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Scariest Cults That Committed Mass Murders

Some people go to some interesting lengths to prove their adoration for the higher ups, but these following cults that committed mass murders went just a little too far.

By Gerald OppugnePublished 6 years ago 11 min read

Belief can take people to some maddening levels of hope and loyalty, whether it be by way of drinking poisoned Kool-Aid, ascending to the stars on the back of a comet, or by starving oneself out in a cave, there's some truly interesting, if not terrifying, ways in which some have shown their true feelings for the higher being. While they may not all be from our time, or as menacing as the next, in one way or another these following cults that committed mass murders are sure to send goosebumps down your spine.

Most often in lieu of a coming apocalypse, or in carrying out their religious founder's most diabolicalduties, these cult members directly show how one man's wholehearted belief can make others go to the edge of their own lives in proving their loyalty. Whether by way of sarin nerve gas or ritualistic self-immolation, these following cults are sure to make you cringe in disbelief at some of these self-suicidal tactics.

Suicide Cliff, Saipan (1944)

It is still relatively unclear what occurred within the bounds of Saipan, Japan, though what is known surely helps to uncover the shadow of history. American soldiers arrived in Saipan and pushed the Japanese forces back to their Northern-most territory within about a month. With little advantages left at their disposal and surrender pretty much a given, the Japanese began committing suicide by leaping off a cliff.

According to several sources, some say that the Japanese Emperor himself ordered these mass suicides, while others simply consider it a Japanese cultural tradition in the face of defeat. Whatever the case may be, the sight of over 10,000 Japanese suicides would then on become known as the "Suicide Cliff." While they may not be religious in nature, the Japanese who leapt to their freedom are still among cults that committed mass murders.

Peoples Temple Agricultural Project (1978)

The fate of those at Jonestown, Guyana, some 913 innocent souls, will forever be immortalized by the haunting tale of reverend Jim Jones and the Jonestown Massacre. Given lackluster credence under the guise "The Peoples Temple," his religious movement is probably one of the most prominent cults ever established, since Jonestown saw the largest mass suicide event in modern history, despite some survivors considering it a psychological massacre carried out by an evil madman at the end of his own mental stability.

The Peoples Temple first began as a revitalization project intended to help those in need, but that soon changed toward the end of the 1970s, when Reverend Jones moved his congregation of trusting believers from San Francisco to a remote village in Guyana, called Jonestown. Sadly, very few of these individuals would ever leave this place. Following the murder of Congressman Leo Ryan, Jim Jones, one of the most notorious criminals of all time, ordered his combine to drink a mixture of Kool-Aid and cyanide, effectively poisoning over 900 victims (300 of them being minors) in what has later been deemed the worst act of mass murder in the modern world, second only to the terrorist attacks on 9/11.

Jauhar at Chittorgarh Fort (1303)

Alas, the effects and occurrences within war never turn out to be wonderful or even heartwarming. In fact, as is most often the case, whatever occurs within the boundaries of war are often ignored, and for good reason. For the lives of the Chittorgarh Fort, one of the largest fortresses in India and probably the most meaningful to Indian history, carry a dark secret. Alauddin Khilji, Sultan of Delhi at the time, planned a siege on the fort in order to kidnap the Rana's wife, Padmini.

As India's history of collective self-immolation in war relates, Padmini led around 700 women of royal birth to their eventual deaths by way of bonfire. This was in order to protect them from the lustful Delhi Sultan, but it also led the surviving men of the Chittorgarh to sacrifice themselves in a battle to the death. These two forms of self-sacrifice in the eyes of war would become known respectively as Jauhar and Saka. While it may not be so much an evil doing by one cultist leader, they were still practicing in a somewhat suicidal religious belief, and therefore are among cults that committed mass murders.

The Dance of Zalongo (1803)

During the reign of the Ottoman Empire, the Souliote War of 1803 proved to be one of extensive human calamities, most of which including women and even children. In evacuating the city of Souli amid their defeat at the hands of Ali Pasha, the Ottoman-Albanian ruler, around 50 Souliot women and children were trapped by enemy forces and would then become one of many cults that committed mass murders.

Occurring near the village of Zalongo, in modern day Greece, legend goes that the women first tossed their children off the sides of the precipice, wherein they were next to follow. Though it may not be known by any factual evidence, some even go so far as to claim these women were dancing and singing throughout this process of mass suicide in order to escape capture and enslavement. To this day, the event has been commemorated in song and dance, known by many as the Dance of Zalongo.

Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God (2000)

Summed up within the acronym of MRTC, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was first established in the 1980s by three individuals who claimed to have received visions from the Virgin Mary. In setting out to preach the word of Jesus Christ, these three men would inevitably wrangle together one of the world's scariest cults that committed mass murders.

In the aftermath of the turn of the century, and the world remaining in tact, MRTC members then shifted their belief to incorporate the world's destruction on March 17, 2000. When the day arrived, MRTC members celebrated with feasts of boar, celebratory songs, and churchgoing prayer. Windows and doors were boarded up and before the night was over, the building exploded. Following the tragedy, MRTC properties throughout the area of Uganda were later found to have perished in similar explosions. To this day, it is still unsure whether the acts were forms of self-immolation or intentional murders.

Order of the Solar Temple (1994 & 1997)

Luc Jouret, a doctor and face of the organization, including Joseph Di Mambro, their eventual financial manager, formed the religious group Order of the Solar Temple in 1984. At first they preached New Age spiritualism and other more holistic quality beliefs, but this mindset no sooner devolved into apocalyptic and paranoid connotations later in its life when becoming one of the scariest cults that committed mass murders.

Taking in well over 400 followers in Switzerland, Canada and France, the Order of the Solar Temple based their system off old Knights Templar beliefs and Rosicrucian sources. During the 1990s, much of their finance slowly dwindled as the group was caught with gun charges, sexual misconduct allegations, and other high profile defections. In 1994, though, they attained international attention when Temple members lit their Switzerland buildings up in flames. Of the 48 people that died there, it is unknown how many willingly went along with the mass suicide, and it didn't stop. In 1995, 16 bodies were found inside a charred chalet in the Swiss Alps and in 1997, five more were discovered in a Quebec house, totaling the Order of the Solar's unusual body count at around 74.

Matamoros Human Sacrifice Cult (1989)

In one of the most interesting and depressing missing persons discoveries, this drug smuggling occult religion that practiced in human mutilation and dismemberment was later found within the upper regions of Mexico, most prominently near a farm called Rancho Santa Elena. These cult drug smugglers had believed that their various human offerings would protect them from police intervention, but when one of their members ran a roadblock in possession of marijuana, they soon became one of many cults that committed mass murders.

Known by his members as "El Padrino," or the Godfather, 26-year-old Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo had grown up under the ancient belief and practices of Santeria, but this no sooner darkened into something much more menacing. One Rolling Stones article goes so far as to call Constanzo the "Pied Piper of Death," from which he garnered through various cultist mutilations, body disfigurements, and gruesome blood boilings all leftover from human sacrificial remnants. To be frank, these guys were some of the most gruesome and terrifying serial killers that make even Jack the Ripper look like a fairy tale character.

The Seige of Masada (73 CE)

At the end of the First Jewish-Roman War, in which around 960 Jewish rebels and family members eventually died at their own hands in the face of defeat, one of various cults that committed mass murders was hiding within the ancient fortification known as Masada. Overlooking the Dead Sea from cliffs at a height of around 1,300 feet, situated atop a rock plateau in the Southern District of Israel, Masada looks more like a beautiful storybook home of fantasies, rather than a place of untimely death and destruction.

Taken from the ancient writings of Josephus, 15,000 Roman troops sieged the castle in 73 CE, but eventually found the ancient fort in ruins. Nearly 960 inhabitants of the fortress had either committed suicide or killed others in an attempt to stray from capture, but these findings have been disputed by archeologists. According to scientific discoveries, only 28 remains have been excavated from the sight, and while Josephus' account only discusses there being one fire, archeologists have found numerous signs of buildings with fire damage.

Heaven's Gate (1997)

Established in 1974, Heaven's Gate was a millenarian cult that believed in a coming cleansing of Earth, often termed by their believers as a time for the planet's "recycling." Led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, the religious group became known as one of the scariest cults that committed mass murders when 38 of their followers were found decomposing in a San Diego mansion.

Applewhite believed the only way to survive this planetary renewal was to commit suicide. He led a series of taped announcements between March 19th-20th stating that a spacecraft trailing the Hale-Bopp comet would pick up their souls in death. Hence, 38 of his trusting cult followers would then don all-black attire, including Nike sneakers, and together committed mass suicide. They were eventually found inside a rented San Diego mansion on March 27, 1997.

Russian Doomsday Cult (2007)

Founded by Pyotr Kuznetsov, the True Russian Orthodox Church, otherwise known as the Russian Doomsday Cult, had believed in a series of random oddities, such as the rejection of processed foods and that bar codes were satanic symbols. Broken off from the Russian Orthodox Church, these believers felt that Kuznetsov would be their savior in the coming apocalypse.

In November of 2007 they would become one of the scariest cults that committed mass murders when 20-35 of their members were found in a cave near the Russian Penza Region. According to its members, they were told by Kuznetsov to hole up in the cavern, threatening suicide if police ever intervened, in order to await the end of the world. Kuznetzov was already under police arrest at the time, but later attempted suicide in 2008 because his predictions had been wrong. Over the course of three months during 2008, nearly 23 of the unknown number of members had escaped the deathly clutches of the cavern.

Aum Shinrikyo (1995)

Mirroring other extreme beliefs from doomsday cults, such as Heaven's Gate and Solar Temple, the Japanese group known as Aum Skinrikyo went on to become one of the scariest cults that committed mass murders when in 1995 they led an attack on the Tokyo subway system. Followers of the deathly religious body actually still practice it in two different forms, despite the fact that it has been banned in Russia and in certain parts is even considered a terrorist organization.

Thousands of citizens were injured and 12 were killed in the horrifying sarin nerve gas attack, for which the cult's founder Shoko Asahara never once gave up his reasonings. The New York Times has written countless news articles on the event, calling into question the nature of the entire affair, in addition to the aftermath of his eight-year trial sentencing, which ended in the cult leader's hanging. Some believe it was an attempt to jumpstart the apocalypse, others simply denote it as a fantastical attempt at the undoing of Japanese society. I simply believe it's one of the scariest examples of faith ever recorded.

fact or fiction

About the Creator

Gerald Oppugne

I have no idea why I'm here, but let's make the best of it shall we? I like to drink and smoke, so I'll keep you up to date on those worlds if you like em as much as me.

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