5 20th Century Cult Leaders

5 20th Century Cult Leaders

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1. Shoko Asahara: Masterminded a deadly attack on Japan’s subway system

On March 20, 1995, members of Aum Shinrikyo (“Supreme Truth”), founded by Asahara in the 1980s, released the poisonous nerve gas sarin on five crowded subway trains during morning rush hour in Tokyo, killing 13 people and sickening thousands more. Aum Shinrikyo targeted the Kasumigaseki station, in the area where many of Japan’s government offices are located, as part of what they thought would be an apocalyptic battle with the government.

Born into a poor family in Japan in 1955, Asahara (real name Chizuo Matsumoto) lost part of his vision at a young age due to illness. He established Aum Shinrikyo as a religious organization that promoted Buddhist and Hindu concepts, along with elements of the Bible and prophecies of Nostradamus. Eventually, Asahara began claiming he could read minds and levitate. In 1990, he and some of his followers ran for parliament but lost. By the early 1990s, Aum Shinrikyo, which attracted members from some of Japan’s top universities, was stockpiling chemical weapons. When the 1995 subway attack took place, the group was estimated to have some 10,000 members in Japan and more than 30,000 around the world, many of them in Russia.

Within several months after the attacks, Asahara was found hiding out at his group’s compound near Mount Fuji and arrested. He was convicted and sentenced to death in 2004 and was executed on July 6, 2018. Aum Shinrikyo, renamed Aleph in 2000, still exists, although its membership is smaller than it was in the mid-1990s.

2. Jim Jones: Ordered hundreds of his followers to kill themselves as a “revolutionary act”

Jonestown, in the South American nation of Guyana. Jones, a self-ordained Christian minister who was born in Indiana in 1931, founded what became the Peoples Temple church in his home state in the 1950s then relocated his congregation to California in the 1960s. He eventually set up headquarters in San Francisco, where he had a large, racially diverse following and ingratiated himself with a number of political leaders by offering Peoples Temple members as campaign volunteers. In 1976, San Francisco’s mayor appointed the charismatic, power-hungry Jones, who traveled with bodyguards, to the city’s Housing Authority and he soon became its chairman. However, in 1977, following a slew of negative publicity about Temple members being physically and mentally abused by Jones, he relocated with some 1,000 of his followers to the Guyanese jungle, where he promised they would create a utopian community. Instead, the followers were subjected to harsh living conditions and punished if they questioned Jones’ authority.

READ MORE: Inside Jonestown: How Jim Jones Trapped Followers and Forced 'Suicides'

On November 17, U.S. Representative Leo Ryan of California arrived at Jonestown to investigate claims that Temple members were being held there against their will. Ryan and his small delegation were received cordially, but the next day, as the congressman was waiting at a nearby airstrip with his group, which by then included some Temple members who wanted to defect, they were ambushed by gunmen sent by Jones. Ryan and four others in his party were killed. Later that day, Jones, who by then was in declining mental health and addicted to drugs, ordered his followers to commit what he termed a “revolutionary act” by drinking cyanide-laced juice; those who resisted were forced to do so. Jones died from a gunshot wound to his head. Prior to the 9/11 attacks, the Jonestown tragedy marked the single largest loss of U.S. civilian lives in a non-natural disaster.

READ MORE: What Really Happened at Jonestown?

3. Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret: Founded a murderous doomsday cult

In October 1994, Di Mambro and Jouret, along with 51 of their followers in the Order of the Solar Temple, an apocalyptic cult founded in Europe in 1984, committed suicide or were murdered in Switzerland and Quebec, Canada. The deaths of Di Mambro and Jouret didn’t bring an end to the violence: In December 1995, 16 more members took their own lives or were killed in France, while an additional five committed suicide in March 1997 in Quebec.

Di Mambro, a shadowy figure born in France in 1924, founded the Order of the Solar Temple and made the charismatic Jouret, a homeopathic doctor born in 1947 in the Belgian Congo (present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo), the organization’s public face. The secretive group was believed to have members in Canada, Switzerland, France, Australia and other countries, and Jouret preached about impending environmental disasters and the coming end of the world, along with a belief system that combined elements of New Age philosophy, Christianity and astrology, among other things.

Following the October 1994 deaths of the 53 sect members, whose bodies were discovered at Solar Temple properties that had been set on fire in Cheiry and Les Granges sur Salvan, Switzerland, and Morin Heights, Quebec, investigators estimated at least 30 of the dead had been murdered—either shot or asphyxiated. It was suspected some had been killed because they were considered traitors for criticizing the group’s leaders. The following year, after 16 Solar Temple members were found dead in a forest in southeastern France, investigations again concluded not all had died willingly. The five Solar Temple members who committed suicide in 1997 left a note indicating they believed their lives would continue on a new planet.

4. Marshall Applewhite: Orchestrated a mass suicide in conjunction with a comet

On March 26, 1997, Applewhite and 38 other members of a cult called Heaven’s Gate were found dead in a mass suicide at a rented mansion in Rancho Santa Fe, California. The group members, who killed themselves by eating applesauce and pudding mixed with drugs, believed that a spaceship following the Hale-Bopp comet (which made its closest approach to Earth on March 22, 1997) would pick them up and take them to a higher plane of existence.

Applewhite, a Texas native born in 1931, worked as a music teacher before co-founding what would become Heaven’s Gate in the 1970s with Bonnie Nettles, a onetime nurse who died of cancer in 1985. The group lived a nomadic, secretive existence and subscribed to a philosophy that combined elements of science fiction and a belief in UFOs with biblical ideas. By the 1990s, some members made money for the group by operating a web design and computer services business. In the fall of 1996, Heaven’s Gate members moved into the Rancho Santa Fe mansion, where they lived a regimented existence.

On March 21, 1997, the group went to a local restaurant for what is thought to have been its last meal together; everyone ordered the same thing. The following day, the cult members, 21 women and 18 men ranging in age from mid-20s to early 70s, began killing themselves in shifts. They were dressed in matching black outfits and black Nike running shoes and had a packed suitcase nearby. Investigators later discovered that several months before the mass suicide, Applewhite and six of his followers had themselves surgically castrated as a way, they believed, to reduce unwanted earthly distractions.

5. David Koresh: Engaged in a bloody battle with federal law enforcement agents

On April 19, 1993, Koresh and more than 70 of his followers, known as Branch Davidians, were found dead after a blaze at their Waco, Texas, compound following a 51-day standoff with federal law enforcement agents. Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell in 1959 in Texas, was a high school dropout and musician who in 1981 moved to Waco and joined the Branch Davidians, a splinter group of the Seventh-day Adventists. Koresh, who claimed to be a messiah, eventually became the sect’s leader. In that role, he preached that the end of the world was near, stockpiled weapons, fathered multiple children with sect members and had sex with underage Davidian girls.

On February 28, 1993, after agents from the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) went to the Branch Davidian compound to investigate accusations of illegal weapons, a gun battle broke out that left four agents and six Branch Davidians dead. The ensuing standoff lasted until April 19, when government forces launched a tear gas assault on the compound in an effort to make the sect members come out. Instead, a fire broke out, likely set by the Branch Davidians, whose compound burned to the ground. Afterward, the bodies of more than 70 sect members, including Koresh and at least 20 children, were discovered; 9 people escaped the blaze.

READ MORE: The Waco Siege: 6 Little Known Facts

In a related story, Timothy McVeigh, a U.S. Army veteran and supporter of right-wing survivalist groups, went to Waco during the siege and was outraged by the government’s actions. On April 19, 1995, the two-year anniversary of the tear gas assault, McVeigh detonated a truck bomb outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, which housed the ATF and other government agencies. The explosion killed 168 people and injured hundreds of others.

WATCH: Full episodes of The UnXplained online now.

One of the marks of many despotic rulers is the longevity of their hold on power. For South America, one of the twentieth centuries most infamous leaders is the former dictator, Augusto Pinochet. Born in 1915 in Valparaíso, Chile, Augusto José Ramón Pinochet Ugarte was a career military officer in the Chilean army. He reached the pinnacle of his military career when he was appointed as the army commander in chief by President Salvador Allende in 1973. However, this decision would be a costly one for Allende and the people of Chile.

On September 11, 1973, General Pinochet helped to orchestrate a military coup which overthrew the Allende government. In the process, Allende was believed to have committed suicide but many believe that he was really assassinated. Following the coup, a military junta was set up with Pinochet as the chairman. He at first designated himself as the &ldquoSupreme Chief of the Nation&rdquo but later referred to himself as &ldquoPresident.&rdquo During the early years of the regime, approximately 130,000 Chileans would be arrested on suspicions that they were against the new government and many were subsequently tortured. Ultimately, over 3,000 people were executed or removed through &ldquoforced disappearances.&rdquo


Even though the community only reached a maximum population of about 300, it had a complex bureaucracy of 27 standing committees and 48 administrative sections. [7] [ better source needed ]

All community members were expected to work, each according to his or her abilities. Women tended to do many of the domestic duties. [8] [ page needed ] Although more skilled jobs tended to remain with an individual member (the financial manager, for example, held his post throughout the life of the community), community members rotated through the more unskilled jobs, working in the house, the fields, or the various industries. As Oneida thrived, it began to hire outsiders to work in these positions as well. They were a major employer in the area, with approximately 200 employees by 1870.

Secondary industries included the manufacture of leather travel bags, the weaving of palm frond hats, the construction of rustic garden furniture, game traps, and tourism. The manufacturing of silverware began in 1877, relatively late in the life of the community, and still exists. [6]

Complex marriage Edit

The Oneida community strongly believed in a system of free love – a term which Noyes is credited with coining – which was known as complex marriage, [9] where any member was free to have sex with any other who consented. [10] [ page needed ] Possessiveness and exclusive relationships were frowned upon. [11]

Noyes developed a distinction between amative and propagative love.

Complex marriage meant that everyone in the community was married to everyone else. All men and women were expected to have sexual relations and did. The basis for complex marriage was the Pauline passage about there being no marriage in heaven meant that there should be no marriage on earth, but that no marriage did not mean no sex. But sex meant children not only could the community not afford children in the early years, the women were not enthusiastic about a regime that would have kept them pregnant most of the time. They developed a distinction between amative and propagative love. Propagative love was sex for the purpose of having children amative love was sex for the purpose of expressing love. The difference was what Noyes called "male continence" , in which the male partner avoided ejaculation. Noyes argued that this practice not only kept them from producing unwanted children but also taught the male considerable self-control. The system worked very well. [12]

Women over the age of 40 were to act as sexual "mentors" to adolescent boys, because these relationships had a minimal chance of conceiving. Furthermore, these women became religious role models for the young men. Likewise, older men often introduced young women to sex. Noyes often used his own judgment in determining the partnerships that would form, and he would often encourage relationships between the non-devout and the devout in the community, in the hope that the attitudes and behaviors of the devout would influence the attitudes of the non-devout. [13] [ page needed ]

In 1993, the archives of the community were made available to scholars for the first time. Contained within the archives was the journal of Tirzah Miller, [14] Noyes' niece, who wrote extensively about her romantic and sexual relations with other members of Oneida. [1]

Mutual criticism Edit

Every member of the community was subject to criticism by committee or the community as a whole, during a general meeting. [15] The goal was to eliminate undesirable character traits. [16] Various contemporary sources contend that Noyes himself was the subject of criticism, although less often and of probably less severe criticism than the rest of the community. Charles Nordhoff said he had witnessed the criticism of a member he referred to as "Charles", writing the following account of the incident:

Charles sat speechless, looking before him but as the accusations multiplied, his face grew paler, and drops of perspiration began to stand on his forehead. The remarks I have reported took up about half an hour and now, each one in the circle having spoken, Mr. Noyes summed up. He said that Charles had some serious faults that he had watched him with some care and that he thought the young man was earnestly trying to cure himself. He spoke in general praise of his ability, his good character, and of certain temptations he had resisted in the course of his life. He thought he saw signs that Charles was making a real and earnest attempt to conquer his faults and as one evidence of this, he remarked that Charles had lately come to him to consult him upon a difficult case in which he had had a severe struggle, but had in the end succeeded in doing right. "In the course of what we call stirpiculture", said Noyes, "Charles, as you know, is in the situation of one who is by and by to become a father. Under these circumstances, he has fallen under the too common temptation of selfish love, and a desire to wait upon and cultivate an exclusive intimacy with the woman who was to bear a child through him. This is an insidious temptation, very apt to attack people under such circumstances but it must nevertheless be struggled against." Charles, he went on to say, had come to him for advice in this case, and he (Noyes) had at first refused to tell him any thing, but had asked him what he thought he ought to do that after some conversation, Charles had determined, and he agreed with him, that he ought to isolate himself entirely from the woman, and let another man take his place at her side and this Charles had accordingly done, with a most praiseworthy spirit of selfsacrifice. Charles had indeed still further taken up his cross, as he had noticed with pleasure, by going to sleep with the smaller children, to take charge of them during the night. Taking all this in view, he thought Charles was in a fair way to become a better man, and had manifested a sincere desire to improve, and to rid himself of all selfish faults. [17]

Male continence Edit

To control reproduction within the Oneida community, a system of male continence or coitus reservatus was enacted. [18] John Humprey Noyes decided that sexual intercourse served two distinct purposes. In Male Continence, Noyes argues that the method simply "proposes the subordination of the flesh to the spirit, teaching men to seek principally the elevated spiritual pleasures of sexual connection". [19] The primary purpose of male continence was social satisfaction, "to allow the sexes to communicate and express affection for one another". [20] The second purpose was procreation. Of around two hundred adults using male continence as birth control, there were twelve unplanned births within Oneida between 1848 and 1868, [20] indicating that it was a highly effective form of birth control. [21] : 18 Young men were introduced to male continence by women who were post-menopause, and young women were introduced by experienced, older males. [21] : 18–19

Noyes believed that ejaculation "drained men's vitality and led to disease" [22] and pregnancy and childbirth "levied a heavy tax on the vitality of women". [22] Noyes founded male continence to spare his wife, Harriet, from more difficult childbirths after five traumatizing births of which four led to the death of the child. [21] : 17 They favored this method of male continence over other methods of birth control because they found it to be natural, healthy and favorable for the development of intimate relationships. [23] Women found increased sexual satisfaction in the practice, and Oneida is regarded as highly unusual in the value they placed on women's sexual satisfaction. [21] : 19 If a male failed he faced public disapproval or private rejection. [23]

It is unclear whether the practice of male continence led to significant problems. Sociologist Lawrence Foster sees hints in Noyes' letters indicating that masturbation and anti-social withdrawal from community life may have been issues. [21] : 19 Oneida's practice of male continence did not lead to impotence. [21] : 18

Stirpiculture Edit

Stirpiculture was a proto-eugenics program of selective controlled reproduction within the Community devised by Noyes and implemented in 1869. [24] [25] [26] It was designed to create more spiritually and physically perfect children. [27] Community members who wished to be parents would go before a committee to be approved and matched based on their spiritual and moral qualities. 53 women and 38 men participated in this program, which necessitated the construction of a new wing of the Oneida Community Mansion House. The experiment yielded 58 children, nine of whom were fathered by Noyes.

Once children were weaned (usually at around the age of one) they were raised communally in the Children's Wing, or South Wing. [28] Their parents were allowed to visit, but the children's department held jurisdiction over raising the offspring. If the department suspected a parent and child were bonding too closely, the community would enforce a period of separation because the group wanted to stop the affection between parents and children. [29] [30] The Children's department had a male and female supervisor to look after children between ages two and twelve. The supervisors made sure children followed the routine. Dressing, prayers, breakfast, work, school, lunch, work, playtime, supper, prayers, and study, which were "adjusted according to 'age and ability'." [13] [ page needed ]

Stirpiculture was the first positive eugenics experiment in the United States, although it was not recognized as such because of the religious framework from which it emerged. [31]

Role of women Edit

Oneida embodied one of the most radical and institutional efforts to change women's role and improve female status in 19th-century America. [32] Women gained some freedoms in the commune that they could not get on the outside. Some of these privileges included not having to care for their own children as Oneida had a communal child care system, as well as freedom from unwanted pregnancies with Oneida's male continence practice. In addition, they were able to wear functional, Bloomer-style clothing and maintain short haircuts. Women were able to participate in practically all types of community work. [32] While domestic duties remained a primarily female responsibility, women were free to explore positions in business and sales, or as artisans or craftsmen, and many did so, particularly in the late 1860s and early 1870s. [33] Last, women had an active role in shaping commune policy, participating in the daily religious and business meetings. [32]

The complex marriage and free love systems practiced at Oneida further acknowledged female status. Through the complex marriage arrangement, women and men had equal freedom in sexual expression and commitment. [32] Indeed, sexual practices at Oneida accepted female sexuality. A woman's right to satisfying sexual experiences was recognized, and women were encouraged to have orgasms. [34] However, a woman's right of refusing a sexual overture was limited depending on the status of the man who made the advance. [35]

Ellen Wayland-Smith, author of "The Status and Self-Perception of Women in the Oneida Community", said that men and women had roughly equal status in the community. She points out that while both sexes were ultimately subject to Noyes' vision and will, women did not suffer any undue oppression. [36]

The community experienced freedom from wider society. The previously mentioned unorthodox marital, sexual, and religious practices caused them to face some criticism. However, between the community's beginning in the 1850s until the 1870s, their interactions with wider society were mostly favorable. These are the best known instances of conflict and peace resolution.

Outside criticism Edit

In 1870, a "nineteenth century cultural critic" Dr. John B. Ellis wrote a book against Free Love communities that Noyes inspired, including "Individual Sovereigns, Berlin Heights Free Lovers, Spiritualists, Advocates of Woman Suffrage, or Friends of Free Divorce". [37] [38] He saw their joint goal to be ending marriage. Dr. Ellis described this as an attack on the prevailing moral order. [37] [ non-primary source needed ] Historian Gayle Fischer mentions that Dr. Ellis also criticized Oneida women's clothing as "healthful' uniforms did not rid Oneida women of their 'peculiar air of unhealthiness' — brought on by "sexual excess." [38]

Noyes responded to Ellis' criticism four years later in a pamphlet, Dixon and His Copytists, where he claimed that Dr. John B. Ellis is a pseudonym for a "literary gentleman living in the upper part of the city." [39] Noyes argued that AMS press employed the writer after they read a Philadelphia paper article on the community and saw a chance to profit off sensationalist writing. [39] [ non-primary source needed ]

Tryphena Hubbard's legal battle Edit

In Anthony Wonderly’s Oneida Utopia, he covers the 1848-1851 Hubbard affair as a moment where a legal conflict almost ended the group, who were only a mere "Association" at the time. Twenty-one year old Tryphena Hubbard learned Noyes’ ideas about marriage and sex through his manuscript Bible Argument in 1848. She joined the community and became the group's first local convert. Tryphena Hubbard soon married Henry Seymour, a young man in the community. [40]

Early in 1849, Tryphena's father Noahdiah Hubbard learned of the Association's open marriages and demanded his daughter's return. Tryphena refused and for two years Noahdiah "made a sulking nuisance of himself at the Mansion House." [40]

An 1850 criticism of Tryphena mentioned her "insubordination to the church" as well as "excess egotism amounting to insanity." [40] There was marriage before the community attempted perfectionism and Tryphena's husband's supervision over her was increased along with the "disciplinary norms of the day, physical punishment." [40]

In September 1851 Tryphena began displaying signs of mental illness, "crying at night, speaking incoherently, and wandering around." Seymour went to the Hubbard family to report their daughter's insanity and both parents were appalled by Seymour's physical violence. [40]

On September 27, 1851, Noahdiah Hubbard lodged assault and battery charges on behalf of his daughter. [41] Seymour was indicted and other community members were served arrest warrants as accessories. [40]

The case was settled on November 26, 1851. The community agreed to Tryphena's expenses while she was in the asylum and after her release $125 a year if she was well and $200 a year if she remained unwell. The Hubbards eventually accepted a $350 settlement in lieu of long term payments. Tryphena Hubbard eventually returned to Henry Seymour and had a child by him. She died at the age of 49 in 1877. [41]

The community lasted until John Humphrey Noyes attempted to pass leadership to his son, Theodore Noyes. This move was unsuccessful because Theodore was an agnostic and lacked his father's talent for leadership. [42] The move also divided the community, as Communitarian John Tower attempted to wrest control for himself. [7] [ better source needed ] Towner and a breakaway group eventually moved to California where they convinced the government to create a new municipality for them, Orange County. [43]

Within the commune, there was a debate about when children should be initiated into sex, and by whom. There was also much debate about its practices as a whole. The founding members were aging or deceased, and many of the younger communitarians desired to enter into exclusive, traditional marriages. [44]

The capstone to all these pressures was the campaign by Professor John Mears of Hamilton College against the community. He called for a protest meeting against the Oneida Community, which was attended by forty-seven clergymen. [45] John Humphrey Noyes was informed by trusted adviser Myron Kinsley that a warrant for his arrest on charges of statutory rape was imminent. Noyes fled the Oneida Community Mansion House and the country in the middle of a June night in 1879, never to return to the United States. Shortly afterward, he wrote to his followers from Niagara Falls, Ontario, recommending that the practice of complex marriage be abandoned.

Complex marriage was abandoned in 1879 following external pressures and the community soon broke apart, with some of the members reorganizing as a joint-stock company. Marital partners normalized their status with the partners with whom they were cohabiting at the time of the re-organization. Over 70 Community members entered into a traditional marriage in the following year.

During the early 20th century, the new company, Oneida Community Limited, narrowed their focus to silverware. The animal trap business was sold in 1912, the silk business in 1916, and the canning discontinued as unprofitable in 1915.

In 1947, embarrassed by their progenitor's legacy, Noyes' descendants burned the group's records. [46] [47]

The joint-stock corporation still exists and is a major producer of cutlery under the brand name "Oneida Limited". In September 2004 Oneida Limited announced that it would cease all U.S. manufacturing operations in the beginning of 2005, ending a 124-year tradition. The company continues to design and market products that are manufactured overseas. The company has been selling off its manufacturing facilities. Most recently, the distribution center in Sherrill, New York, was closed. Administrative offices remain in the Oneida area.

The last original member of the community, Ella Florence Underwood (1850–1950), died on June 25, 1950, in Kenwood, New York, near Oneida, New York. [48] [49]

Many histories and first-person accounts of the Oneida Community have been published since the commune dissolved itself. Among those are: The Oneida Community: An Autobiography, 1851–1876 [50] and The Oneida Community: The Breakup, 1876–1881, [51] both by Constance Noyes Robertson Desire and Duty at Oneida: Tirzah Miller's Intimate Memoir and Special Love/Special Sex: An Oneida Community Diary, both by Robert S. Fogarty Without Sin by Spencer Klaw Oneida, From Free Love Utopia to the Well-Set Table by Ellen Wayland-Smith and biographical/autobiographic accounts by once-members including Jessie Catherine Kinsley, Corinna Ackley Noyes, George Wallingford Noyes, and Pierrepont B. Noyes.

An account of the Oneida Community is found in Sarah Vowell's book Assassination Vacation. It discusses the community in general and the membership of Charles Guiteau, for more than five years, in the community (Guiteau later assassinated President James A. Garfield). The perfectionist community in David Flusfeder's novel Pagan House (2007) is directly inspired by the Oneida Community. [ citation needed ] There a residence building called "Oneida" at the Twin Oaks Community in Virginia. Twin Oaks, an intentional community, names its buildings after defunct intentional communities. [52]

Oneida Community Mansion House Edit

The Oneida Community Mansion House was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1965, [53] and the principal surviving material culture of the Oneida Community consists of those landmarked buildings, object collections, and landscape. The five buildings of the Mansion House, separately designed by Erastus Hamilton, Lewis W. Leeds, and Theodore Skinner, comprise 93,000-square-foot (8,600 m 2 ) on a 33-acre site. This site has been continuously occupied since the community's establishment in 1848 and the existing Mansion House has been occupied since 1862. Today, the Oneida Community Mansion House is a non-profit educational organization chartered by the State of New York and welcomes visitors throughout the year with guided tours, programs, and exhibits. It preserves, collects and interprets the intangible and material culture of the Oneida Community and of related themes of the 19th and 20th centuries. The Mansion House also houses residential apartments, overnight guest rooms, and meeting space. [ citation needed ]

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This column was published as a Duty to Warn column in the Duluth Reader on April 17, 2014. I came across a copy of it recently and thought, given the impeachment trial of the demagogue Donald J. Trump and the frequent mention of Big Lies in the press, that it should be re-published.

The information has a lot to say about America’s on-going right-wing extremism and the repeated attempts of these groups to usurp American democracy. Examples include the Ku Klux Klan and the related White Supremacist groups that include Anti-Semitic, Racist, Anti-immigrant and Homophobic groups, all entities that have never really disappeared from the scene.

One of the motivations for me writing the column was as a criticism of past political agendas (partly harking back to one of the Biggest Lies concerning the obvious - to anyone with eyes to see and ears to hear the powerful evidence - controlled demolitions of the World Trade Center towers on 9/11/2001 that got the approval – via cunning propaganda - of the voters enabling the Bush administration to guiltlessly send hundreds of thousands of US troops to invade and terrorize another batch of Middle East nations which ultimately resulted in the painful reality that 22 war-traumatized (and over-drugged and over-vaccinated) active duty soldiers and veterans commit suicide every day – each suicide or suicide attempt a totally preventable but virtually incurable reality. Of course, a more important reality is that the Pentagon, especially when it is orchestrating a war, spends about a trillion dollars a year to do so.

Below is the bulk of the 2014 column that should help de-mystify part of the current chaos that America intermittently experiences. For many observers of history, one of the biggest Big Lies was the infamous False Flag Operation that occurred happened on 9/11/01 when, via pre-planted, explosive demolition charges, the three World Trade Center Towers 1, 2 and 7 were brought down, at free-fall speed, Each of the three skyscrapers “unexpectedly” exploded, neatly sectioning the massive steel beams into easily trucked-away lengths, with the remainder of each building (including the human bodies) turning into fine dust, smoke and small fragments, the solid parts mostly falling directly down into the footprints of the buildings – certain signs of controlled demolition. (See www.ae911truth.org for video-confirmation of those statements plus a series of essays by dozens of demolition experts and scientists that deal with some of the psychological, political and economic that proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the 9/11 Commission totally failed to identify what actually happened on 9/11.)

The remainder of this column is identical to the 2014 original. Any similarities with events that have happened since 2014 are coincidental.

J. Edgar Hoover and Joseph Goebbels Were Birds of a Feather

Here are two quotes that link the agendas of the late, lamented FBI head J. Edgar Hoover and the sociopathic Joseph Goebbels (Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment):

"The individual is handicapped by coming face to face with a conspiracy so monstrous he cannot believe it exists."-- J. Edgar Hoover

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The Big Lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” -- Joseph Goebbels

Here are some of facts about demagoguery that show up all over the propagandistic worlds of televangelism, commerce, advertising, politics and media:

1) Demagogue means “leader of a mob”

2) A demagogue is a leader who attempts to gain a following by appealing to the emotions, passions and prejudices of people in order to enrich him or herself financially or advance his or her political agenda

3) Political demagogues seek power, to win votes and hold office by appeals to mass prejudice or fear

4) Demagogues often use lies and distortions to further their ambitions, their personal wealth and/or the business or religious interests of the super-wealthy, unelected plutocrats that fund them and that control the media that gives them the platform to spout the approved propaganda

5) 20th-century American social critic and humorist H. L. Mencken, defined a religious demagogue as "one who will preach doctrines he knows to be untrue to men he knows to be idiots."

6) George Bernard Shaw had these comments about demagogues:

But though there is no difference in this respect between the best demagogue and the worst, both of them having to present their cases equally in terms of melodrama, there is all the difference in the world between the statesman who is humbugging the people into allowing him to do the will of God…and one who is humbugging them into furthering his personal ambition and the commercial interests of the plutocrats who own the newspapers. ” –George Bernard Shaw

7) WW I General Erich Ludendorff (who had been, in 1923, a supporter of the demagogue Adolf Hitler, but later became disillusioned with the Nazi Party), expressed his disappointment to German President Paul von Hindenburg, after learning that Hindenburg had made Hitler Germany’s Chancellor in 1933.

"By appointing Hitler Chancellor of the Reich, you have handed over our sacred German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I prophesy to you this evil man will plunge our Reich into the abyss and will inflict immeasurable woe on our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for this action." – General Erich Ludendorff (1933)

During World War II, the U. S. OSS (Office of Strategic Services – the precursor of the CIA) analyzed Hitler’s propaganda techniques and summarized it thusly (One wonders if these principles have been adopted by the infamous Republican obstructionists in the US Congress, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Fox News, the far-right-wing think tanks, or some of the other One Percenter groups as well.)

1) Never allow the public to cool off

2) Never admit a fault or wrong

3) Never concede that there may be some good in your enemy

4) Never leave room for alternatives

6) Concentrate on one enemy at a time and blame him for everything that goes wrong

7) People will believe a Big Lie sooner than a little one, and

8) If you repeat a Big Lie frequently enough people will sooner or later come to believe it.

Quotes from Adolf Hitler on the Big Lie (from Mein Kampf, chapter 10)

“…in the Big Lie there is always a certain force of credibility because the broad masses of a nation are always more easily corrupted in the deeper strata of their emotional nature than consciously or voluntarily and thus, in the primitive simplicity of their minds, they more readily fall victims to the Big Lie than the small lie, since they themselves often tell small lies in little matters but would be ashamed to resort to large-scale falsehoods. It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously. Even though the facts which prove this to be so may be brought clearly to their minds, they will still doubt and waver and will continue to think that there may be some other explanation. For the grossly impudent lie always leaves traces behind it, even after it has been nailed down, a fact which is known to all expert liars in this world and to all who conspire together in the art of lying.” – Adolf Hitler

Hitler’s Principles of Propaganda

Excerpts from Seig Heil: The Story of Adolf Hitler, by Morris D. Waldman

p. 43-45: “The first and most important principle was to appeal to the mind. The masses have no mind. They cannot conceive abstract ideas. They can only feel, not think. Instill them with faith, not with knowledge. Faith moves mountains. The driving force behind revolutions has never been a body of scientific teaching but a devotion which has inspired masses of people and an hysteria which has catapulted them into action. To win the masses one must have the key to their emotions and where gentle persuasion will not turn the key one must exert one’s will, and, if need be, support it by force. The lock and key are not a complicated mechanism--just a few stereotyped formulas, brief and to the point, for the crowd can absorb only small doses. These slogans must, however, be constantly repeated so that they will be indelibly impressed upon the mind, because the memory of the crowd is short.

The slogans should never be changed even if new circumstances may outdate them here and there. They must always be expressed with dogmatic certainty, never with objectivity, for impartiality raises doubts as to the speaker’s own belief in the truth and accuracy of what he utters.

Every utterance, moreover, must be made with passion and fanaticism that reflect an unyielding, absolute faith in the ideas expressed and the importance of those ideas because the passion of the speaker infects the hearers with passion.

The tongue is mightier than the pen. It is the magic of the spoken word--even if only in a whisper vehemently breathed--that has proven throughout history to be the strongest force to move men.

Always flatter the ego of your hearers, emphasize their virtues--their integrity, their intelligence, their courage and above all, their patriotism. On the other hand, stress the vices of the enemy--their greed, their dishonesty, their cowardice and above all their treachery.

Evoke hatred from the hearts of your listeners and focus their hatred on those whom you wish to destroy.

Instill fear into your audience, the fear of being destroyed by the ruthless foes who are responsible for their misfortunes but warn them that only by uniting courageously with you in your movement will the enemies be confounded and annihilated, that only by hanging onto your coattails will they find security. Fear is the most potent of all the driving forces. Moved by terror decent men will commit any and every crime, including murder.

Don’t hesitate to lie for the end justifies the means. But when you lie make it a big lie, so big that its very bigness makes it credible for, were what you say not true, the crowd would not conceive that you would dare to utter it.

Should you be the accused don’t answer the charge, don’t defend yourself against the accusation but turn about and disparage the accuser paint him as a wicked, malicious liar who is trying to throw dust into the eyes of the good people to further his own diabolical interests.

And do this either at the top of your voice or in a deep gutteral. And hurl imprecations, because the louder you shriek or the deeper you grunt, the more passionate your seemingly righteous outbursts are, the more bitter your resentment, the more readily will you convince the crowd of your sincerity and the more easily will you be able to convert them into sympathy with you.

And when you are attacked from the floor, follow the technique of divide et impera (“divide and conquer”, which works so well against scattered, liberal do-gooder groups that tend to mainly focus on single issues rather than the big picture and are thus easily dominated – Ed note).

Find and point out contradictions between the utterances of your opponents and thus place them in the ridiculous position of fighting each other and so confound them with their own confusion.

Surrounding this technique of propaganda was the use of violence, armed guards--not merely to protect the speakers and to intimidate and break up meetings of opposing parties but to impress the audience. Not only acts of violence but the very aura of violence because the mere appearance of violence reflects strength and power and ultimate success.

Terrorism is absolutely indispensable in every case of the founding of a new Power’ It is violence, not political convictions, that attracts the rowdy elements of whom there are many among the jobless demobilized front fighters of the war, the discontented, the displaced and unplaced ‘heroes who were betrayed by the politicians.’

Adolf knew their malaise--hunger, insecurity and humiliation. He would prescribe for their wretchedness--lush promises of economic abundance and security, political freedom and national consolidation which they had never really enjoyed but for which they had yearned and, now and then feebly but unsuccessfully tried to obtain all of which, he screamed, had been denied them not through their own fault but by the machinations of international Jewry (or Hitler could have added, ‘socialists, communists, labor unions, progressives’ – Ed note) whose stupid puppets occupy the seat of government in Berlin.

Because the German masses suffered torments of hunger and humiliation Adolf’s oratory would find a ready response. Unerringly dexterous in probing deep to their morbidly sensitive nerves he would solve their wounded pride and give them hope of a better life.”

p. 313: “…(Hitler) remained the unchanged product of a low-level, inbred, incestuous country-folk whose daily physical life was circumscribed by the barnyard and the village inn, and their spiritual life by the ritualism of the church of whose inner meanings they had little or no conception.

(Hitler’s) world view…was a rigid, uncompromising conviction that only brutal force and cunning could lead to domination and that the torture and annihilation of obstructive and antagonistic peoples—or their enslavement—were the proper means toward attaining such domination.”

David Koresh, The Cult Leader Behind The Waco Disaster

Wikimedia Commons David Koresh, fear-mongering leader of the Branch Davidians of Mount Carmel.

As the prophet of the Branch Davidians, David Koresh preached that he could bring his followers to Heaven. Instead, he led them on a 51-day standoff with the FBI that ended in bloodshed.

Born Vernon Wayne Howell on Aug. 17, 1959, David Koresh never knew his father. He was left with his 14-year-old mother and largely raised by his maternal grandmother who religiously included him in her regular trips to church.

The Seventh Day Adventist environment would become a formative scene for the future cult leader, one which would teach him a lot about the power of belief.

In his teen years, Koresh was placed in special education classes for his debilitating dyslexia. Socially awkward and unpopular, he dropped out of high school before reaching his senior year.

Then in his 20s, Koresh raped and impregnated a 15-year-old girl. Naturally, this was only the beginning of a history of sexual aggression.

Getty Images David Koresh with members of the Branch Davidians, including one of his wives and children on the right.

Koresh’s evangelical church banned him after he relentlessly pursued the pastor’s teenage daughter. Koresh defended himself on the claim that God had ordained the two to be wed.

Koresh would make similar such pronouncements after moving to Waco, Texas in the early 1980s and joining the Branch Davidians. The church’s compound, known as Mount Carmel, was founded by Ben Roden. He was replaced by his wife Lois when he died.

Though 65 years old at the time, it’s believed that Lois entered into a sexual relationship with Koresh. This allowed him to rapidly climb the cult’s ranks and soon, he was permitted to teach his own lessons.

This naturally earned him the ire of Lois’ son, George, who’d been the rightful heir to Mount Carmel and its congregation before Koresh had even arrived. Koresh’s claim that God wanted him to procreate with Lois didn’t help matters.

He was exiled in 1985 and moved to Palestine, Texas with 25 other Branch Davidian church members to form his own group.

Koresh’s exile from the Branch Davidians furthered his religious delusions but also drew a sizable amount of worshippers from all over the world. A successful visit to Israel left him confident that he was the reincarnation of the prophet Cyrus. He also believed that Mount Carmel was the earthly site of the Davidic Kingdom and that he must reclaim it in the name of God.

He subsequently legally changed his name from Vernon Howell to David Koresh, which was an allusion to King David and the biblical name of Cyrus the Great.

By this point, Lois had died and left Mount Carmel in her son’s hands. He’d rebranded it as “Rodenville” and was running it tyrannically enough that the Davidians were losing faith in it. Scared of Koresh’s return and appeal, George challenged the former member to a duel of loyalty:

Whoever could raise a man from the dead would become the rightful leader of the Branch Davidians.

Koresh used the opportunity to tell police what Roden was up to but he required evidence to convince them. When Koresh and seven of his followers trespassed to gather said evidence, a resultant gunfight left Roden injured and Koresh and his men under arrest.

Koresh told police that he merely meant to gather evidence of Roden’s illegal activities and he was consequently acquitted. But Roden himself was charged with murder when he killed one of his supporters with an ax in 1989. This allowed Koresh to raise enough money to buy the Waco property and take it over himself.

Bob Pearson/AFP/Getty Images ATF agents guard all roads leading to and from the Waco compound.

But the church under Koresh’s rule fared no better. The compound was investigated extensively for statutory rape and both physical and sexual abuse. Also rampant were reports of “spiritual marriages” between underage women and much older men, and Koresh himself admitted that he’d fathered children with several women and girls in his church.

Ultimately, Child Protective Services probes failed to find concrete evidence of these activities. Meanwhile, Koresh preached to his followers that the End Times were near and that forming an “Army of God” was imperative. The church began to amass an arsenal.

By February 1993, agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) attempted to arrest and serve Koresh with a warrant for the possession of illegal firearms. Infamously, a four-hour gunfight erupted that led to the deaths of four ATF agents and six of Koresh’s followers.

The resultant standoff lasted a stunning 51 days.

Wikimedia Commons Mount Carmel on fire during the Waco siege.

While some of the Branch Davidian church members managed to escape the compound with their lives, over 80 men, women, and children remained inside. ATF and FBI negotiators worked tirelessly to come to a compromise, but things tragically escalated.

When tear gas was lobbed onto the premises the Branch Davidians retorted with gunfire. Now, all was lost. The compound eventually caught fire, presumably from propane tanks within it or from grenades authorities had used. The ensuing inferno left 76 people dead.

Many followers died when the compound’s gymnasium collapsed. Others were shot. Koresh was found shot in the head, but whether or not he did it on his own remains unknown.

Top 10 Most Famous Cults in America’s History

1. Branch Davidians Cult

David Koresh – born Vernon Howell in 1959 – founded the Branch Davidians and was the cult’s leader until his death. He joined the Church of the Seventh Day Adventists but they expelled him because of his radical theology. Koresh claimed to be a messiah and that all women were his spiritual wives. Rejected by mainstream religion and wielding a guitar, David Koresh set up a cult: the Branch Davidians.

David Koresh taught his followers that the world would soon end and that Koresh spoke the word of God. The group settled in Waco, Texas where they collected many weapons. There Koresh indoctrinated his followers in his militant ideas and his self-centered sexual teachings.

Koresh’s practice of sleeping with other church member’s wives and marrying underage girls – and the cult’s heavy stockpile of weapons and ammunition – drew unwanted attention to the sect from both the news media and the government.

In March 1993 the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms launched a raid against the Branch Davidians’ compound. A member of the group, out on errands, saw the agents and other police driving rapidly toward the sect’s retreat. He called ahead and warned them, giving Koresh and his followers time to arm themselves and barricade their buildings.

When the law enforcement task force arrived they were met with a barrage of bullets. They assaulted the building anyway and 4 ATF agents and 6 Branch Davidians were killed in the exchange of gunfire. Koresh himself was wounded. The ATF then began a 51-day siege of the compound.

Because of the notoriety of the cult and the loss of life in the initial raid CNN and other news agencies. The news media reported each day how much money the raid was costing the government. Meanwhile public opinion drove newly appointed Attorney General Janet Reno to be strong and decisive in her handling of the fiasco. During the siege a number of wounded cult members, women, and children were allowed to flee into the waiting arms of the government agents.

To break the deadlock the ATF brought in armored vehicles to inject tear gas into the compound’s main building. An unexpected fire broke out and federal agents and local police stood by helplessly as the flames consumed the building. Because of the threat of the cult’s weapons, authorities refused to ask firemen to expose themselves.

77 Branch Davidians died in the fire, including cult leader David Koresh and 20 children.

Second Amendment supporters condemned the federal government for the raid and the siege. At the same time the American public were shocked and appalled by the Clinton Administration’s handling of the affair.

On the second anniversary of the fire and David Koresh’s death, Timothy McVeigh (not a Branch Davidian) used a truck filled with fertilizer-based explosive to destroy the Alfred P. Murrah Building in Oklahoma City, supposedly as payback for the raid. The explosion killed 168 people and wounded nearly 700 others – including many children. The Oklahoma City bombing remained the worst act of terrorism in the United States until the September 1, 2001 attacks by Al Qaeda.

2. The Manson Family Cult

The 1960s gave birth to many fringe groups and movements, including spiritual groups and an “underground” culture that encompassed drug use, civil disobedience, and a lack of sexual inhibitions. While many young people emerged from this period as healthy, successful adults some of them were draw deeper into counter-cultural lifestyles. One group of extremists were the Manson family.

Charles Manson founded a group he called “The Family” in San Francisco in 1967. They were just one of many communes that had sprung up across the country during the 1960s. Manson – a convicted felon – had served jail time before creating his group of followers. He used sex and drugs to seduce lonely, isolated young people to his circle of intimates. Except for a lack of anything resembling a theology, the Family quickly became a cult.

The Manson Family is one of the rare cases of a non-religious cult in U.S. history. Cult leader Manson’s erratic beliefs drew upon ideas from Scientology, Satanism, and other esoteric teachings. Charles Manson prophesied that America would soon fall into a race war he named “Helter Skelter” after a Beatles song. He said the war would be won by the African Americans, but that they would soon turn to white people for leadership. It was Manson’s intention to hide during the war, only emerging later to assume leadership over the victors.

Impatient for his prophesy to be fulfilled, Charles Manson ordered his followers to commit a series of murders, framing African-Americans for the crimes. Over the course of two days 9 people were murdered, including coffee heiress Abigail Folger and actress Sharon Tate, the pregnant wife of Hollywood director Roman Polanski.

The murderers brutally stabbed their victims and left cryptic messages written in blood (“Rise”, “Death to Pigs”, “Helter Skelter”). The American public was horrified at the gory slaughter and the murders became a national sensation. Investigators quickly found Charles Manson, arresting him and several of his followers. He was convicted and sentenced to death, but California banned the death penalty, so he spent the rest of his life in prison.

Some of Manson’s followers remained faithful to him throughout his trial. Lynette Fromme, known as “Squeaky”, was a young, lonely woman when she met Manson in the 60s. He seduced her and declared himself to be the God of Love and Sex. A few years after Manson’s trial she pulled a handgun on President Gerald Ford and was quickly arrested. She spent many years in prison, her life wasted on a meaningless, vicious prophet.

3. Heaven’s Gate Cult

Almost no one outside of their neighbors and community heard of the Heaven’s Gate cult until their reason for being infamous. Not many cults in America become famous after their demise. Heaven’s Gate ended in a sad, misguided attempt to catch a ride on a passing comet. They believed they would make the journey spiritually and so they committed suicide together. Their story enraptured Americans for several days.

News about Heaven’s Gate broke in March of 1997 after the bodies of 39 members of the cult were found in a house. They had killed themselves in the hope of reaching a spaceship they believed was following the newly-discovered Hale-Bopp Comet.

Investigators confirmed that cult leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles were the founders of Heaven’s Gate. Applewhite had a near-death experience in the early 1970s and claimed to have had a vision. Bonnie Nettles was his nurse at the time. They became convinced they were “The Two” mentioned in The Book of Revelation 11:3 and began to attract followers. Despite their efforts to recruit others to their cause few people ever heard of them or their bizarre claims.

The entire group committed suicide by taking cyanide and arsenic, phenobarbital mixed with pineapple juice, and finally vodka. All were dressed in similar black attire and tennis shoes, with the armband patches that said “Heaven’s Gate Away Team”.

The Biblical reference is to 2 prophets described in Revelation who speak out against the world’s evil sins. They are killed and their bodies left in the open in Jerusalem for 3 days before a voice from heaven summons them back to life and they rise up to be with God. The story is part of a cryptic prophetic vision that has inspired much thought and debate for nearly 2,000 years.

4. Peoples Temple Cult

Most Americans were unaware of this group until they began making gruesome headlines. The group was founded by “Reverend” Jim Jones. Like many other infamous cult leaders in history, Jones deceived many people with his blatant reinterpretations of the Bible and his radical ideas. He was an adulterer who seduced vulnerable women, taking advantage of his power over them and their families.

There is little doubt that Jim Jones is the most infamous cult leader in American history. Jones’s ideas owed something to certain Pentecostal teachings. But though he lived in the Deep South he attracted many African-Americans from the 1950s to the 1970s because of his progressive stance on racial equality.

Shunned by traditional church’s the Peoples Temple – as the cult named themselves – relocated to Utah because Jones thought that would be the safest place to survive a nuclear war. The fear of a nuclear conflict between the United States and Soviet Union was very real during the 1950s and 1960s. Civil defense shelters around the country were stocked with food and supplies that might one day feed the survivors of a nuclear holocaust. Jones and other charismatics like him and Charles Manson preyed on people’s fears of war to draw them into their influence.

By the 1970s, the People’s Temple had denominations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where cult leader Jim Jones developed some political influence. In 1977, the New West Magazine published an expose of Jim Jones and the People’s Temple, revealing for the first time that they were a true cult. Jones moved the entire congregation to “The Commune” in Guyana, a socialist country in South America. There he set about creating his own tiny country within a country.

U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan began investigating the cult. He flew to Guyana to meet with Jim Jones. The meeting did not go well for Jones, who realized he would soon be taken back to the United States in custody. He sent some of his followers to murder the Congressman and his entourage as they boarded a small plane. Unknown to Jones and his followers, one of the Congressman’s companions was a news camera man who filmed his own murder.

When investigators found the footage it was played on national television, sparking outrage across the country. Knowing he could not escape U.S. authorities, Jim Jones convinced his followers to commit mass suicide with him. More than 900 members of the Peoples Temple drank poison mixed with Flavor Aid, though some might have drunk the punch at the point of a gun. Investigators concluded that parents forced their children to drink the deadly mixture and entire families died holding hands. A few people were apparently shot. The infamous cult leader did not survive.

5. Scientology Cult

This fifth most famous cult fights against being called a “cult” in many ways. They have been accused of organizing harrassment campaigns against former members and people who investigate the group. The U.S. government’s Internal Revenue Service stripped the group of tax-exempt status in the 1960s and a federal court ruled that founder E. Ron Hubbard’s medical technology was a fraud.

When a religion’s founder is known to have said, “If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion,” you should beware of that religion. This is what Scientology cult leader L. Ron Hubbard was quoted as saying to a 1948 science fiction convention (while complaining about being paid a penny a word for his writing). Hubbard went on to found Scientology 1952. Scientology was based on Hubbard’s system of Dianetics, which he called “the modern science of mental health”. Dianetics was supposed to be an alternative to modern psychology, which Hubbard claimed was lacking in substance and success. According to those who’ve left the cult, the core tenets of Scientology are hidden from members until they attain a certain level in the cult. The early stages involve manipulation of theoretic life force energy, called “theta”, which represents the true identity of a person.

Manipulation of this force helps one get “Clear”, done through an “auditing” process by higher ranked members. According to Scientology teaching, Thetans are also a race which created the universe for their own enjoyment. However at higher levels, members are introduced to the story of Xenu, a tyrant who rules the Galactic Confederacy. This revelation has caused some members to leave the cult, while the Church of Scientology’s heavy-handed tactics (isolation, lawsuits) have not only kept many members in line, but also served to maintain a conspiracy of silence among former members, for fear of legal retribution.

Some people argue that the Church of Scientology is not a cult, based on its (now-rescinded) recognition by the IRS as a church (for tax purposes). Italy, Spain, Portugal, Taiwan, and a number of other countries extended similar recognition to Scientology as a church. At the same time, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, Greece, and Canada all deemed Scientology a cult and refuse to cede its legitimacy.

L. Ron Hubbard’s legacy as a cult leader is less violent but no less mystifying and – some would say – even terrifying than the legacies of other founders mentioned here.

6. Unification Church Cult

The most famous cult from outside of America is without doubt the Unification Church.

The Unification Church might not strike a chord, but this is the cult founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. Born in what is now North Korea in 1920, Sun Myung Moon claimed to have had a vision when he was 16 that Jesus Christ did not finish his work on Earth (having “perfect children”) and that he – Moon – should carry on Jesus’s work.

Preaching on behalf of this new faith in the wake of the Japanese withdrawal from Korea at the end of World War II, he was arrested and put in a North Korean prison camp. He escaped when the U.S. Army overran the camp in 1950 and made his way to America, where he became a Presbyterian.

When he was excommunicated from the Presbyterian Church in 1954, Sun Myung Moon founded the Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. Reverend Moon told his flock that only he could choose their marriage partners (after 7 years in the church), and he became infamous for his mass marriage ceremonies. This among other practices signaled that Moon had established himself as the leader of a cult.

By the 1970s, Moon (a successful businessman) had renamed the cult the Unification Church and moved to New York City, where he gained too much attention. Parents filing lawsuits against the cult, while also publicizing their attempts to deprogram their brainwashed children. This led to a 1982 tax evasion conviction. The Unification Church still exists, though Moon died in 2010.

7. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh Cult

Of all the famous cults in American history, the United States has only been heavily influenced by two. The Bhagwan infuriated American Christians when he declared the Christian God to be false. His cult ranks second among foreign cults to earn notoriety in the United States.

Cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was an Indian (Hindi) mystic and guru who had an international following prior to his appearance in the United States. In 1981, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh brought his congregation to Oregon, where it remained from 1981 until 1985.

In 1985, U.S. authorities discovered that Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh’s group had committed a bioterror attack when it unleashed a virus on the people of The Dalles, Oregon (contaminating their food). This terrorist attack was apparently an effort to rig a local election. Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh was arrested and charged with immigration violations, and was eventually deported from the country (21 nations refused him entry to their countries).

At the time of his ascendency in Oregon, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh had the world’s largest Rolls-Royce automobiles. He was not only one of the most notorious cult leaders in American history, but also the wealthiest.

8. Children of God – Family International Cult

The Children of God were founded by David “Moses” Berg in 1968. After his death in 1994, the Children of God changed their name to “Family International” but they remain one of the United States’ most famous cults.

David Berg was born in California in 1919 and came up in a Disciples of Christ sect. Berg served as a minister in Arizona and in Miami, Florida, before moving his family to Texas. From seclusion, David Berg created a widespread cult following through his writings. The cult continued to operate after Berg’s death, choosing a new leader to guide them.

Though the Children of God espouses Christian beliefs, many churches would regard their teachings to be heretical. The Children of God’s founder preached against moral decay and the belief of evolution, along with mainstream religion, western-style capitalism, the Jewish people, and even pedophilia laws.

In the early phase of the Internet, the story of Merry Berg, granddaughter of David Berg, came to light (through the words of Merry herself). Merry talked of the beatings, isolation, and exorcisms she suffered when she began to question her grandfather’s hypocrisy at age 14.

According to Merry Berg, “Moses” was an alcoholic who sent her to live in Macau with her uncle when she would not repent. For the next several years, she and several other teenagers were forced to live in a teen detention home (“victors home”) to force them to remain cultists. She was eventually placed in a mental institute and drugged.

At age 18 (in 1992), after not breaking, the cult sent her to live with her mother, who was no longer part of the commune. She has since spoken out against this classic cult behavior.

9. Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Cult

The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the famous cult founded by current convict Warren Jeffs. Jeffs’ story caused a media circus when it first came to national attention in 2006, after he reached the FBI Ten Most Wanted List. The Fundamentalist Church is one of many breakoff sects from the main Mormon church, due to their excommunication for continuing to practice polygamy. This is what got Warren Jeffs convicted to prison: separate counts of incest and sexual misconduct with minors. Since Jeffs was sent away to prison, it’s unclear who succeeded him as the leader of the Fundamentalist Church.

While some people argue Warren Jeffs’ 10,000 member group isn’t exactly a cult, others claim the entire Mormon faith is itself a cult. I won’t go that far, so I’ll split the difference and suggest Warren Jeffs’s organization displays many of the traditional signs of a cult. Those who saw the tv interviews with the women of the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints could see that members of the group had been brainwashed.

10. Twelve Tribes Cult

The last of America’s famous cults, the Twelve Tribes, were founded by Elbert Eugene Spriggs, often known as “Yoneq”, in 1971. It seems Spriggs, like most other cult leaders, claimed to have had a vision–in this case while on a Los Angeles beach. Before that time, Elbert Spriggs had been a high school counselor and a carnival barker, two professions which provided him with skills he would later use as a cult leader. Thirty years later, Yoneq was a jetsetting international traveler with palatial home in the South of France, Brazil, and Cape Cod. The reclusive Yoneq has moved his cult about the country several times to avoid scrutiny. In 1984, authorities seized over 100 cult kids in a raid of Island Pond, Vermont, after brutal abuse allegations came to light. Today, the group has at least 7 compounds in New England, but is thought to have a total of 30 worldwide. Among their beliefs is no dichotomy between Heaven and Hell, but instead the “Three Eternal Destinies”.

Certain cult activity doesn’t have an American character, which is why the Raelians and other such groups aren’t on this list. I’ve seen the Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism placed on lists before, but I stop short of labeling these groups as pure cults. I make a distinction between religions groups who shun or ostracize members, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses or Amish, and those who use physical intimidation or brainwashing techniques. A fine line separates cults and churches, but the ones listed above should leave no doubt.

How Many Cults are There in the USA?

No one has an accurate list of formally designated cult groups. There are hundreds of American cults on various watch lists. In reality there are probably thousands of groups that should be considered cults but most of them are small enough to have little impact on their communities. Lunatic, self-aggrandizing cult leaders like Jim Jones and David Koresh are – thankfully – few and far between.

1990s: Heaven’s Gate

In 1997, 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult killed themselves in San Diego, California, with the goal of catching up to a UFO following the comet Hale-Bopp. Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles founded Heaven’s Gate in 1974. Its members were preoccupied with web design, science fiction, castration, and cleaning the body of impurities. Regarding mass suicide, they wrote on their website: “We have thoroughly discussed this topic [of willful exit of the body under such conditions] and have mentally prepared ourselves for this possibility as can be seen in a few of our statements.” When the members of Heaven’s Gate were found, they were all wearing black clothes and black-and-white Nike Decade sneakers and wore their hair cropped short. Initially, all were identified as men, although more than half were women. The suicides inspired a number of pop songs, spawned an SNL sketch, and generated a lot of (not necessarily welcome) publicity for the Nike Decade sneaker, a pair of which is currently listed on eBay for $6,600.

We don’t hear as much about cults today as we did in the second half of the 20th century. As the shock and gravitas of the most destructive cults, particularly the Manson Family and the Peoples Temple, has faded with time and the controversial practice of deprogramming has been replaced by noncoercive reentry counseling, it’s easy enough to think of cults as a relic of the past, as much a part of the 21st century as fringed pants and tie-dyed shirts. But the 1960s counterculture-inspired cult hasn’t disappeared (just look at the Buddhafield), nor has the religious-sect cult (see Scientology or the Unification Church). And given that dissatisfaction with the status quo is a precursor for many cults, we just might be on the eve of a cultic renaissance.

Here are the 10 Most Cruel and Despotic Leaders of the 20th Century

The world has seen more than its share of cruel and despotic rulers. From the infamous, psychotic madness of Caligula, to the bloody massacres led by Genghis Khan, countries and many peoples have suffered under these regimes throughout history. Unfortunately, the twentieth century history of the world is replete with examples of less than stellar leadership. Corruption has been a major problem that has plagued political leadership throughout the ages and up to the present day. In Africa alone, corruption in governments after independence from colonial powers, has cost the continent roughly $150 billion annually according to a 2002 African Union study. But beyond corruption, violence and persecution against opposition groups and innocent people, have been a stain to many global nations. Good and fair governance have often been an exception rather than the rule.

Why has this happened and why does it continue in many countries? This is a difficult question to answer. Part of the blame certainly lies with former colonial powers of countries who enhanced tribal and political rivalries in order to maintain control over disparate populations. These rivalries would often turn into autocratic, one-party ruled systems after independence. Another is the lack of institutional checks and balances which can prevent the rise of these types of ultra-nationalistic or dictatorial regimes. The final part of the blame falls on those leaders who felt that absolute authority and even violent methods were needed to maintain &ldquocontrol.&rdquo Whatever the reasons, the following list of leaders reflect what occurred in many countries around the world and serves as a lesson to us all.

Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe, CNN.

There is certainly no shortage of bad leaders in history to choose from. One example was Robert Mugabe who, until recently, was the long-time leader (37 years) of the country of Zimbabwe. His rule was finally ended through a military backed coup late last year. However, the focus was not on those that just followed undemocratic principles or were just corrupt. There also had to be other less than savory attributes exhibited by these leaders. A penchant for violence, murder, genocidal tendencies, and/or other deviancies were prerequisites to make this top ten list. These leader&rsquos legacies have left indelible impressions of the countries they have once ruled &ndash as well as the world. It is hoped that the twenty-first century will be a better one for good leaders around the globe

People professionally or notably involved in occultism prior to the Middle ages

    , Japanese painter and alleged mage. , a legendary sage, healer, and priest of Apollo [1] , founder of Glycon-worship and oracle , Philosopher. , author of a magical novel [2] , magician who attempted to prove he was divine [3] , Magus who worked for Antonius Felix at Caesarea (d. 130), Chinese professional witch , Philosopher who advocated the idea that all matter is composed of water, fire, air and earth. , Jewish Magus who opposed Paul on Cyprus[4] , [5] king said to possess magical artifacts , philosopher important in occultism [6] /Thoth[7] , [8] neo-platonist philosopher, espoused theurgy and Mambres, magicians at Pharaoh's court mentioned in the New Testament , Theurgist , 4th century alchemist [9] , [10] philosopher , neo-platonist philosopher important in occultism [11] , Greek mathematician, numerologist, philosopher important in occultism [12] , [13] astrologer , magician mentioned in New Testament of the ChristianBible. [14][15][16][17][18][19][20] , reputed inventor of the Seal of Solomon and supposed author of the Testament of Solomon, Key of Solomon, Magical Treatise of Solomon, Lesser Key of Solomon of Antioch, 4th Century sorcerer. [21] , subjected to magical legends , witch and spirit medium of King Saul in the Old Testament , [22] leader of the Yellow Turban Rebellion , advisor to Liu Bei during the Three Kingdoms period , founder of the order of the Magi , [23] Egyptian alchemist and gnostic mystic

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the Middle ages (circa 500-1500)

    (1240-1291), kabbalist "messiah" (c. 1362-1458), Egyptian sage [24] (d. 1441), [25] astrologer and alleged necromancer (1200-1280), had many magical texts attributed to him (1433-1499), [26] astrologer and translator of the "Corpus Hermeticum" (1335-1398), associated with the goddess Áine (1457-1513), shapeshifter skilled in the black arts (1525-1585), alchemist thought to have magical powers (1405-1440), serial killer accused of sorcery (9th-century), Persian-Arab alchemist that influenced all Medieval alchemy (1135-1202), Christian esotericist who founded his own group called the Joachimites (14th-century) and Robert Marshall (14th-century), accused of attempting to kill Edward II with magic (1330-1418), [27] considered one of Europe's greatest alchemists [12] (1257-1316) astrologer and purported author of the Heptameron (1232-1316), syncretic mystic (1220-1292), philosopher accused of magic (c. 1172-1220), Magician [28] (13th-century), Norse-Gaelic navigator and sorcerer

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the 16th-century

    (1486-1535), occult philosopher, astrologer (1548-1600), [29] occult philosopher (1500-1571), sculptor whose diary relates experience summoning spirits (fl. 1571-1615), Italian astrologer and occultist (1527-1608), occult philosopher, mathematician, alchemist, Queen Elizabeth's advisor [12] (1530-1584), Belgian follower of Paracelsus (1555-1597), spirit medium and alchemist who worked with John Dee, founder of Enochian magic[12] (1545-1628), astrologer to George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham (1503-1566), [30] one of the world's most famous prophets [12] (1493-1541), medical pioneer and occult philosopher (1563-1632), [31] "Wizard Earl" (1463-1494), humanist and neoplatonist
  • Sir Walter Raleigh (1552-1618), practiced alchemy (1545-1622), German cabalist magician, summoned angels (1552-1612), patron of alchemists (1488-1561), English soothsayer and prophet (fl. 1575), Tantric guru and scholar from Bengal (d. 1577), Swiss medium (1462-1516), [32] cryptographer and magical writer (aka Johannes Wierus) (1515-1588), German physician, occultist and demonologist.

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the 17th-century

    (1617-1692), the first known speculative Freemason. (1626-1690), Danish alchemist (1605-1682), [33] hermetic philosopher (1575-1661), hermetic author, and son of John Dee (1574-1637), occult philosopher and astrologer (d. 1662), self-confessed professional sorcerer
  • Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726), renowned physicist and alchemist (1581-1626), Portuguese occultist (17th-century), anonymous author of seventeenth-century alchemical and hermetic texts (1640-1680), French professional magician

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the Age of Enlightenment (18th-century)

    (1734-1801), politically influential Swedish fortune-teller (1746-1804), Swedish spiritual medium (1743-1795), [34] Italian occultist (1747-1821), French prophet medium (1725-1784), connected tarot and esotericism (1738-1791), fortune-teller (fl. 1785) African kaperlata occultist and fiath healer (1680-1725) French occultist (1716-1782), French fortune teller (1740-1814), writer and libertine (dl. 1784), alchemist and occultist [12] (fl. 1722), German-Swedish fortune teller (1734-1815) German magnetist (1754-1792), alchemist and Swedenborgian (1771-1809), Swedish spiritual medium (1743-1803), founder of Martinism, writer known as the Unknown Philosopher (1688-1772), [35] alchemist, founder of Swedenborgianism (1756-1819), Swedish spiritual medium

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the 19th-century

    (1809-1891), An authority as regards Freemasonry and arguably the most imperative mason during his time. (1868-1932), astrologer to the famous (c. 1770 - fl. 1802), wrote a book on magic (1765-1851), French demonologist (1869-1951), member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1831-1891), founder of Theosophy (1853-1926), medical missionary and explorer, member of Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Stella Matutina, author on Africa and medicine (1865-1941), German mystic (1861-1899), occult author (fl. 1802-1846), American wizard (1804-1869), founder of Spiritism (1861-1930) alchemist and occult author (1801-1881), American New Orleans Voodoo practitioner (1772-1843), French fortune-teller favoured by Joséphine de Beauharnais (1810-1875), French occult author and ceremonial magician [12] (1848-1919), Austrian writer and mystic. (1863-1947), member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1865-1928), first initiate in Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, wife of S.L. MacGregor Mathers, and Imperatrix of the Alpha et Omega (1854-1918), founder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn , pseudonym for Gérard Encausse (1865-1916), occult author (1793-1871), French occultist, demonologist and writer (1825-1875), African American physician and sex magician (1869-1916), Russian mystic and healer (1788-1869), Austrian Occultist. (1855-1923), German mason. (1854-1891), visionary poet, adventurer (1849-1912), dramatist, alchemist (1857-1941), occult author and member of Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1848-1925), cofounder of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (1866-1946), Austrian occultist (1865-1934), poet, Golden Dawn member, astrologer (1854-1934), occult books author and influential member of the Theosophical Society Adyar. [36] (1847-1933), British writer, socialist and occultist [37][38] (1875-1955), American occultist, businessman and yogi popularly known as "Oom The Omnipotent" (1857-1885), Indian Theosophist.

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the 20th century

    , [39] witch and NPR reporter , author, artist, teacher (1878-1971), Indian poet and mystic. , filmmaker, author, and disciple of Crowley , occultist, occult author, teacher , English writer, mystic and Theosophist[40] , occult author, magician , as of 2020, he is the current imperator of the mystical organization Ancient Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (AMORC) , author of the Voudon Gnostic Workbook, occult artist , author, musician, occultist, member of rock band Coil and Current 93. Since 21 September 1985, Breeze served as the Head of Ordo Templi Orientis. , [41] musician and actor , mystic and founder of Canadian cult , author, teacher , author, Beat writer , esoteric author , witch, high priestess, author , occult author , scarlet woman of Jack Parsons' rituals, artist, actress , occultist, author, founder of Chaos magic , author, polemist , sorcerer, writer, anthropologist , occult author, philosopher, theologian (1880-1944), head of FUDOFSI , Indian mystic and yogi who (as of 2017) is the spiritual head of Siddha Yoga. (1885-1950), Occult author. [42] (1878-1951), Golden Dawn member, artist, designed the Waite-Smith tarot deck , English occultist and ceremonial magician, founder of Thelema religion [43][12] , ceremonial magician, artist, founder of rock band Coven (band), recording artist , Actor and occultist. , [44] filmmaker and Haitian Vodou priestess , occult author , witch and occult author musician, lecturer, and occultist. , Italian philosopher. , Alexandrian Wiccan, journalist, author (1884-1954), founder of BOTA, adept of the Western mystery tradition, teacher, occult author , considered one of Great Britain's most famous occultists [12] , French alchemist and esoteric author [12] (1940s), authority on the Evil Eye , author and founder of the religion of Wicca , esoteric electronic music composer , artist, designer, member of the O.T.O. [45] , occultist, author, pupil of Crowley , occult author, fantasist, blogger. (known as Gregor A. Gregorius), German occultist, author, founder of the lodge Fraternitas Saturni , occult author, teacher , occultist, artist , author , NaziReichsführerSS , occult author (1889-1945), German politician and leader of the Nazi Party whilst alive, occult mystic. [46][47][48][49][50] , occult author , author, teacher, publisher , Nigerian lawyer and former minister of power who was a Rosicrucian. [51] , Nigerian grand master occultist, self proclaimed living perfect master and god. [52] , filmmaker, comic book writer, author and teacher on 'Psychemagia' , Indian occultist and philosopher, who was declared by the Theosophical Society Adyar as the incarnation of Jesus Christ [53] and Krishna, [53] and was destined to be a world teacher. [54][55] , German occultist. , American occultist and writer. [56] - Russian psychic who claimed to possess telekinetic abilities. [57] , occult author , occult author , occult author, founder of the Church of Satan , psychologist, member of the Illuminates of Thanateros , witch and occult author , founder of AMORC , former imperator of AMORC[58] , Austrian occultist and pioneer of Ariosophy , German rune occultist. , Danish occultist , British writer and occultist [59] , poet and aristocrat Lord Tredegar , comic writer and magician , musician, occultist, [citation needed] member of rock band The Doors , occultist, science fiction writer , Nigerian sorcerer and self-proclaimed prophet of the Biblical God [60][61] , self-proclaimed Australian witch , Nigerian spiritualist, traditional prime minister, and musician who supposedly manifested several metaphysical abilities during his lifetime. [62] , Nigerian self proclaimed God in human form who has been described as an occult grandmaster. [63] , A Nigerian traditionalist & spiritualist who proclaimed himself to be Jesus Christ. [64] , Christian Occultist, founder of the Archeosophical Society , musician, occultist, member of rock band Led Zeppelin , occultist, author, and rocket scientist , Nigerian master magician who was reportedly the most prominent magician in Africa during his life time. [65][66] , of Psychic TV video group and TOPY chaos magician , founder of the Summit Lighthouse and proponet of the "I AM" movement who supposedly achieved unification with God and became an 'Ascended Master' [67] , occult author, magician, pupil of Aleister Crowley [68] , author [69] , founder of Alexandrian Wicca , Chilean diplomat, author of books on Esoteric Nazism , Finnish occultist and neo-Nazi , British-Canadian witch, poet [70] , visual artist, experimental filmmaker, record collector, bohemian, mystic, largely self-taught student of anthropology, and Neo-Gnostic bishop. , author, painter, magician , Australian author , witch and occult author [71] , founder of anthroposophy [72] , occult author [73] aka Frater U∴D∴, occultist, author, founder of Pragmatic Magic, Cyber Magic and Ice Magic , [74] American magician. , German writer, mystic and spiritual teacher. , Founder of the Eckankar religion and student of oriental occultism. [75][76][77] , occult author [78] , priestess and author [79] , mage [80] , mystic and muse , author of occult books and former high priest of Temple of Set[81][82] , theurgist and founder of the Gnostic movement [83][84] , author [85] , occult author [86] , Nigeria's first documented and self proclaimed occult grand master who reached the zenith of occultism. [87][88] , Indian mystic who supposedly possessed all occult powers known and also was a chief disciple of Ramakrishna. [89]

People professionally or notably involved in occultism during the 21st century

Drugs, Power, and Paranoia

From the outside, Jim Jones and his Peoples Temple looked like an amazing success the reality, however, was quite different. In fact, the church was transforming into a cult centered around Jim Jones.

After the move to California, Jones changed the tenor of the Peoples Temple from religious to political, with a strong communist bent. Members at the top of the church's hierarchy had pledged not only their devotion to Jones but had also pledged over all of their material possessions and money. Some members even signed over custody of their children to him.

Jones quickly became infatuated with power, requiring his followers to call him either "Father" or "Dad." Later, Jones began to describe himself as "Christ" and then, in the last few years, claimed that he was himself God.

Jones also took large quantities of drugs, both amphetamines and barbiturates. At first, it might have been to help him stay up longer so that he could get more good works done. Soon, however, the drugs caused major mood swings, his health deteriorated, and it increased his paranoia.

No longer was Jones just worried about nuclear attacks. He soon believed that the entire government—especially the CIA and FBI—was after him. In part to escape from this perceived government threat and to escape from an exposé article about to be published, Jones decided to move the Peoples Temple to Guyana in South America.


In 1969, young boys Kenji, Otcho, Yoshitsune and Maruo build, in an empty field, a hideout they call their secret base, in which they and their friends can get together to share manga and stolen pornographic magazines and listen to a radio. To celebrate the event, Otcho draws a symbol for the base that would represent their friendship. After their friends Yukiji and Donkey join the gang, they imagine a future scenario where villains would try to destroy the world, and in which the boys would stand up and fight this scenario is transcribed and labelled Book of Prophecy ( よげんの書 , Yogen no sho) .

In the late 1990s, Kenji is a convenience store owner, finding solace in his childhood adventures as he takes care of his baby niece Kanna and his mother. After Donkey is reported to have committed suicide, Kenji stumbles upon a large cult led by a man known only as "Friend". With current events beginning to resemble actions from the Book of Prophecy, Kenji and his former classmates try to remember who knows about the book. They find more events unfolding such as bombings and virus attacks in San Francisco, London, and a major Japanese airport.

Kenji and his former classmates eventually uncover a plan to destroy the world on New Year's Eve of 2000, referred to in the latter part of the story as the Bloody New Year's Eve, with the use of a "giant robot", which is later revealed to be a giant balloon with robotic appendages, which spreads the virus throughout the city as well as other cities. Kenji manages to get inside the robot to plant a bomb, but is presumed dead when it explodes. From this event, the members of the Friendship Democratic Party ( 友民党 , Yūmintō) gain widespread political popularity and power by presenting a vaccine that counters the virus, and thus take all the credit for saving the world.

Fourteen years after Bloody New Year's Eve, Kanna is a teenage girl who works at a Chinese restaurant. After she tries to defuse some interaction between various mafia groups, she discovers that a patron's friend had witnessed a Chinese mafia member get killed by a corrupted policeman. The mafia member mentions an assassination attempt on the Pope as he visits Japan. She then finds herself being hunted by members of the Friends while trying to unite the mafia groups to her cause. Meanwhile, Otcho manages to escape a maximum security prison.

Kyoko Koizumi, who attends Kanna's school, impulsively takes on a school assignment of covering Bloody New Year's Eve, but soon becomes entangled in activities involving both the Friends and the people who oppose them. After surviving a brainwashing program, she joins with Kenji's friend Yoshitsune and his resistance force.

Friend reveals a new plan, a continuation of the Book of Prophecy, in which he plans to kill every human being on Earth except for sixty million of his followers, but he is then assassinated by his chief scientist Yamane. Following this, Friend's funeral becomes a worldwide spectacle, held in a stadium with the Pope giving the address. Partway through the service, Friend appears to rise from the dead, and is shot in the shoulder by his own assassin. By saving the Pope, Friend is elevated to deity like status. Meanwhile, there is a worldwide viral outbreak that threatens to kill everyone except those who have been vaccinated.

The final portion of the story takes place in a newly remodeled Japan, under the "Era of Friend", who has instituted numerous bizarre changes, including the establishment of an Earth Defense Force, reputedly to protect Earth from an imminent alien invasion, exiling those without vaccinations, and forbidding travel across regions, under penalty of death. During this time frame, Kanna, who is revealed to be Friend's daughter, leads an insurgency against Friend's government, enlisting the aid of numerous groups, including the survivors of rival gangs and mafia organizations. During this, Kenji, apparently also risen from the dead and carrying his trademark guitar, reappears.

The series spans several decades from 1969 to 2017, the last of which in the chronology of the series, becomes 3FE (3rd Year of the Friend Era). The series makes three distinct timeline cuts during the story one from 1971 to 1997, one from 2000 to 2014, and one from 2014 to 3FE. Several parts of the series are also told in flashbacks to previous events as the characters attempt to unravel the mystery of who Friend is and how to stop his plans of world destruction most of the character's childhood backstories through the 1970s and 1980s are told in this fashion.

Naoki Urasawa got the idea for 20th Century Boys when he was in the bath and heard a speech on television by someone from the United Nations say "Without them, we would not have been able to reach the 21st Century. " and wondered "Who's 'them'? Who are those people?" [10] [11]

Although he creates a "movie trailer" in his head when starting a new series, Urasawa does not plan the story out in advance. For example, a young woman appears in the first chapter pulling a curtain open to reveal a giant robot (as envisioned in the trailer). While writing that scene Urasawa could hear a baby crying in the convenience store next door and included that in the manga, thus it cuts to 1997 with Kenji and a crying baby Kanna in a convenience store. The author did not initially know that Kanna would grow into that young woman. [10]

A few weeks before the September 11 attacks, Urasawa turned in a manuscript for 20th Century Boys where two giant robots fight and destroy buildings in Shinjuku. But after the attacks, the artist could not bring himself to illustrate that scene and created a chapter almost entirely devoted to Kenji singing a song, in order to express how he felt. [10] [12]

When Urasawa began 20th Century Boys in 1999, he was already writing Monster and continued to serialize both at the same time. Although he was briefly hospitalized for exhaustion at this point, Monster ended in 2001 and Urasawa began writing another series simultaneous to 20th Century Boys in 2003 with Pluto. [13]

Manga Edit

Written and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, 20th Century Boys was originally serialized in Big Comic Spirits from 1999 to 2006. The 249 individual chapters were published into 22 tankōbon volumes by Shogakukan from January 29, 2000, to November 30, 2006. A sequel, titled 21st Century Boys, started in Big Comic Spirits ' s January 19, 2007, issue and ran until July. The 16 chapters were released into two volumes on May 30, 2007, and September 28, 2007. 20th Century Boys received an eleven-volume kanzenban re-release between January 29 and November 30, 2016. [14] [15] The single kanzenban reprint of 21st Century Boys, released on December 28, 2016, includes a new ending. [16] A one-shot manga titled Aozora Chu-Ihō ("Blue Sky Advisory – Kiss") was published in the February 2009 issue of Big Comic Spirits, it was credited to "Ujiko-Ujio", the pen-name of the fictional manga creator duo Kaneko and Ujiki in 20th Century Boys. [17]

Both 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys were licensed for English-language release in North America by Viz Media in 2005, however their release was delayed until after their translation of Monster had finished. [18] The first English-language volume of 20th Century Boys was released on February 17, 2009, and the last of 21st Century Boys on March 19, 2013. It had been reported that the reason for the delay was at the request of Urasawa, who felt there was a change in his art style over time. [18] However, when asked about it being due to his request in 2012, Urasawa was surprised saying that he did not know about that and simply suggested Viz did not know which order to publish the two series. [19] In 2017, Viz licensed the kanzenban editions of both 20th Century Boys and 21st Century Boys. The first volume of 20th Century Boys: The Perfect Edition was published on September 18, 2018, and the single volume 21st Century Boys: The Perfect Edition was published on June 15, 2021. [20] [21] Viz's initial release was distributed in Australasia by Madman Entertainment. The series has also been licensed in Germany by Planet Manga, France by Génération Comics, Hong Kong by Jade Dynasty, the Netherlands by Glénat, Indonesia by Level Comics, Italy by Planet Manga, South Korea by Haksan Publishing, Spain by Planeta DeAgostini, Taiwan by Tong Li Comics, Thailand by Nation Edutainment, Brazil by Planet Manga, and Argentina by Editorial Ivrea.

Films Edit

The trilogy of 20th Century Boys live-action films, directed by Yukihiko Tsutsumi, were first announced in 2006. [22] In February 2008, the main cast was announced, as well as the trilogy's budget of 6 billion yen (approx. $60 million US) and that Urasawa will contribute to the script. [23] Filming of the first two movies was planned from January 3 to the end of June, and of the third from mid-August to the end of October. [23] English rock band T. Rex's "20th Century Boy", the song from which the series gets its name, was used as the theme song to the films. [23]

The first movie's premiere was held in Paris on August 19, 2008, at the Publicis Champs-Elysées cinema with a press conference at the Louvre Museum, which was attended by Toshiaki Karasawa (Kenji) and Takako Tokiwa (Yukiji). [24] The first film was released on August 30, 2008, the second on January 31, 2009, and the third was released on August 29, 2009. The first movie covers volumes 1 to 5 of the manga, and the second covers volumes 6 to 15, but differs from the original story on some key points important characters missing in the first movie were introduced in the second. The final film in the trilogy covers the remainder of the volumes, but with several changes to the main story.

Cast Edit

    as Kenji Endō as Otcho as Yukiji as Kanna as Yoshitsune as Mon-chan as Keroyon as Fukubei as Inshū Manjōme as God as Kiriko Endō as detective Chono as Namio Haru as bleeding man as Masato Ikegami as Kakuda (manga artist) as Saburo Kido (Donkey)
  • Oshikazu Fukawa
  • Masato Irie
  • Tamotsu Ishibashi
  • Hidehiko Ishizuka as Michihiro Maruo as Akio Yamane
  • Raita Ryu as detective Chosuke "Chô" Igarashi
  • Shirô Sano as Yanbo / Mabo (twins)
  • Miyako Takeuchi
  • Ryushin Tei
  • Yu Tokui
  • Hanako Yamada
  • Komoto Masahiro as the first teacher of Kyoko Koizumi

Home video Edit

The first film in the trilogy is available on DVD and Blu-ray in Japan from VAP, [25] and in Hong Kong from Kam & Ronson. [26]

A UK DVD release was announced by label 4Digital Asia, and released on May 4, 2009. [27] On the same day, Part 2 received its UK theatrical premiere at the 8th Sci-Fi-London annual fantastic film festival. [28] Part 3 received its UK theatrical premiere on May 7, 2010, at the Prince Charles Cinema in London as part of the 2nd Terracotta Film Festival. [29] Following this, 4Digital Asia released a 4-disc boxset containing the complete trilogy on May 31, 2010. [30]

Viz Media licensed the trilogy for North American release. The first film had its US theatrical premiere at the New People opening in San Francisco on August 15, 2009. [31] The second film premiere followed at the same cinema on August 21, 2009, and the third film premiere followed on the same day as the Japanese premiere on August 28, 2009. [32]

Part 1 received its US DVD release on December 11, 2009. A launch event was held at the New People cinema in San Francisco with a theatrical screening. [33] Part 2's DVD release had a similar launch event on February 9, 2010, with a one-night-only theatrical screening. [34] Likewise, Part 3 had a launch event and theatrical screening at New People on May 20, 2010. [35] The entire trilogy was broadcast by NHK on its TV Japan channel airing on consecutive Saturdays beginning November 13, 2010.

Manga Edit

20th Century Boys has 36 million tankōbon copies in circulation, [36] was the third top-selling manga series of 2008, [37] and the ninth top-selling of 2009. [38] The series has also won numerous awards, including the 2001 Kodansha Manga Award in the General category, [39] an Excellence Prize at the 2002 Japan Media Arts Festival, [40] the 2003 Shogakukan Manga Award in the General category, [41] and the first ever Angoulême International Comics Festival Prize for a Series in 2004. It also won the Grand Prize at the 37th Japan Cartoonists Association Awards, [42] and the Seiun Award in the Comic category at the 46th Japan Science Fiction Convention, both in 2008. [43] The series won the 2011 Eisner Award for Best U.S. Edition of International Material in the Asia category for Viz Media's English releases, [44] and won the same award again in 2013. [45] [46] It was nominated twice, 2010 and 2013, for the Harvey Award in the Best American Edition of Foreign Material category, and three years in a row, 2010–2012, for the Eisner Award for Best Continuing Series. [47] [48]

Manga critic Jason Thompson called 20th Century Boys "an epic saga of nostalgia, middle age, rock n' roll, and a struggle against an evil conspiracy." He compared the story to several novels by Stephen King, such as It, where "a group of childhood friends who reunite as adults to deal with leftover issues from their childhood manifested in monstrous form." Thompson wrote that despite being a seinen manga aimed at an older audience, the series gained fans of all ages for its great premise, storytelling and the mystery behind Friend. [49]

Carlo Santos of Anime News Network felt the pacing of the series should have been quicker, but praised the intricate and interconnecting plot and its twists, as well as the well-developed characters. [50] [51] [52] He also noted Urasawa's art and dialogue, saying "it takes real skill to build a story as multi-layered as this one and still have it make sense as the characters explain things". [50] [51] [52]

Including it on a list of "10 Essential Manga That Should Belong in Every Comic Collection", Matthew Meylikhov of Paste praised the cast as one of "the most expansive and diverse" in any manga and how Urasawa makes each character independently recognizable as they age through the decades. "20th Century Boys becomes an experience featuring horror, science fiction, post-apocalyptic futures, wild humor, epic landscapes, and more as an apex accomplishment in manga." [53]

Films Edit

20th Century Boys was adapted into three films. The first live-action film debuted at number two at the box office, grossing 625.61 million yen (approx. $5.78 million US), and rose to number one the second week. [54] The second film debuted at number one, grossing approximately $6,955,472 US. [55] The third film followed also debuting at number one, and earned approximately $22,893,123 US by its second week. [56]

Writing for Empire, Justin Bowyer gave the first film a three out of five rating. He praised the action and faithfulness to the original manga, but stated that those unfamiliar with the source material may find the large cast of characters and complex story confusing. Bowyer also suggested waiting for all three films to be released. [57] A fan of the manga, Jamie S. Rich of DVD Talk felt too much had to be cut to fit three films, with the development of characters suffering as a result. He did comment on how close the actors looked to their comic book counterparts and ultimately recommended the film. [58] In the complete opposite view, both The Guardian ' s Cath Clarke and Time Out London ' s Trevor Johnston gave the first film two out of five stars and both cited the faithfulness to the original media as a negative, feeling that some of the material could have been cut. [59] [60]

Charles Webb of Twitch Film voiced similar criticism in a review of the second film. However, he praised the character Friend and Etsushi Toyokawa's performance as Occho, as well as the ending that makes the viewer anticipate the final installment in the trilogy. [61] Jamie S. Rich also felt that the second movie "more than fulfills its prime directive of enticing me to stick around" for the final film. [62]

On the third film, Burl Burlingame of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin wrote "The steam seems to have run out of the franchise during this third part, and it's simply an OK capper to the series," but did praise the special effects. [63] Variety ' s Russell Edwards also cited the special effects in the final installment as the best in the trilogy. [64]

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