Religious Conspiracy Theories: The Awesome Power of Belief

Few religious conspiracy theories would be complete without a reference to the Aum Shinrikyo cult, led by Shoko Asahara, back in 1984. Initially dismissed as a fringe group, it nevertheless attracted several adherents including some of the most well-educated people in Japan (where the cult originated).

At its peak, it had adherents numbering in the tens of thousands.

Aum Shinrikyo

The followers of Aum Shinrikyo (often shortened to just Aum) had firmly believed that the ‘end of the world was nigh’ and that all those who did not belong to the cult would end up going to hell. That is, unless they were murdered by cult members, beforehand.

And that is exactly what the cult members proceeded to do. Since the world did not show any sign of ending, the cultists decided to give it a little push and released Sarin (an extremely deadly poison gas) into the crowded Japanese subway system in Tokyo.

The result: more than a dozen deaths and thousands of badly injured people, some permanently. The cult members were sentenced to death and were executed almost 23 years after the attack.

David Koresh and the Branch Davidians

This is not the only doomsday cult around whose members used violence to try and end the world (especially when it does not appear to on its own). David Koresh, the leader of the branch Davidians in Waco was involved in a gun fight that took place between his followers and the FBI.

In the ensuing almost two month siege, this self-proclaimed ‘son of god’ had barricaded himself with hundreds of women and children.  And when the FBI moved in, the Branch Davidians decided to set the whole place ablaze rather than surrender. Almost a hundred men women and children (including FBI agents) were killed during the standoff at their headquarters in Waco Texas.

ISIL and Damiq

ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) is arguably the single most violent and brutal terror outfit in history. They have repeatedly claimed that the upcoming battle between their followers and the ‘forces of darkness’ (basically the rest of the world) at the small Syrian town of Damiq would be the doomsday battle of our time and basically herald the end of the universe.

However, they quietly abandoned these claims (and also the town of Damiq) when it became clear that no such thing was going to happen, and they were going to be well and thoroughly beaten by the US allied SDF (Syrian democratic forces).

UFO hunters at the ‘Heaven’s Gate ‘

The heaven gate-ists believed that the world will be recycled by superior extra-terrestrial intelligence and the only way to survive would be to basically ‘leave’ the earth by committing suicide. And that is exactly what they did when around 39 members of the cult killed themselves in 1997 in a mass suicide so that they could join up with their UFO mentors.

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