I have been doing research on cults. Not mainstream cults and no, that is not an oxymoron. The Kashi Ashram is a cult, but it is considered a mainstream cult, unlike The Brethren. One could argue that neither or both of these cults are basically mainstream and I’m not sure I understand the difference between a mainstream cult and a run of the mill every day fringe cult.
Since a picture is worth a thousand or so words, when Google offered me an image search for modern day cults, I accepted the image results. I don’t recommend it. Cult life can be extreme and brutal. Images of cult life are no different. And you may or may not accidentally see death, destruction, and graphic nudity after hitting that image button.
I’m not sure what I expected from the image search, maybe starving yogis and pictures of bearded homeless men eating garbage (search The Brethren for more on that). Maybe a few crime scene photos from The Heaven’s Gate Cult mass suicide or from Aum Shinrikyo’s Sarin gas attack in Tokyo in the 1990s.
However, what it reminded me of is that cults can be very dangerous places depending on the leaders. I try to keep that in mind every time I open my computer to start writing on a D&R book, because for the most part, the SCTU and The AHEAD movement are both basically cults.
Cults in and of themselves, are not inherently evil. They exist, nothing more. And every major religion practiced on the planet today started as a cult. But when they are in the hands of a charismatic psychopathic leader, they can and usually do become a problem. Everyone’s go to for this example is Charles Manson, but there are so many to choose from, Jim Jones, Marshall Applewhite, Adolfo Costanzo all spring instantly to mind, oh and that crazy Japanese guy Shoko Asahara, who organized and planned the sarin gas attack that took place in a Tokyo subway station…
Jim Jones managed to do two very terrifying things; convince some of his followers they wanted to die and convince other followers to kill those that didn’t want to die, which is why I consider him a double threat as a cult leader. And of course, those crime scene images are available online if you feel the need.
Most of them I had already seen, they were used in a documentary about the Jonestown Massacre. Called Jonestown: Life and Death of the People’s Temple, it is very eye opening. Mostly because the film makers did a good job of tracking down survivors and getting them to go on camera about the event.
Then of course, you have things like the Children of God cult, which I also don’t recommend Googling in any way shape or form, especially not an image search, as the Children of God cult believes that sex is a manifestation of God’s love, and it should know no boundaries. As far as we can tell the Children of God cult hasn’t killed anyone directly, but it does promote pedophilia.
This is the cult that Rose McGowan grew up in and guitarist Jimmy Spencer left the band Fleetwood Mac to join, which makes me scratch my head a bit. But different strokes I guess.