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7 Terrifying Cults Whose Stories Will Chill You To The Bone

By: Saisha Dixit  | | 4 mins Sep 13, 2021

Cults are social groups that are defined by their unusual religious, spiritual, or philosophical beliefs, or some kind of common interest. It’s obvious why cults are terrifying; a group of people who all share the same beliefs and reject any outside opinion is very dangerous. Cults also usually have one leader who they unequivocally follow and the one who usually manipulates them. Overall, cult members are easy to manipulate and weaponize, and have little to no critical thinking skills since they follow the hive mind.

 

There have been many cults throughout history whose stories are bone-chilling. Here are 7 of the more notorious ones.

 

Osho

 

Some of you might be familiar with this name since Osho still has active followers in Nepal, but even though he’s known as a spiritual leader now, he was a notorious cult leader. Luring in followers with ‘freedom’ and sex-positivity, Osho had people coming to his ashram from all over the world. Osho and his cult were chased off India due to various criminal acts and relocated to Oregon, USA where they pretty much colonized an entire city. His second in command, Ma Anand Sheela has been exposed for using very shocking methods to get rid of people who threatened their cult such as murder, drugs, arson, poisoning, and more. There’s a documentary on Netflix called Wild, Wild Country that goes deep into this. Here’s the trailer:

 

 

Aum Shinrikyo

 

If you’ve ever visited Japan, you must have noticed something odd about the streets there: they have no trashcans. Well, it’s all thanks to this cult. Aum Shinrikyo, led by its leader Shoko Asahara was behind the fatal sarin attack in Tokyo in 1995, where the containers of the deadly gas were suspected to have been hidden in trashcans. The cult recruited members by preaching about how their leader can protect everyone from the impending doom and grant them freedom. The attack was claimed to have been launched to ‘liberate’ people, and claimed the lives of 14 civilians and injured at least 6500. Ashara was recently executed on death row but parts of the cult are still said to be active to this day. This isn’t the only atrocity this cult has committed so if you’re interested to learn more, this video dives deeper into it:

 

 

Heaven's Gate

 

Much like Osho, this cult also recruited its members with promises of freedom, philosophy, and enlightenment. As the name suggests, one of the selling points of this cult was the belief that once a person’s end is near, a UFO will come to retrieve them. Only after the death of one of its founders did the cult members started to doubt this claim since they saw no UFO descend to take her; so they discovered a new belief: the afterlife. In 1997, bodies of 39 cult members were discovered after their mass suicide in an attempt to ascend.

 

 

The Manson Family

 

Charles Manson is a name most of us are (unfortunately) familiar with. But even though you’ve heard about this notorious serial killer, you probably don’t know the sickening details of his cult. His cult was established on the foundation that believed that a racial war was impending and he shall protect his cult members or ‘The Manson Family’ as he called it. The cult was charged with nine murders, all of which were committed in order to frame black people to accelerate the racial war propaganda.

 

 

Jonestown

 

Also known as Peoples Temple Agricultural Project, this was the name of the settlement of the cult in Guyana, and also where 918 people were found dead. Jim Jones was the leader of this cult and he and his loyal subjects were responsible for the physical and emotional abuse of many cult members. They would manipulate their followers into giving their entire life’s savings to the cult and once they had nothing left, they would be vulnerable enough to manipulate further. The mass suicide mentioned earlier came after the cult members went as far as to murder a US Congressman who came to evaluate the conditions of the cult. They were all made to drink poison (most against their will), and one-third of them were mere children.

 

 

Nxivm

 

This cult was responsible for luring women by advertising MLM programs and running sex trafficking rings underneath. It had big names involved with it, the most notable being the Hollywood star, Allison Mack. The leader, Keith Raniere, was charismatic and confident and lured innocent women in with promises of a better life. The cult was also branding women with their symbols like cattle and making them have intercourse with the leader for blackmail material. However, despite Raniere’s best efforts and sabotage attempts, he was sentenced to 120 years in prison in 2020.

 

 

Church of Euthanasia

 

Just to illustrate what this cult stood for, their slogan was "Save the Planet, Kill Yourself". This cult was founded in 1992 and the founder Chris Korda was extremely concerned about overpopulation and how it was slowly destroying our planet. He and his followers believed that all of the world’s problems were caused by overpopulation and the only solution was to reduce the population. The founder Korda was even quoted saying that his cult is an ‘anti-human religion’. Although the cult only supported population reduction by voluntary means and did not turn to murder or eugenics.

 

 

While the rise of the internet and technology has made people less vulnerable to the types of lies that cult leaders perpetuate, there are unfortunately still many cults active around the world. We can only hope all the victims are rescued and the criminals all get served justice. Which cult do you want to know more about? Make sure to tell us over on Facebook.

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