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CULTS

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THE PEOPLES' TEMPLE

"In 1978, 913 followers of Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple committed mass suicide in northern Guyana at a site called Jonestown. The charismatic leader of Jonestown was Jim Jones, a preacher who set up the Peoples Temple in San Francisco and ultimately moved his followers to a more clandestine site in Guyana. While Jones was preaching in San Francisco, he helped out many local and even national campaigns and was seen as a healer which much power in the community. However, once he had all of his members in Jonestown, his personality changed. Away from the constraints of American soil, Jonestown and its members became very cultish. Jones heightened regulations on his followers and their engagement to the sect...Paranoia and complete control became Jones' personality, once he obtained such a close knit group. Jones began to stage rehearsals of the mass suicide plan that he would eventually enact. These drills, called "white nights," began with sirens going off in the middle of the night and none of the members of Jonestown would know if it was real or not. "A mass meeting would ensue... we would be told that the jungle was swarming with mercenaries... we were given a small glass of red liquid to drink. We were told that the liquid contained poison and that we would die within 45 minutes. We all did as we were told."(Galanter, 1989) (excerpt from "Jonestown: Examining the People's Temple" - see link below.)

Jim Jones was in the habit of recording his sermons for posterity, even during these "White Night" drills. It was in keeping with this that the tape was rolling, even as Jones oversaw the actual, mass suicide of his followers. Invariably, these tapes found their way into circulation, and have been released commercially several times. The picture disc above was the first such release, and is both the most elaborate and best known packaging of these recordings.

Says Jordi Valls, who released the album through the WSNS ("World Satanic Network System") label, "I got the tapes through (performance / recording artist) Monte Cazzaza in California, and Genesis P.Orridge (of the bands Throbbing Gristle and Psychick TV) in London. It's the live recordings of the last moments of life while they are drinking poison and dying at the Peoples Temple in Jonestown, Guyana. 912 men, women and children died. It's a picture-disc with graphic photos of dead bodies from the massacre. For sure, this is the greatest rock and roll record ever made.."

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Front and Back Album Art from a pre-Jonestown album by Peoples Temple Choir

"23 Questions to Jordi Valls"

"Jonestown: Examining the People's Temple"

Wikipedia Entry on Jonestown

THE CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT

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SOUNDS OF AMERICAN DOOMSDAY CULTS VOL. 14 (Faithways International) is an audio document of the Church Universal and Triumphant, a new-agey religious cult which became the object of scrutiny when the ATF discovered massive weapons caches in the group's Montana compound.

"...investigators found a 1989 case in Montana in which members of a 'doomsday religious cult' had stockpiled many weapons, including several fifty caliber weapons. The cult is called the 'Church Universal and Triumphant' (C.U.T.), and its leader is Elizabeth Clare Prophet. The cult was in the process of building underground bunkers to prepare for the end of the world. This investigation began because Ms. Prophet's husband and another cult member used birth certificates of deceased individuals to obtain driver's licenses so they could purchase and stockpile weapons.

"In an ATF crackdown, agents found that the cult members had illegally acquired hundreds of weapons and thousands of rounds of ammunition. Among this stockpile were ten semi-automatic fifty caliber weapons purchased with the false identifications. The cult members were convicted of illegally purchasing firearms...Ms. Prophet continues to lead the cult and was not charged in connection with these offenses. " (excerpt from apologeticsindex.org - see link below)

Encyclopedia Britannica article on CUT

apologeticsindex.org article on CUT

The Official Summit Lighthose site: Elizabeth Claire Prophet's ministry with video

FBI Freedom of Information Act page on CUT

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THE LYMAN FAMILY

MEL LYMAN was the talented banjo and harmonica player for the Jim Kweskin Jug Band during the early 1960's. His harmonica style, a haunting, upper-register wail, was one of the most distinctive instrumental voices of the early folk movement, and showed Lyman to be one of the few folkies of his day truly in touch with the disquieting, back country creepyness of the American Folk tradition.

Lyman left the Kweskin Jug Band in 1964 and, by 1966, had gathered aound him a cult of young counter-culture types and folkies. Through his own charisma, a healthy dose of spiritualistic gobbledygook and the targeted plying of his flock with massive doses of LSD and other mind altering drugs, Lyman was able to convince his followers that he was God, come to Earth from another world in a scenario alarmingly close to Superman's origin in the comic books.

The cult of 30 or 40 artists and musicians bought three old houses in the impoverished Fort Hill section of Roxbury, in Boston. They settled in there, began publishing a free magazine concerning Lyman's divinity and, allegedly, grew to include perhaps 150 devotees.

Newcomers to the Lyman "Family" compound were almost immediately subjected to intense "acid therapy" and indoctrination into the Family ideology. No one was permitted to leave, and contact with the outside world was strictly controlled. Mel's appointed "Karma Squad" kept watch over everyone, using physical intimidation and violence to ensure that everyone was exhibiting the "feelings" Lyman wanted them to feel. Intimidation tactics were often used on non-cultists, such as fellow members of the Boston alternative press community, as well as the printers and publishers of the group's free magazine, "Avatar." On one occasion, a Lyman Family member was arrested for assault after beating a mechanic who failed to fix Mel Lyman's bus.

In 1971, Rolling Stone ran a two part series detailing allegations of abuse within the Lyman Family compound, as well as numerous incidents of the cult strong-arming or attacking Bostonians outside the Family. In August, 1973, three members of the Lyman Family, including actor and "Zabriskie Point" star Mark Frechette, attempted to rob a branch of the New England Merchant's National Bank. One of them, a 22-year-old called "Hercules," was killed by police and the rest were imprisoned.

In reaction to all of this negative publicity, the Family withdrew behind a veil of secrecy so guarded that, when Mel Lyman died sometime in the late 1970's, no one outside the group is really sure when or under what circumstances. Those who will even admit that he is dead say that he died in 1978 after some undisclosed illness. Some will only say that Mel is "orbiting the Earth," and has been interviewed several times via ouija board.

"The Lyman Family's Holy Siege of America" - Rolling Stone 1971

An Illustated Mel Lyman Discography

Steve Trussel's exhaustive online Mel Lyman archive, complete with articles by and about Lyman, excerpts from "Avatar" magazine and excerpts from Lyman's two books, AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A WORLD SAVIOR and MIRROR AT THE END OF THE ROAD.

MANSON

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CHARLES MANSON was a singer-songwriter who peddled his songs all over LA during the late sixties, even while he and his followers, the "Manson Family," were gearing up for the infamous "Tate-La Bianca Murders," in which the cult mutilated eight people in their own homes.

The "Manson Family" was a revolving door cadre of hippies, runaways and dropouts that had orbited around the ex-con Manson since the early days of the 1967 Summer of Love. Most of them were female, and convinced, to varying degrees, that Charles Manson was a religious figure of great cosmic importance. Some even believed him to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. The thirtysomething Charlie manipulated his younger flock with hippie mumbo jumbo, music and massive quantities of LSD and other drugs. The girls would steal for him, prostitute themselves for him, and use their sexuality to Manson's advantage. It was two of the girls who, for example, seduced Beach Boy Dennis Wilson, who had picked them up hitchhiking, then soothed him into moving much of the cult into his home, where they lived for nearly a year.

Not that Dennis took all that much soothing. He was immediately intrigued by Charlie's magnetic personality, bottomless well of drugs and bevy of willing, young females. Like a lot of LA scenesters who had heard Charlie sing his songs, including Neil Young and Phil Kaufman (future road manager for Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris,) Dennis Wilson thought Manson was a talented performer and songwriter. In the spring of 1968, Dennis persuaded his friend and producer, Terry Melcher, to haul his equipment out to the Family's main headquarters at the Spahn Movie Ranch to record Charlie and the Family. These tapes would eventually come to light as the album, LIE, which was released in 1970 to capitalize on Manson's celebrity status as defendant in the "Trial of the Century."

Before the murders, Wilson and Melcher both waxed enthusiastic about Manson's music, but did little to actively promote his career. Neither Wilson nor Melcher were satisfied with the recordings Melcher had made. Nor were they overly fond of the scant fruits of an abortive session at Brian Wilson's famed home studio. They were also at a loss as to how Manson and his music were to be marketed. Although he was Dennis' friend, Manson struck practically everyone else as an oddball. He and his omnipresent gang of followers exuded a pathological hostility to the world outside their close-knit "family." They droned on incessantly about submission, violence and the impending war they were convinced would wipe out the white race. How were Wilson and Melcher to sell THAT to a mass audience who was still getting used to the Jefferson Airplane?

Charlie became frustrated and turned his increasingly violent cult rhetoric on Melcher and Wilson. The two tried to distance themselves from him. Melcher declined to offer the recording contract Charlie felt he was due, and Wilson quietly moved out of the house he shared with the Family, leaving it for the landlord to evict Manson and company when the lease was up. There was also bad blood between Manson and Wilson over the Beach Boys' song, "Never Learn How Not to Love" (the B-side of the "Friends" single in 1968, this song also appears on 1969's 20/20 album.) The song, credited to Dennis Wilson, is a barely disguised re-working of Manson's song, "Cease to Exist" (from the album, LIE.) Although Manson was initially flattered by Wilson's appropriation of his work ("I'm the only ex-con with a record on the charts," he told his parole officer) Charlie was dismayed that the lyrics had been changed, and became bitter when he realized he would not be paid for the song. "How are you going to get to the establishment?" Manson asked a friend. "You can't sing to them. I tried that, I tried to save them, but they wouldn't listen. Now we've got to destroy them."

Charlie had long prepared his followers for "Helter Skelter," his vision of impending apocalypse, based on the idea that the Bible prophesizes that the Christian world will end in a war between blacks and whites. Charlie told his Family that the day was coming when black nationalists would carry out murderous raids into rich white suburbs, killing families and writing on the walls of houses with blood. All the wealthy and all the famous people in the world would burn, while Manson and his Family would steal away to the safety of Death Valley, only to emerge after the war as kings and queens of the new age.

Expelled by his celebrity friends, the musical career he felt they had promised him dead in the water, his song stolen, Manson was in the mood for Helter Skelter. The world needed to be purged, he told his flock; purged of rich, white pigs like Terry Melcher and Brian Wilson. If the race war wasn't coming as soon it should, Charlie explained, it was only because blacks were too stupid to start their own war without white people showing them how. Thus, it fell on Manson's followers, the enlightened and elect, to start Helter Skelter themselves through acts of symbolic murder.

During the Manson Family's stay with Dennis Wilson, Terry Melcher and his girlfriend, Candice Bergen, lived in a posh house at 10050 Cielo Drive in Los Angeles. When they moved out of town, the house was rented to film director Roman Polansky, who moved himself and his pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, into the home.

On the night of April 9, 1969, Manson directed four Family members to slip into the Cielo Drive house (an easy task, as they had been there before and knew the layout) and slaughtered the pregnant Sharon Tate, along with three family friends. The killers mutilated their victims with long knives, writing Beatles lyrics on the walls in blood. They had already killed a fifth person, a guest of the home's groundskeeper, on their way towards the house.

Manson knew when he sent his followers to Cielo Drive that Melcher no longer lived there, since he had gone to the house looking for the producer and had been told, possibly by Sharon Tate herself, that Terry had moved out of town. The attack on the house was a symbolic strike, meant to intimidate the producer . "Charlie picked that house to instill fear into Terry Melcher," killer Susan Atkins would later tell prosecutors at Manson's trial. "Terry had given us his word on a few things and never came through with them." Melcher must have gotten the message; Vincent Bugliosi described him as the most genuinely terrified witness he interviewed during the trials of Manson and his followers. Melcher hired a bodyguard, and even sought psychiatric care to deal with his fear of the Manson Family.

Charlie's war continued the next night, when Manson ordered a similar attack on a home on Waverly Drive in Los Angeles. The same four killers crept into 3301 Waverly and butchered grocer Leno La Bianca and his wife Rosemary. Perhaps the group meant to attack a house down the street, 3267 Waverly, where Manson had attended parties with his one-time friend Phil Kaufman, another music industry insider who had incurred Charlie's ire when he failed to get Manson a recording contract. Kaufman thought so, telling an interviewer, "Manson had the La Biancas killed when he was looking for Harold (True, the resident of 3267 Waverly) and me. I had previously fallen out with Charlie over his music and he was after me."

Manson and his followers were tried and sentenced to death. They sat on death row until 1972, when the California Supreme Court declared that the state death penalty violated the California constitution. Manson was re-assigned to the general prison population, and his recording career, which has been nowhere before the murders, began in earnest , fueled by interest in Manson's bloodstained noteriety.

Since the 1970 release of LIE (originally issued on ESP records to help pay Manson's legal fees,) Charlie has released several albums from prison. These discs consist of lo-fi recordings of Manson accompanying himself on guitar, singing songs he has written in prison. Recently, however, professionally produced recordings from the Summer of Love have re-surfaced, under the title THE PSYCHEDELIC SOUL OF CHARLES MANSON. The FAMILY JAMS album features recordings of non-incarcerated Family members singing their guru's songs.

"Charles Manson - A Musical Motive?"

News Telegraph obituary for Terry Melcher

Movie Grooves' page on LIE (see also Movie Grooves page for "THE FAMILY JAMS album.)

UP WITH PEOPLE

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You just KNEW these guys would turn up on a page like this! Anyone who watched a lot of television in the 1970's and 80's will remember UP WITH PEOPLE!, the disturbingly happy horde of singing, dancing youngsters who converged like an invading army of clean-living visigoths on the hockey rinks and sports areas of America. They seemed like nice enough kids, but you didn';t usually see smiles that blank on anyone who wasn't handing out literature at the airport and you could almost smell the kool-aide on their breath through the TV.

It turns out that Up With People!, billed as a secular organization with implied ties to Christianity, was an outgrowth of Moral Re-Armament (MRA,) a religious sect founded by evangelist Frank Buchman during the 1920's.

Buchman started the Oxford Group as a campus organization concerned with the proliferation of Christian values and a program of flawless personal integrity. If people were to change the world, Buchman argued, they must first change themselves by upholding the "Four Absolutes:" honesty, purity, unselfishness, and love.

The Oxford Group became Moral Re-Armament in 1938. Its new name was a play on the then-hot topic of Europe's post-WWI military re-armament, and suggested that the real solution to the growing threat of war in Europe was spiritual, rather than martial.

The group sold itself as a religious consortium for world peace, but Buchman's own emphasis never strayed far from issues of sexuality. Converts were questioned relentlessly by Buchman regarding sex and masturbation, and were encouraged to share intimate details of their sexuality with Buchman and others at MRA meetings. In 1924, while MRA was still the Oxford Group, Buchman and his ministry had been banned from Princeton University when the administration found Buchman's preoccupation with the sex lives of undergraduates to be unsavory.

Buchman also had a big problem with homosexuals, and devoted much of his ministry to the rooting out of homosexual "impurity." One tract tells followers how to identify homosexuals by the shoes they wear:

"There are many who wear suede shoes who are not homosexual, but in Europe and America the majority of homosexuals do. They favor green as a color in clothes and decorations. Men are given to an excessive display and use of the handkerchief."

Already controversial, the MRA hit a major public relations snag when Buchman appeared in a 1936 issue of TIME magazine, seeming to gush over Adolph Hitler. "I thank God for a man like Adolph Hitler," he said. "Through such a man, God could control a nation overnight and solve every last, bewildering problem." The MRA fell into public disfavor soon after these remarks, and Buchman faded into the background, quietly assuming a bizarre career as a faith-based labor mediator during the 1940's

Up With People evolved from an earlier MRA group, Sing Out!, which was founded in 1965. Sing Out! was an extension of the informal, musical "house parties" of the early Oxford Group. Sing Out! became Up With People!, as a direct challenge to the "Down With Establishment" attitude of the hippie counterculture. Up With People! became officially independent of the MRA in 1968, but its songs and message continued to come straight from MRA literature until its demise over thirty years later.

Young people paid a large tuition ($9,200 by 1990,) to participate in the group, which numbered around two hundred performers and was split into various splinter groups which toured different parts of the world, dancing and singing sings rooted in 70's granola positivism and the dogma of MRA. In keeping with Buchman's philosophy, boys and girls were not allowed to sit together on tour buses, due to "purity concerns." Boys were discouraged from taking warm showers, lest they become "aroused and engage in self abuse."

Both actress, Glenn Close and Amnesty International USA Executive Director William F. Schulz have been affiliated, early in their lives, with MRA, with Close serving time as an Up With People! performer.

"The Oxford Group Movement"

Wikipedia article on MRA

YAHOWHA 13 AND THE SOURCE

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The Source is a religious group based around the life and teachings of Jim Baker, a Korean War hero who, during the late 1960's, adopted the name, Father Yod, and opened a health food restaurant in Southern California. The young people who operated the restaurant with him formed the nucleus of his communal flock.
Many of Yod's followers were musicians, and the Source family recorded numerous albums throughout the early seventies, under such names as Yahowha 13, Yodship, and the Savage Sons of Yahowha. These albums were ceremonial jams; deeply psychedelic ritual music that served an important function in the spiritual life of the Source. As such, they are vital artifacts of their era, of man's eternal quest for spiritual transcendence, and of music as life-art.

Click here for an informative, illustrated discography

Gary Bearman's Ya Ho Wha 13 Interview. An essential oral history of The Source

Yahowha.org - the official site of The Source