16 Weirdest Cults of All Time

Everyone needs to belong somewhere. Many people find acceptance and belonging within their immediate family, or within their chosen network of friends. However, there are some people who take this notion of belonging too far and form cults, where the idea of belonging hinges on a central belief that all the members share. Often this central belief is harmless, but if left unchecked, it can spiral out of control.

Here are a few of the weirdest and most destructive cults of all time.

1. Peoples Temple

The leadership of the Peoples Temple was directly responsible for the deaths of 918 people — the largest single loss of American life until the events of 9/11.

The Peoples Temple was a large cult that was founded by Jim Jones in Indiana in 1955. Eventually, Jones decided to relocate his headquarters to a remote community in Guyana in 1974. A few years after the commune was formed, the American government sent Congressman Leo Ryan to investigate reports of coercion and illegal activities, where he was shot by Temple security guards as he was attempting to leave.

Fearing retribution, Jones ordered his followers to commit suicide. At least 900 people living on the commune died that day.

Nancy Wong / Own Work
Nancy Wong / Own Work