6 Weirdest Cults in the World

  • Are the big religions just too mainstream for you? Here are some cults you could join that (probably) won’t make you sacrifice goats or anything.

Cults are a staple of horror movies, and it’s not too rare to see some horrendously twisted cult make headlines in reality, either. But not every cult is a brainwashing, abusive secret society – some of them are just plain bizarre in their beliefs.

Here, we’ll take a look at some of the strangest cults in the world, past and present. We’ll try to avoid the most horrible doomsday groups and cannibalistic weirdoes, and stick to the “mostly harmless” category.

The Cargo Cults

We actually covered these cults in our recent story about the Prince Philip Movement. But since that was what inspired this list, we’ll mention them again just for good measure.

The cargo cults are found around the world, but are particularly common on some South Pacific islands. The local tribes following these faiths worship Western military technology and soldiers as either deities or their emissaries.

Some have constructed life-size replicas of military cargo planes, while some stage imitations of flag raising ceremonies and military parades. The cults got their beginnings during World War 2 when Allied and Japanese forces used the natives’ islands as naval bases.

The foreign troop brought with them technology and foods the natives couldn’t have ever even imagined. After they left, they started imitating the soldiers’ routines in hopes that the cargo planes and ships would return, together with the relatively immense wealth they brought with them.

Ho No Hana Sanpogyo

The Japanese cult of Ho No Hana Sanpogyo was founded in 1987 by millionaire Hogen Fukunaga. Fukunaga – who claimed to be the reincarnation of both Jesus Christ and Buddha – supposedly has a unique divine gift.

Namely, he says he’s able to diagnose a plethora of illnesses, ailments, and curses by examining a person’s feet, toes, and soles. According to his theories, a person with short toes, for example, is prone to temperamental outbursts, while someone with fat toes is destined for wealth and fortune.

To get their feet analyzed, the cult members would pay Fukunaga up to $1,000. And for a good reason – he claimed that without proper spiritual treatment, the cult members might die.

But eventually the jig was up, and members sued Fukunaga for fraud. He was sentenced to pay enormous sums in reparations and went to jail for 12 years.

We’re going to guess that this guy REALLY likes Quentin Tarantino movies…


Photo by Manuel García Melgar. Used under the CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

It sounds like scientology, but this cult is – believe it or not – even more bizarre. Originating in Russia, the members of this cult venerate a peculiar deity: the female cartoon mouse Gadget Hackwrench from Chip ‘N Dale Rescue Rangers.

It’s a bit unclear whether Gadgetology is a parody of established religion or an actual cult, but it’s weird nonetheless. The adherents have constructed altars and written sacred texts and religious hymns with a single goal – bringing their cartoon god to life through sheer force of faith.

There have even been splits in their dogma. The Gadgetology movement is divided into three separate variants, those being Traditional Gadgetology, Progressive Gadgetology, and – as the most ominous strain – Apocalyptic Gadgetology.

Are these just a bunch friends having a laugh or is this a case of fandom gone way, way too far? You decide, we really can’t tell.


Did you know that all life was created when aliens carried out biological experiments on Earth some 25,000 years ago? Well, now you do, and since you’ve been blessed with this knowledge, you might as well become a Raëlian.

These aliens – known as the Elohim – supposedly revealed themselves to French motorsports journalist Claude Vorilhon in 1973. He assumed the name Raël and has grown the movement over the years to some 100,000 adherents.

As far as cults go, Raëlism is pretty harmless and mostly just weird. They believe strongly in sexual meditation, although they do emphasize consent and excommunicate anyone found guilty of any abusive sexual practices.

Oh, and they claimed to have successfully cloned a human being in 2002. When journalists asked if they could see the clone, the cult responded with a firm: “No.”

Make of that what you will.

Chen Tao

It’s not exactly clear whether Chen Tao – Chinese for True Way – still exists. The cult was founded by Hon-Ming Chen, and was an eclectic mixture of Buddhism, Taoism, and UFO beliefs.

Chen preached to his followers that out solar system was 4.5 trillion years old – about 300 times older than the entire Universe according to current theories. It was also created as a result of an alien nuclear war.

Each of us also has three separate souls, claimed Chen. He also stated that God had saved humanity on five separate occasions when he descended to Earth on a flying saucer.

It was all going well for the cult, until Chen prophesied that God himself would appear on a U.S. TV channel on March 31, 1998, at 12:01 a.m. Clearly nobody told God about the appointment since he failed to show up.

After that, the cult kind of fell apart. Even when Chen offered to be crucified to make amends, nobody seemed interested anymore.

The Brethren

The Brethren movement is also known as the Garbage Eaters. We’ll get to that in a minute.

The cult is the brainchild of one Jim Roberts, who founded it as an offshoot of the Jesus-Hippie scene in the ‘70s. This could’ve gone down a dark path – the Manson Family was born in the same circumstances.

Luckily, Roberts wasn’t out for blood. All he asked from his followers was to give up everything.

Houses, cars, personal possessions, even clothes, it all had to go. Roberts insisted his followers lead homeless lives, discouraged bathing, and encouraged them to eat trash and discarded food.

So yeah, that’s where the nickname came from. According to the best of our knowledge, the group is still active today.