Episode 103: Heaven’s Gate: The Suicide Cult

On this episode of the Sofa King Podcast, we look back at the Heaven’s Gate cult which famously committed mass suicide in 1997. Started in 1974 by Marshal Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, this cult was a very strange merger of Biblical apocalypse and science fiction. They recruited members (known as “crew”) by placing ads in newspapers, and they taught that Applewhite and Nettles were extraterrestrials from another realm that Earthlings thought of as Heaven. Indeed, Jesus was one as well, and Applewhite often said he was a new incarnation of Jesus and that Nettles was in fact God (though really that just meant someone higher ranking than Applewhite in the alien world, and this only came after her death).

Eventually, Applewhite and Nettles changed their names to Do and Ti, and though Ti (Nettles) died of cancer in 1985, Do knew she would come back. On a comet. And take all the true believers with her back to outer space. Seriously. Then, to Do’s great fortune, the Hale-Bopp comet showed up, and a hack astronomer thought he saw an object behind it. This made the rounds on the early internet, and conspiracy gurus like Art Bell on Coast to Coast ran with this story. Bell even had Do on as a guest since he had gathered some momentum in the UFO circles.

So, in order to get through Heaven’s Gate, Do and the “crew” all had to kill themselves to catch a ride on the comet. We go over how they killed themselves and the strange outfits (and shoes) they were wearing. We also explore daily life for these cultists, their connections to a member of the original Star Trek television show, and read a lot of pretty damned crazy quotes from Do’s writings. Don’t miss out on our review of their website (which is still, somehow, up) and the videos where Do and all the cult members calmly discuss the fact that they are going to die in a week. Creepy as hell. Oh, and if you want to know how many stars we give this cult on our cult-o-meter, stay tuned to the end.

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