Much like the present, the future has its share of cults and fringe religions. Some are scams, some are a genuine search for enlightenment, and some are simply a fanatical devotion to a single person or task. Want to stay clear of cultish influence? We give you a who’s who of cults from science fiction, and tell you how they attract their adherents.
The Church of Humanity (Marvel Universe) System of Belief: An off-shoot of the mutant-hating Friends of Humanity, the Church of Humanity believes that humans were created in God’s image, but mutants were not. They believe that this justifies fervent violence toward mutantkind. How they lure you in: As with any racial supremacy group, they appeal to your sense of inferiority. The U-Men (Marvel Universe) System of Belief: Antithetical to the racial purity-loving Church of Humanity but no less destructive, the human U-Men believe it is their right to harvest and transplant mutant body parts into their own bodies, giving them mutant powers. Believing that the world is tainted and imperfect, the U-Men refuse to touch the outside world, wearing special self-contained suits and eating highly processed foods. How they lure you in: With the promise of superpowers.
Necroism (The Chronicles of Riddick) System of Belief: Necromongers believe that the natural state of life is in the Underverse, another universe where the dead of our universe come back to life. Thus, all life in this universe is an accident and must be wiped out, the whole universe swept clean. Once all the non-Necromongers have been killed, they themselves may die and take their proper place in the Underverse. How they lure you in: Their “convert or die” policy is surprisingly convincing.
The Church of Christ (Transmetropolitan) System of Belief: Most followers of band-manager-turned-cult-leader Fred Christ are Transients, people transforming their DNA into that of an alien species. Transients more or less do what Christ tells them, and can expect regular sexing up from their leader and whoever’s willing to pay him. How they lure you in: By giving you a community and a sense of belonging by making you just like all the other big-eyed, gray skinned, alien hybrids. The League of Assassins (DC Universe) System of Belief: The League of Assassins protects Ra’s al Ghul, a centuries old criminal mastermind intent on culling humanity. Their devotion to him is complete, and assassins would willingly die at his word. How they lure you in: By teaching you how to be a ninja.
The Cult of the Pah-Wraiths (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) System of Belief: The cult believes that the evil Pah-wraith are the true gods of Bajor rather than the Prophets, the infuriatingly cryptic beings who live inside the wormwhole. They believe that freeing the Pah-wraith from the Fire Caves will bring about the Restoration of Bajor, retuning it to its former glory. How they lure you in: By reminding you how lame your gods were during the total occupation of your planet.
The Church of the New Revelation (Stranger in a Strange Land) System of Belief: Fosterites believe that they have a direct line to heaven, and that the clergy receive communications from the angels. They can also predict the exact moment you will go to Heaven (and probably help you get there). But at least until then, you can drink, gamble, and fornicate to your heart’s content, all in the name of heavenly bliss. How they lure you in: By letting you do whatever you please and yet assuring you that it’s the only way you’ll get into Heaven. The Church of All Worlds (Stranger in a Strange Land) System of Belief: Followers of Michael Valentine Smith believe that humanity will be saved through the implementation of Martian practices and wisdom. They live in nests, water-share, and attempt to grok each other. How they lure you in: With the promise of psychic abilities, the knowledge of an ancient culture, and group sex.
The Cult of Connor (DC Universe) System of Belief: Following the death of Superboy, the Cult of Connor believe that Sue Dibny and Connor Kent should be resurrected in a ceremony supposedly rooted in Kryptonian theology. How they lure you in: With the promise of bringing back your loved ones. Scratch (Cowboy Bebop) System of Belief: Scratchers believe that the soul wants to live outside the body and are encouraged to abandon their bodies and upload their consciousness to computers. Unfortunately, all they manage to do is kill themselves. How they lure you in: With television ads that promise ever-expanding consciousness and eternal life.
The Reverend Wayne’s Pearly Gates (Snow Crash) System of Belief: The cult of Asherah dressed as a Pentacostal Christian franchise, Reverend Wayne’s appears to be about the wholesome worship of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Elvis Presley). But it’s really about spreading the power of media mogul L. Bob Rife. How they lure you in: Through biological and digital spread of the meta-virus. Cult of Skaro (Doctor Who) System of Belief: The only Daleks with names and a sense of imagination, the Cult of Skaro’s singular task is the extermination of the enemies of the Dalek, and the ensured survival of their species. How they lure you in: Generally, the Daleks are only interested in exterminating or enslaving those they encounter, but in one instance, conversion was forced.
The Disciples of Ragnos (Star Wars) System of Belief: These Sith cultists collect energy from the dark side of the Force to bring about the resurrection of Sith Lord Marka Ragnos, whose return would user in a golden age for the Sith. How they lure you in: By using the Scepter of Ragnos to grant you force powers.
The First Church of the Alpha Omega Bomb (Beneath the Planet of the Apes) System of Belief: The mutants who live in the sewers beneath the Planet of the Apes desire peace, but their primary object of worship is the Divine Bomb, which is to be detonated if the ruling apes march on their underground city. How they lure you in: If you don’t agree to worship the holy bomb, they can always use their telepathic mutant abilities to make you fight your buddies to the death.
The 4400 Center (The 4400) System of Belief: The 4400 Center encourages 4400 and non-4400 alike to harness their internal abilities through the Key Programme. Participants must pay for meditation course, stick to a special diet, and abstain from drugs and medications. Curiously, participants are likely to reach their maximum 4400 potential just when they run out of money. How they lure you in: With a public marketing campaign and celebrity endorsements. The Elohimite Church (The Possibility of an Island) System of Belief: Once a religion of peace, free love, and marijuana, the Elomites have evolved into a group of amoral seekers of immortality, looking to endlessly perpetuate their consciousnesses in cloned bodies. How they lure you in: By appealing to your narcissism and desire to experience an afterlife without divine intervention.
The Followers of the One True God (Battlestar Galatica) System of Belief: Gaius Baltar’s nymph squad, as well as his later followers, believe that the Lords of Kobol, the gods worshipped by most of humanity, are a fiction, and that the only true god is the single power worshipped by the Cylons. Baltar preaches that God loves all beings in the universe and views them all as “perfect.” How they lure you in: With Baltar’s political writings on class warfare, his apparent miracles, and a healthy dose of morbid curiosity.