When people talk about cults, we often mention the most tragic stories that make major news headlines. However, there are plenty of cults out there that taught their followers things that were completely ridiculous. It’s hard to believe that so many followers agreed to go along with these teachings, but they totally have. Here are 10 of the strangest cults that have ever existed.
10. Ashtar Galactic Command
We know what you’re thinking… Ashtar Galactic Command sounds like the title of a failed space opera on the SyFy Channel, right? Nope… it’s the name of a cult. According to their official website, “The Ashtar Command is the airborne division of the Great Brother/Sisterhood of Light, under the administrative direction of Commander Ashtar and the spiritual guidance of Lord Sananda, our Commander-in-Chief, know to Earth as Jesus the Christ.”
They go on to say that their Galactic Command has “millions of starships” from vast civilizations throughout the galaxy. Human beings are about to go through a cycle of planetary cleansing and “polar realignment.” So, if we want to be saved, we have to learn how to ascend into the fifth dimension in beams of light. In 1977, a TV broadcast in England was interrupted by the voice of Vrillon, the head of Ashtar Galactic Command, where cult leadership tried to trick people into believing that this was actually coming from an alien life form.
9. British Israelism
As if British people didn’t have enough power and control with their Empire, they also wanted to take credit for being the holiest people in the world. The cult of British Israelism teaches that all of the original inhabitants of Israel came from England. (Talk about taking colonialism to an entirely new level.) There are several professors and historic researchers who practice British Israelism, and they have published books on their theory that the 10 lost tribes of Israel were all of British descent.
In reality, DNA tests can go back thousands of years, and none of the tribes of Israel match up to English bloodlines at all. It also completely conflicts with all historical records. Even on the cult’s main website, they admit that the founders were racist, and that they “no longer align with bigotry.” However, they still go on to defend manifest destiny, colonization, and claim that the British were “God’s chosen people.”
8. Zen Master Rama
A man named Frederick Lenz wrote several books trying to spread Eastern philosophy to the American people — specifically the ideas of Buddhism — called Surfing the Himalayas and Snowboarding to Nirvana, and the second actually became a bestseller. That within itself wasn’t so strange, but he did change his name to “Zen Master Rama.”
Aside from achieving spiritual enlightenment, Rama also tried to sell other self-help books about success and achieving financial independence. He also pushed for people to study computer science. Some called his teachings “The Code Cult of CPU.” He said, “Money is energy in today’s world. A great deal of the teaching that I do is about your ability to achieve financial independence.”
Many people called Lenz’s teachings a cult, while others say it truly helped and changed their lives for the better. But, of course, he became very rich in the process of “enlightenment.” He lured people in with free meditation classes before charging people $5,000 per seminar.
7. Fiat Lux
Fiat Lux was a cult that originated in 1980 in the Black Forest of Germany. The founder, Erika Bertschinger Eike, claimed that she received messages from Jesus Christ, with the aid of his magical “speaking-tube” named “Uriella.” Eike began to ask her followers to call her “Uriella,” and that they should consider everything she said to be equal to the words of Jesus.
Eike would give very long speeches on behalf of Jesus, claiming that the end-times were drawing closer. She said that “Nazi UFOs” were hidden in Antarctica, and were just waiting to attack at any moment. On the day the aliens come, there will be “three dark days,” and only one-third of the total population will actually survive. Without the help of Uriella, they would perish when the world ends. Only the most purified souls will be taken on the mothership to ascend to another realm. At its peak, Fiat Lux had 800 members. They began to sell healing elixirs to their followers, but were eventually taken to court, because they never paid their taxes.
6. The Pana-Wave Laboratory
Founded in 1977 by a Japanese woman named Yuko Chino, the Pana-Wave Laboratory claimed that a massive earthquake would hit Japan in May 2003. She believed that this would be the end of the world. Her followers all dressed in white robes and drove around and white vans. Chino taught them that they were being damaged by electromagnetic radiation being used by the Communists, and the color white would help to save their bodies from “scalar electromagnetic waves.” The members called themselves the “scientific faction,” and conducted tests in their own laboratories.
Authorities were never able to figure out just how many people were members of the Pana-Wave Laboratory, but they have estimated between a few hundred and 1,200 people. By the time 2003 rolled around, the members of the cult were out on the streets with their vans, trying to tell the world that there was about to be a cataclysmic earthquake. Members of this cult were finally caught because they created false vehicle registrations for their creepy white vans. This is punishable for up to five years in prison, or a 500,000 yen fine (about $5,000 US). Obviously, the world did not end in 2003, so hopefully the members decided to call it quits.
5. Aggressive Christianity
Now, we all know Christians. Many of our readers (and writers) are Christian. But some are a bit more into their faith than others. In the 1980s, one cult based in New Mexico literally called themselves “Aggressive Christianity,” and acted exactly as the name suggests. Not only did they want to preach the gospel, but they wanted to make sure they could convert every single person on the planet to follow Jesus Christ. They created a division called Aggressive Christianity Missionary Training Corps (ACMTC) where members dressed in military uniforms, because they were “God’s Army.” Of course, Deborah Green claimed that she was God’s General.
According to the founders, Deborah and James Green: “There’s going to be a lot of foolish children burning forever, because they refuse God in their lives.” They trained their recruits to be more and more regimented, to the point where the soldiers in God’s Army were performing slave labor. One boy named Enoch Miller eventually died because of the harsh punishments that were being inflicted on him in the cult. The Greens were eventually arrested and found guilty of child abuse. They were sentenced to 72 years in prison.
4. The Vampire Clan
In 1996, a 16-year-old named Rod Ferrell claimed that he was actually a 500-year-old vampire called Vesago. He truly did believe that he was a vampire, and he convinced four of his friends that he truly was a vampire, as well. They began to drink each other’s blood. Ferrell taught them to believe that for every life they took, they would absorb the energy until they became immortal. After grooming them for months, Rod convinced all of them to leave their lives behind to become his Vampire Clan, where they would live in New Orleans.
One night, Ferrell brutally murdered the parents of his friend Heather Wendorf in Eustis, Florida. But on their way down to New Orleans, the teenagers ran out of money. This is when the police were able to catch up with them. Ferrell is now serving a life sentence. But after the news coverage of his case made its way online, there have recently been a group of followers who still want to join his Vampire Clan, even years after the murders took place.
Eckankar teaches the “Path of Eck,” which is all about self-love and acceptance. They also teach that animals like dogs and cats truly do have souls. There is nothing wrong with that, of course, but where it gets weird is when you find out that Eckankar believes that human beings have the power to separate their mind and body, and they can “soul travel” around the world, as well as time and space. It even allows you to access “god worlds.”
In order to achieve the ability to soul travel, members are required to sing a mantra for 30 minutes each day, because it is considered a “love song to God.” This is also the only way to get connected to the Holy Spirit, and they claim that music will ensure that “the voice of God will call us home.” Soul traveling supposedly happens while you are asleep, and they claim that it’s a spiritual experience, rather than a dream.
2. Freedomites aka The Sons of Freedom
In the 1950s, thousands of Russian immigrants called the Doukhobors began living in isolation away from the rest of society of British Columbia, Canada. They chose to continue speaking Russian instead of English, and they believed that they could make their own Garden of Eden in the Rocky Mountains. The strangest part of the Doukhobors was that they were also a nudist colony. They refused to get Canadian birth certificates for their children or put them in the public school system. So, typically, these kids would grow up never knowing how to read or write, and had no option but to stay isolated in the cult.
At first, the Canadian government tried to respect their beliefs until they realized that this may negatively affect the lives of the children. A gang in the cult called the Sons of Freedom began to burn down houses in protest every time the Canadian government tried to interfere. They changed the law to make nudity illegal and punishable by up to three years in prison. The adult cult members began to get arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The Doukhobor children were taken into custody by the RCMP, and kept in holding camps for six years. Now that they are grown up, the children say that the treatment inside of this camp was far more abusive than anything that had happened to them living in the cult. Today, the Doukhobors still live in their Russian-speaking colony… only now, they have agreed to allow their children to have birth certificates and go to public school.
1. Ho No Hana Sanpogyo
A man named Hogen Fukunaga claimed to be the reincarnation of both Jesus Christ and Buddha at the same time. He founded a cult called Ho No Hana Sanpogyo, where he taught people that the size and shape of one’s toes and feet would indicate information about your personality, and may even give you insight into your past lives.
Fukunaga offered a service to examine people’s feet for $900 per person. Clearly, this guy must have enjoyed touching feet a bit too much, if you know what we mean… and he figured out a way to get paid for it. Some of his followers even paid nearly one million dollars to receive medical services from Fukunaga to help fix their feet, only to realize that it was all a cult and a scam. Over 1,000 of his former followers sued him for the money they paid for these examinations.