15 Modern-Day Cults That Are Hidden in Plain Sight

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Think cults are a thing of the past? Think again. Let’s explore 15 modern-day cults that are hidden in plain sight. From religious extremist groups to exploitative business schemes, these organizations are flying under the radar.

1. The 12 Tribes: A Hidden Agenda

The Yellow Deli menu and picture of food
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The 12 Tribes, known for operating “Yellow Deli” restaurants, harbor a belief in raising 140,000 male virgins for a prophesied event in 2070. Joining requires a significant financial commitment, and allegations of child labor and neglect within the group add to the controversy surrounding their seemingly benign façade.

2. Celestial Seasonings: More Than Just Tea?

Celestial Seasonings Teas and Beverages Logo at the Entrance to The Corporate Headquarters
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With its possible links to the Urantia Foundation, there have been questions raised on the founding of Celestial Seasonings, famous for their Sleepytime Tea blends. While it doesn’t appear that the company currently has any associations with the cult, the mystery behind the origins of the company remains.

3. The House of Yahweh: Doomsday Predictions and Controversial Practices

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This group, led by a self-proclaimed messiah, has made several failed doomsday predictions. Controversies include underage marriages and the unusual practice of followers adopting the leader’s last name, adding to its complex and troubling profile.

4. JMMI: A Concerning Transformation

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Joshua Media Ministries International, led by self-claimed Apostle David E. Taylor, shows how a group, under the guise of a Christian church, can raise alarms. Accusations of slave labor and the dramatic life changes of its followers, like relocating cross-country, highlight the group’s concerning influence.

5. Young Living: Essential Oils With a Dark Backstory

Variety of Young Living Essential Oil.
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Young Living stands out in the MLM world, not just for its business model but for the disturbing history of its founder. The cult-like devotion seen within the group, combined with alarming allegations, paints a troubling picture far beyond its essential oils.

4. Hebrew Israelites: Under the Shadow of Racial Extremism

African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem community, in Kibbutz of Kfar Hashalom,a spiritual group of 5000 members whose believe they are descended from the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel
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The Hebrew Israelite movement has come under scrutiny for elements of racial extremism within its ranks. The movement’s blend of religious fervor with racially charged doctrines calls for heightened awareness and understanding of its potential societal impact.

7. Multi-Level Marketing Programs: The Thin Line Between Business and Cult

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MLM programs, a modern-day phenomenon, often blur the lines between legitimate business and cult-like manipulation. The promise of easy wealth lures many, but the reality of financial loss and psychological pressure paints a different picture.

8. Nonviolent Communication: A Philosophical Movement or More?

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Nonviolent Communication, while advocating peaceful interaction, raises questions about its cult-like aspects. The reliance on certified training and the adherence to the founder’s teachings suggest a deeper, potentially concerning, level of influence.

9. Aum Shinrikyo: A Legacy of Infamy

Aum Shinrikyo Symbol
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Famous for its bioterrorist attack in Japan, Aum Shinrikyo’s quest to bring about the apocalypse and its accumulation of military hardware make it a chilling example of a cult’s potential for destruction.

10. Scientology: The Controversial Giant

Logo of the Church of Scientology National Affairs Office in Washingotn, DC
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Scientology remains one of the most well-known and controversial groups. With its high-profile membership and secretive practices, it continues to be a subject of intense public and media scrutiny.

11. Martial Arts Groups: Beyond Physical Training

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Certain martial arts groups, claiming supernatural powers, reflect the cult-like devotion and belief in the extraordinary. The dynamic between master and student in these groups often reveals a deeper level of psychological influence.

12. QAnon: A Digital Age Phenomenon

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QAnon, a movement born in the digital age, demonstrates how conspiracy theories can evolve into cult-like beliefs. Its wide-reaching influence and the fervent belief of its followers underscore its impact on modern society.

13. Shen Yun: Artistic Expression or Propaganda?

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Shen Yun, known for its captivating performances, is often linked to spiritual movements and has been accused of being a front for deeper, more controversial beliefs and practices. The show’s ties to the Falun Gong cult raise serious questions.

14. The Finders: A Forgotten Concern

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The Finders, once in the headlines for child trafficking allegations, have since faded into obscurity. Their enigmatic existence and the lack of public awareness raise questions about their current activities and influence.

15. Unification Church: Mass Weddings and Political Ties

Unification Church
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The Unification Church, famous for its mass weddings and global following, has also courted political controversy. Its blend of religious and political ambitions, combined with doomsday beliefs, makes it a unique study in the world of cults.

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