Thousands of religious, political and self-improvement cults are active around the world, and an estimated 2 to 5 million Americans have been involved in a cult at some point. Not all cults are destructive, but members’ unwavering faith in an absolute leader and an intense devotion to a cause often lay the groundwork for criminal acts to take place—even murder and mass suicides.
• The Manson Family Hippie devotees turn violent to manifest God’s race war
• The Peoples Temple Hundreds of utopia seekers meet their end in the Guyanese jungle by ingesting a cyanide-laced drink
• The Vampire Clan Teenagers consume blood and bludgeon an unsuspecting Florida couple to death
• Heaven’s Gate Nike-adorned disciples commit suicide to transport onto a spaceship approaching
• Earth Silvia Meraz Moreno’s Santa Muerte Cult Members collect sacrificial blood by slicing open victims’ veins while their hearts are still beating