18th Anniversary of Aum Cult’s Sarin Gas Attack

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Eighteen years ago today, the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult released Sarin, a deadly nerve gas, on five subway trains during Tokyo’s early-morning rush hour.

The terrorist attack, which killed 13 people and injured more than 6,000 others, is commemorated every year.

The Sarin attack was not the cult’s first crime. The group had a history of violence.

Nevertheless, a number of misguided sociologists of religion — including James Lewis and J. Gordon Melton — actually traveled to Japan to defend the cult.

Blinded by what they reportedly viewed as their mission to defend ‘religious freedom‘ they held a pair of press conferences during which they claimed Aum Shinrikyo was innocent of criminal charges and was a victim of excessive police pressure.

Two years ago Japan’s National Police Agency confirmed that a total of 6,583 people fell victim to the 1995 gas attack and seven other crimes Aum Shinrikyo had committed.

Aum Shinrikyo changed its name to Aleph. It remains under surveillance, as does an offshoot named Hikari no Wa, which was established in 2007. Reportedly some 1,500 followers remain loyal to the cult.

Thirteen Aum Shinrikyo cult members are on death row, including the group’s leader, Shoko Asahara.

Research resources on Aum Shinrikyo
Alternative Religions and Their Academic Supporters

Cult leader Warren Jeffs’ Utah compound to be auctioned

A mansion and other buildings on a sprawling compound in Hildale, Utah, that belongs to the family of imprisoned cult leader Warren Jeffs, is to be auctioned off to pay a judgment to a former spokesman for the polygamous Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In June 2012 Willie Jessop Jessop won a $29,493,000 default judgement against church leaders Lyle Jeffs and John Wayman who failed to respond to a lawsuit.

At the time Utah TV station KCSG said

Jessop sued after he was excommunicated, alledging he was blackmailed and pressured to lie for Warren Jeffs, who faced charges of under age marriages and child sexual assault. The lawsuit said the FLDS leaders retaliated against him burglarizing his Hildale construction business and forcing his employees to quit.

The Hildale property sits on 6.1 acres and has a market value of $2.65 million.

The sheriff’s auction is scheduled for April 25th, and any proceeds from the sale will go toward the money owed to Jessop.

According to the Salt Lake Tribune

The property was constructed in 2010 and 2011 while Jeffs was awaiting trial in Texas, and residents have said it was built to house Jeffs and his wives and family after his acquittal or release from custody.

Instead, Jeffs was convicted and sentenced to life, plus 20-year sentence for sexually assaulting two underage followers he took as brides in what he deemed to be “spiritual marriages.”

Read the order to sell Warren Jeffs’ property

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This post was last updated: May. 9, 2014