Recent Cult Massacres

uganda death cult 033100 AP

Ugandan police say more than 900 deaths have been linked to a Christian doomsday cult there, creating an even lager self-destructive toll than that of the Jonestown suicides. But they aren't the only ones. Suicide cults of the last 22 years include:
  • Heaven's Gate: On March 26, 1997, in Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., 39 members of a cult called Heaven's Gate were found dead at a rented mansion. They had poisoned themselves with a mixture of applesauce, vodka and barbiturates. The cultists left a video message saying they were shedding their "earthly containers" to join a spaceship trailing the Hale Bopp comet.
  • Order of the Solar Temple: On March 22, 1997, in St. Casimir, Quebec, five members of the Order of the Solar Temple die in a fiery mass suicide. Cult devotees believe suicide transports them to a new life on a planet called Sirius.
  • Order of the Solar Temple: On Dec. 23, 1995, 16 members of the Order of the Solar Temple were found dead in a burned house outside Grenoble, in the French Alps. Most of the bodies were arranged in a star shape on the floor.
  • Order of the Solar Temple: On Oct. 5, 1994, Swiss authorities found the bodies of 48 people linked to the same cult in a farmhouse and three chalets, all consumed by fire. Five more bodies were found the same year in Morin Heights, north of Montreal.
  • Branch Davidians: On April 19, 1993, Branch Davidian leader David Koresh and 80 followers - including 18 children - died by fire or gunfire, six hours after the FBI started filling their cult compound near Waco, Texas, with tear gas. Federal officials called the deaths a mass suicide, but Branch Davidians are pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit against the government.
  • Mexican Sect: On Dec. 13, 1990, in Tijuana, Mexico, 12 people die in a religious ritual, apparently after drinking a poisoned sacrament. It was never clearly established if this was a suicide and authorities speculated the deaths might have been accidental. They said some kind of industrial alcohol, perhaps rubbing alcohol, was poured into a fruit punch the participants shared during the religious ceremony.
  • South Korean Sect:On Aug. 29, 1987, in Yongin, South Korea, the bodies of 32 people were found in a factory attic after they took drugs and strangled each other. Authorities said factory owner Park Soon-ja, who died with the group, was called "Benevolent Mother" and had claimed God told her to seek disciples. Her sect preached that the world was about to end.
  • People's Temple: On Nov. 18, 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana, more than 900 followers of the Rev. Jim Jones died after he ordered them to drink cyanide-laced grape punch. Jones, who was found dead with a bullet wound in the head, led the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and moved it to Guyana. In the United States, the Peoples Temple ran a free clinic, a drug rehabilitation program and performed other charitable functions.


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