What’s the difference between a cult and a religion? Well, that’s for smarter men than us to define, but hopefully you know one when/if you encounter one. For the purposes of this list, if a girl tells you she’s a member of any of these groups, do not date her because she’s in a cult. These groups get involved in everything from mass self-castration to communication with aliens. Each and every one of them deserves a place on our list of the stupidest cults.
Let’s just open up with one of the dumber Neo-Nazi cults out there. The dregs of the “white race” love to band together and proclaim their superiority, but these guys made a big deal out of it. Probably the most famous members were the twin girls in Prussian Blue, cherubic blondes who sang catchy songs about Holocaust denial. Their goal is to convert at least half of the white people on Earth to the religion. Currently they have a couple hundred, so they’ve got a ways to go. (Pictured: Matthew Hale, currently serving 40 years in the Federal pen for solicitation of murder and obstruction of justice)
Located in Attleboro, Mass., this strict Christian splinter group is a miniature version of bigger cults like the Branch Davidians, primarily occupying a duplex apartment. Under the leadership of Roland Robidoux, they eschewed all of the trappings of modern society, forbidding members to wear glasses or visit the doctor. Naturally, this led to some bad things happening, and once kids started to die of easily-preventable diseases, the government stepped in and the group has mostly dissolved.
Church of All Worlds
Paganism is, on the whole, pretty silly, but the Church of All Worlds just might take the cake. Founded by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart in 1962, many of the precepts of the group come from a science-fiction novel by Robert Heinlein. Some of the group’s biggest accomplishments include screwing with the horns of baby goats to “make unicorns” and starting a “wizard’s guild.” Probably the dorkiest group on this list.
Malachai York is a dude who knows what he wants, and he wants white folks to die. York started out dabbling with Black Islam in the 1960s, but as he grew up he developed a unique cosmology that drew from Egyptian religion, UFO paranoia and bizarre conspiracy theories. York claimed to be an extraterrestrial “master teacher” from the planet Rizq, and published hundreds of bizarre pamphlets on all sorts of subjects before getting busted for child molestation.
Fellowship of Friends
Many cult leaders try for legitimacy by claiming that famous dead people talk to them. Robert Earl Burton, leader of the Fellowship of Friends, had a whole party in his brain, with Ben Franklin and Plato both offering advice. Unfortunately, most of their advice boiled down to “stick your dinger in people’s mouths.” Indeed, there was only one way to heaven for the Friends, and that was through Burton’s pants. A giant mural on the ceiling of the group’s compound actually depicts Burton with an erection, and even predicting nuclear war in 2006 hasn’t slowed him down.
Church of Euthanasia
Most of these cults claim that they’re trying to make the world a better place, but few go to the lengths of the Church of Euthanasia. Founded by Chris Korda in Boston, the group aims to “restore balance” to the Earth by reducing the number of living humans through abortion, suicide, cannibalism and sodomy. Their website formerly provided suicide instructions, but had to take them down after lawsuits from relatives of people who used them.
Not to stereotype, but some Koreans seem to get way into the whole Christianity thing. And where there are religions, there are splinter groups. One of the weirdest is the Providence movement, founded 30 years ago by Jung Myung Seok. Like most cult leaders, Seok abused his power, raping two women and sending out gangs of pipe-wielding goons to beat down unbelievers. He’s in jail now, but his followers are keeping the faith.
One of the classic UFO cults of all time, the Raelians have been preaching their nutty blend of junk science and corny religion since 1974. According to their doctrine, Earth was created by aliens called the Elohim and they’re on their way back to save us before the really nasty stuff goes down. Of course, we should make cult founder Claude Vorhilon’s life easier until that happens, so he has a group of “Rael’s Angels” drawn from the ranks to satisfy his sexual needs. This is also the group that claimed to have cloned a human being.
Suicide is sadly the natural endgame for most of these cults. You can only promise magical crap for so long without it coming true, after all. But for the nutballs in the Heaven’s Gate cult, killing themselves was only half the job. All of the male members had already had themselves castrated before their 1997 mass suicide. Led by Marshall “Do” Applewhite, the group believed that by eating poisoned pudding they could free their souls to ride the comet Hale-Bopp away from this stinky planet before it got “recycled.”
People do all kinds of crazy stuff in cults, but the practice of Breatharianism is beyond the pale. Taking inspiration from certain yoga practices, the Breatharians believe that it’s not necessary for humans to consume food or drink, that our bodies can run on oxygen alone. Sure, science might have a thing or two to say about that, but no matter. One of the biggest proponents of the idea, an Australian woman who went by “Jasmuheen,” let three of her followers starve to death while sneaking meals on the side.
Order of the Solar Temple
Based upon the medieval Knights Templar, the Order of the Solar Temple seemed like a pretty harmless group of history nerds when it was founded in 1984. Things quickly got weird, though, as the group took a face-first dive into serious cult territory. They went way off the rails when the group murdered a baby in 1994 because they thought it was the Antichrist. This horrific act was followed by a wave of mass suicides and murders of Order members, who all thought they were on a one-way trip to paradise on the planet Sirius. Sirius is a star, dumbasses.
Sons of Freedom
This Canadian cult, formed as a splinter group out of an influx of Russian immigrants, have been going wild up in Saskatchewan since 1902. Their refusal to partake in the rules of civilized society put them in conflict with the government on multiple occasions, and they responded by regularly taking off all their clothes and walking around town burning money. When that didn’t work, they transitioned into arson, frequently burning down bridges, schools and banks (in the nude, of course).
It doesn’t take much in the way of credentials to start a cult. All you need to do is find people gullible enough to believe you. For the Remnant Fellowship, they found an unlikely leader in diet guru Gwen Shamblin. Shamblin preached that God hates fat people, and if you’re chubby, St. Peter’s going to turn you away at the Pearly Gates no matter how good a person you are. So Remnant will not only save your soul, but also slim you down enough in the process to get into heaven.
Ho No Hana
In 1987, Hoken Fukunaga had a “spiritual event” in which he realized he was the reincarnation of both Jesus Christ and the Buddha. With this new religious firepower, he decided to tell people’s futures by touching their feet. Ho No Hana, his cult, managed to amass some 30,000 followers who paid $900 a pop to have Fukunaga run his hands all over their tootsies and give them a horoscope. A group of defectors took him to court and he had to shell out a million bucks in damages.
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Originating in Taiwan, the Chen Tao group mashed up Buddhism with UFOs to make a uniquely ridiculous combination of beliefs. Founded by Hon-Ming Chen, the essential tenets were that the Earth had been ravaged by disasters five times, with humans being saved by a UFO that picked them up from Texas. Chen and his group relocated to the town of Garland, started wearing cowboy hats, and waited for the Jesus UFO to come get them in 1998. When it didn’t, the group fragmented.