[September 18, 1998]
As individuals and societies, we do not have a strong understanding of the phenomenon of cults, nor of the dangers cults pose. Thus, preventative action is rarely undertaken by appropriate establishments, such as our homes, cultural institutions, and governments. Lack of understanding or action persists despite highly publicized cult violence over the last four years, somber statistics of the cult problem, and the upcoming millennium which is predicted to spark more catastrophes. The following overview is provided to alert people to the growing danger of cults worldwide.
Recent Cult Tragedies in the News
1994. More than 60 members of Europe's Solar Temple cult were induced to mass suicide in France and Switzerland.
1995. Japan's Aum Shin Rikyo cult released sarin nerve gas in Tokyo subway killing ten and injuring thousands. Only recently in June 1998, testimonies in recent trials of Aum Shin Rikyo members revealed that for years prior to the 1995 attack, the group released lethal germ warfare in Japan, targeting the Japanese Legislature, the Imperial Palace, and the US military base at Yokosuka. The poisons were not detected at the times of their releases, and apparently caused no deaths. The attacks were intended to spark the apocalypse Aum Shin Rikyo postulates is coming. Meanwhile, about 200 current members met for a fundraising conference in late April, 1998, paying up to $1,500 each to attend.
1997. 39 members of the Heaven's Gate cult including leader Marshall Applewhite ingested a combination of vodka and drugs at Applewhite's instruction, resulting in what the mother of victim called "one suicide and 38 murders." Members were convinced that the only way to survive Earth's being "recycled" in the year 2000 was to be picked up by a UFO flying in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet.
1997. Teenage members of a Vampire cult murdered the parents of one of its members. Self-proclaimed lead vampire received the death sentence.
1998. Scientology has faced allegations of member suicides, deaths, and psychotic breaks; when Germany refused to recognize Scientology as a bona fide religious organization, contending the cult is a threat to democracy, the United States accused Germany of "intolerance" and caused international diplomatic tensions.
Article to be continued in Part 2