A cult is defined as "a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious." Some cults are destructive and violent, others are just strange. Active cults have been around for ages, and there are even a few with websites that you can visit right now. This is one of the major differences between modern cults and the ones of yesteryear - gone are the days of passing out pamphlets and flyers to get people to join your weird little sect. Now, one of the cult recruitment tactics is spreading the website URL and getting people to click on it.
Most modern cults still focus on religious beliefs. There are others that are drawn to the extraterrestrial or scientific, while some focus on health and personal enlightenment. The majority of cult websites are informational, with a handful of them actively recruiting new members. Which cult website is the weirdest? That's up to you to decide. Vote up the strangest and most intriguing websites run by cults below.
About This Cult: Heaven's Gate was founded in 1975 in Los Angeles, CA, by the late Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The duo emphasized strict meditation practices and mind control, all aimed at helping cult members achieve the "Higher Level" and leave planet Earth in a kind of science fiction-informed doomsday scenario. In March 1997, Applewhite and 38 followers in his San Diego compound wore the same outfits with Nike Decades, took a deadly cocktail, and ended their lives, believing that their souls would exit their bodies and board a spacecraft near the Hale-Bopp comet.
The Heaven's Gate website is run by two people who have stated that they are members of the church who were ordered to stay behind. They were entrusted with running the website, and don't seem too upset about being left behind to sit around and run the website instead of boarding the UFO via mass suicide. The website continues to have a '90s aesthetic and is full of information regarding the group's mission statement, books you can order, a contact address, and an email address. They are not actively recruiting any members, however.
About This Cult: The Family International began in 1968 in Huntington Beach, CA, under the original name of Teens For Christ. Later, it was renamed The Children of God and eventually renamed and reorganized as The Family. While acting as the Children of God, the group resided in communes and would hand out pamphlets, trying to get new members. The cult believed that its leader, David Berg, had special prophecies about the apocalypse and followed his interpretations of Christian scripture. Although the Children of God preached about good deeds and praised God, they also encouraged incest and sex with children. In fact, free love in all forms was encouraged, so much so, the group ended up with a huge herpes outbreak. By 1983, the Children of God had grown to 10,000 members, many of which were children. After Berg passed in 1994, his wife took over and changed the name of the cult to The Family International and altered some of its practices. It now seems to focus mostly on communal living in countries outside of the US.
The Family International website allows you to join their organization by clicking on a link asking, “How about a new life?” or "Searching for answers?" Additionally, the website offers a mission statement, information about the alleged humanitarian work they have done worldwide, email contacts in different languages, and phone numbers.
About This Cult: The Twelve Tribes is a fundamentalist Christian end times cult founded in 1972 by Gene Spriggs in Chattanooga, TN. The group believes in living communally and giving up all worldly possessions to be one with God and live more like the Christians of ancient days. Members are also required to quit their outside jobs and work only within the community. To do this, the Twelve Tribes runs cafes, which are currently called Yellow Deli (but have gone by other names) and exist in several locations. It is through their Yellow Deli restaurants that they employ members to work for them so that they can preach their beliefs to customers. The workers do not receive monetary compensation. Instead, food and housing are provided for them. The group has been under investigation for severe child abuse, the subjugation of women, racism, and labor violations.
The Twelve Tribes website looks clean and up to date, featuring photographs of members and their communities. They also share many news articles and offer books to download. They have a phone number and email address for contact information.
About This Cult: Raëlism is a UFO religion which was founded in 1974 by Claude Vorilhon, a former race car driver who goes by the name Raël. The Raëliens believe that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials (called "Elohim") who made mankind via cloning. Raël claims that he has met one of the Elohim on at least two occasions and that, at one point, they took him to visit their planet. Once there, he claimed to have met Buddha, Moses, Muhammad, and Jesus.
The Raëliens are strong proponents of human cloning, believing that cloning will accomplish the goal of perfection and peace for humanity. They are very interested in meeting extraterrestrials. It has been alleged that people join the Raelian movement because of promises of free love and orgies, but that members become estranged from their families once they join. The Raëlien website includes a FAQ section, a store where you can buy books and CDs, ebook downloads, an event calendar for both online and local events, contact information, and a menu to find your nearest Raëlien movement.