Throughout history, there have been many instances of cults, many of which share the common characteristic of having corrupt leaders. For instance, Charles Manson led his cult in a homicidal spree, and David Koresh and Jim Jones convinced their followers to commit mass suicide. It is apparent that in cult history, leaders are the main cause of the tragedies that ensue.
Heaven’s Gate, a religious cult, was founded on a mixture of Christian beliefs and a belief in UFOs. They stayed out of the public eye for many years until March 27, 1997. On this day, thirty-nine members of the cult committed suicide so that their souls could board a coming spaceship. This spaceship trip, however, was only for their souls, so they needed to be rid of their earthly bodies. Needless to say, nobody really knows where the souls of these people went, but the group strongly felt that they would be enhanced by ending their earthly lives. That being said, where the real world considers this occurrence a tragic event by a disturbed cult, the cult would consider their mass suicide a success. In reality, this horrific tragedy was not a success but a major failure. How exactly did Heaven’s Gate fail by doing what they believed would bring them salvation? Well, their supposed utopia, or perfect society, failed because a group of people were convinced by their all-knowing leader that taking their own valuable human lives would actually save them. In the end, thirty-nine human lives were lost. That is a failure.
This community believed that its primary leader, Marshall H. Applewhite, was the reincarnation of Jesus and that he could show them how to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Together, Applewhite and his partner Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles, along with their group of followers, focused on spreading their message. Their sole purpose was very simple--to be worthy enough to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and to ascend to the “Level Above Human” (“Heaven’s Gate” Heaven’s . . . par 4).
The two original founders of the cult, Marshall H. Applewhite and Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles, met in 1972 when Applewhite was a patient in the hospital where Nettles worked (Stewart par 1) After they discovered that they shared many of the same beliefs, they began to hold meetings to attract followers. Applewhite and Nettles believed themselves to be “the two ‘endtime’ witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11” (“Heaven’s Gate” Britannica par 2). These witnesses are two nonhuman beings who will appear on earth to prepare the way for the coming Lord. Applewhite called himself the reincarnation of Jesus, and Nettles was the “Heavenly Father” (Stewart par 2). These ideas stemmed from the duo’s belief that they were from the “Next Level” (Stewart par 2) and that only they had the ability to understand the Next Level. Because of this ability, their followers had no choice but to be completely reliant upon and trust “The Two” (“Heaven’s Gate” Britannica par 2), as they were referred to. ...