“But I always say, one’s company, two’s a crowd, and three’s a party”- Andy Warhol. “And four’s a cult.” Well, maybe he did not say the latter but cults are a peculiar form of gathering where a bunch of people just go along with what some guy says, no matter how ridiculous. On the other hand, some of us can’t even get our friends to text back. So what’s the secret? A fake beard? Hypnosis?
Some argue that certain forms of pop culture can be cults. Could you imagine being labelled a cult follower just for having one too many Kendrick posters? Haha hah haaaaaaa *sweats nervously*. Let’s get technical. In the 1980s, a psychiatrist named Robert Jay Lifton wrote a paper on cults and defined three key features of cults which are that cults are centered around a charismatic leader who is the object of worship and authority but without meaningful accountability, brainwashing members through coercive persuasion or thought reform and finally, exploiting members to benefit only the leading class within the group.
There are possibly gazillion cults that have been formed through time but here are three lesser known ones that are not so heavy to read up on:
Founded by a French who dresses like MC Hammer and Spock’s lovechild, Raelism is a sci-fi hippie cult where space aliens are worshipped and humans are said to be alien inventions. Apparently, a bunch of aliens have been sent as messengers to check in on humans from time-to-time. Jesus? Alien! Buddha? Alien! You? Made by aliens! Still with me?
Rael, their leader, has an elaborate online profile where he shares that he was once a cabaret singer and race car driver but then he met an alien named Yahweh who changed his life. The alien clearly taught Rael to get his own harem and exploit members.
Now they’re possibly as ridiculous as most cults but they took their love and appreciation of science to a whole new level. The organisation claims to have successfully cloned a human being in 2000 because human so nice, you gotta make ‘em twice! Rael refused to allow clone baby ‘Eve’ to undergo DNA tests and the government took the clone away so I guess we’ll never know how fake Eve is.
Church of God with Signs Following
Here’s one for the thrill seekers. While the name of this cult may come across as a possible adaptation of a mild religion, this Church actually promotes living life dangerously- quite literally.
They’re better known as “snake handlers” because, well, that’s what they do. Misinterpreting (read: directly interpreting) the passage of Mark in the Bible, they have taken to realising the passages’ supposed meaning of taking snakes to church.
Snake handlers claim that everything they do comes directly from the Bible so they hold somewhat regular services but with bizarre ceremonies involving speaking in tongues, spinning in circles, consuming poison because why not and uhhh yeah, hanging out with snakes.
This may seem like Steve Irwin’s hobby but they have lost dozens of members to snake bites that go untreated because they believe God will heal them. There nothing left to say but hope Samuel L. Jackson busts through their doors yelling “I have had it with these *cough cough* snakes in this *cough cough* church!”
Congregation for the Light
All of us want to belong and perhaps find a niche community where we’re accepted but this cult is one where you could most probably be a part of only if your parents are one of the 200 secluded members. Maybe you’re born with it, maybe it’s a cult!
This kinda-secret society is yet another elitist Aryan sect where followers claim humans once lived on the moon. Young women cannot get educated but instead are married off to the older men in the group.
Members prepare for doomsday by undergoing weapons training and instil discipline through corporal punishment. They don’t shy away from public attention with a headquarters right in the middle of Manhattan and enjoy tax exemptions. The group has a weird fascination with owls but what’s weirder is their belief of sickness being some form of karmic retribution so if you have cancer, it’s thanks to you.
Cults are fascinating but from a distance. It’s always interesting to learn about how one could literally reply “Yes” to the proverbial “If your friend tells you to jump off a bridge, would you do it?”. There’s no way to really end this topic but to be wary of people who are too charismatic or ask you something along the lines of “Hey psst, wanna join a cult?”