Is it the End of the World as We Know It?
Look below to see a list of some of the best-known — and potentially most dangerous — millennial groups.
Jan. 5 — As the year 2000 creeps ever closer, millennial cults are becoming ever more frenzied.
Many of them are convinced that the world will end or transform itself soon after next Jan. 1.
Israel’s decision this week to deport 11 members of a Denver-based cult called Concerned Christians shows how seriously the authorities there take the fervor. The group, whose members were holed up in Jerusalem apartments, allegedly planned mayhem that would unleash the second coming of Christ.
And Concerned Christians is not alone.
Back in the United States, according to a 1997 Associated Press poll, nearly 25 percent of adult Christians — more than 26 million people — believe that Jesus Christ will return to Earth in their lifetimes and set in motion the horrific events laid out in the biblical books of Revelation and Daniel. These include a vivid description of men being scorched with fire, complete darkness and a turning of the seas to blood.
Some of those Americans join religious groups fixated on the end.
“People who expect the world to end soon do a lot of very strange things,” writes Ted Daniels, director of the Millennium Watch Institute, who has more than 1,200 cults in his database. “They reject and even contradict the rules of common sense that keep the rest of us sane and feed our lives. They destroy the things they need to survive. They provoke fights they can’t possibly win, and they talk about things that obviously won’t happen.”
The groups themselves are often secretive and hard to track down. Nevertheless, ABCNEWS.com has put together this quick guide to some of the more prominent millennial groups:
A secretive Japanese group said by former members to spread a neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic dogma, it has established itself as a charitable organization in England. A group leaflet says as the year 2000 approaches, “mankind might be annihilated by the baptism of fire.” Similar language turned up in Aum Shinrikyo materials. Aum Shinrikyo was the cult famous for the deadly sarin gas attack in Tokyo. A spokesman for Sukyo Mahikiri has denied the cult is linked to Aum Shinrikyo or that it is anti-Semitic.
The House of Yahweh
A former kibbutz worker named Jacob — now Yisrael — Hawkins started the House of Yahweh, a group that prophesies that the end of the world will arrive very soon if the laws of Yahweh set down in the Bible are not universally obeyed, and the temple in Jerusalem not rebuilt to lie side by side with the Dome of the Rock Mosque. Hawkins has about 3,000 followers who believe he will announce the second coming of Jesus before being murdered by Satan.
This group, whose members were ordered deported from Israel, was started by Monte Kim Miller, who used to run an anti-cult network in Denver. People who know the cult say Miller believes he is the last prophet on Earth before Armageddon. Miller, who reportedly believed he talked to God each morning before he went to work, was said to claim that America was Satan and the government evil. Miller has predicted he will die on the streets of Jerusalem in December 1999 but will rise from the dead three days later.
Order of the Solar Temple
Since 1994, more than 74 members of the Order have committed suicide in Canada, Switzerland and France, leaving behind rumors of gunrunning in Australia and money laundering in Canada and Europe. Whether the group is a cold-blooded hoax that milks its victims of their money and then disposes of them or a more “genuine” suicide cult remains unclear. The Order was founded in 1977 by Luc Jouret, then 30, a Belgian born in Zaire who believed he was a third reincarnation of Jesus Christ and that his daughter Emmanuelle, whom he said was immaculately conceived, was the cosmic child. Although he killed himself, the Order still exists. The cult teaches that life is an illusion and after death followers will be reborn on a planet revolving around the dog star Sirius.
Church of the Final Testament
Started in the early 1990s by a former Russian police sergeant named Sergei Torop who was dismissed from the force after he had a series of religious visions, the group holds particular fascination for former Communist Party members. Torop, who took the name Vissarion, rejects prohibitions on suicide. He tells his followers he is Jesus Christ, and looks the part with flowing dark hair and wispy beard. Currently building a “City of the Sun” on Siberia’s Mount Sukhaya, the Vissarionites are estimated to be the largest cult-like group in Russia with thousands of followers. Russian politicians have recently warned that the Church members may commit mass suicide as the millennium approaches.
In the Cookson Hills of eastern Oklahoma lies the fortress-town of Elohim City, where about 100 heavily armed inhabitants work, pray and conduct paramilitary drills. A former Mennonite preacher named Robert Millar, 73, who envisions a white Christian nation in North America, runs Elohim City in anticipation of an Asiatic invasion of the United States, an attack he considers inevitable. Millar, inspired by fundamentalist Christianity, KKK-style racism and astrology, believes that Christ has been revealing himself for the last two millennia. He also preaches that a series of disasters is about to strike, probably soon after the year 2000, during which time the unworthy and wicked will be cleansed from the Earth. Convicted Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh phoned friends of his in Elohim City before the blast.
Outer Dimensional Forces
Founded by the reclusive Orville T. Gordon, 90, the ODF believes that the United States is in for trouble. Gordon, or Nodrog as he is known, explained in an interview that the CIA attacked the ODF 20 years ago, and the group’s heavenly allies will flood the United States very soon, whisking the ODF faithful safely away from their fenced-off Texas compound.
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