The Waco Tribune Herald concluded its nine-part series today with an article entitled, “Prophesying about Waco.”

The newspaper was seemingly taking a swing at foretelling the future, but not in any biblical sense. The article focused on the future of Waco, in an effort to burnish the image of the Texas town.

Baylor University is spending more than a $100 million dollars to expand its presence in Waco and some civic leaders hope that President George W. Bush might decide to build his presidential library there.

The series explored the town and its mood more than it delved into the facts about the Branch Davidians, at times it read like a brochure put out by the Waco Chamber of Commerce.

Ten years ago things were quite different.

Waco Tribune reporters Darlene McCormick and Mark Englund, who are no longer on staff at the newspaper, dug deep to produce an in-depth investigative series titled “The Sinful Messiah.”

If not for politics the two journalists might have picked up a Pulitzer.

That was then, and this is now.

Hard reporting seems to be the last thing anyone wants in Waco these days. What the Texas town is intent upon, is distancing itself from the cult led by David Koresh.

One civic booster even went so far as to point out that the cult standoff “happened outside of Waco.” And then offered these prophetic words, “I think we’ve got about as bright a future as we ever had.”


A Baylor professor chimed in, “Time has a wonderful way of curing things…My guess is that as time passes, the name ‘Waco’ – so indelibly marked in the minds of most Americans for a time [regarding the cult standoff] – will begin to fade.”

Well, Baylor certainly hopes so.

But the Waco Davidian tragedy was the second longest standoff in American history. And it is highly unlikely that it will “fade” anytime soon, despite the “prophesying.”

In fact it seems like some folks in Waco would rather ignore history altogether.

The paper appeared anxious not to anger anti-government conspiracy types. In a seeming bow to the fringe it reported a fire of “much-debated origin” ended the lives of the Davidians.

However, this ignores the facts as established by two congressional inquiries, an independent investigation and the verdict of both judge and jury in a civil trial.

The overwhelming evidence has conclusively proven that Koresh ordered the fire set.

In the final paragraphs of the recent Tribune series Baylor sociologist Larry Lyon offered his evaluation of the standoff’s enduring legacy.

He claimed, “It no longer means religious fanaticism. Now it’s a place where the government overreached.”

Perhaps this thinking is popular in Waco, essentially blaming the tragedy on outsiders. But the professor must be in an academic isolation tank.

Maybe he thinks the mass suicide at Jonestown was also the government’s fault, for not requiring that all Kool-Aide packages state, “Do not mix with cyanide.”

Kerri Jewell was only a child a decade ago, but her memory is more deeply etched that the professor’s. This is because she once lived in the cult compound.

Jewell said in a recent interview, “At some point we were going to have to die for him [David Koresh]. I didn’t expect to live past 12.”

Due to a bitter custody fight Kerri Jewell was not in the compound at the time of the standoff. Her mother was and she died in the fire.

ABC reported Davidian kids were taught “there were only two types of people: ‘good’ people who were inside the cult, and ‘bad’ people who were everyone else.”

Some Davidians still around Waco make it clear they feel the same. One told the Tribune there was still hope for the town though.

Clive Doyle said, “I believe God wants to save Waco, and I believe God works every day to change the minds of the people in Waco.”


Another Davidian put it less tactfully, “When David [Koresh] comes back, there’s going to be an earthquake so bad that Lake Waco, the shore, is going to drop 15 feet. When it does that, there’s going to be a flood here like you never seen.”

Now there’s some old time “prophesying.”

Waco will continue to be largely remembered as the place where a destructive cult chose to end its days.

And contrary to what Lyon concludes, Waco and other cult tragedies since, have proven the government rather than worrying about “overreaching,” often must take decisive action.

In 1995 Aum gassed Tokyo’s subways, sending thousands to hospitals and killing twelve. Next came the Solar Temple suicide in Switzerland, which initially claimed the lives of 74.

Americans were shocked in 1997 when 39 “Heaven’s Gate” cult members committed mass-suicide near San Diego. And the government had no interest in the group.

Criminal arrests and prosecutions in recent years, reflect law enforcement’s growing reach into the world of groups called “cults.”

A few examples include the Nuwaubians and House of Prayer in Georgia, the Church of God Restoration in Canada and California, the R.G. Stair’s Overcomers Ministry in North Carolina, the General Assembly Church of the First Born in Colorado and Polygamist groups in Utah and Arizona.

Since anti-government extremist Timothy McVeigh bombed the federal building in Oklahoma City murdering 168, with “Remember Waco” as his battle cry, the FBI has busted and put away many so-called “militia” members for weapons violations.

It is doubtful that Koresh would be able to stockpile illegal weapons today as easily as he did in 1992-93.

The FBI has learned to identify and deal with fanatics more effectively. The Freeman standoff in Montana, which ended peacefully, proved this.

But the Freemen were not the Davidians, with a leader comparable to Koresh. It is doubtful that the Waco standoff could have ended any way, other than the one chosen by the cult leader.

In the final analysis this is the greatest lesson of Waco.

Destructive cult leaders are often psychopaths capable of horrific acts. Cult followers frequently abdicate any meaningful autonomy in favor of total dependence upon their leaders. And they then rely upon the judgement of someone else that may be mad.

This can be a formula for disaster. Waco is proof of that.

Another “cult apologist” has surfaced through the news coverage of Elizabeth Smart.

Nancy Ammerman of the Hartford Institute for Religious Research previously has spoken about the Branch Davidians.

In 1993 Ammerman claimed within a published report that the FBI was negligent because they didn’t listen to her fellow apologists James Tabor and Phillip Arnold. Both men have been recommended as “religious resources” by the Church of Scientology, which has often been called a “cult.”

Ammerman’s work regarding the Davidian standoff was lauded by Scientology through a full-page article within its own “Freedom Magazine.” And she has admitted that “various political and lobbying groups” influenced her view of that cult tragedy.

The professor’s report about the FBI was later included in a book titled “Armageddon in Waco,” which also contains the work of scholars historically associated with and/or supported by groups called “cults.”

Ammerman observed that “If [Elizabeth Smart] was a devout religious person, and [her captor] wanted to play on those religious sentiments, it’s plausible, just plausible, that she could have understood this to be some sort of religious experience,” reports the Palm Beach Post.

Is a violent kidnapping, rape and imprisonment now somehow to be categorized within the realm of “religious experience”?

Here it seems Ammerman is avoiding the “B” word (“brainwashing“), in an attempt to offer some sort of alternative “religious” explanation.

But isn’t there a more obvious and plausible understanding, which is more consistent with the established facts?

Elizabeth was initially isolated for months. This began when the 14-year-old girl was first held in a boarded up hole at a relatively remote campsite. This is not unlike what happened to cult kidnap victim Patty Hearst in 1974, when she was first confined within a closet by the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Elizabeth like Hearst was brutally raped, terrorized and effectively cut off from the outside world. This made Mitchell’s process of coercive persuasion not only possible, but also enabled its eventual success. Mitchell then simply solidified his undue influence.

Elizabeth became “Augustine.” And though she had numerous opportunities to escape and/or identify herself to authorities, she did not do so. Instead, for months “Augustine” passively followed her captors, Mitchell and/or Barzee.

Her actions cannot simply be explained away by her “religious experience,” or written off as just the effects of trauma and the “Stockholm Syndrome.”

Ammerman also said, “I suppose he also could have played off of a child’s desire to be obedient to an adult.”

This is a common sense observation almost anyone might make about adult authority.

But attempting to explain Mitchell’s undue influence over the child by linking it to her religious background sounds a bit like “victim bashing.”

Such a conclusion seemingly supposes that if Elizabeth and/or her family were not Mormons, Mitchell an excommunicated Mormon, might not have been so successful.

However, Mitchell’s bizarre religious “Manifesto,” an odd hodge-podge of beliefs taken from many sources, has little meaningful similarity to the Mormon Church Elizabeth attended.

Mitchell may have claimed to be a “prophet,” but Elizabeth must have known through her religious training, that the only prophets accepted by Mormons are those that are acknowledged by their church.

Accordingly, despite Mitchell’s claims, only the current church president could be seen by Elizabeth as a living prophet today.

In actuality Elizabeth’s “religious experience” can be seen more readily as an obstacle for Mitchell to overcome, rather than a common premise or bond that empowered him.

Again, Patty Hearst like Elizabeth Smart had no apparent common bond with her captors. Hearst was not a campus radical and/or left wing political activist. And the Hearst family were conservative and Republican.

But Patricia Hearst nevertheless, due to the process she was subjected to through her confinement, isolation and treatment, succumbed to her captors and became “Tania,” a revolutionary Marxist.

A cursory review of other cult victims in groups like Jim Jones’ Peoples Temple, Solar Temple, Aum of Japan and “Heaven’s Gate,” demonstrates a diversity of backgrounds and frequently that personal histories are not in harmony with the cult’s beliefs.

Any attempt to simplistically categorize cult victims seems more like denial than serious examination.

Such claims as, their common “religious” background and/or religious devotion, made the victim vulnerable, appears to surmise that this somehow can’t be done effectively or as easily to secular or less devout people.

And let’s not forget that Elizabeth was abducted not recruited.

Research indicates that almost anyone may succumb to the extreme environmental control and pressures imposed by someone like Mitchell, and almost certainly a 14-year-old child held prisoner.

Perhaps rather than engaging in specious and/or simplistic explanations, Ammerman should have explored the unique circumstances, but common characteristics that define destructive cult indoctrination, often described as “thought reform.”

A cult doesn’t require a large following and some are very small.

“Heaven’s Gate” had less than fifty members, when its leader Marshall Applewhite told his followers to commit suicide.

Some cults are a family unit, such as the women and children led by Winifred Wright, recently prosecuted and sentenced to prison after the death of a child.

All a cult actually requires is a leader and at least one follower.

This seems to describe Brian Mitchell and Wanda Barzee, the duo that kidnapped and held Elizabeth Smart for nine months.

Within a 27 page manifesto now made public, Mitchell speaks as “the voice of God” and then explains his singular status as “God’s chosen prophet,” reports the Salt Lake City Tribune.

The transient’s writings are not original, but rather an idiosyncratic, eclectic mix of the bible, Book of Mormon and plagiarized excerpts from other sources pieced together arbitrarily.

What is telling though is the importance Mitchell places upon himself. He is the central character and defining element of his manifesto.

This is consistent with what noted psychiatrist and cult observer Robert Jay Lifton describes within his paper titled “Cult Formation.

Lifton lists three essential ingredients for the formation of a destructive cult.

The first is “a charismatic leader who increasingly becomes an object of worship as the general principles that may have originally sustained the group lose their power.”

Mitchell’s limited charisma only netted him one follower, until he kidnapped Elizabeth Smart.

Like other cult leaders such as Jim Jones and David Koresh, Mitchell’s manifesto reflects a man who sees himself as “chosen” and everyone else as wrong and/or evil.

He warns, “Repent, God says, and deliverance will come; and ‘for this cause I have raised up my servant Immanuel David Isaiah [Brian Mitchell], even my righteous right hand, to be a light and covenant to my people…'”

Barzee was “brainwashed” into embracing this worldview according to her children. And it appears that Elizabeth Smart was similarly influenced.

Lifton says this is the second component necessary to create a cult, an observable process he calls coercive persuasion or thought reform.”

Apparently, the abduction of Elizabeth was tied to a plan regarding plural wives.

Mitchell’s manifesto states, “Thou shalt take into thy heart and home seven times seven sisters, to love and to care for.” Elizabeth was to be “the jubilee of them all, first and last,” reports the Desert News.

Like other cult leaders Mitchell was obsessed with his proclaimed role and seemed to believe that the end justified the means.

According to Barzee the 14-year-old girl was part of a “prophetic” revelation. A woman that visited her in jail said, “God told them to take Elizabeth. They were doing what God asked them to do,” reports the New York Times.

It seems for some time the strange street preacher that once wandered about Salt Lake City was seen by residents as a harmless eccentric.

Benign “cults” typically don’t draw much concern.

However, Mitchell and Barzee moved from bizarre and benign to criminally destructive.

Evidence of “economic, sexual, and other exploitation of group members by the leader” is the final factor cited by Lifton to determine a destructive cult.

The troubled couple certainly had the right to believe anything, but that right never included the freedom to do whatever they wished in the name of their beliefs.

Mitchell and Barzee are now where they both belong, behind bars. Perhaps the “chosen prophet” should have foreseen such an end.

Catherine Wessinger, a religious studies professor that has been called a “cult apologist,” offers her analysis of another so-called “new religious movement.”

This time it’s David Koresh’s Branch Davidians.

It seems Wessinger can be depended upon for an apology no matter how bizarre and/or destructive the cult.

Today in the Waco Tribune-Herald’s second installment of its nine part series about the Branch Davidians she once again offers her unique spin on a cult’s demise.

What does Wessinger make out of the Davidian cult tragedy?

Well, she says it was largely about “the militarization of law enforcement and the problems … and abuse that arise from such militarization.”


Apparently this college professor doesn’t wish to acknowledge the implications of a purported “psychopath” leading a cult group.

Wessinger admits, “I’m not trained in psychology so I don’t articulate those opinions…I’m sure he [Koresh] had some psychological issues.”

What an understatement.

Wessinger offers her usual apologetic spin. She has previously attempted to explain away cult tragedies such as Heaven’s Gate and Jonestown.

Wessinger once said, “If Jones and his community had succeeded in creating their Promised Land, they would still be here. But due to the attacks and investigations they endured, they opted for the Gnostic view that devalued this world.”

Again, no meaningful blame is placed upon the deeply disturbed cult leader and the inherent destructive dynamics of his control over the group.

Apparently almost any cult and/or cult leader’s behavior may be largely excused according to Wessinger’s reasoning under the general heading of “persecution.”

The professor’s new book is titled “Millennialism, Persecution and Violence: Historical Cases (Religion and Politics).”

Wessinger’s conclusions about the Branch Davidians within this context come as no surprise.

The supposed scholar says, “Koresh would have emerged from the compound peacefully, as promised, once he completed his work inside interpreting the Seven Seals in the Book of Revelation. To have come out earlier, she says, “might have compromised Koresh’s need to conform to strict biblical prophecy.”

Obviously such a conclusion strains credulity and ignores the facts.

Koresh broke the law, failed to comply with a warrant, murdered federal officers and then refused to surrender for 51 days, despite the repeated pleas and guarantees of law enforcement. In the end he chose instead to kill himself and all his followers within the compound.

The cult leader’s behavior had little if anything to do with “biblical prophecy” and his “work” was really more about criminal violations of gun laws and sexual abuse than the “Book of Revelation.”

However, “apologists” like Wessinger apparently ignore such facts in favor of speculation based upon specious, but supposedly “politically correct” views, instead of reality.

It seems no court defeat can deter some Waco Branch-Davidians and/or surviving relatives from pursuing their cause and case against the government.

On Monday a lawyer representing the families of deceased Davidians argued that the dismissal of their civil suit in favor of the government was wrong, due to the trying judge’s supposed bias, reported Associated Press.

Again and again claims that the government was somehow responsible for the deaths of Davidians have been disproved. But this has not deterred determined conspiracy theorists that insist Vernon Howell, also known as “David Koresh,” was “persecuted” for his beliefs and that he and his followers were “murdered” by the government.

However, it has been proven that the cult leader ordered the fire that consumed his compound killing 80 men, women and children.

David Koresh’s mother was on hand at the court proceeding and admitted her son fathered 13 of the 14 children lost in that fire.

Koresh routinely exploited women in the group sexually, but insisted that others remain celibate. He also abused minor children.

After two congressional hearings, one independent investigation and a failed civil suit filed, some Davidians and surviving families remain unconvinced that Koresh was a madman and responsible for the deaths of their loved ones.

No doubt anti-government conspiracy theorists will continue to insist that the government was to blame, continuing to ignore the overwhelming physical evidence and eyewitness testimony.

A virtual cottage industry of anti-government videos, books, documentaries and lecturers sprung forth after the tragic end of the Waco Davidian standoff in 1993.

It appears that much like Koresh’s former followers, such conspiracy theory enthusiasts have largely dispensed with critical thinking and opted instead to embrace a fantasy about Waco, rather than face facts.

Perhaps this seeming subculture is now so deeply invested in its own fantastic version and/or vision of Waco, it cannot seriously consider anything else.

However, the vast majority of the public has come to conclude that David Koresh was a madman not unlike Jim Jones or Charles Manson and moved on.

The controversial “Word of Faith Fellowship” (WOFF), which has been called a “cult,” led by Jane Whaley is now being sued by a former member claiming personal injuries, reports The Herald-Journal.

The former member now plaintiff Holly Hamrick said, “I can’t sit back and be quiet when I see abuse going on. A lot of people didn’t see Waco coming or Jonestown…”

The embattled group is already engaged in a bitter legal battle with another former member who wants her minor children back.

The WOFF apparently thinks its religious prerogatives trump a custodial parent’s rights.

Whaley and her followers have withheld the minors from their mother who left WOFF months ago. After receiving help at a cult recovery center called “Wellspring Retreat,” she came back for her four children.

Abuse claims by the alleged victims of WOFF seem to be gathering momentum. Are Whaley’s glory days of power passing in Spindale, North Carolina?

For years the purported “cult leader” has been something of a big fish in a small pond. But it looks like Whaley’s pond is either drying up or becoming increasingly difficult for her to swim in.

J. Gordon Melton in apparently now promoting the seventh edition of his book called the “Encyclopedia of American Religions.”

But don’t expect to see any meaningful critical analysis or fact-driven revelations within this tome. Instead the part-time teacher and library worker at the University of California in Santa Barbara, basically reiterates whatever religious groups tell him.

For example, you won’t read that space aliens from another planet are the actual basis for Scientology’s theology.

In a short study by Melton about Scientology he again fails to even mention the premise that forms the basis for its entire belief system.


Because Scientology didn’t tell Mr. Melton that and they don’t want this information discussed within his published work.

Is this beginning to sound a bit specious for a supposed scholar?

Melton’s encyclopedia retails for $310.00, which may partly explain its ranking on at well below 500,000.

However, Mr. Melton and his book got some good press recently in an article by Richard Ostling, carried by Associated Press.

What Ostling doesn’t mention is the more sordid side of the author’s work. Melton has often been called a “cult apologist.”

In fact Mr. Melton refuses to use the term “cult.” Instead he prefers to call groups like Scientology, “The Family” and Ramtha, “new religions” or “new religious movements” (NRMs).

Maybe this is because they pay him.

Melton often works for groups called “cults,” either through cult-funded “research projects,” books or as an expert witness.

J.Z. Knight, who leads the Ramtha group, hired him to write the book for her titled Finding Enlightenment: Ramtha’s School of Ancient Wisdom.

Scientology has recommended Melton as a resource. And after the Cult Awareness Network was bankrupted by that group’s litigation and its name was bought by a Scientologist, Gordon Melton became a “religious resource” recommended by the “new Cult Awareness Network.”

Mr. Melton seems eager to help “cults” whenever he can.

He once flew to Japan to defend the cult Aum, right after it released poison gas within Tokyo’s subway system. While thousands of victims were being rushed to hospitals Mr. Melton flew in, all of his expenses were paid for by the criminal cult.

For a “scholar” Gordon Melton often seems indifferent concerning historical facts.

Jim Jones was responsible for the cult mass murder-suicide of more than 900 people in Jonestown November 18, 1978. However, Mr. Melton said, “This wasn’t a cult. This was a respectable, mainline Christian group.”

Melton has earned a reputation for largely ignoring and/or discounting the testimony of former cult members.

Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi of the University of Haifa noted, “In every single case since the Jonestown tragedy, statements by ex-members turned out to be more accurate than those of apologists and NRM researchers…It is indeed baffling…the strange, deafening, silence of [such scholars]…a thorny issue…like the dog that didn’t bark… should make us curious, if not outright suspicious.”

Is Gordon Melton such a silent scholar, or perhaps even a “silent partner”? After all he is often paid by cults.

Melton was prominently mentioned within a confidential memo written and distributed by Jeffery Hadden. This memo has been cited as a kind of “smoking gun,” regarding the tacit cooperation of like-minded “cult apologists.”

Within that memo the now deceased Hadden cited Melton’s importance and willingness to cooperate in an organized effort, which would hopefully be funded by “cults,” to essentially quell criticism about them.

Hadden said, “We recognize that Gordon Melton’s Institute is singularly the most important information resource in the US, and we feel that any new organization would need to work closely with him.”

Ostling’s article carried by the AP cites Melton’s “nonpartisan objectivity,” but can anyone who objectively reviews his actual professional history really conclude that J. Gordon Melton is nonpartisan?

It seems like Dwight “Malachi” York has used allegations of “persecution” and “racism” historically whenever there was a criminal investigation into his possible criminal activities.

When the Nuwaubian leader was cited in Georgia for anything from zoning violations to ultimately the sexual abuse of minor children, it was always somehow “persecution.”

And apparently, York may have used a similar strategy to deflect law enforcement regarding a murder investigation he was linked to years ago in Brooklyn, reports Newsday.

That murder in 1979 remains unsolved, though informants identified the killer as a close York associate.

But York moved to Georgia, where new allegations of “racism” would emerge whenever he was criticized. And prominent political leaders would rally around and defend the cult leader, reports Newsday.

York’s defenders included Al Sharpton, NAACP officials, Jesse Jackson and assorted Georgia politicians, who were apparently taken in by his claims of supposed injustice.

This isn’t a new story.

Jim Jones, the notorious cult leader who in 1978 led almost a thousand followers to death at Jonestown, likewise had an assortment of prominent leaders that once supported him.

Then California Governor Gerry Brown, State Assemblyman Willy Brown and Mayor Moscone of San Francisco were all once fans and friends of Jim Jones.

Willy Brown said years later, “If we knew then he was mad, clearly we wouldn’t have appeared with him.”

Mayor Moscone was somewhat more blunt, “It’s clear that if there was a sinister plan, then we were taken in.” But the mayor added, “I’m not taking any responsibility.”

Should politicians that support and/or somehow shield a cult leader from accountability or closer scrutiny accept any responsibility for whatever misdeeds and victimization takes place?

Certainly Revs. Sharpton and Jackson did not know about the gross abuses perpetrated by Dwight York, but perhaps they should have been more careful before defending the “cult leader.”

In the end it was the children under York’s control who were “persecuted,” through a reign of terror and sexual abuse at the hands of the “cult leader.”

Dwight “Malachi” York, the jailed leader of the Nuwaubians, struck a deal this week with prosecutors regarding criminal charges for sexually abusing and exploiting children.

Additional details of that deal are now known.

York will forfeit $400,000 seized by law enforcement in a raid, which will be divided amongst his victims.

Additionally, state and federal charges have been combined through the plea agreement, reports The Athens Banner-Herald.

According to the deal York could walk out of prison in 12 years, if he behaves. Then the “cult leader” would have at least 36 months of supervised release.

York will probably serve his time in a federal prison as opposed to a state prison.

The County Attorney said, ”It’s short enough that he won’t die in prison, but it’s long enough that he won’t live too much longer after he’s released.”

Let’s hope York’s family health history includes chronic clogged arteries, heart disease, cancer or something that would claim his life before he makes parole.

It seems that the children York terrorized and abused for years didn’t want to relive their past through testimony in open court.

And the “cult” leader used the children once again, this time as an apparent bargaining chip to avoid the risk of receiving a much longer sentence.

The District Attorney said, ”What we gave to our victims is that Mr. York stood up in court and said, ‘I did it. There’s no way his followers can say he was railroaded or there was a conspiracy.”

The County Attorney added, ”This guy who claimed to be a messiah stood up in court and admitted he was nothing less than a monster.”

However, if history means anything many Nuwaubians will not accept this ending. Like many cult followers of the past they will likely remain loyal, deny York’s guilt and insist he was “railroaded” and “persecuted.”

The followers of Yahweh Ben Yahweh waited for their convicted leader to finish his prison term and then joyfully reunited with him. Despite the fact that he had been linked to murder.

Former followers of David Koresh are still waiting for their pedophile “prophet” to return from heaven and judge the world, despite the repeated judgement of both a court and congress that he was a “monster.”

And there are many that today insist that Jim Jones was the victim of a “conspiracy.”

Cult followers are often so deeply invested in a leader and/or group; they can’t seem to accept the facts, which might contradict their beliefs. Denial for such people often becomes a way of life.

Claude Vorilhon now known as “Rael” has finally fulfilled his childhood fantasies and became famous, or some might observe infamous.

But whatever anyone says the “clone cult” leader now has the attention he apparently always craved.

However, a biography based upon facts rather than self-promotion and science fiction is finally emerging about Vorilhon, reports the London Mail.

Vorilhon was apparently a failure before he became “Rael.” The would-be pop star, racecar driver and magazine publisher, had what appears to be a history of unfulfilled fantasies.

The self-proclaimed prophet who says he once visited another planet is a “monster,” according to his mother. Who says, “What he is doing now is vile. I have not seen him for ten years and I’ll be happy if I never see him again.”

And isn’t it your own family that knows you best?

The facts about the Raelian leader are quite different from the myth he has spun for his fawning followers and the media. Vorilhon failed abysmally as both a father and husband. His two children reportedly even want to change their names.

Like other cult leaders such as David Koresh, Charles Manson and Jim Jones, Vorilhon seems to be driven by his own needs, appetites and personal history.

According to the aunt who raised him Vorilhon was “rejected” by his mother. And like many cult leaders with a similarly troubled childhood little Claude grew up with a “self-belief bordering on arrogance,” she said.

Charles Manson never knew his father and his single mother often abandoned him. Jim Jones was estranged from his father who was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, his parents divorced when he was 14. David Koresh was also the child of single mother who frequently left him to be raised largely by his grandparents.

Vorilhon insists his father is an alien being from outer space that artificially inseminated his mother.

Personal failures followed. Rael’s aunt says her nephew’s repeated efforts as an adult to become famous “fizzled out.”

Manson and Koresh both had histories of failure. Manson spent much of his life in reformatories as a juvenile and later served prison sentences. Koresh was a ninth grade drop out, who drifted in life and wanted to be a rock musician before joining the Branch Davidians and eventually seizing power in the group.

Vorilhon would fulfill his childhood fantasies by supposedly encountering space aliens in 1973. The aliens would tell him what he had always wanted to hear. That message would be essentially that he was special, chosen and above other men.

David Koresh received the revelation that he was “The Lamb” and saw himself as a messiah. Charles Manson and Jim Jones both believed they were chosen to play pivotal roles in history. And Koresh, Manson and Jones all used their unique position of power to exploit members sexually.

Vorilhon now has a “mission” and his belief system likewise fulfills his personal needs.

Rael’s former wife says he has “some sort of psychological grip” on people. She explains, “The whole Raelian movement was a trick to have more sex and to satisfy the enormous ego and need to be worshipped that he had always had.”

In the end it all sounds like the same old story reported so many times before. The history of the man, who would be “clone” king, is really rather typical when compared to known destructive cult leaders of the past.