5 Finest Cult Documentaries You Can Stream Proper Now

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Cult documentaries are kinda my factor.

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I used to be two years outdated when 909 followers of Peoples Temple dedicated mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. I don’t bear in mind the information protection, though I do recall the shadow of that tragedy haunting my ‘80s childhood with routine discuss of poisoned Kool-Assist and a much-too-early consciousness of suicide.

In highschool, I watched dwell protection of the siege of the Department Davidians compound by federal authorities in Waco, Texas, which culminated in a horrific fireplace that killed 75 followers, together with 25 kids, and the charismatic chief, David Koresh.

It wasn’t till I used to be 42 that I’d expertise false guru ideology in my very own life within the yoga world.

I’ve at all times been inquisitive about why individuals hand over a lot energy and management to a frontrunner who claims to have all of the solutions. And so a contented night, for me, is curling up with my canine and cult documentaries or docuseries that discover false yoga gurus and different “non secular leaders,” the individuals who imagine them, and the way reality actually is stranger than fiction.

5 finest cult documentaries to observe now

1. The Deep Finish

Sure, ladies could be cult leaders, too. Directed by Australian-Indian filmmaker Jon Kasbe, The Deep Finish is a four-part docuseries profiling YouTube guru Teal Swan. The sequence takes you deep inside Swann’s tight inside circle of sycophants, spilling a lot of tea alongside the best way.

Swan is a millennial non secular chief for the web age with greater than 1.3 million subscribers and 650,000 Instagram followers The creator of a number of books on private improvement, Swan is neither a licensed therapist nor a school graduate, however she’s well-known for doing deep remedy classes with severely depressed, even suicidal, individuals in entrance of a dwell viewers of paying prospects. The episodes discover the suicide of one among her followers.

Swan has asserted that she is half-alien and was the sufferer of satanic ritual abuse when she was six years outdated. Swan’s therapist, Barbara Snow, helped her get well the alleged recollections of abuse. Snow was a central determine in a number of high-profile satanic ritual abuse circumstances within the late ‘80s. Sadly, the sequence doesn’t delve too deeply into the roots of Swan’s “recovered” recollections.

Swan doesn’t come off trying harmless on this sequence. As an alternative, she’s portrayed as a power-hungry narcissist who can do no flawed within the eyes of those that imagine. She has stated some problematic issues about suicide, calling it a “reset” and a bridge to reincarnation. Swan and a number of other followers have asserted that the modifying on this sequence is deceptive, creating misrepresented timelines and modifying collectively disparate footage to create a false narrative, which has been partially corroborated by witnesses.

The reality is difficult. Watch with a skeptical thoughts.

The Deep Finish is presently streaming on Hulu.

2. True Believers

This sequence covers a number of weird cults and organizations in fast-paced, one-hour episodes. I targeted on the primary episode, “Empire of Yoga,” which is concerning the low-key, not-quite-a-cult Kundalini Yoga indoctrination taught by Yogi Bhajan.

Yogi Bhajan got here to the USA in 1969 throughout the heyday of celeb Indian gurus, together with Swami Satchinanda Saraswati (“The Woodstock Guru”) and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (“The Beatles’ Guru”). Primarily based in Los Angeles, Bhajan began educating hippies and different seekers who have been disillusioned with psychedelic medicine a singular kind of yoga that, it was stated, might get you naturally excessive.

What occurs subsequent is typical fallen guru conduct: There’s monetary abuse of followers, brainwashing within the type of altering followers’ names and the best way they gown, and sleep deprivation (forcing them to get up each morning at 4 a.m. for 2 and a half hours of meditation). This culminates in quite a few allegations of sexual abuse of followers, together with kids.

“The Empire of Yoga” gives a succinct overview of the primary points, however there’s a lot that continues to be to be explored. Yogi Bhajan had been useless for 18 years earlier than this doc was made, so it’s nearly unimaginable to show what he did or didn’t do or to carry the suitable individuals accountable. This episode options some long-time devotees who don’t imagine the allegations of abuse.

Different episodes in True Believers characteristic the aforementioned Teal Swan, One Style, and the Fashionable Thriller College.

True Believers is presently streaming on Vice TV with a cable subscription.

3. Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults

The four-episode docuseries Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults dives deep into what’s arguably one of many weirdest cults of the final century. It was led by a clinically depressed opera singer named Marshall Applewhite, referred to as Do, and his former nurse, Bonnie Nettles, Ti. The cult combined UFOs, aliens, and new-age spirituality with the E book of Revelation to type a faith that promised eternal life to its followers by remodeling them into immortal extraterrestrials. Yeah. Wild.

In contrast to the sexual coercion and abuse that goes on in loads of high-profile cults, Ti and Do imagined a sexless, genderless alien inhabitants, and deeply discouraged sensuality of any variety.

Sound acquainted? Heaven’s Gate was the inspiration for an episode of The Simpsons, aptly referred to as “The Pleasure of Sect,” which aired roughly a yr after the members of the Heaven’s Gate Cult dedicated mass suicide in a San Diego mansion in 1997. Within the episode, Simpson joins a cult referred to as “The Movementarians” whose chief guarantees followers a journey in a spaceship to the planet Blisstonia in the event that they transfer to a compound and serve him.

The docuseries consists of interviews with members who left the cult, together with one who nonetheless believes within the teachings of Ti and Do and others who have been devoted to Heaven’s Gate for many years, a few of whom gave up their kids to take part in it. `

Heaven’s Gate is presently streaming on HBO Max.

4. Maintain Candy: Pray and Obey

Polygamy has not been inspired by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for greater than a century. Nonetheless, some fundamentalists nonetheless ascribe to the faith’s early teachings, particularly, {that a} man can solely be exalted to heaven if he has a number of wives. The 2022 documentary sequence Maintain Candy: Pray and Obey focuses on a Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) group in Brief Creek, Utah, led by Warren Jeffs.

Below Jeff’s management, ladies have been skilled to be obedient wives from delivery, conduct that was believed to be their true path to salvation, and so they have been married off as quickly as legally allowed or, because the documentary reveals, generally earlier than then. On the time of Jeffs’ arrest for rape in 2007, he had 78 wives, 24 of whom have been beneath the age of 18. He’s presently serving a life sentence in jail.

This four-part miniseries illustrates the grooming of younger women, brainwashing of followers, and absence of out of doors affect that led to rape and alleged incest, pedophilia, and monetary abuse on this still-active group that numbers round 10,000.

Maintain Candy is presently streaming on Netflix.

5. Wild Wild Nation

An Indian guru named Bagwan Shree Rajnesh had a plan: Construct a self-sustaining, unbiased commune on empty ranch land in north central Oregon. What he was capable of create out of nothing in simply three years is astonishing: a mall, police drive, public transportation system, and housing for 7,000.

In that point, the cult additionally made headlines for the chief’s weird crimes, starting from the most important marriage immigration fraud case in American historical past to a bioterror assault on a neighboring city.

A part of what makes Wild Wild Nation, the six-part docuseries about Rajnesh, so charming is that the narrative is supported by archival footage shot by the Rajneeshpurim group and clips of the in depth nationwide and native information protection of the cult.

What you see is an all-out struggle between an Oregon hippie commune full of immigrants and different “undesirables” led by Rasjnesh, recognized at present as Osho, and its neighboring far-right Christian ranching city. My solely grievance is the documentary lacks particulars about on a regular basis life on the commune and the objectives of the group.

Wild Wild Nation is presently streaming on Netflix.

There’s no scarcity of further cult documentaries and docuseries you’ll be able to discover, together with The Supply Household, The Vow, Jonestown: The Life and Dying of Peoples Temple, and Kumare.

About our contributor

Jennifer Davis-Flynn is a author and yoga trainer based mostly in Boulder, Colorado. Observe her on Instagram @jennifurious.  



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