How Cult Leaders Use Sex To Control Their Sects


If you want to control someone, aim straight between their legs. Sure, other methods of vampirizing the human soul can be effective—things such as threats, autosuggestion, peer pressure, isolation, financial exploitation, and strict control of one’s space and time—but nothing cuts deeper than sex. Trifling concepts such as “individuality” and “social identity” are nothing more than learned behaviors that are easily broken down and rebuilt with a handful of psychological magic tricks.

But sex reaches all the way to the core of one’s being, right down to the last scraggly DNA strand. There’s a good reason why covert-intelligence operations focus so strongly on sexual blackmail. Of your deepest secrets, how many are sexual? All of them? Most of them, no doubt. The genetic dead-ends who swing fists and claw at eyeballs on Jerry Springer would never get so worked-up over God or country, but they lose all control over sex. It’s hard to imagine anything more intrusive than dictating what someone does with their genitals. When a person hands over their sex drive to you, there’s no need to worry about their car keys and bank account. They’re already yours.

Be honest: Neither you nor I know why we’re here. Having never spoken with God, I’m immediately suspicious of anyone who claims they have. Religion, as I see it, has typically existed primarily as a social-control mechanism designed to sublimate the libido. Most religions promise you something after death, because, truly, what could be better in the here-and-now than sex? It is nigh impossible to find a religion that is silent on sexual matters.

Most people search desperately for life’s meaning because it terrifies them to think that it has none. They need answers. They need direction. Many people—the howling majority—want to be told how to think and act. They wouldn’t have it any other way. Most people wouldn’t know how to be individuals if they were the last person on Earth. Fleeing from the black, hollow void which they fear life ultimately is, they’ll eagerly swallow the nearest cosmic sucking candy peddled by the most transparently fraudulent con man in the brightest clown suit on the block.

The distinction between a “cult” and a “religion” is purely semantic. It’s like comparing a minor-league baseball team to one in the majors. Perhaps this is the major distinction: Cults tend to be led by charismatic megalomaniacal sociopaths who are still alive, while religions were founded by charismatic megalomaniacal sociopaths who died a long time ago.

Sex is merely one wrench in the cult leader’s toolbox, but it is the most important one. The game lies in altering the follower’s sexuality until it is no longer their own. It can head either way from the 50-yard line, as the examples below will demonstrate: You can either amplify their sex drive or curtail it, but it’s important not to leave it untouched. It’s either wild promiscuity or stern celibacy, either absolute repression or full-bore hedonism. From the voluntary castration of Heaven’s Gate to the Children of God’s eager encouragement of pedophilic incest, sex is used to demolish personal identity in favor of the hive mentality. What follows are synopses of ten cult leaders and how they cannibalized their followers’ libidinal energy.

Name: Marshall Heriff Applewhite

Cult: Heaven’s Gate

Teachings: The human body is merely a “vehicle” in which genderless alien souls reside. Salvation can only be attained by becoming “more than human” and returning home to outer space. The Martian-looking Applewhite described his group as “the cult of cults” and claimed that his soul had inhabited Jesus’s body two millennia ago. Hoping they’d be beamed up onto a spaceship Applewhite claimed was trailing the Hale-Bopp comet, he and 38 followers committed mass suicide in 1997.

On sex: A self-loathing gay man, Applewhite enforced an eerie asexual celibacy among his followers, dictating that they dress in loose, genital-obscuring clothing with buzz-cut hairdos. Observers who’d seen cult members while alive commented that they all seemed unnaturally pale and would recoil when touched. Police who discovered the Heaven’s Gate corpses initially assumed that all victims were male. To their surprise, there were actually more females than males among the dead. To their further surprise, they discovered that at least a half-dozen of the dead males, including Applewhite, had willingly undergone castration. A Heaven’s Gate member who missed out on the mass suicide would later observe that the castrati “couldn’t stop smiling and giggling” while they were undergoing their de-balling process.

Name: Dwight York

Cult: United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors

Teachings: York, an ex-con who at various times has referred to himself as “Melchisedek” and “Chief Black Eagle,” has claimed to be 76 trillion years old and said he arrived on Earth in a spaceship appropriately called SHAM. He teaches a swirling, ever-changing mishmash of Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, cryptozoology, UFO mythology, and bald-faced Afrocentric racism. He has said that whites’ pale skin is due to leprosy and that Satan can use a mother’s afterbirth to clone children.

On sex: York allegedly told his son and daughter—two children of an estimated 100-plus bambinos he’d sired—that a relative had molested him as a child and that he’d been raped as a young man in jail. That son and daughter, as well as at least a dozen other Nuwaubians, accused him of rampant sex abuse of underage cult members, leading to a 2004 criminal conviction and a sentence of 135 years. Although York dictated when, how—and even if—his cult’s adult members could have sex, he roared with impunity through the young’uns, allegedly engaging in all manner of sex acts with both male and female children, some reputedly as young as five. Children were shown pornography and, in at least one case, filmed naked. A Pink Panther doll with faux male genitals sewn on was sometimes used during “instructional” sessions. York told his prey that having sex with him would help them get to heaven. He often rewarded them with candy and trinkets after he achieved physical release. “He told me not to be scared, that it’s going to hurt a little,” one of York’s female victims testified, “but it hurt a whole damn lot.”

Name: Jim Jones

Cult: The People’s Temple

Teachings: What began as a humble part-time monkey salesman and anti-racist Christian preacher with a giant penis ballooned into a full-time self-proclaimed incarnation of Jesus, Buddha, and Lenin who led nearly a thousand followers to their deaths with a giant penis.

On sex: Jones was busted in 1973 for lewd conduct after approaching a male undercover officer in an LA movie-theater bathroom with his giant communist penis exposed and fully erect. Thereafter, he declared himself “the only true heterosexual” and spent much of his time forcing his male constituents to admit they were all homos. He would fuck them in the ass to prove that they, rather than he, were homosexual. He’d expose his giant anti-racist penis and make them blow him to prove he had absolutely no interest in relating to men sexually. On at least one occasion, he had sex with a man in front of his congregation just to erase any doubts whether he was 100% hetero. He went so far as forcing his followers to sign confessions that they were homosexuals. Jones bragged that he once had sex with fourteen women and—even though he wasn’t a homosexual—a couple men on the same day.

His studliness was legendary. According to a female follower whose marriage was split up by Jones’s massive prong, physical intimacy with Jim was “the fulfillment of every sexual fantasy you could have.” He encouraged Temple women to openly mock their husbands’ skills at les arts d’amour. He forced Temple members to engage in humiliating live sex acts, such as cunnilingus on a menstruating woman, in front of the assembled throng of adults and children. And then he persuaded everyone to kill themselves.

Name: David Koresh

Cult: Branch Davidians

Teachings: A bloody car crash of psycho Christian eschatology with mullet-headed heavy-metal muscle-car douchebag aesthetics epitomized in Koresh’s rumination about the fact that King Solomon allegedly had a thousand wives: “Just imagine Solomon taking his wives down to McDonald’s. How much would that have cost him?” Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell) claimed to be the Lamb from the Book of Revelation who’d lead his followers to Jerusalem, where he’d be crucified because all the other dudes would get jealous at the amount of pussy he snagged. The Branch Davidians never made it to the Promised Land, although most of them burned to death in Waco as a booby prize.

On sex: In 1989, Koresh revealed his “New Light” doctrine, annulling all marriages within his compound and claiming dibs on all the women. His “spiritual wives” ranged in age from ten to sixty-eight. He called himself “the ultimate sex machine” and assured his concubines that “There’s only one hard-on in this whole universe that really loves you.” Toward the end, men and women were kept separate except during Koresh’s interminable lectures. Openly taunting the demoralized male followers whom he’d rendered celibate eunuchs, he claimed an estimated nineteen wives and fathered at least ten children, most of who fried to a crisp during the infamous 1993 government siege.

Name: Charles Manson

Cult: The Manson Family, aka The Love And Terror Cult

Teachings: Charlie is Jesus. And he’s the Devil. And the blacks are gonna rise up and kill all the honkies except Charlie and his followers, because they’ll be snug as a bug down a hole in Death Valley. And when the blacks prove incapable of self-government, Charlie ‘n’ friends will crawl up out of the hole and rule the world.

On Sex: By nearly all accounts, Charlie was an awesome lay who could cum seven times a day and keep it hard for hours. He told his female initiates that he was “the god of fuck” and made them call him daddy. He orchestrated live orgies—many of them reputedly filmed—involving ritual animal sacrifice, blood-slurping, and mock Charlie-crucifixions. He frequently threatened to slice off his female followers’ boobs. He bent the girls’ libidos to the point where they were said to fellate dogs as well as their own infants. Toward the end, they’d say “Amen, Amen” whenever he’d speak. He also was reportedly so charming that he convinced them to stab Hollywood socialites to death and write things on the wall using the victims’ blood.

Name: Sun Myung Moon

Cult: Unification Church

Teachings: Eve’s sin was to fuck Satan and pass the bad mojo onto Adam and all their descendants…except Moon and his wife, who are humanity’s “True Parents.” The Korean-born Moon, apparently not understanding the plural form in English, has declared both himself and his wife “the Savior, the Lord of the Second Advent, [and] the Messiah.” If you wanna get to heaven, you gotta go through them. Sorry, but that’s just how it is.

On sex: The vagina “is like the open mouth of a snake filled with poison.” The penis “is like the head of a snake.” Homosexuals are “dirty dung-eating dogs.” Back in the 1950s, Moon reputedly touted a ritual called “blood separation” in which the Good Reverend graciously purified females’ innately sinful vaginas by sticking his penis in them. After—and only after—Moon cleansed a vagina was it suitable for procreation. These days, even though he’s one-half of the Messiah, it’s nigh impossible to purify all the vaginas that need cleansing, so he holds inconceivably large mass weddings (450,000 couples at one shot in the year 2000) and enjoins them to follow, without faltering, a hilariously elaborate marital sex ritual. During the “Holy Wine Ceremony,” couples purportedly drink a severely diluted concoction containing trace elements of Moon’s actual blood (said to be two drops per hundred gallons). They must ceremonially beat each others’ asses three times with a stick. Their first series of couplings must take place in front of a photo of Moon and his wife. Their post-coital fluids from the initial encounter—during which “insertion must be accomplished”—have to be wiped onto a pair of “Holy Handkerchiefs” and stored for safekeeping without ever being laundered.

Name: Moses David

Cult: Children of God, aka The Family International

Teachings: Christianity and sex intertwined. Jesus with a boner. “We have a sexy God and a sexy religion with a very sexy leader with an extremely sexy young following,” Moses David (born David Berg) wrote in one of his skazillion letters to his followers, “so if you don’t like sex, you better get out while you can.” After Moses David croaked in 1994, his former lover Karen Zerby, aka “Mama Maria,” took over and encouraged followers of both sexes to fantasize about sex with Christ: “Jesus, I want to feel your penis inside of me and go all the way,” she wrote in one of her devotionals, “And then I want to suck it until it falls off.”

On sex: All sex is good, even if you’re a twenty-month-old male infant and an adult woman is blowing you—this very act was glowingly described in The Story of Davidito, a 762-page book the cult published to commemorate the very active sex life of young Ricky Rodriguez. Li’l Ricky was Karen Zerby’s son (she also reportedly fucked him when he was twelve) and had actively been groomed to take over the cult upon Moses David’s death.

In the seventies, Mo’ D. preached a doctrine called “Flirty Fishing,” in which his young, nubile “Hookers for Jesus” were sent out to entice male converts with sex. According to cult estimates, nearly a quarter-million men were “fished” in this manner.

The cult hit some speed bumps, though, when two of Moses’s daughters and a pair of his frickin’ granddaughters—among others—publicly accused him of childhood sexual abuse. It endured further embarrassment in 2005 when full-grown Messiah-to-be Ricky Rodriguez, after vowing revenge on the “child molesters” who’d raised him, stabbed a female cultist to death before shooting himself in the head.

Name: Raël

Cult: Raëlian Movement

Teachings: In 1973, a French racecar driver named Claude Vorhilon reputedly spotted a flying saucer over a volcano in France. A small bearded alien exited the craft and gave him the rundown: Noah’s ark was a spaceship; Jesus used laser beams to perform miracles; aliens genetically engineered the human race; the soul dies when the body dies; and immortality can only be achieved through cloning. Vorhilon left the volcano’s edge rechristened “Raël” and scored a LOT of pussy as a result. He even claims to have made it with a half-dozen interracial robots simultaneously.

On sex: They’re totally for it. Raëlians promise “perpetual orgasms through cloning,” teach classes in “sensual meditation,” and hold a two-week annual nudist hootenanny at Raël’s “UFOland” compound near Montreal. Critics gripe that Raël’s female “Order of Angels,” a highly attractive bevy o’ birds by cult standards, entice lonely Trekkie dorks into joining the cult and emptying their wallets. “I didn’t like all the opening of genitals or all the focusing on the anus,” whined one ex-member. “He destroyed my life and our children’s lives,” says Raël’s former wife of fifteen years. “He wouldn’t stop having sex even if I walked into the room….Over the years I began to think the whole Raëlian movement was a trick to have more sex.”

Name: Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh

Cult: Osho-Rajneesh Movement

Teachings: A vague purée of world religions with a decidedly non-Hindu emphasis on materialism (at his peak, he owned 93 Rolls-Royces) and the idea that orgasms could lead to enlightenment. Rajneesh was purportedly addicted to laughing gas and was said to send his followers “gifts” of his toenail clippings. He claimed to have “fallen in love” with Hitler and said that “Jesus was a crackpot.” He also said that “Even if you kill someone consciously…no one is murdered and no one killed.”

On sex: Although Rajneesh called himself “the world’s greatest lover” and said that he’d enjoyed sex “with more women than any other man in history,” most of his ex-lovers claimed he was a two-minute man who’d fondle his followers’ breasts in order to “feel their chakras.” In one lecture he condoned parents having sex with their kids, and at his Oregon compound he reportedly permitted middle-aged men to fuck pre-pube girls. His pro-sex teachings, at odds with traditional Indian mores, were thought by many to be a calculated attempt to woo Westerners. He discouraged familial bonding and forced some devotees to sterilize themselves. Ex-members have claimed that rapes, beatings, and STDs were common at Rajneesh’s ashrams. In 1984, his Oregon followers poured bacteria on the food at ten local restaurants, poisoning 751 citizens in an attempt to steer a county election. In separate cases, his followers were convicted of conspiring to kill a lawyer and Rajneesh’s personal doctor.

Name: Sai Baba

Cult: Sathya Sai Baba Movement

Teachings: Only five feet tall and with a full-blown Afro, he preaches a simplistic message of love and community service. He also performs several cheesy sleight-of-hand “materialization” tricks that he calls miracles, fooling enough rubes in his native India that he is said to have 30 million followers who believe he is God incarnate.

On sex: Rumors that Sai Baba diddles boys and young men have persisted since the early 1970s, when former follower Tal Brooke published a book called Lord of the Air. While relating the testimonials of several alleged victims, all of them male, Brooke claimed that Baba also molested him: “[His] hand unzipped my fly with the facile smoothness of turning a doorknob and went into my pants as though it knew the location of each stitch of cloth.” Swedish film star Conny Larson also wrote an anti-Baba book called Behind the Mask of the Clown that featured this passage: “I let myself be swept along by Baba’s massage of my penis, which slowly stiffened from the accelerating motion….Baba showed his delight when the sperm spurted out.” An Indian doctor who admitted to repeated consensual sex with Sai Baba claimed he confronted the guru after examining a seven-year-old boy who complained that the holy man had penetrated his hole. “Don’t bargain with God!” was Baba’s purported response. A 2000 online document called The Findings contains accounts of at least twenty alleged victims of similar abuse. Among those who’ve claimed that Sai Baba molested them, three have committed suicide. Some of his followers have said that it’s possible he massages boys’ genitals, but only to awaken their “kundalini energy,” although there are no accounts of Sai Baba ever awakening any females’ kundalini.