do not include terrorist groups in the above definition, because their goals are primarily political, not religious. However, groups like Al Quaeda (The Source) do have some points of similarities with destructive religious cults.

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What is behind the death of members of destructive cults?

No consensus exists concerning the motivation for the loss of life within this handful of cults:

bulletSome in the Anti-Cult Movement claim that much of this loss of life among cult members was the result of mass suicides ordered by the group leadership. That opinion fits well with their now-discredited belief that cult memberships have been the victims of mind control techniques. Having little self-will, they have been willing to follow any order from the leadership -- even one leading to self destruction. 
bulletThe loss of life by the Heaven's Gate membership was definitely a suicide. The members were convinced that they would be transported, at death, to a space ship where they would evolve to a higher level of existence.  There is overwhelming hard evidence that all of the deaths within the Ugandan Movement for the Restoration..., and many of the Solar Temple deaths were actually murders to cover financial fraud by the leadership. This may have been the motivation for the Jeffrey Lundgren murders as well. All of the Branch Davidian victims appear to have been murdered by their leaders -- either by being shot or as a result of the arson-set fire. Many, perhaps most, of the People's Temple victims were also murdered. Details are sketchy because of the advanced state of decomposition of the bodies when investigators arrived.

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Details of destructive doomsday cults:

bulletHomicides directed against the public:
bulletAum Shinri Kyo
bulletThe Family (Charles Manson)
bulletSuicides or homicides of their own members:
bulletBranch Davidians 
bulletHeaven's Gate
bulletJeffrey Lundgren
bulletMovement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (Uganda)
bulletThe People's Temple (Jim Jones)
bulletSolar Temple

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Religious groups with the possible potential to be destructive:

bulletConcerned Christians  
bulletHouse of Yahweh

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Sponsored link:

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White supremacist groups: 

These do not fit the mold of the destructive cults listed above. However, they do preach hatred of gays, lesbians, African-Americans, communists and other minorities. Even though the group may preach non-violence, their message of hate appears to inspire some of their members to commit murders and serious terrorist acts:

bulletThe Creativity Movement (formerly called the World Church of the Creator)
bulletEssays on the Aryan Nation and similar white supremacist groups will be described at a future date.

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Other related topics:

bulletCommon Factors Among Doomsday Cults
bulletPredictions of the end of the world:

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Sponsored links:

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Site navigation: Home page > Cult menu > here

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Copyright 1996 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last updated 2007-JUL-25

Author: B.A. Robinson

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