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Newsletter June-July, 1998

Countdown 2000: Millenium Cults
P.2
This Month at FACTNet P.3
FACTNet/CAN Conference P.4
CAN Update P.5
News Briefs P.6
AFF Recovery Workshop P.7
Dateline Features Bob Minton P.8
Accessing the FACTNet Website P.9
FACTNet Info P.10

Countdown 2000: The Increasing Danger of Millennium Cults

Historically, the end of a millennium has negatively affected people as they have looked for changes more significant than a new date on the calendar. The millennium at the year 1,000 saw a surge of apocalyptic cult activity.

Cult activity traditionally increases around rare natural events such as the appearance of a comet, the obscuration of the sun or moon during an eclipse, or the turn of a century or millennium. Cults use this kind of event as a fulcrum point for prophetic leverage, claiming the event signifies a great culminating change: the apocalypse is here, financial markets are crashing, a global ecological catastrophe is underway, UFOs are landing en masse. Such claims increase attention on a cult group, which in turn increases the group's power, recruiting activities, and wealth. Millennium cults fabricate correlation among otherwise unrelated events to strengthen their prophecies. For example, a cult might draw connections among Biblical predictions apocalypse, global warming, and a massive millennium computer failure due to the year 2,000 bug.

The cult millennium prophecy almost always entails a change that will demand a complete rearrangement of the most fundamental values and systems of human life. Cult members, who have utter belief that the espoused prophecy will happen, are highly likely to suddenly, radically reorder every aspect of their personal, spiritual, and financial lives, as preparation for the impending millennial transformation. After such drastic preparations, sometimes cults then act to instigate the transformation they believe is coming – with devastating consequences.

Both the Manson murders years ago and the recent fatal Aum Shin Rikyo gas attack in Japan subways were orchestrated and executed as catalysts, intended as sparks to initiate their visions of impending catastrophe. The cults were literally self-fulfilling their prophecies. Similarly, the Heaven's Gate cult's fulfillment of its prophecy led scores of members to their deaths. Leader Marshall Applegate declared Earth was going to be "recycled", or completely destroyed and then regenerated, with the millennium. To "save" themselves, the faithful would need to commit suicide, which would release them from their "vehicles" so that they could be picked up by a spaceship flying behind the Hale-Bopp comet.

For members of any destructive cult, the cult's "higher purposes" are so singularly important that any means used to attain them is justifiable. This increases the chance of members committing unethical or illegal acts. When that willingness to achieve the ends at any cost is combined with a "higher purpose" that involves the expectation of a catastrophic millennial event, cult members are highly likely to act destructively.

Potentially dangerous, millennium-related cult activities of this nature have been on the rise. To help avert future millennial tragedies, become informed about the warning signs that a cult may be dangerous to society or its members. The characteristics of destructive cults may be found at . The next millennium is only a short time away!

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