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If there is one thing that shows religion as a terrifying weapon, it's the stories you'll hear about the cults that committed acts of violence, theft, and insanity. Cults are, plain and simple, as dangerous as organizations can be.
The problems with cults are manifold. In them, you have an incredibly devoted base of followers who will blindly follow whatever a power-hungry despot tells them to do.
No amount of explanation or cajoling will convince cult members to leave or diverge from the direction of the group. It's not unheard of for cultists to destroy their own families, sell all their goods, or even harm others in order to gain praise from their leader.
Many cults have done serious damage to people, but if you really want to see true horror, take a look at the cults that performed acts of sexual abuse on their members. These stories will chill you to the bone, and make you sick to your stomach.
One thing that always seems to shock people is how many cults that performed acts of sexual abuse against its members fly under the radar. Indian guru Sathya Sai is one such example.
The guru had become famous for seemingly making miracles happen, including vomiting eggs made of gold and reading minds. Using his amazing sleight of hand abilities, he was able to springboard himself into owning over 126 different meditation centers and used extra money to fund health programs.
The only problem with his work, though, was that he used his meditation centers as a way to find young boys to molest. When news broke of his predation, he went into hiding. He died in 2011.
The Family International
Perhaps one of the most famous cults that performed acts of sexual abuse on its members is the Family International. It's currently still active and has recruits throughout the world.
Founder David Berg was known for having sex with followers, especially those who were underage. It's not surprising, though, considering that the Children of God cult became notorious for encouraging members to have sex with children.
This cult, once known as "the Children of God," believed that followers should have sex with potential members and use affection to gain more people into their crowd.
The practice was called "Flirty Fishing," and was a main component of recruitment. Those who had sex with newcomers were seen as sacred prostitutes doing God's work. Needless to say, this attracted sexual predators like flies to honey.
The doctrine of the cult said that having sex was pleasing God, and that Satan hated sex. The more sex you had, the more devout you were as a follower. Berg also strongly encouraged incest—often to the point that it became a focus in the cult.
It didn't end there, either. The cult also encouraged people to masturbate anywhere at any time, and suggested that followers think about having sex with Jesus. Berg went so far as to create illustrated comics encouraging people to have sex with just about anyone.
Children growing up in the cult were beaten and whipped for the slightest problems. They were also instructed to stay silent about the cult to "systemites" so that social workers would not take children out.
Eventually, news started to hit about the cult's sex abuse towards children. Despite the scandal and police involvement, the Family International remains active with thousands of members in multiple countries.
Providence is a cult member's cult—literally! The cult was started by Jung Myung-seok, a member of the "Moonies" cult of Korea. Providence claims that Jung is the second coming of Christ and that the Bible's concept of Original Sin happened because Eve had sex with Satan.
According to Providence, Original Sin could be undone by having sex with Jung. (Funny how that works, right?) Jung would regularly get gifted pretty women and sleep with them. In many cases, the sex was non-consensual.
After being collared by the Korean government for fraud, embezzlement, and rape, Jung fled the country. He didn't stop, though. In Japan, he was arrested for sexual assault after performing "health checks" on women as often as 10 times a day.
The Osho Movement
Another "free love" movement that has been linked to extreme sexual abuse is the Osho Movement, also known as the Rajneesh Movement. This cult was founded by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, a man who called himself the "rich man's guru."
Followers of the Osho movement were required to wear orange, give up their "worldly ties," and take Hindi names. Rajneesh warned against materialism and extolled sex as a sacred act, all while owning a total of 93 Rolls-Royces!
The cult was known for swapping wives and occasionally sexually assaulting women. However that's not all they did. After an attempt to gain control of the local political scene was foiled, the Osho movement carried out a biological attack that left hundreds sickened.
To date, the Osho incident was the largest act of bioterrorism ever committed on United States soil, putting it among the famous murders committed by cults. Major leaders of the cult were then convicted for a multitude of crimes associated with the mass poisoning.
Goel Ratzon is an obscure cult based in Israel, and like many other cults that are known for sexual abuse scandals, Ratzon preaches a lot about love and sex.
The leader of this cult, Goel, espoused the importance of marriage and procreation. As a result, he had over 20 wives and fathered a total of 38 children with them. That alone would raise an eyebrow, but it actually gets worse.
He was convicted of aggravated sexual assault, with many victims being children—some of them even being his own daughters.
Even if you have devoured all of the true crime books you must read, chances are high that you have never heard of NXIVM until fairly recently. This relatively new cult made international headlines after it was uncovered that Smallville actress Allison Mack was a member.
Tabloids pointed out that Mack was recruiting sex slaves for the NXIVM cult and even encouraged new followers to be branded with a symbol related to the cult. As it ends up, Allison Mack was a very high ranking member of the cult.
Mack herself was known for putting her hands on women's chests while telling them to "feel the pain and think of the master" while women were being branded. She also allegedly blackmailed women by threatening to release nudes and damaging information about them if they didn't acquiesce.
What's strange about this cult isn't just the sex slavery or branding; it's the fact that it labels itself as a marketing firm. What they're selling involved Executive Success Programs that are regularly attended by celebrities—and those who have attended them claim they are brainwashing sessions.
Mack and the NXIVM founder Keith Raniere were recently caught, tried, and sentenced, hopefully ending their reign of terror.
Church of the Most High Goddess
If you're noticing a pattern that involves money tied to cults that have performed acts of sexual abuse to their members, you're not alone. The Church of the Most High Goddess was a cult that wasn't even trying to hide it.
Founders Mary Ellen Tracy and Wilbur Tracy claimed that Mary Ellen was an Egyptian priestess. Her goal was to "cleanse" as many followers as she possibly could by having sex with them. Of course, people would have to pay for the right.
She had sex with over 1,000 men during the cult's run. Then, LAPD shut down the cult citing prostitution and sex trafficking.
Nuwaubian Nation of Moors
New York, back in the 90s, was a very strange place. It's even stranger than you remember it to be. One of the strangest sights that you'd see back in the day were the displays by the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors—a really, truly bizarre offshoot of the Nation of Islam.
The Nuwaubian Nation of Moors was known for having really odd beliefs. Among their beliefs were the following "truths:"
- The hula hoop was invented by aliens.
- Vaccines were invented by aliens.
- Black people were originally green but got "rusted" with the Earth's environment.
Dwight “Malachai” York, the group's founder, eventually moved all the Nuwaubians to a compound in Georgia. There, men and women were instructed to live in separate facilities. For a while, it seemed pretty good.
Unfortunately, the illusion came crashing down after York was convicted of over a thousand counts of child molestation. He was sentenced to 135 years in prison and the Nuwaubian Nation of Moors quickly saw its numbers decrease.
Some cults are pretty transparent about what they're really all about, and this is definitely one of those. Raelianism was started by a Frenchman named "Rael," who was a race car driver and singer prior to founding his religion.
This cult made the news when they claimed to clone a human baby named "Eve," but there is so much more to this cult that still hasn't become common knowledge.
One of the more striking aspects of the cult is that Rael has a personal harem called the Order of Angels who do nothing but sleep with him at his command. So far, pretty par for the course as far as cults go, one might suppose.
He also has an actual clique of female sex workers who go by "Rael's Girls." The girls are legit sex workers who give earned money to Rael. There have also been some rumors about sexual abuse happening to members.
Whether or not this is one of the cults that have performed acts of sexual abuse is technically up to debate. However, if you think about how messed up it is that Rael brainwashed women into sleeping with him, it's pretty clear something's going wrong there.
Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Finally on our list is the FLDS, also known as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Few cults that performed acts of sexual abuse have been this caustic towards women, and even fewer were as dangerous in terms of sexual abuse. The most shocking stories of cults that committed crimes are epitomized when thinking about what FLDS does regularly.
Warren Jeffs, who turned the FLDS Church into the dangerous sex cult it's known as, became known for instituting a wide range of different rules restricting people. As years passed, the FLDS Church became increasingly rigid under his control.
Jeffs instituted rules to help reduce the chances of rebellion or individuality cropping up. These rules included not letting children have toys, no outside literature, having children who are only taught FLDS scripture, and refusing to let people have pet dogs.
Followers of this cult believe that Warren Jeffs is a prophet, and that his word is a direct order of God. The FLDS is an offshoot of the Mormon church that still strongly believes in polygamy—and that Jeffs should be the one to determine who marries who.
Jeffs himself had around 70 wives, many who were under the age of 18. According to prosecutors, his youngest wife was only 12 years old. Every time he would marry a new girl, Jeffs would have sex with them while all his other wives watched. He would also regularly have phone sex with them.
Men who were in high standing in the church would also get the role of "Seed Bearers." This meant that they had the right to have sex with any woman in the church, married or otherwise. If they were married, their husbands would have to hold their hand while they had sex with the Seed Bearer.
Women were not allowed to consent, and those who rebelled would be punished. At times, the punishments would turn deadly, since Jeffs said that killing a sinner could get you into heaven. The sex abuse was very real and very dangerous.
If this isn't screwed up enough, think about this: The FLDS Church is so incestuous, followers actually have a risk of dying from a rare genetic condition. They call it "Polygamist's Down's."