Doomsday Cults That Still Exist October 7, 2009

Doomsday Cults That Still Exist

There are several cults in existence which still prophesize the end of the world — in the relatively near future.

Maybe others would take them more seriously if they just pushed back their end date a little bit… We’re all going to die in a few billion years, anyway 🙂

(Thanks to Sami for the link!)


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • He forgot the Seventh Day Adventist Church, which grew out of the Millerite movement of the 1840’s. He could have also included the current Rapturists but they are spread out over many denominations instead of just one central church.

  • Bleatmop

    Funny, I thought Christians in general would be in there. I thought Jesus was supposed to return soon?

  • Miko

    If we can’t survive the death of our sun, then we don’t deserve to.

  • Edmond

    Jebus’ll be here aaaaaany day now…

    Seriously, who else thought a lot of these would make good movies?

  • The Other Tom

    Back in the early 90’s, there was a crazy cult from Korea who believed that “the rapture” was going to occur on October 28, 1992. They had people in major cities all over the world trying to convince us of this. They tried really hard, as evidenced by the fact that I still remember the date 17 years later. It lead to a number of funny stories.

    They had stickers made with the details of their wingnut religion, and stuck them on lamp-posts around Boston. (and probably other cities.) The stickers were a full 8.5×11″ size, and each had a big red cross in one corner. The thing is, they had them printed with indestructible vinyl on indestructible vinyl. Some of those stickers can still be found today. If they believed the world was going to end, why did they have their stickers made to last forever?

    So, at the time I worked in an office building downtown. It was a very old building and had no air conditioning, so we had to open the windows in the summer. It overlooked Downtown Crossing, which is a sort of public square. The cultists took out the appropriate licenses for use of the square for a number of weeks during the summer, and they placed a guy with a megaphone in the square to hand out flyers and shout through the megaphone all day, “The rapture is coming October 28, 1992.” Eight hours a day. Directly below my window. Which I couldn’t close. Moreover, he was, like all the cultists, a crazy guy from Korea, who had a very strong accent, so we were treated to eight hours of “Da rapcha is come ing octoba twenty ate niteen nitey too”, over and over again. And it got pretty hoarse by the end of the day because he’d been shouting this nonstop for 8 hours.

    At one point they ran an ad in the Boston Globe, with instructions to the public for “what to do if you miss the rapture.” I remember one of the points was “Gather together all the bibles you can, and hide them.” Italics theirs. They never did say what to do with them. Presumably this was to keep anyone from reading them? But anyway, another one of their items in the ad was about avoiding barcodes, because barcodes are the tool of the devil and his minions would tattoo it on your hand and then you’d go to hell, or something like that.

    That afternoon, my coworker Kevin came into my office.
    K: Tom, do you still have that printer that makes stickers?
    T: Yes, Kevin.
    K: Can it print barcodes?
    T: Yes, Kevin.
    (I was thinking he was going to start inventorying stuff or something.)
    K: Can you print me one with a barcode for “666”?
    (*pause*)
    T: Yes, Kevin, I can. (*grin*)
    (*tap tap tap hummmmm*)
    T: Here you go.
    (Sound of elevator departing.)
    Window: Da rapcha is come ing octoba twenty ate niteen nitey too. Da rapcha is come ing octoba twenty ate niteen nitey too. Da rapcha is come ing octoba twenty ate niteen nitey too. Da rapcha is come ing AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!
    (*silence*)
    (Sound of elevator returning.)
    T: Kevin, what did you do?
    K: Oh, I reached out like I was going to take a pamphlet from him, and when he tried to give me one I put the sticker on his hand.

    We had about an hour and a half of silent relief from the crazy cultist onslaught before a different guy showed up with a megaphone. This guy put the pamphlets in a box on the ground, would point to them when someone came by, and wouldn’t let anyone get within a few feet of him.

  • Stephen P

    It unfortunately hasn’t been updated for a few years but A Brief History of the Apocalypse is a good list of these absurd predictions.

    (Odd – comment preview seems to have stopped working, at least in Opera. Someone been playing with the Javascript?)

  • Richard Wade

    The Other Tom,
    That was a hilarious and well told story. Thank you for a good laugh.

  • “We’re all going to die in a few billion years anyway”?

    Not necessarily. These predictions are made without factoring in the questing human mind. Look where we’ve come in a few thousand years. We have no comprehension where scientific enquiry may take us in even half a million years let alone billions.

  • Natural Apocalyptics
    OK, is it just me, or do other folks think that apocalyptic thinking is a deep “natural” cognitive illusion. It is only wacky when a cult gets a hold of it or it is nurtured. I wonder if we all don’t have some tendencies to think this way, given the right environmental triggers.

  • True story.

    My parents knew some some Jehovah’s Witnesses (who were married with kids) from back in the early 1970’s. At that time, the Watchtower Society said that they could not see beyond 1975. For some JWs at that time, they figured that the end was going to happen on December 31, 1975. In preparation for that date, the man divorced his wife, quit his job, and sold everything he owned. Of course the date came and went without anything happening. Our family then lost touch with them. I always wondered what happened to them. Crazy.

  • Matto the Hun

    If we can’t survive the death of our sun, then we don’t deserve to.

    Well I might survive it…

    @The Other Tom… that was friggin’ awesome. Thanks buddy, you made my day.

  • muggle

    I’m almost afraid to ask, Jeff, but why the divorce? I get (okay on the insane level) the quitting his job and selling everything he owned but how does getting divorced prepare for it? Sure it wasn’t just a ruse to take a powder from his family?

    My mother loved the book “The Great Late Planet Earth” back in the ’70’s and would say that the world was gonna end when Israel had been a nation for 40 years. Of course, as I’ve mentioned before my mother was batshit crazy.

    I loved that story Tom and I don’t remember all the details but I do remember some woo hoo about bar codes being the mark of the Devil. Your friend must have been seen as his agent. Too funny.

    I think Sabio, it’s human nature to worry about the what ifs. I think we all have it in some degree even those who seem fearless. I also think it depends on how lucky you are in life or not as to how bad you’ve got it. If you have experience with things going wrong, you know all too well they can. I know I’m a fretter and I’ve been through some major shit in my time.

    I worry too much but one thing I don’t worry about is the world coming to an end. It was here long before me and will be long after I’m gone. Even in the worst case scenario of full-out nuclear war, the world will go on. Any stinking humans left alive or not…

  • If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard, “I think we’re living in the End Times.” Jeesh, yes I would put a lot of Christian groups in the doomsday cult category. Only their not cults, they’re entire sects or entire churches. Liberal churches don’t use it much, but some of those barely qualify as Christian.

  • I’m almost afraid to ask, Jeff, but why the divorce?

    I’ll have to ask my mom about that. Perhaps she remembers some other details about them. Perhaps he was following Jesus’s advice to reject his family or perhaps there was some other stuff going on as you suggest. If I find out, I’ll add another comment here.

  • TXatheist

    The jehovah witnesses will make another prediction and then deny they did it.

  • Flah

    My first husband was a fundamentalist and we occasionally attended a fund. church where the pastor and his wife honestly, wholeheartedly and sincerely believed that they would live to see the rapture. I’m pretty sure they’re dead now.

    I’m kind of fond of the sticker that says “In Case of Rapture….can I have your car?”

  • How do they overlook the fact that their handbook has a quote from their founder that says ‘this generation shall not pass away before I return’?

    Generation usually equals roughly 20 years. It’s been 100 times that long already. I seriously doubt there’s any of that generation left.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    In preparation for that date, the man divorced his wife,…

    Jehovah’s Witnesses, who are so strict they will no allow life-saving blood transfusions, are OK with divorce? Jesus H. Christ was pretty clear that divorce is not allowed. (Matt 5:31-32, Matt 19:6-9, Mark 10: 1-9, and in conflict with Sky Daddy’s instructions from the Old Testament).

  • Polly

    muggle:

    My mother loved the book “The Great Late Planet Earth” back in the ’70’s and would say that the world was gonna end when Israel had been a nation for 40 years.

    That’s what my mother used to say. But, now “generation” apparently means as long as one person born in 1948 is still alive. So, they’ve bought themselves another 20 years at least before they come up with the next batshit crazy excuse. Of course, all the peddlers of this drivel will have long since died or retired wealthy by then.
    She’s still excited that the rapture can happen any time. “It’s so close” she tells me. “You can take care of the dog when we go up and you stay.” And other annoying comments.

  • Shannon

    An old friend of mine (who I hadn’t heard from in about 15 years) has found Jesus and is collecting firearms and MREs in his basement for the “end times”. Honestly, I’m not too surprised at the survivalist stuff (he had a horrible childhood and back in college he was a good guy, but obviously going to go off the deep end someday) but the Jesus stuff really threw me for a loop. Scary stuff.

    Though, I do have to ask, if it’s the end times, what good are firearms and MREs (or anything) going to do you? If your god wants you dead, aren’t you dead? If not, he’s not a very effective god now is he?

    To be slightly more on topic, I have a vague memory of an end of world prediction sometime in the late 70’s or very early 80’s. I think it was tied into an eclipse. Anyone remember that?

  • Here is a list of previous and current predictions of the end of the world. And this comes from a religious website that takes the concept seriously (if not the listed predicted dates).

  • fact3r

    Speaking of doomsday cults, here is a short film that plays with that idea. A short comedy about a guy who joins a suicide cult to help him commit suicide. Cult Fiction

  • Shannon

    Thanks Jeff. I can’t find the one I’m looking for. I have this memory of it being combined with an eclipse. But maybe that’s just my bad memory.

  • Sabio Lantz Said:

    OK, is it just me, or do other folks think that apocalyptic thinking is a deep “natural” cognitive illusion.

    Yes, I believe that apocalyptic thinking is delusional. Mythical thinking applied to concrete reality. And it never works. Remember what happened the first time? Total destruction of the country (Judah), destruction of the Temple, dispersal. Do the proponents of this type of approach really believe that it will turn out differently this time around?

    Nuts.