Every week HISTORY presents “Join or Die with Craig Ferguson” and a panel of various esteemed guests, historians and most likely a comedian or two, to pit the greatest and sometimes worst characters in history against each other to see who is the king of their particular domain. This week: HISTORY’S CRAZIEST CULT.
This week Craig was joined by Stephen Prothero, Tymberlee Hill and Jack Black as they examined the ins and outs of cults. Not religions, like Scientology. No, not Scientology at all, because this week they’re discussing cults.
So what is a cult? Well usually it’s a group that promises you a wonderful afterlife, but not always, as Stephen Prothero so delicately puts it:
NASA may not be (although they definitely seemed all powerful in that movie The Martian), but let’s see who the competitors are this week:
The House of YahwehThe HOY began in Odessa, Texas by a man named Buffalo Bill (not the one from Silence of the Lambs, but equally terrifying), which is fitting as he’s swung and missed on more “end-times” predictions than the Buffalo Bills have on Super Bowls.
The Cosmic People of Light PowersAccording to Wikipedia the C.P.O.L.P are considered to be the most distinctive UFO religion in the Czech Republic. Which is like saying Donald Trump is the most distinctive orange candidate running for the Republican nomination.
The MooniesThe Moonies are the nickname for the Unification Church of the United States, which was founded by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon. The cult is probably most famous for their mass wedding in Madison Square Garden, which was immediately followed by a Billy Joel concert.
The RajneesheesThe Worshipers of the Indian mystic Rajneesh, the Rajneeshees formed an Oregon commune and tried to take political power of their small town and murder innocent Americans by poisoning some salads. Which, in Oregon, is like poisoning the water.
The BrethrenThe Brethren go by many names, but the most surprising is the Garbage Eaters, after their reputation for eating food out of garbage bins. You’ve probably seen them dressed up as hipsters in Williamsburg.
The People's Temple of JonestownJim Jones staged a massive mass suicide of his followers by using poisoned Kool Aid. The only people who survived were those who didn’t like the grape flavor he provided and were waiting to see if there was also going to be lemon lime.
A murderer’s row. Literally. Let’s see what the panelists have to say.
When it comes to narrowing down a field this crazy we need to look at all of the factors. And sometimes recruiting methods play a huge factor, especially in this Web 2.0 day.
Honestly a lot of the cults here don’t sound THAT out of the ordinary. Sometimes you hear what they’re preaching and you could very easily be describing a tech giant from Silicon Valley. Like Steve Jobs. Could he be a cult leader?
And as we continue to narrow down the competition we always need to take a look at the motives. Are these crazy cults? Or just great business practices? What about the leader of the House of Yahweh?
With all of these insane cults, who is the craziest. The audience voted and…
Of course it was Jonestown! The entire audience really drank the kool aid.
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Illustrations By Pat Barrett