Sunday Cult Watch

cult – n. A particular form or system of religious worship; esp. in reference to its external rites and ceremonies. -Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. 1989

Here’s a brief look at what’s going on with various cults and cult leaders around the world in the last week or two.

Warren Jeffs and the Mormon cult (U.S.)

Jeffs is (or at least was) the leader of a sect within the Mormon cult, which approves of child rape and polygamy. It turns out [1] that he actually married off his 15 year old daughter to a 34 year old man (the son of his “chief deputy” of the sect within a cult). “[P]ictures, diaries and a marriage record” recently obtained by the Houston Chronicle show that authorities are still pursuing additional charges against Jeffs -as well they should. The majority of the Mormon cult, it should be noted, doesn’t embrace polygamy and rape.

Previously, the daughter’s attorney refused to testify [2], asserting attorney-client privilege, regarding the case. Both of the above sources report that Theresa Jeffs, the daughter of Warren Jeffs, wanted a new attorney because of conflicts, but the first reports that the attorney was looking for a restraining order against “Willie Jessop,” who she charged was intimidating the girl as a witness. I couldn’t find any confirmation, but it seems reasonable to conclude that “Willie Jessop” is the son of William E. Jessop, and a long-time patriarch of the cult. So this may very well be the “husband.” If so, he’s a true nutjob if the Austin television station, KXAN, has the scorecard right [3]. Apparently, “Willie the Thug” has a “passion for violence, weapons, and explosives” and was banned from Jeff’s court proceedings because of witness intimidation.

Jeffs has maintained throughout that he never married his underage daughter off to an adult to be raped, so the new documents that have come to light are new evidence which shows not only that he did but that this isn’t just a one-off within the cult -the trail of documents implicates many and creates a situation where people were complicit and knowledgeable of these crimes.

So how’s Jeffs taking it all? He was transported to the hospital a couple of weeks ago, around the time this information was coming to light, after being found in his cell convulsing and running a fever. He was released a few days later. Jeffs has attempted suicide in the past [4] and I’d be willing to bet he poisoned himself somehow.

Demonic Possession within a Christian Cult of Pentecosts  (Australia)

The Mercy Ministries has closed two of it’s facilities in Australia due to financial problems [5], but it’s Queensland facility remains open for the business of “treating” mental illness and dysfunctions through “prayer” and “exorcism.” One of the ministries’ victims recounts through the source cited above a desire to get help for her anxiety disorder and panic attacks. She was attracted to the Mercy Ministries because they advertised “free treatment” for her disorders but:

[...] she quickly became disheartened after “free” meant signing over her Centrelink payments to the group and “treatment” didn’t include proper access to doctors, psychologists and social workers.

“The ‘counsellor’ I had was not qualified to treat mental illness… nobody there was. She was in the middle of a mercy ‘in-house program’ to teach her how to prayer counsel,” says Smith.

“I spent months there and the only ‘therapy’ I had was prayer readings and an exorcism.”

Colonia Dignidad Leader Jailed for Torturing Children (Chile)

What do you get when you mix a former corporal in Adolf Hitler’s army with religion and give him a “sealed off complex” and a bunch of kids? You don’t want to know the answer [6]. Paul Schaefer was sentenced to 3 years and 1 day for torturing children in Chile. Apparently, he gave 8 kids psychotropic drugs and electroshock therapy from 1970 to 1980 at a religious commune he started in the 1960s. From this commune he led a group of followers and preached “rigid morality” while physically and sexually abusing children in the “sealed off complex.”

Cult on Cult Action – Raelians vs. Catholics (Australia)

A group of gay Raelians attacked the Pope and the Catholic church last week. If you have the same sense of humor I have, then your first thought might have been like mine: picturing a “queer-eye for the Catholic-guy” makeover on the Pope and a local church. It seems as that might have been tame compared to what really happened. They demonstrated outside the Parliament house for equal recognition for their own cult and their cult leader, Rael [7]. Spokeswoman Eden Bates said she was insulted that “our gorgeous, fantastic spiritual leader Rael wasn’t even given the respect of a visa. I’m not Catholic, I’m Raelian and I’d like to see police escorts for our beautiful profit when he comes to Australia.” When asked the difference between the two cults, Bates said:

“We are an international, non-profit organisaton that understands that we have been created by an advanced civilisation that came to this planet 25,000 years ago and created everything that we are and everything we see around us.”

What the Raelians believe is that humanity was created specially just a few thousand years ago instead of evolving gradually over millions of years and that some god-like deities took a special interest in us. All without a shred of physical evidence? In other words, there’s no difference between Raelians and Catholics. They’re both batshit. At least Raelians don’t think a cracker will turn into the body of a dead guy in your mouth like some sort of perverted candy that transsubstantiates in your mouth, not in your hands.

Hey Kool-Aid! It’s Jesus-Fucking-Christ! (Houston, TX)

Jose Luis de Jesus Miranda is a former heroin addict and now claims to be Jesus Christ [8]. No shit. And it almost isn’t comical when your realize that he has a following of thousands in over 300 “learning centers” worldwide. His followers donate millions of dollars to him each year; the guy wears Rolex watches and designer suits and has other Christian cults hopping mad! Christian cults like Methodists, Episcopalians, Mormons and Catholics would be mad enough just having someone claim to be their god on Earth in the Second Coming, but apparently his followers also go to other religious events and wreak havoc. There’s apparently no love or tolerance being taught -quite the opposite: Miranda teaches that the other cults are wrong (you think?) and that his is the “true” cult (right.), so it’s okay to disrupt and destroy them as enemies.

Doomsday Cult Leader in Court (Russia)

Pyotr Kuznetsov didn’t follow his followers into the bunker they built for the coming apocalypse. Instead, he took their money and assets instead. Meanwhile, the cult members were all tucked unsafely in a bunker built underground in a ravine, threatening mass suicide if authorities dared disturb them. They eventually emerged, among them four children, after snow melt began flooding the bunker. Their already disturbed leader was jailed and spent time in a psychiatric asylum until his trial begins at the psychiatric hospital. Two women died in the bunker, exact causes unknown [9].

God and Guns – The Baptist Cult (Oklahoma, USA)

The Windsor Hills Baptist Church canceled its plans to giveaway a semi-automatic AR-15 assault rifle to a “lucky” teenager [10]. In case you’re wondering, it wasn’t because the church realized it mightn’t be morally sound or a reasoned giveaway item for a teen when compared with an iPod or even a laptop computer as a means to drum up attendance among teens. Apparently, the reason was that one of the event organizers could’t attend, so the church plans to give the gun away next year instead. To a teenager.

To quote a nut from this cult: “[we are] putting a weapon in the hand of somebody that doesn’t respect it who are then going to go out and kill.” One is left to wonder how it is that this guy professes to know the mind of a teenager well enough to award said teen with a weapon designed to do nothing other than kill other people in the most economical and efficient means possible. If the church couldn’t afford an iPod or a laptop, and really MUST stick to a firearm since it hosts an annual shooting competition, aren’t there some very good sporting models made by Remington they could have chose?


That’s the Sunday Cult news for this week. I’m thinking of making this a weekly series, so if you have any comments, suggestions or ideas, comment here or email me at ylooshi AT gmail DOT com.

Sources and References

1. Langford, Terri (2008, Jul 19). Documents could play role in criminal probe of FLDS sect. Houston Chronicle. Found online at:

2. Adams, Brooke (2008, Jun 27). Attorney for Jeffs’ daughter refuses to talk. Salt Lake Tribune. Found online at:

3. (2008, Jun 23). Letter on FLDS persons of interest. Austin News Found online at:

4. AP News (2008, Jul 11). Warren Jeffs found Convulsing in Jail Cell, Transferred to Hospital. AP News Wire via Found online at:,2933,380762,00.html

5. Brunero, Tim (2008, Jul 18). How to Cure Anorexia with Exorcisms. Live News. Found online at:

6. AAP (2008, Jul 12). Commune Head Sentenced for Child Torture. AAP News Wire via Sydney Morning Herald. Found online at:

7. Hildebrand, Joe (2008, Jul 9). Glamour Lesbians Attack Pope and Catholic Church. The Daily Telegraph. Found online at:,22049,23994345-5006009,00.html

8. Peters, Kevin (2008, Jul 14). Man who says he’s Jebus spreads controversial message in Houston. Texas Cable News. Found online at:

9. RT (2008, Jul 15). Doomsday Cult Leader Stands Trial. Russia Today. Found online at:

10. UPI (2008). Church cancels semi-automatic assault rifle giveaway. KFI-AM640. Found online at:

About Ylooshi

An anthropologist who is an atheist. My blog at concerns itself with breaking the spells of superstition and religious belief through examining human superstitions and religions scientifically and rationally. Breaking Spells, the blog, also focuses on atheist and secular concerns such as the separation of church and state as well as the negative influences of Islamo-Judeo-Christian religious cults on society.
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