Tuesday, December 13
Cult of Personality
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians
He promises he will lead the faithful until the End Times. But the end, for his followers, comes sooner than expected. He is David Koresh, the so-called Sinful Messiah Of Waco, Texas. He will prepare his followers for a battle with the federal government, but also sleep with whoever he chooses, including pre-teen girls. It is the early 90s, when this man with rock star good looks and charisma rises to the top of a religious sect, one that is already preparing for the end of the world. By the time the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms show up to investigate claims of illegal arms sales, his followers are fully prepared to make a last stand. Whether that means fighting a gun battle, holding out in a siege or starting a blazing inferno, Koresh’s followers will stay true to the last. But what kind of person inspires this kind of fanatical devotion? In this episode, we trace the rise and fall of David Koresh, speaking to law enforcement professionals who were there at the time, an expert on cults and deprogramming, and one of the few survivors, Australian Graeme Craddock. Over a quarter century later, the tragic events that took place on a ranch a few miles out of Waco, spawned endless conspiracy theories, and even motivated the Oklahoma City bomber, Timothy McVeigh. One thing for certain, is that David Koresh, the Sinful Messiah, casts a long shadow until this very day.
Cult of Personality
Reverend Moon and the Moonies
They are told that they are on a mission to save humanity. But in reality, they are just building a multi-million empire for their Messiah. He is Sun Myung Moon, the all powerful Reverend of the Unification Church. At the RFK Stadium in Washington, DC, over 28.000 couples are about to get married. This massive ceremony is presided over by Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his wife. These couples are members of Moon's Unification Church. The vast majority of them never dated their future spouse, many seeing each other for the first time right at the ceremony. They were matched by Reverend Moon himself, but they are willing to accept their messiah's choice regarding the person they are going to share the rest of their lives with. This is the pinnacle of their longtime dedication to the Unification Church, which included handling all their possessions and sacrificing many of their liberties for the movement. Calling themselves Moonies, they are convinced that they are on a divine mission to change the World and unite mankind under one single faith. They become active fundraisers for their cause. But in reality they are helping Sun Myung Moon to finance his multi-million enterprises. Who was this man that they allowed to control their existence? In this episode, the first hand experiences of ex-Moonies K. Gordon Neufeld, Yolande Brener, Lisa Kohn and Mary Jo Downey, with the analysis of cult specialist Rick Ross tells us about the other side of Reverend Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church, serving as a warning for many susceptible people to the dangers of joining deceiveful movements.
Tuesday, December 20
Cult of Personality
He told his people that they would live in an idyllic paradise. But in the end they would meet their demise in a true Hell on Earth. His name is Jim Jones, the charismatic but tyrannical preacher that led his followers into the remote commune of Jonestown, Guyana. During the late 1960s, the United States is a country divided in a cultural war where a younger generation rebels against conservative values, calling for the end of the War in Vietnam and racial segregation, while promoting free love and a more egalitarian society. Jim Jones, a young and charismatic preacher will embrace this struggle by founding a Christian commune based on socialism and multicultural principles, rapidly establishing branches all over California. Its members are willing to sacrifice their money, time and liberties for the cause. The Temple's growth as well as its social work policies, bring Jones notoriety as a civil rights activist and to be involved in local politics. But there is a dark side in this preacher's personality, who manipulates his followers and increasingly abuses them verbally, physically and even sexually. An investigation has Jim Jones moving to Jonestown, an isolated commune in the Guyanese Jungle, convincing 1000 members to follow him into this new promised land. But as soon as they arrive, they understand that reality is beyond their leader's promises and that his declining mental state has him ruling the commune with an iron fist. When US congressman Leo Ryan demands to visit Jonestown along with a group of concerned relatives of Jones' followers, he ends up being murdered by the Temple's henchmen. A few hours later, after manipulating more than 900 of his people to commit a revolutionary mass murder-suicide, Jim Jones would shoot himself. In this episode, the unique testimonials of Jonestown survivors Yulanda Williams, Vernon Gosney and Leslie Wilson, complemented with the extensive research of award winning author and journalist Julia Scheeres, tells us the life and death of Jim Jones and the deadly legacy of Jonestown that still haunts us until today.
Cult of Personality
Many true believers are willing to die for their leader. Yet his followers were prepared to kill. Charles Manson, an ex- con man turned guru of an hippie commune isolated in the Californian desert. On August 9th 1969, America woke up in shock with the news of the murder of English actress Sharon Tate, who was 8 months pregnant from her husband Polish director Roman Polansky. In the gruesome crime scene, authorities would find the bodies of 4 other victims and the word „Pig“ written on the door with Tate's own blood. In the following morning, not far from Tate's home in Los Angeles, the bodies of the LaBianca couple are found slaughthered and with the same creepy writtings written on the walls. Some months latter, Susan Atkins confesses she and other members of a hippie commune living in ranch isolated in the Calirfornia desert committed the murders. She claimed that they followed the instructions of their leader Charles Manson, who ordered them to trigger a race war. What kind of man would lead these youngsters to commit such atrocities? In this episode, we tell the story behind the small but deadly cult of Charles Manson, as told by former members Dianne “Snake” Lake and Catherine “Gipsy” Share, as well as AESOP, a musician and filmmaker who followed the Manson family in its final years, complemented by the expertise of cult Specialist Rick Ross and author Deborah Herman. Charles Manson remains as one of the most iconic villains from the last century, drawing as much repulsion as admiration untill today.