DOOM CULTS AUSSIE ALERT
By CHRIS GRIFFITH
DOOMSDAY cults will head to Australia for "the end of the world" as Year 2000 approaches, cult watchers warn.
They say Australia should expect a surge of religious extremism and even terrorism.
Federal and state police and other agencies stepped up cult monitoring last week after Israeli police arrested 14 members of a US-based doomsday cult in Jerusalem.
Acting Prime Minister Tim Fischer told The Sunday Mail yesterday: "It's getting crazier month by month in the lead-up to the new millennium."
But he was confident Australian authorities could "pick the loonies and deal with them".
AFP spokesman Terry Brown said federal police would act if national security was threatened, but their hands were tied until the cults broke the law.
Doom cults head here
Israeli authorities claim the Concerned Christians cult hoped to trigger the second coming of Jesus Christ and Armageddon by massacring people at holy sites across Israel.
However, Queensland cult specialist Jan Groenveld said the doomsday merchants were more likely to come to Australia.
"If it's a biblical cult, they may go to Israel, but eastern, Nostradamus-based and UFO-based cults believe the southern hemisphere, in particular Australia, may suffer less or later damage as the end approaches."
Cult leaders had predicted humanity would be annihilated after nuclear warfare, natural disasters such as floods, asteroid and comet strikes, economic ruin, and civil chaos sparked by the Y2K computer bug.
Mr Fischer said he personally had closely monitored the Concerned Christians' activities.
"It could become a worry (here). I have followed developments in Jerusalem and I hope violent cults overseas won't be mirrored in Australia."
Mrs Groenveld's theory is backed by Garry Greenwood, once the second highest ranking official of the Mahikari movement in Australia.
He is an expert on Mahikari and its deadly sister cult Aum Shinri Kyo, behind the 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attack that killed 12.
"Both sects believed an Armageddon war would soon annihilate Japan and much of the world, and that they needed to establish safe havens in the southern hemisphere, which is why they ventured to Australia," he said.
But low-key, home-grown doomsday cults in ordinary suburban houses were as much a concern, Mrs Groenveld said.
One called The Group, on Brisbane's southside, claimed to be "God's executioners", alert and ready to rid the scourge of humanity,
"They have a stash of guns they continually move and the leader himself has a samurai sword."
Mrs Groenveld said cults such as Twelve Tribes Mission, a US cult with Australian members in Picton NSW, who also believed themselves part of God's clean-up army at Armageddon, were feared to be potentially militant in Australia.
'There are people out there all over the place who would like to be another Jim Jones'
The prophets of doom
Cults set to go to ends of the Earth
By GEOFF STEAD
SOMETIME soon, aliens will descend on the Earth and snatch 144,000 humans. The chosen thousands will be whisked away to another dimension where they will remain while the world they knew is destroyed.
When the dust of the cataclysm finally settles, the hostages will be scattered back on the planet to begin rebuilding the human race, mostly through cloning methods.
Of course, the theory is totally unbelievable....unless you are a follower of the bizarre UFO-based cult known as the Raelian religion.
Surprisingly, more than 40,000 people world wide are devotees.
That includes a Gold Coast group based in Mudgeeraba which met yesterday to discuss their extraterrestrial theories.
Among the planned activities was viewing a video message from the cult's founder, former French sports journalist Claude Voril-hon, who visited Queensland in 1997.
Voril-hon, who changed his name to "Rael", claims to have been visited by aliens in 1973 who told him they created the human race through cloning more than 25,000 years ago.
"Human cloning is a way to eternal life," said the cult's scientific director Brigitte Boisselier. "We embrace it because the Raelian religion is a religion of science.
The "religion's" head-quarters is in Montreal where it operates a theme park called UFOland.
Attractions include a full size replica of the spaceship Voril-hon claims visited him, a giant model of DNA and displays on cloning and genetics. What isn't openly explained is why only 144,000 Earthlings will be taken when the aliens return.
For that information, it seems you have to join the organisation. And there appears to be no shortage of people who have signed up.
With the new millenium now less that a year away, the Raelian religion is among hundreds of cults which are emerging and growing as we prepare to move through the most significant date in more than a dozen generations.
Among them have been the Jonestown mass suicide in Guyana in 1978, the fiery death of David Koresh's Branch Davidian devotees at Waco in 1992, the suicide of Lolar Temple members in a string of different countries and the Japanese Aum Ultimate Truth sect's sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995, which killed 12 and injured 5500. And in 1997, 39 men belonging to the Heaven's Gate cult gave up their lives in the belief they would be collected by a spaceship travelling in the wake of the Hale-Bopp comet.
As shocking as the needless deaths were, those who regularly track the many offbeat cults across the world say the mass suicides only boosted interest in the bizarre.
"There are people out there all over the place who would like to be another Jim Jones," said San Francisco lawyer Timothy Stoen, who left the People's Temple before the radical reverend ordered the suicide of 912 of his followers.
The latest crazed cult leader could be Christian zealot Monte Kim Miller, who believes he will die on the eve of 2000.
Last week, a group of Miller's followers was deported from Israel after travelling there from Denver in the United States with the suspected intention to cause violence.
Members of the 60-strong cult are understood to have planned to join Miller in killing others and then committing suicide in Jerusalem's Old City later this year in the belief it would trigger Armageddon.
The Biblical battle of good and evil, they believe, would prompt the return of Jesus on the eve of the millennium.
While the Bible certainly contains passages predicting the second coming of Christ after a "thousand years of blessedness", it also warns of the potential for a reign of Satan.
Those words have fuelled the fears of other cults that predict worldwide anarchy and war as the calendar ticks over to 2000.
Indeed, prophets of doom already have pointed out that if the new year - 1999 - is written upside down, it produces 666 - the numbers of the destructive "Beast of the Apocalypse" in the Bible's Book of Revelation.
Chapter 20 of the book warns: "There came hail and fire mingled with blood, and this was hurled upon the earth; a third of the earth was burnt, a third of the trees, and all of the grass."
Californian sociologist Ron Enroth claims there are at least four groups across the US with membership ranging from 50 to 2000 which he says "have the potential of becoming national tragedies" in their agendas for dealing with the arrival of the new millennium.
He declines to name them for the fear he already feels from an earlier death threat from one of the cults. He is not alone in fearing trouble ahead.
The Israeli government has set aside $US 10 million to deal with monitoring the scores of cults expected to attempt some kind of pilgrimage to the Holy Land over the next 11 months.
Authorities hope the Miller cult arrests will prove to be a warning to others to stay away, but experts say many of the most zealous sects are almost impossible to detect.
"Many are not mainstream enough to even have a name," said US Pepperdine University sociology professor F. LaGard Smith.
Sect prepares for a baptism of fire
A DOOMSDAY millennium cult linked to the terrorists who killed 12 people in a sarin gas attack in Japan is believed to have set up a base in London.
London's Sunday Times claims the Sukyo Mahikari cult propagate neo-Nazi and anti-Jewish propaganda - has recruited scores of members in Britain.
Police have linked some members of the cult to Aum Shinri Kyo, the terrorist sect whose leaders are facing charges of mass murder after the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway in 1995.
Former members of Sukyo Mahikari,, which has successfully applied for charitable status in Britain, say it is preparing for a "baptism of fire" that could end the world next year. The cult's Japanese supremacist leadership says only its members will survive.
A prediction that governments might be destroyed by using the subway appears in textbooks published by the organisation. Some members in Britain are stockpiling food in the event of a social upheaval or disaster.
An undercover reporter from The Sunday Times spent a month at the group's base in south London.
Cult leaders claim they have recruited more than 300 members in Britain and have established a presence in Manchester, Leeds, North-east England and Wales.
Members also said they expected the end of the world as early as next year. Former members interpret this as meaning they are planning some sort of action as the millennium approaches.
The cult's literature, handed out at the cult's London base, states: "Under the present circumstances there is the terrible possibility that mankind might be annihilated by the baptism of fire."
Former members say this is the same language used by other cults such as the Solar Temple, where members committed mass suicide three years ago, and Aum Shinri Kyo.
Doomsday cults the living end
LAST time I made a prediction it was to suggest the war in Kuwait had taught Saddam Hussein the errors of his ways and that Iraq's strong man would devote his life to making Kurds feel good about themselves.
Since then, of course, Saddam has been busy stockpiling biological weapons, squirting the Kurds with germs and being less than cooperative with the nice United Nations inspectors sent to make sure he doesn't backslide.
It's very disappointing. You give a fellow the benefit of the doubt and he lets you down. I'm not sure I want to be a soothsayer and more- although being consistently wrong hasn't discouraged anyone else.
Entire civilisations have risen and fallen awaiting the sun to turn black and the moon to become as blood following the arrival of the riders of the Apocalypse. It's as if people genuinely crave an Armageddon.
A new scenario proposes that a spaceship will transport believers to the planet Sirius (seriously!) where blights such as overpopulation, global warming and fast food have been banished. Admittance to this distant Nirvana, unfortunately, is premised on a desire to self-immolate.
At last tally, 74 members of a group called the Solar Temple cult had torched themselves as a prelude to a one-way trip to Sirius. At this rate, membership must be dwindling. I mean, would you join?
Devotees whose commitment has stopped short of setting themselves alight may well be looking for inter-galactic reassurance before breaking out the lighter fluid.
So....why does it always have to end in death and destruction? Is it fear of embarrassment, an inability on the part of doomsday persons to admit they have made a mistake? If a spiritual leader convinces his followers the world will end at 6pm on Saturday - and then it doesn't - is that any reason for mass suicide?
Apparently so. At Jonestown in 1978, more than 900 followed their beloved leader into a mass poisoning. Another 90 burned to death in the Waco fire. In Israel last week a bunch of weird Americans called the Concerned Christians tried to trigger the Second Coming by staging mass suicides at holy sites. What's wrong with these people? What makes them think Jesus Christ would have anything to do with their screwball ideas? Why can't they be like everyone else - going to barbecues and buying useless stuff at summer sales?
THE prospect of a new millennium frightens some people - and with reason.
It signals 1000 years of reducing personal freedoms, increasing electonic surveillance, more numbers to remember and a creeping uniformity wherever you go.
today.....and tomorrow......and tomorrow" went a piece of diabolically subversive graffiti that underlines the stultifying sameness of my daily routine as I commuted dutifully in London circa 1970. We were on the loop with no end in sight.
We had a beginning and a middle but no ending - at least, not one that anyone could reliably predict.
If it's any consolation, the Earth will come to an end in about eight billion years when the sun implodes engulfing the Earth in fiery plasma. For cultists, that's too long to wait. In this epoch of instant gratification, they will accept nothing less than Apocalypse Now.