Cults Podcast

Mystery. Manipulation. Murder.

Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside a cult? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them? Every Tuesday, Greg and Vanessa (co-hosts of the podcast Serial Killers) explore the history and psychology behind the most notorious cults. Cults is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media production.

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E61: “Church of Satan” Pt. 2 - Anton LaVey
The rapid rise to power and fame went to Lavey’s head resulting in followers abandoning him and a loss of control over the Church. How did the Church of Satan fare after his death in 2001? The results will surprise you. Sponsors!Calming Comfort - Go to CalmingComfortBlanket.com and use Promo Code “CULTS” at checkout to receive 15% off the displayed price.Kopari - Go to KopariBeauty.com/CULTS to save $5 off your first order when you subscribe!...

E60: “Church of Satan” - Anton LaVey
He is known as the real-life incarnation of the devil and would be responsible for spreading satanism into the mainstream during the 60s and 70s. Anton LaVey would go on to publish the first Satanic Bible which continues to influence people all over the world today. Sponsors!Caffé Monster - Available in Mocha, Vanilla, and Salted Caramel. Chill it down, Shake it up, Enjoy!SimpliSafe - If you’re interested in Home Security, visit SimpliSafe.com/CULTS....

E58: The Church of the Last Testament - Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop
This traffic cop turned cult leader got his followers to believe he is the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Sergey would go on to start the religious movement known as the Church of the Last Testament. Sponsors!Kopari - Go to KopariBeauty.com/CULTS to save $5 off your first order when you subscribe! ...

"Patty Hearst" Pt. 1 - HOSTAGE, a new Parcast podcast!
Hello Cults listeners! As a thank you for supporting Parcast, we wanted to offer this AD-FREE bonus episode of our new podcast, Hostage. Listen to the next two parts of this story now by subscribing to Hostage wherever you listen to podcasts! Patricia Hearst lived every woman’s nightmare. She was violently taken from her own apartment, tied up, and thrown in the back of a stolen car. For the next two years, Patricia was held hostage. In our first episode, we explore the dramatic lead-up to Patricia’s k...

E57: The Kirtland Cult Pt. 2 - Jeffrey Lundgren
Through skilled eavesdropping, Jeffrey Lundgren convinced his followers that he could read their minds. What would happen when the "murmurs" he heard indicated that some of his followers were having second thoughts?Sponsors!Caffé Monster - Available in Vanilla, Mocha, and Salted Caramel....

E56: The Kirtland Cult - Jeffrey Lundgren
He believed that he could talk to God and that he alone could bring about Zion in Kirtland. All he had to do was gain complete control over the members of his cult.Sponsors!Netflix - Starring Dan Stevens and Michael Sheen, Apostle premieres October 12th, only on Netflix.SimpliSafe - Go today to SimpliSafe.com/CULTS....

E55: Mankind United Pt. 2 - Arthur Bell
After being shut down by the FBI, Arthur Bell returned and established a tax-exempt church that would allow him to extort his followers for millions. As they lived in coarse conditions, Bell would live a lavish lifestyle funded by his members.Sponsors!Caffé Monster - Available in Vanilla, Mocha, and Salted Caramel.Kopari - Go to KopariBeauty.com/CULTS to make the safe switch today, and save $5 off your first order when you subscribe!...

E54: Mankind United - Arthur Bell
Imagine only working four hours a day, four days a week, eight months a year. On the heels of the Great Depression, Arthur Bell used his charisma to convince people to follow him and join Mankind United. He promised that a group of wealthy, good people called the Sponsors would create a Utopia for anyone who joined, only the Sponsors wouldn’t offer the program until Mankind United had reached 200 million members. Then his cult spread like wildfire.Sponsors!Parcast - Sign up for the Parcast Monthly Newslette...

E53: The Hernandez Brothers' Cult
The Hernandez Brothers Cult was founded by Santos and Cayetano Hernandez in the early 1960s in a small, northern Mexico village. What started out as a simple scam for power and money from uneducated villagers descended into blood orgies and human sacrifices after the brothers hired a sex worker to impersonate a Goddess....

E52: Lumpa Church Pt. 2 - Alice Lenshina
By 1960, the Lumpa Church was the most influential religion in Zambia and seen as a political threat by Prime Minister Kenneth Kaunda. To avoid escalating violence, the Lumpa Church moved out of the villages to establish new settlements, but Kaunda demanded they return. When they refused, Kaunda destroyed the settlements and murdered its residents.  ...

E51: Lumpa Church - Alice Lenshina
After a life-changing vision turned her into a prophetess, Alice Lenshina rose from one of the minor tribal houses of Zambia to become the founder and leader of the Lumpa church, one of the most powerful organizations in the entire country. At its height, it had over 150 thousand followers, until it became too big a political threat for the government to ignore....

E50: Sahaja Yoga Movement Pt. 2 - Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Sahaja Yoga continues to prosper with more than 30,000 members worldwide despite allegations of child abuse, tax evasion, and harassment from ex-disciples. How has the cult managed to remain so strong and what role did the death of Shri Mataji play in that success?Sponsors!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GETQUIP.com/CULTS right now, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a quip electric toothbrush.American Horror Story - Time is running out when American Horror Story: Apocalypse premie...

E50: Sahaja Yoga Movement Pt. 2 - Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Sahaja Yoga continues to prosper with more than 30,000 members worldwide despite allegations of child abuse, tax evasion, and harassment from ex-disciples. How has the cult managed to remain so strong and what role did the death of Shri Mataji play in that success?...

E49: Sahaja Yoga Movement - Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi
Shri Mataji Nirmala Devi is the founder of the Sahaja Yoga Movement, a form of meditation meant to help practitioners unlock an inner awareness. She began with good intentions, as an activist in the Indian independence movement of the 1940s. As she gained a reputation for healing the sick, she grew in prominence as a spiritual leader. How did this spiritual role model turn into the leader of a cult? ...

E48: Church Universal and Triumphant Pt. 2 - Elizabeth Prophet
Elizabeth Clare Prophet was the charismatic leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant who had no problem recruiting members. Not even her incorrect prognostication that the world would end by nuclear war in March of 1990 could shake her members’ devotion. But could their faith withstand the public disillusionment and exit of the cult by her own children?...

E47: Church Universal and Triumphant - Elizabeth Prophet
When Mark Prophet died suddenly of a stroke in 1973, Elizabeth Clare Prophet usurped his position as the leader of Summit Lighthouse, and changed its name to Church Universal and Triumphant. After several visions and messages from her masters, Elizabeth Prophet declared to her followers that the Apocalypse was approaching rapidly. Would they believe her narrative, and follow her into underground bomb shelters to avoid humankind's impending doom? ...

E46: Raëlism Pt. 2 - Claude Vorilhon
Raël recruited members through his media appearances. The more appearances he made, the more books he sold, and the more followers he got. Controversy over sexual practices at Raelian events crossed the line for some, and drove interest for others. But what would his members do when they learned of his quest to make human clones? ...

E45: Raëlism - Claude Vorilhon
While on a nature walk in his native France, 27-year old Claude Vorilhon saw a small, alien spacecraft land in front of him. A four foot tall affable humanoid named Yahweh emerged and told Vorilhon to relay the encounter to all mankind —  who will be judged for eternity based upon their reaction. But, who would believe him without any proof?...

E44: Order of the Solar Temple Pt. 2 - Joseph Di Mambro
Joseph Di Mambro and Luc Jouret founded The Order of the Solar Temple. They told their followers that the world would end in 1995, but if they killed themselves, they would be reborn on the star Sirius. Then one night in October of 1994, 48 members of the Orders of the Solar Temple died across two continents. How were Di Mambro and Jouret able to convince so many followers to die for something they likely knew not to be true? ...

E43: Order of the Solar Temple - Joseph Di Mambro
Joseph Di Mambro was no stranger when it came to new religious movements. He had joined a few of them as a young adult, and when he decided to start his own, he had a hard time getting followers. With the help of Luc Jouret, the two founded The Order of the Solar Temple. Their goal was to unlock the secret knowledge of the universe, but it ultimately would lead to their deaths. ...

E42: Leopard Society
For the past 150 years, members of the Leopard Society in West Africa dressed in leopard skins and brutally murdered over six-dozen victims. The murders were so gruesome that at first, it was speculated actual leopards caused these deaths. It was later discovered that these killings were part of a cannibalistic ritual that involving the distillation of an elixir from the boiled blood and organs of the victim.  ...

E41: The Narcosatanists Pt. 2 - Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo
Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo founded the Narcosatanists in Mexico City in 1985. He was able to keep his few but loyal followers by his side as he murdered victims in the name of ancient gods. But the killing of an American college student would ultimately lead to the end of the Narcosatanists and the demise of Adolfo de Jesus Constanzo. ...

E40: The Narcosatanists - Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo
Adolfo de Jesús Constanzo spent his early life training in the mystical religions of Santería and Palo Mayombe. Those close to him placed no value on the lives of those who didn’t subscribe to the religions. As he got older, this philosophy would play a large part in his founding of the Narcosatanists. ...

E39: The Moonies Pt. 2 - Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon's church used a well-practiced set of tactics on each prospective cult member. Once inside the cult, members fell deeper into church's doctrine. What were these tactics and what made it so difficult for members to leave? ...

E38: The Moonies - Sun Myung Moon
Sun Myung Moon was the son of farmers who converted from Confucianism to Christianity when he was about 10 years old. As he grew older, he became so devoted to his religion that he founded his first church, Kwang-Ya, in his mid-twenties. A decade later, he would found the Unification Church and develop it into a multi-billion dollar global business empire. ...

E37: Oneida Community Pt. 2 - John Humphrey Noyes
John Humphrey Noyes’ Oneida Community practiced polyamory long before the free love movement of the 1960s. But his pioneering community had a darker side to it. We’ll uncover the alarming practices intended to serve the perverse sexual needs of Noyes and the community leaders, including a sexual initiation policy for young children, a eugenics program, and incest. ...

E36: Oneida Community - John Humphrey Noyes
John Humphrey Noyes grew up crippled by social anxiety. He overcame his anxiety when he began preaching and came to embrace Perfectionism. He would later declare that he would be the leader in establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. By converting his siblings, their spouses, and his own mother, he was on his way to starting the Oneida Community....

E35: Twelve Tribes Pt. 2 - Elbert Spriggs
The Twelve Tribes has numerous communities still active around the world. Since its founding in the early 1970s, the group has run afoul of law enforcement for issues involving child labor and abuse. Are the allegations unfair discrimination against its believers as they claim, or is something more sinister going on? ...

E34: Twelve Tribes - Elbert Spriggs
Elbert Eugene Spriggs Jr. felt he could never live up to his strict Christian father's expectations. After three failed marriages and numerous jobs, Spriggs had a revelation that his duty was to bring people to God - but to do that he wanted to establish a new church...one where he would make the rules. ...

E33: “The Brethren” Pt. 2 - Jimmie T. Roberts
Jimmie T. Roberts lead a religious cult known as 'The Brethren' and targeted vulnerable college students looking for belonging. Joining the group was easy, but day-to-day life was harsh. Leaving was next to impossible. ...

E32: “The Brethren” - Jimmie T. Roberts
Although he had a lonely childhood and grew up impoverished, Jimmie T. Roberts found feelings of comfort and belonging in religion. We dive deep into Roberts’s life as we examine how he persuaded his devoted followers to sacrifice their possessions, jobs, and families for the sake of salvation. ...

E31: “Rajneeshpuram” Pt. 2 - Ma Anand Sheela
Ma Anand Sheela orchestrated Rajneeshpuram’s movement from India to Oregon. As Rajneesh himself faded into the shadows, the cult’s grabs for political power led to wiretapping, poisoning, fraud and murder plots. We examine how Sheela was driven towards chaos by her husband’s death, and Rajneesh’s high expectations. ...

E30: “Rajneeshpuram” - Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh
Prophesied to die young and surviving near-death-experiences, Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh felt discomfort with his own mortality from a young age. Over time, his spiritual studies and strong beliefs about capitalism and sexuality led Rajneesh to become a charismatic cult leader. This charisma attracted Ma Anand Sheela, the woman who rose from a 20-year-old devotee to a powerful leader in the cult that launched a deadly bioterrorism attack on over 750 Americans. ...

E29: “Church of Euthanasia” Pt. 2 - Chris Korda
In 1992, musician and computer programmer Chris Korda founded the Church of Euthanasia with a goal to control population through suicide, abortion, sodomy, and cannibalism. We examine the controversial cult and its members, their performance art and publicity stunts, and how the Church of Euthanasia finally faded from the public eye. ...

E28: “Church of Euthanasia” - Chris Korda
At just 10 years old, Chris Korda began to feel deeply fearful of climate change, and she worried greatly about the future of Earth. After an extraterrestrial dream warning her of the dangers of overpopulation, Korda founded the Church of Euthanasia in 1992 with a mission to downsize the world’s population. We look into Korda’s life, and what motivated her to encourage hundreds of followers to avoid procreation and embrace suicide. ...

E27: “Apostles of Infinite Love” Pt. 2 - Michel Collin and Jean-Gaston Tremblay
Michel Collin and Jean-Gaston Tremblay, the two excommunicated self-crowned popes of the Apostles of Infinite Love, gained a following after presenting themselves to have mystical powers and visions. We investigate how the cult influenced people to uproot their lives and sacrifice everything to live under strict scrutiny, isolated from the rest of the world. ...

E26: “Apostles of Infinite Love” - Michel Collin and Jean-Gaston Tremblay
After having a religious vision when he was seven years old, Michel Collin set on a path to become Pope. In 1950 he made his own dreams come true and proclaimed himself Pope of the Apostles of Infinite Love in France. He quickly spread his cult to Canada with the help of Jean-Gaston Tremblay. We explore the cult’s twisted history and the leaders’ minds. ...

E25: “Sect of Nacozari” Pt. 2 - Silvia Meraz Moreno
It’s hard to believe that human sacrifice still exists today. But from 2009 to 2012, Silvia Meraz Moreno led her family to offer human sacrifices to Santa Muerte in exchange for good fortune. We examine this familial cult’s crimes, and how one community tip finally ended the family’s gruesome sacrifices. ...

E24: “Sect of Nacozari” - Silvia Meraz Moreno
From 2009 to 2012 in Sonora, Mexico, Silvia Meraz Moreno put together a plan to receive good fortune from Santa Muerte, or Saint Death. She led her impoverished family to believe that they’d be rewarded with wealth in exchange for human sacrifices… so the Sect of Nacozari set out to kill. ...

E23: “Nuwaubian Nation” Pt. 2 - Dwight York
In November 2014, a baby struggling for his life was left at an ER in the Atlanta area. Suspecting abuse, police found a man who was influenced by cult leader Dwight York, who has been imprisoned since 2004. We look into how York maintains control over his followers from prison, and how this control led to a cycle of abuse. ...

E22: “Nuwaubian Nation” - Dwight York
We explore the life of Dwight York, a manipulative cult leader who used his members for financial gain. Under his leadership, thousands of followers believed themselves to be descendants of aliens, waiting to be beamed up to another planet before the apocalypse. York’s control was so strong, many people still support him now, despite 100+ years remaining on his prison sentence. ...

E21: "True Russian Orthodox Church" - Pyotr Kuznetsov
Pyotr Kuznetsov, the leader of the radical “True Russian Orthodox Church” cult, convinced his followers the world would end on May 28th, 2008. As a result, around 29 to 35 cult members created a man-made cave, and buried themselves in it for six months. Tragically, two members died. We explore how Kuznetsov rose to power, and how he convinced his followers to do everything from removing processed food from their diets to completely isolating themselves from society. ...

E20: “The Peoples Temple” Pt. 2 - Jim Jones
Jim Jones was a farm boy who later turned into America’s deadliest cult leader. We take a deeper look into the cult’s followers as we try to comprehend why they allowed Jones to have complete control over their lives — control and power that ultimately led them to pay the ultimate sacrifice. ...

E19: “The Peoples Temple” - Jim Jones
Jim Jones controlled the most notorious American cult of all time — the Peoples Temple. In 1978, Jones’ leadership brought on the largest mass suicide and cult murder in modern history, where over 900 people died. We investigate how Jones and his idea of utopia led to such a devastating mass murder. ...

E18: “The Branch Davidians” Pt. 2 - David Koresh
In 1993, The Branch Davidians—under David Koresh’s leadership—were raided by ATF agents just outside of Waco, Texas. Following the deadly raid, The Branch Davidians and the FBI underwent a 51-day stand-off that ended in the deaths of more than 70 Branch Davidians, including Koresh and about two dozen children....

E17: “The Branch Davidians” - David Koresh
David Koresh, born Vernon Wayne Howell, became an internationally name in 1993 as he led many of his followers in The Branch Davidians, and himself, to violent deaths after a 51-day standoff with the FBI. We focus on Koresh and how his childhood filled with abandonment and rejection led to his troubling reign as a controlling cult leader. ...

E16: "Aum Shinrikyo" Pt. 2 - Shoko Asahara
In part two of Aum Shinrikyo, we take a deeper look at the members of one of the most notorious cults in modern history. Shoko Asahara, the cult’s leader, established deep connections with his followers. These connections created a deadly devotion as the group worked toward destroying humanity. ...

E15: "Aum Shinrikyo" - Shoko Asahara
In 1980’s, a Japanese Buddhism-inspired cult, called Aum Shinrikyo, formed under a leader who tried to end the world. Greg and Vanessa explore Aum Shinrikyo—one of the most feared cults in history—its leader Shoko Asahara, and the group’s desire to eliminate humankind. ...

E14: “FLDS” Pt. 2 - Warren Jeffs
Greg and Vanessa further examine how Warren Jeffs’ leadership impacted the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Jeffs inherited the role as Prophet of the Church, giving him more power and control over his followers. Jeffs abused this power, leading many of his followers down a path of everlasting pain and destruction. ...

E13: “FLDS” - Warren Jeffs
Greg and Vanessa explore the twisted life of Warren Jeffs and his influence on the Fundamentalist Cult of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. Jeffs’s upbringing helped shape him into a cult leader who controlled his followers’ every move—from limiting their access to education to dictating who could marry who. His desire for power and control led him to the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. ...

E12: “The Children of God” Pt. 2 - David Berg
As the Children of God grew, David Berg began passing his own perverse thoughts on to his followers as scripture in what were deemed the “Mo Letters”. From “flirty fishing”, the exploitation of women to recruit new followers using sex as an incentive, to pedophilia, to child pornography, the Children of God steadily grew into a cult centered around abuse. Despite the intervention of anti-cult groups, and their transition into what is now called The Family International, nothing could be done to repair the m...

E11: “The Children of God” - David Berg
The child of missionaries and grandson of a reverend, David Berg was destined for religious leadership. But, as a victim of sexual abuse who never received support, David developed twisted ideas. Greg and Vanessa discuss this apocalyptic cult’s charismatic leader, the concept of dual validation and how the cycle of abuse influenced David Berg’s beliefs. ...

E10: “The Ant Hills Kids” Pt. 2 - Roch Thériault
Leader of the Ant Hill Kids, Roch Theriault, took advantage of Canada’s cultural mosaic to cut his followers off from society as they awaited doomsday. Greg and Vanessa examine the young followers who fell under Roch’s sway, and why they stayed as Roch tortured, mutilated, and murdered loyal followers and their children. ...

E9: “The Ant Hills Kids” - Roch Thériault
The Ant Hill Kids, one of the most notorious cults in Canadian history, was lead by Roch Thériault. Believing the world was coming to an end, Roch lead his followers into the woods where he brutally mutilated and tortured his followers and their children in the 1970’s and 1980’s. The master manipulator, he was even able to convince psychiatrists and psychologists that he was sane. Greg and Vanessa track Roch’s evolution from a boy who loved to read to a brutal cult leader.   ...

E8: “The Family” Pt. 2 - Anne Hamilton Byrne
Anne Hamilton’s “Family” commonly called The Great White Brotherhood of Initiates and Masters - operated for 30 years, raising stolen children, planning for the apocalypse, and taking LSD. This week, Greg and Vanessa dig into the cult’s crimes, specifically the abuse the Family’s “perfect” children endured and how the harrowing actions of one of these children led to this cults downfall. ...

E7: “The Family” - Anne Hamilton Byrne
All Anne-Hamilton Byrne wanted was a family, with children. Unfortunately, she would stop at nothing to get it, even if it meant starting an abusive cult. Greg and Vanessa dig into Anne’s rough childhood, eastern religious influences, and powerful charisma. How was Anne able to amass over 500 followers, and quietly kidnap 28 children? ...

E6: Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God Pt.2
Over a thousand people were lured into Credonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibwetere’s cult, believing that Credonia had spoken to the Virgin Mary herself. Once they joined, guilt, isolation, and even the fear of AIDS kept members psychologically trapped within the Movement’s compounds. Greg and Vanessa examine the leaders’ manipulation tactics and study the horrific destruction inflicted when the cult became too much for Credonia to handle. ...

E5: Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
In a country torn apart by civil war, Credonia Mwerinde and Joseph Kibwetere were united by their desire for power and reverence. Claiming that they were messengers of God called upon to save the world from its impending apocalypse, Mwerinde and Kibwetere preyed upon the vulnerable and passionately religious in Ugandan society. Greg and Vanessa investigate the lives of these cult leaders, and how they began to build what would become one of the deadliest cults in history.   ...

E4: “Heaven’s Gate” Pt.2 - Marshall Applewhite & Bonnie Nettles
Members of the Heaven’s Gate UFO cult believed they were meant to shed every scrap of humanity they had. Paradoxically, they ran a promotional website and made videos promoting their beliefs. Greg and Vanessa dig into the minds of members who joined and later left the cult, as well as those who followed cult leaders Nettles and Applewhite’s shared delusion from the 1970’s until the cult’s dark end in 1997--the largest mass suicide on US soil. ...

E3: “Heaven’s Gate” - Marshall Applewhite & Bonnie Nettles
Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettle believed their bodies were merely hosts for extraterrestrial angels, and that they would one day ascend on a UFO to the “kingdom-level-above-human.” How did they come to believe this? Greg and Vanessa dig into the early lives and first meetings of “the UFO Two”, comparing Applewhites nomadic, musical Christian background to Nettles’ New Age Spiritualism, and then recounting the Near Death Experience that eventually led to 39 suicides. ...

E2: "The Manson Family" Pt. 2 - Charles Manson
Before, during, and after the Manson Family Murders, Charles Manson used psychological warfare to control his “Family.” But who was drawn into this “Family” and how? Greg and Vanessa explore several of Manson’s techniques, including mystical manipulation, group LSD trips, and the way Manson would break members down psychologically until they were terrified of leaving--so terrified, they would commit murder to stay in Manson’s good graces. ...

E1: “The Manson Family” - Charles Manson
In the first episode of “Cults” Greg and Vanessa explore the life of Charles Manson: how he turned from a troubled “callous and unemotional” child into an infamous cult leader, where Manson got his inspiration, and what psychological factors molded a murderer so charismatic and manipulative that his murder weapon of choice was not guns, knives, or axes, but other human beings....

Welcome Trailer!
Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside a cult? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them. Every Tuesday we take a psychological approach to analyzing a cult and its founder. Cults premieres Tuesday September 26th. Here is a sneak peak. ...

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