What to Know About Heaven’s Gate Cult Chief Marshall Applewhite

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HBO Max has gone Full Cult with its current docuseries Heaven’s Gate, which follows the titular notorious spiritual cult (the “cult of cults”) by means of its portentous 24-year historical past. Based in California in 1974 by Marshall Applewhite (“Do,” additionally “Bo”) and Bonnie Nettles (“Ti,” additionally “Beep”), the motion attracted a whole bunch of followers at its peak, till its “commencement” in March 1997, when Applewhite and 38 different members consumed applesauce laced with sedatives, put baggage over their heads, and died in one of many largest mass suicides in American historical past. The members believed they have been touring to an extraterrestrial spacecraft.

For the docuseries, HBO carried out a number of interviews with former Heaven’s Gate members in addition to sociologists and psychologists. The sequence raises the identical query begged by most cult histories: why the heck did individuals truly be part of?

The Heaven’s Gate query, nonetheless, appears to be particularly head scratching; maybe what makes Heaven’s Gate the “cult of cults” was how so many may overlook its seemingly-obvious absurdity. What we’re left with, as a substitute, is the baffling persuasiveness of a transcendental UFO-based faith which one way or the other attracted a few of America’s brightest minds and satisfied them to destroy themselves en masse.

Whereas it’s tempting to chalk the entire fiasco as much as a ’70s drug haze (or ’90s web rabbit holes), the cult lasted nearly three principally lucid a long time; it was not merely a remnant of hippie hysteria nor a response to on-line conspiracies.

For a lot of of its members, the explanations for becoming a member of and remaining within the cult have been merely one: Do/Bo/Marshall Applewhite.

However what was so convincing about this founder? And why did so many comply with him to the grave?

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