We have all heard countless stories about deranged suicide cults like Heavens Gate, the sect of castrated UFO worshipers that committed mass suicide in 1997 while wearing Nikes. Groups like them and cult leaders such as Jim Jones, David Koresh and Tom Cruise make all the big splashy headlines. However for those of us with a discerning palate interested in the best cults, we need to go a little off the beaten, brainwashed path. It’s sort of like being into an undiscovered band before they make it big or drinking beer from microbreweries; only the weirdest, edgiest unknown groups will do. So strap on your tin foil helmet, say a prayer to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and get ready for the strangest, the weirdest, the “best” cults around!
Was your New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Then you might want to try joining The Breatharians, a group that claims that they do not need to ingest food or water but merely live off of air and the sun’s energy or what they call “prana” to live.
Wiley Brooks (pictured) is the founder of the Breatharian Institute of America where he claims he can teach YOU how to practice Breatharianism. On his website he also states that for a mere $10,000 he will also give you an Immortality Workshop! As a special bonus “The workshop includes a visit to Earth Prime in the 5th Dimension.” Sweet deal! That’s almost as good as when I get a coupon for a free drink at Soup Plantation! However, Wiley needs to put his breath where his mouth is as he was once caught coming out of a 7- Eleven with a Slurpee, a hot dog and Twinkies.
Another prominent Breatharian, Jasmuheen, AKA Australian Ellen Greve, has been linked to the deaths of several followers who read her publications on Breatharianism and tried it for themselves. An Australian version of 60 Minutes challenged Jasmuheen to prove her claims by not eating or drinking while being observed by medical professionals. The experiment had to be stopped after four days as doctors reported she was showing signs of dehydration and at risk for kidney failure. (Watch a segment here where she maintains she doesn’t need food while about to pass out.) I would totally join a cult like this, but I’m too lazy and I love pizza.
Children of God
A lot of law enforcement agencies get up in arms over cults, but they need to just step back and see how fulfilling they can be! Hey, this is America; if you want to join a cult that makes you cover yourself in feces and get castrated well that’s just great –go right ahead. We just ask one thing, that you don’t harm the children –leave them out of it.
Alas, this is one area that a lot of cults can’t resist... they have to get some of that child love going on. Which brings us to The Children of God. Led by “prophet” David Berg AKA Moses David, the group arose out of the 1960’s hippie counter culture movement. Here’s the odd part: Berg instructed female members of his flock to go out and perform “Flirty Fishing” whereby they would have sex with random men in order to attract them to the group. What could possibly go wrong?
The cult openly called women who did this “God’s Whores” and “Hookers for Jesus.” Some women who got pregnant from Flirty Fishing had what they termed Jesus Babies. Here’s the bad part: In addition to Flirty Fishing, sexually promiscuous activities with underage members led to numerous accusations of child abuse against the group.
After the death of Berg the group eventually changed their name to The Family International and in the 1990’s established a “zero tolerance policy” regarding sex with minors. In a statement the group said: “Due to the fact that our current zero-tolerance policy regarding sexual interaction between adults and underage minors was not clearly stated in our literature published before 1986, we came to the realization that during a transitional stage of our movement, from 1978 until 1986, there were cases when some minors were subject to sexually inappropriate advances...” Well that makes sense; you have to make sure it’s in writing so everyone is up to speed on the whole sex with kids thing being taboo! Every group I’m a part of I go out of my way to put that clause in the rule book; from my golf league and bake sale fund raising club to movie night with the guys- you got to have “no sex with children” in the bylaws. Duh!
The Ant Farm Pyramid Scheme
Would you love to start your own cult but aren’t particularly versed in bible passages enough to pass yourself off as the new messiah? Then you might be interested in a good old fashioned pyramid scheme. A good pyramid scheme has the bare essentials of a religious cult without all the Jesus stuff.
The scheme starts with brainwashing its members into pledging allegiance to the organization as a whole and the methods by which they make what everyone wants: cold hard cash. Preying on the weak willed, down trodden, or just plain down on their luck is a staple of these non-religious cults. Perfect for today’s economy! This is where the “Ant Farm” Pyramid Scheme comes into play. Over an eight year period, the Yilishen Tianxi Group of China convinced hardworking families in their nation to invest about $1300 in starting their own an ant farm. Once delivered, investors had to feed and care for the ants for only 90 days- the average life expectancy of an ant.
At that point someone from the company would stop by to pick up the dead ant farm and take the belly up ants to be ground into health products (apparently the Chinese use ant based products as aphrodisiacs and arthritis medication). For their effort, the ant farmers were promised $447 after 14 months and a 32 percent rate of return each year. All sounded good but the company started using new investments as profit when the economy went south thus becoming a giant pyramid scheme which bilked a reported one million struggling Chinese out of their hard earned yaun. The communist government refused to help the victims of the scheme who now just have a bunch of dead ants on their hands and nothing to show for it. Sucks for the poor people who fell for this, but you have to give props to the Yuilishen Tianxi Group- after all, having your own cult is like having your own human ant farm. It’s fun to watch it grow and work together, but there is that temptation to smash the glass and squish them all beneath your boots.
Cargo Cults aren’t traditional “cults” in the sense they arose from odd interpretations of modern, “mainstream” theology. Rather, cargo cults arose amongst tribes on isolated islands of the South Pacific during and after World War II. Their first encounter with technologically advanced society occurred when large numbers of soldiers, weapons, and manufactured goods (cargo) were shipped and later air dropped to the islands.
Essentially if you ever wondered what would happen if we went back in time and showed our ancestors an airplane or a machine gun, this is it! (Think when Doc Brown tries to explain cars to the saloon patrons in Back to the Future #3.) The natives believed that the soldiers were able to attract the cargo planes which gave them all of their cool stuff… which must have been created by the gods. Thus the islanders began mimicking the day to day activities of the American soldiers stationed there, wearing mock uniforms, building crude landing strips, and marching around with faux wooden guns in an effort to attract more of the cargo planes. They reasoned they, too, could have canned food, guns, and radios if they only figured out the correct way to attract them. They even built planes and control towers out of bamboo! “If you build it they will come.”
When the aliens come and blow our minds with their space ships and magic-like technology, do you think we will react the same way? I’m getting my bamboo flying saucer ready now. Check out more on Cargo Cults in this fascinating clip.
The Hollywood Star Whackers
Cousin Eddie aka Randy Quaid and his wife Evi Quaid think Heath Ledger was murdered. The duo claim that there is an organized effort they call the “Hollywood Star Whackers” aimed at killing celebrities (even the likes of at best B-celebrity Quaid) to take their assets. "Hollywood is murdering its movie stars for ad sales. ... We want asylum from the murderous people in Hollywood. Accountants and lawyers embezzlers," Evi Quaid said in a statement.
Having been arrested this past September for illegally squatting on a property they previously owned, the couple is now seeking refugee asylum status in Canada for fear they might be next on the Whacker’s hit list. Psychologists have weighed in and it appears Evi Quaid’s delusions have taken root with her husband Randy- which doesn’t sound so far-fetched if you think of it in terms that they are starting their own mini cult. They just haven’t gotten around to recruiting more members yet!
Which I think is brilliant; can’t find someone else crazy enough for you? Then start your own cult! I think it would be awesome if another washed up celebrity decided to join them. Pauly Shore could get some much needed attention if he showed up at Randy and Evi Quaid’s undisclosed location and was all like “I believe you. The Star Whackers are trying to kill me too! Please hide me!” Together they could begin recruiting other past-their-prime celebs who “need protection.” Get together Fred Durst, MC Hammer, and Gary Busey, pool their limited financial resources, and build an armored compound stockpiled with weapons to keep those Hollywood Star Whackers at bay! Let’s just hope for the Quaids that this doesn’t end in a self-fulfilling prophecy of getting themselves star whacked.