Jonestown only the beginning of episodic cult nightmare

CultNews Summary of "Jonestown did not dissuade fascination with cults," by James Rudin, St. Petersburg Times/November 21, 1998

Twenty years ago the People's Temple ended in tragedy at Jonestown. 913 members were killed, which included 278 children under the age of 16. The followers of Jim Jones were either poisoned or shot.

But sadly Jonestown was to be only the beginning of a continuing series of cult tragedies that would follow in its wake. This would eventually include cults such as the Branch Davidians, Solar Temple and Heaven's Gate.

Aum Shinrikyo of Japan, would burst into the world news in 1995 after a deadly poison gas attack within Tokyo's subway system that killed 12 and injured thousands. This was the culmination of cult leader Shoko Asahara's dark vision of final confrontation with the forces of evil.

Many of Aum's members were graduates of some of Japan's leading universities. And the cult's businesses once grossed more than $30 million. Asahara also had followers in Russia.

Shockingly, Asahara's people were also trained in chemical and germ warfare.

This year six followers of a South Korean cult called "Everlasting Life Church" burned themselves to death, along with their leader Woo Jong-min.

Six years ago another Korean cult leader was jailed for taking more than $1 million from his followers. The "donations" were given for a guaranteed trip to heaven.

38 members of the American cult Concerned Christians, led by Monte Kim Miller, sold their homes, cars, businesses and furniture and gave the proceeds to their leader, planning to move with Miller to Israel for the "end of days."

Miller predicted the total destruction of their hometown Denver and said "blood will run" on the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999, fulfilling yet another of his "prophecies."

One Denver Baptist minister said Miller "is liable to do something bizarre just to ensure his place in history. And there's nobody in his group who could question him . . . He has that much control. You question him, you question God."

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