Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside a cult? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them? Every Tuesday, Greg and Vanessa (co-hosts of the podcast Serial Killers) explore the history and psychology behind the most notorious cults. Cults is part of the Parcast Network and is a Cutler Media production.
E93: “The Wesson Vampire Clan” - Marcus Delon Wesson
His version of faith, was placing himself on the same level as God and demanding his children serve him as such. But when Marcus Wesson needed more followers to control, instead of recruiting he turned to his daughters. They would grow their cult-family from within. Sponsors!Native - For 20% off your first purchase, visit NativeDeodorant.com/CULTS and use promo code CULTS during checkout!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you can get your first refill pack for FREE!
E92: “The Alamo Christian Foundation” Pt. 2 - Tony Alamo
Along with his wife Susan, they grew The Alamo Christian Foundation from a few dozen homeless teenagers to over 3,000 followers on sophisticated compounds around the United States. Their dreams of stardom were finally achieved, but it still wasn't enough for the power hungry Alamos. Parcasters - Cults...UFOs...Nazis? If you don’t know about the Vril Society, you’re in for a treat! This group allegedly developed flying saucers for the Third Reich. Search for Extraterrestrials on Spotify or wherever you listen to Parcast Originals.
E91: “The Alamo Christian Foundation” - Tony Alamo
When he moved to Los Angeles in 1960, Tony Alamo was convinced that his big break as a musician was just around the corner. What he found instead was the voice of God, which commanded him to collect young and homeless followers for Jesus' return. Parcasters - This week on The Dark Side Of we dig into the trial of Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle, and the media frenzy that followed. You might think you know the story, but the truth is much darker! Available now on Spotify or wherever you listen to Parcast!
E90: “Lord Our Righteousness Church” Pt. 2 - Wayne Bent
In the fall of 2007, Judgement Day arrived on the Strong City compound. The world didn't end, as their Messiah had predicted, but it was still a portent of things to come. Sponsors!Gabi - Take two minutes and see if you can save up to $865 a year on car insurance at Gabi.com/CULTS. There are NO fees, NO forms, and NO spam.Modsy - Go to Modsy.com to start a design project and use code CULTS to get 20% off. Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a quip electric toothbrush.Zola - Start your free wedding website and get $50 off your registry at Zola.com/CULTS.
In the early 2000s, Wayne Bent established his following on a compound in New Mexico that he dubbed "Strong City." But their faith would be tested when Wayne revealed God's next command: he required seven young virgins to take as Wayne's wives.Sponsors!The Farmer’s Dog - Get 50% off your two week trial of fresh, healthy food at TheFarmersDog.com/CULTS. Plus, you get FREE shipping!
E88: “The Children of Thunder” Pt. 2 - Glenn Taylor Helzer
In July of 2001, this cult declared war on Satan and the forces of darkness. But soon, their plans unravelled around them, and five innocent people would fall victim to The Children of Thunder’s bloody war.Parcasters - This week on Extraterrestrial, we take on the mysterious Anunnaki, supposed ancient alien gods. What is their origin? What interactions have they had with our planet? Find out today at parcast.com/extraterrestrial
E87: “The Children of Thunder” - Glenn Taylor Helzer
He believed that the voice in his head, which he called "Spirit," was the voice of God. Lead by the lord, Glenn Taylor Helzer gathered his followers in the summer of 2001 to wage a war against Satan. Parcasters - You’ve heard of Pandora’s Box, and you know you don’t want to open it. But do you know the myth behind the saying? Check out Mythology today for this anticipated episode! Available now at parcast.com/mythology
E86: “Church of Jesus With Signs Following” Pt. 2 - Glenn Summerford
In 1980 he quickly grew his flock through acts of extreme religious affirmation, such as handling poisonous snakes and drinking poison in front of his congregants. But was Glenn Summerford a man with a deep connection to the Lord, protected by his faith? Or a thrill-seeker, on the precipice of madness?Sponsors!The Farmer’s Dog - Get 50% off your two week trial of fresh, healthy food at TheFarmersDog.com/CULTS. Plus, you get FREE shipping!
E85: “Church of Jesus With Signs Following” - Glenn Summerford
He spent most of his life in a boxing ring, trying to prove his worth with his fists. But after nearly dying from an injury in the ring in 1963, Glenn Summerford committed to turning his life around and found God. Then, God started speaking to him. Through snakes.Sponsors!Omax Health - Head to OmaxHealth.com and enter code CULTS for 50% off a one month supply plus free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee.
E84: "The Process Church" Pt. 2 - Mary Ann MacClean and Robert de Grimston
After fleeing from a destructive hurricane, in the late 1960s, Mary and Robert de Grimston led their followers on a nomadic journey around the US in search of more converts and the site of their new church. But the stress of constant relocation and pursuit of US immigrations drove a wedge between the couple. Sponsors!Omax Health - OMAX is offering 60% off a one-month supply of Ultra Pure, plus free shipping and a 60-day money-back guarantee at TryOmax.com/CULTS today!
E83: "The Process Church" - Mary Ann MacClean and Robert de Grimston
Mary and Robert de Grimston created a flamboyant cult in 1960s London that attracted outcasts and celebrities alike. But as their communication with God sent them west, the cult soon found itself in constant danger--in the eye of a literal hurricane.Sponsors!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a quip electric toothbrush.
E82: “The Blackburn Cult” Pt. 2 - May Otis Blackburn
In 1925 Willa had been dead for months, and yet she wasn't laid to rest. May Blackburn laid her in a tub of ice, mummified her, and buried her beneath her floorboards in Venice, California. The end of the world was coming, and when Willa was resurrected, so would be their queen. And so the cult prepared for the coming apocalypse, over the body of the Blackburn Cult's first victim. Sponsors!Calm - CULTS listeners get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription at Calm.com/CULTS.
Many actors wait tables while they're waiting for their big break; May and Ruth Blackburn started a cult. In 1920s Los Angeles, this mother-daughter duo swindled a fortune from their followers while promising them fortune and immortality. Sponsors!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a quip electric toothbrush.Robinhood - Robinhood is giving listeners of Cults a FREE stock like Apple, Ford, or Sprint to help you build your portfolio. Sign up at Cults.Robinhood.com.
After the cult was dogged with rumors of violent conversion tactics, the Church of the Almighty God blamed the Chinese government for the negative press. A more extreme example occurred in 2014, as the cult would be accused of the murder of a woman who refused to give the group her cellphone number for recruitment purposes.Sponsors!CBS All Access - Visit CBS.com/CULTS to watch The Twilight Zone. Redeem your FREE trial TODAY.
The Church of the Almighty God preached that Jesus Christ had been reborn and walked the Earth. She was here to save their souls before the world ended. In 1991, followers scrambled to prove how devoted they were to her before the apocalypse, even if it meant killing in her name.SPONSORS!Calm - CULTS listeners get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription at Calm.com/CULTS.CBS All Access - Visit CBS.com/UNEXPLAINED to redeem your FREE trial TODAY.Upstart - Hurry to Upstart.com/CULTS to find out HOW LOW your Upstart rate is. Checking your rate only takes 2 minutes—and won’t affect your credit!
In this special crossover with Assassinations, Greg and Vanessa give insight regarding the charismatic preacher, Jim Jones, and his congregation’s move from San Francisco to the newly-constructed jungle settlement of Jonestown, Guyana in 1977. The move was intended to keep the Peoples Temple far away from the prying eyes of the U.S. government and media, who'd been looking into Jones' abuses and financial crimes.
When the cult moved to Hawaii, James Baker never expected his penniless followers to find him. But once it became clear that they were willing to follow to the bitter end, he began planning a dramatic exit of epic proportions.Sponsors!CBS All Access - Visit CBS.com/CULTS to redeem your FREE trial TODAY and watch the new Twilight Zone exclusively on CBS All Access.Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a Quip electric toothbrush.
When James Baker started his health food restaurant on the Sunset Strip in the 1970s, he had no intention of creating a spiritual commune. But opportunity knocked, and soon, he was the leader of a yoga-based cult in Hollywood Hills that launched Baker to wealth and fame. When the cult came under scrutiny, Baker ran. And to his surprise, his people followed. Sponsors!CBS All Access - Visit CBS.com/CULTS to redeem your FREE trial of CBS All Access.Robinhood - Robinhood is giving listeners of Cults a FREE stock like Apple, Ford, or Sprint to help you build your portfolio. Sign up at Cults.Robinhood.com.
For roughly 15 years, this guru was a beloved spiritual leader with hopes of opening a worship oriented theme park. In 1985, everything changed when a vicious attack resulted in a head injury, coma, and ultimately a sinister personality change. He started using brutal tactics to keep his followers in line, including violence, espionage, and his own personal hitman. Sponsors!Calm - CULTS listeners get 25% off a Calm Premium subscription at Calm.com/CULTS.
For 26 years, he was the guru and leader of the New Vrindaban cult in West Virginia. Kirtanananda Swami would turn this vacant land into a 1200-acre sanctuary for all faiths complete with an enormous gold palace. What seemed like an idyllic paradise, was actually just a plot to steal member’s money. Swami was successful in swindling $10.5 million in just four years. Parcasters - To learn about an iconic event in American history, check out our our new episode on John McCain on HOSTAGE, wherever you get your shows. Listen now at parcast.com/hostageSponsors!Upstart - Hurry to Upstart.com/CULTS to find out HOW LOW your Upstart rate is. Checking your rate only takes 2 minutes and won’t affect your credit!
E74: “The Workers' Institute” Pt. 2 - Aravindan Balakrishnan
By the 1970s, Comrade Bala's small collective had gone completely underground. His followers lived in constant fear of advanced Chinese technology capable of reading their thoughts, and killing them at any moment. Amidst the chaos, Comrade Bala fathered a child who would spend the first 20 years of her life in his strange home, a slave to the Maoist Collective. But when she finally escaped, she would be his downfall.
E73: “The Workers' Institute” - Aravindan Balakrishnan
His communist cult was started in 1974 in hopes of convincing working class citizens of England to rise up against their capitalist overlords and join forces with communist China. After two "members" escaped in 2013, it was revealed Aravindan Balakrishnan was enslaving women in the basement of his London flat. One woman born into the cult never had contact with the outside world before her release.Parcasters - For more stories about captivity and thrilling escape, check out HOSTAGE. This week, we’re covering the abduction of Cynthia Ann Parker and her 24 years spent living among the Comanche. Listen now at parcast.com/hostageSponsors!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS, you get your first refill pack for FREE with a quip electric toothbrush.
This Cult’s beliefs often steered members to protest against the Canadian government. Due to their lack of regard for laws and public policy, officials began rounding up Freedomite children between 1953 and 1959. Two hundred children were brought to a compound called “New Denver” where they were imprisoned in a filthy, overcrowded institution and would suffer lifelong effects. Sponsors!Torrid - Go to Torrid.com and use Promo Code CULTS15 for $15 off every $50 you spend! That means you can get up to $150 off a $500 order!
E71: “River Road Fellowship” Pt. 2 - Victor Arden Barnard
Reigning over Shepherd’s Camp throughout the 1990s, Victor Barnard was the king of his own Eden. As he becomes more and more abusive to his followers, one of them begins plotting his demise. When she finally strikes, she will prove to be a cunning viper that finally exiles Barnard from paradise.Sponsors!Upstart - Hurry to Upstart.com/CULTS to find out how low your Upstart rate is! Checking your rate only takes 2 minutes—and won’t affect your credit!
E70: “River Road Fellowship” - Victor Arden Barnard
After spending years indoctrinated in the Way International, Victor Barnard started his own cult in the early 1990s and moved off the grid to an isolated campground in Minnesota. With the blessings of their parents, he married a dozen pre-teen and teenage girls. One of these women would later speak out against the abuse she suffered and fight to bring about his downfall. Parcasters - After this episode of Cults, check out our new show Extraterrestrial and learn about the abduction of Barney and Betty Hill. Listen at parcast.com/extraterrestrial
E69: “Fellowship of Friends” Pt. 2 - Robert Earl Burton
This alleged cult’s vineyard has produced wines that were served at former President Ronald Reagan’s birthday party, and other illustrious restaurants in the pacific northwest. Robert Earl Burton used elements of mysticism to lure vulnerable followers to his group, but his shaky past threatens their future.Parcasters - After this episode of Cults, race over to Hostage to hear about the incredible story of Shergar, a derby winning horse ransomed by IRA freedom fighters. Listen now at parcast.com/hostage
In 1970, his fellowship began with just two members huddled around a dining room table in Northern California. But within a few short years, Burton’s influence would reach across the globe, preparing thousands of members for an apocalypse. And while their eyes were turned towards the heavens, he stole their children behind their backs.Sponsors!Quip - Quip starts at just $25 and if you go to GetQuip.com/CULTS right now, you can get your first refill pack for FREE.Torrid - Go to Torrid.com and use Promo Code CULTS15 for $15 off every $50 you spend! That means you can get up to $150 off a $500 order!
Mystery. Manipulation. Murder. Cults are associated with all of these. But what really goes on inside a cult? More specifically, what goes on inside the minds of people who join cults and leaders who start them. Every Tuesday we take a psychological approach to analyzing a cult and its founder. Cults premieres Tuesday September 26th. Here is a sneak peak.
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