Doomsday cult

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A doomsday cult is a new religious movement or cult that says that the world is about to end. According to these cults, there will be a catastrophe. The only way to be saved is by joining the group, and by doing what it says. John Lofland first used the term in 1966, in a study of the Unification Church. Some researchers believe that the term should not be used by mass media or by governments, because it will reinforce the beliefs of the respective group, and lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Examples of groups said to be doomsday cults include the Peoples Temple, the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, and Aum Shinrikyo. Aum Shinrikyo was responsible for an Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995, where thirteen people died. The People's Temple organised a forced mass suicide in Guyana, at a facility now known as "Jonestown", where over 900 people died.[1] The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten commandments, in Uganda, predicted the end of the world would be on the 31st December 1999. When it did not come, people in the movement became skeptical, and wanted their property back, which they had donated to the church leader. At a religious service on 17th March 2000, the church where the service was held was put on fire, and 530 people died. During the inquiry, the police found other people dead, at the properties of the movement; they had likely been poisoned. In total, over 1000 people had died. The leader of the movement survived, and has not been seen since then.

In Globalisation and the Future of Terrorism, Brynjar Lia notes that "Doomsday cults are nothing new," but also states that they are "relatively few".[2] Lia cites the mass murder/suicide of members of Peoples Temple at Jonestown, Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, the use of salmonella as a poison by followers of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and actions of Aum Shinrikyo as examples, noting that: "...during the past decades one has witnessed a number of increasingly violent doomsday sects, inflicting mass violence on their members and, in rare cases, also on outsiders".[2]

References[change | change source]

  1. see Jim Jones for details
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lia, Brynjar (2005). Globalisation and the future of terrorism: patterns and predictions. Routledge. pp. 165–169. ISBN 0-7146-5261-X.