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8 Terrifying Cults That Are Still Active

Do you that out there in the world some terrifying cults are still active? 

As creepy as it sounds, despite the well-publicized collapse of some well-known cults, hundreds remain functioning in the modern world. Cults nowadays vary from fundamentalist Christian organizations gearing up for the end of the world to New Age mystic groups. Numerous of them date back several decades and some even more than a century. However, a handful has developed in the past several years.

These organizations are united by a cult of personality centered around an inspirational but also charismatic leader, a commitment to poverty that typically excludes the leader, and the conviction that they have been selected in some way to bring about a new period of wealth and peace.

Here are all the terrifying cults that are still active:

terrifying cults
Photo by Wikimedia Commons Public Domain

1. The Brethren or “Body Of Christ”

Among many terrifying cults that are still active is the Brethren. Apocalyptic offshoots of the Jesus movement of the 1970s, the Brethren also go by the names “Body of Christ” and “Garbage Eaters,” forsaking earthly goods and pleasures to prepare for the impending end of the world.

Members of the Brethren practically live as wanderers, working odd jobs to make ends meet, eating rubbish, forgoing proper hygiene and medical care, and giving any money they make to the organization.

They also prohibit members from speaking with relatives, from smiling or dancing (until Jesus returns), and from interacting with those who identify as either binary gender. After founding member Jim Roberts passed away in December 2015, it was uncertain what would become of the cult.

2. Twelve Tribes

This time we will make a quick stop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, when we stumble upon one of the most terrifying cults that is still active. This one is called Twelve Tribes. It was founded in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in 1972, has been throughout the world, and has gone by several names.

Established as a result of Elbert Spriggs’ (also known as Yoneq) “Jesus movement” in the early 1970s, the organization was initially a teen prayer club that split from its Presbyterian church when a January session was postponed to watch the Super Bowl.

The organization, which swiftly spread throughout the South, attempted to replicate the first-century Christian church mentioned in the Book of Acts while embracing the peace and love attitude of hippie culture.

Due to their messianic Jewish beliefs—which hold that Jews killed Christ—and their desire to create 12 Israeli tribes around the globe to herald the end of the world, they have no official links to any section of Christianity.

Why do we call them some of the most terrifying cults? Well, all the members of the Twelve Tribes cult were charged with tax evasion, using their children as slaves and of course having an illegal cult. Can you imagine that there were around 3,000 members in this group?

3. Apostles Of Infinite Love

Back in the day, (in 1962 to be more specific), Michel Collin, a French priest who had been excommunicated, founded the Apostles of Infinite Love, a Catholic dissident organization with headquarters in the Quebec highlands.

Claiming to be the real successor to the Church and seeing visions of the Virgin Mary, Collin dubbed himself “Pope Clement XV” and commanded a reign of kidnapping, assault, and extortion. By doing this and a lot more, the Apostles of Infinite Love easily gained the status of one of the most terrifying cults.

After Collin got into a dispute with Jean Gaston Tremblay, a founder member who had proclaimed himself Pope Gregory XVII in 1969, the “church” quickly broke up. He died in 2011, but not before he was the focus of a 34-year investigation that resulted in a significant raid in 1999 and the dropping of all charges.

There is no accurate information about whether this horrible cult is still active or not.

4. Church Of Bible Understanding

The fourth one of the most terrifying cults is called the Church of bible understanding. Now, let me ask you a weird question. Did you watch that episode from Seinfeld when they mentioned the Sunshine Carpet Cleaners? Those were people from a cult who were trying to get into folk’s apartments by using this excuse.

Imagine hearing them talking over and over again about their cause. But when George called them after they finished the cleaning he expected a speech. Boomer! They were just professional cleaners.

Now, let’s get back to the cult to understand the analogy. The Church of Bible Understanding, an evangelical commune with 10,000 members centered in New York, is the source of the concept that a carpet cleaning company is surreptitiously brainwashing its clients.

After being kicked out of a Pentecostal church in Pennsylvania, Stewart Traill founded the organization and quickly took in a large number of young men who were living in abject poverty. The church launched other legal ventures, such as a car dealership and a carpet cleaning company.

However, the organization broke up after it was accused of recruiting young orphans and pressuring members to donate Traill almost all of their money. I am not even surprised because this happened to most of these terrifying cults. More recently, in 2013, after raising millions to operate two inadequate orphanages in Haiti, the organization faced criticism for its operations.

Are you interested in finding more stuff about terrifying cults around the globe and most importantly how they formed? Cults: Inside the World’s Most Notorious Groups and Understanding the People Who Joined Them you will discover the charm of these enigmatic communities and the mysteries of the human mind.

Strong stories, thought-provoking observations, and an engrossing investigation into the minds of people who joined. The book is available on Amazon for the hardcover version for just $15.74. 

cults that are still active
Photo by GoodIdeas from Shutterstock

5. Order of the Solar Temple

Establishing itself in Geneva in 1984, the Order of the Solar Temple is also known as the International Order of Chivalry Solar Tradition. The influence of the Knights Templar, who had split up into many groups in 1805, was carried on by the Order. The Order used to hold initiation procedures and ceremonies in several “lodges” across the world in addition to a presiding council. The

Order felt that they needed to go to a higher dimension of existence to survive the impending cataclysmic catastrophe that they predicted would happen sometime in the mid-1990s. More than seventy of its members committed suicide or were killed in the middle of the 1990s.

Despite these events, there are suspicions that, at this moment, there are between 150 and 500 people left in the cult.

5. The Family International (previously known as The Children of God)

Speaking of terrifying cults? The Family International is occupying the first place for sure. David Berg formed The Children of God, also known as The Family International, in 1968. The organization’s use of intimacy to draw in prospective members—a practice Berg invented and dubbed “flirty fishing”—sparked controversy right away.

They founded colonies all over the world—up to 130 in 70 different nations. The principles of Family International are derived from the Bible, although they place a strong focus on “loving Jesus,” which is accomplished via having intercourse.

Many accusations of maltreatment of children have been made against them throughout time. Now, the shocking part is that among the members of this cult were some celebrities as well. Rose McGowan, River, and Joaquin Phoenix spent some time growing up there. With 1,450 members, TFI is still active despite being an online group.

Interesting about a similar topic related to cults? Check out Jonestown: 7 Secrets of Jim Jones’ Shocking Cult


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