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Apocalypse Now? The New Millennium and the Potential for Violence

By June 7, 1999 No Comments

Introduction

To most of us, the year 2000 represents a symbolic milestone in the growth of our civilization. This is something to be celebrated, much like a golden wedding anniversary or a centennial. Unfortunately, many others view the coming millennium as the ultimate turning point in human history, where we can slip into utter darkness or achieve utopia.

We have witnessed the carnage that can result when groups are whipped into an end-time frenzy. In the case of the Branch Davidians, the 1995 BATF/FBI raid fulfilled their expectations of an attack by the forces of “Babylon” against David Koresh, whom they viewed as the “Lamb of God”. Four federal agents and six Davidians died in the initial raid. Only nine cult members escaped the inferno that engulfed the compound in the second month of the stand-off. Here, a group fixated on a doomsday interpretation of Revelations believed they were literally fighting the forces of evil in the opening salvoes of the Tribulation.

On March 26, 1997 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult committed collective suicide in order to rendezvous with a spaceship supposedly hidden behind the Hale-Bopp Comet. In this example, a small group of individuals adhering to a New Age-type belief system, took their cue to “transcend” into the next evolutionary level. In late 1994, believing that the end was near; members of the Order of the Solar Temple gathered in Switzerland and Canada. The aftermath, when later discovered, by police was utterly grotesque. In a Swiss chalet; twenty-five bodies were found. Most were dressed in ceremonial robes; drugged, and shot repeatedly in the head at close range. Their bodies were arranged in a star pattern on the bloodied floor. In Quebec, two houses contained the remains of other followers — one couple stabbed as many as fifty times.

As the new millennium approaches, we face the very real possibility that other such acts of collective violence will occur. The dissemination of ideologies and new religions predicting the ultimate turning point in human history in the year 2000 is at a high level. What is of even more concern is the massive level of preparation taking place for this supposed show-down. End-time groups have been preparing fortified compounds, storing food to last for years, acquiring generators and accumulating caches of weapons. For many, “This is it!

BIBLICALLY DERIVED MILLENNIALISM

Revelations and Prophecy

Historically, Christians have focused on Christ’s return to Earth as being influenced by means of their own positive actions. This is referred to as progressive millennialism or postmillennialism. The term “millennial” refers to the thousand year rule of Christ on Earth, not the year 1,000 or 2,000. Increasingly, this view is challenged by Christians adhering to catastrophic or premillennialist concepts based on the Book of Revelations. Here, the focus is on the inevitability of the terrible rule of the Antichrist on Earth, as well as on the battle that will follow against Satan and his followers. Only after this period of misery can the Millennial Kingdom commence.

Premillennialists can be divided into two categories: pretribulational-dispensational and historic. Both believe the Second Coming will be preceded by the Tribulation, seven years of massive upheaval and misery occurring under a satanic world dictator. Pretribulational-dispensational premillennialists believe that before the Tribulation, an event called the Rapture will occur. Faithful Christians will be transformed and transported into Heaven, leaving behind non-Christians to endure the Tribulation. After the Tribulation, the Army of Heaven will come to Earth to fight the Battle of the Armageddon, overthrow the Antichrist and establish the thousand-year kingdom. After a thousand years, the final battle between good and evil will ensue, Satan will be destroyed and humanity finally judged. Historic premillennialists reject the concept of the Rapture. Instead, they believe that Christians will be forced to suffer under the Antichrist, who will disrupt all aspects of society — food, commerce, etc.

Over the past quarter century, televangelists have had their greatest success in spreading their message of impending doom. Their mix of pseudo-science, rewritten history and myopic analyses of international events have been predicting the end for most of the past twenty years.

Pentecostal preacher Michael Evans in 1994 released a book titled Seven Years of Shaking: A Vision, predicting moral depravity, political upheaval, a great plague, economic turmoil and a world dictatorship. The year 2000, according to his vision, will be the point at which these prophecies will culminate. Another Pentecostal preacher, Lester Sumrall, also prophesied that 2000 was beginning of the end.

Aside from claims of direct contact with God, other evangelists have predicted doom based on their interpretation of the Bible. Using Matthew 24:32-33, Hal Lindsey in The Late Great Planet Earth, claimed that Christ would return within one generation of the creation of the state of Israel (approximately 40 years). When nothing happened in 1988~89, the new date for the end was set for 2000, this time with the clock ticking from 1967, when Israel captured Jerusalem. Lindsey has penned yet another book reinforcing 2000 as the beginning of the end entitled Planet Earth 2000. And why not? His book predicting doomsday in 1988-89 was a best seller. Lindsey is not the only preacher publishing books to that effect, literally dozens are now flooding book store shelves. Well-dressed TV preacher Jack Van Imp in a May 1999 cable broadcast “proved” that the word ‘computer’ somehow added up to 666. Another dubious scholar in The Antichrist and a Cup of Tea, proved that ‘Charles, Prince of Wales’ adds up to 666, and therefore he is the Antichrist.

Nor are End-Time forecasts restricted to Christians. Muslim sects tend to reserve their End-Time forecasts for centuries from now, but a recent bestseller The Bible Code, marks a strong Jewish entry in the field. It claims that the original Hebrew texts of the Old Testament are an intact code that can be cracked by computer algorithms to decode messages about the future. Among other things, the next World War will begin in 2000 or 2006, perhaps with an “atomic holocaust” starting with Jerusalem. [1]

Patriots and Militias

The patriots and militias are an unusual category within the Christian end-times and survivalist movements. Their beliefs are a combination of Revelations and conspiracy politics. They fear first and foremost the implementation of the so-called New World Order (NWO), believed to’ be a plot unite the world’s population under a single world dictatorship, as prophesized in Revelations Chapter 13.

… and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men… And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelations: 13: 11-15).

The ultimate objective of the plot is to enslave the entire world in order to serve a small elite. This is derived from Revelations (14: 11), “…and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receiveth the mark in his name”. This elite is led by the Freemasons and a related group, the Bavarian Illuminati, whose tentacles are said to stretch across national boundaries into governments, monarchies and multinational corporations. There is noticeable cross-pollination between historic pre-millennialists and the patriots and militias. Some of the more common beliefs and stories circulating within this movement include:

  • There has been a long and all-encompassing effort by the federal government, under the control of globalist forces to erode the American Constitution. A series of Executive Orders (EOs) are in place to facilitate the American transition into the NWO. [2] EOs 10995 to 11005 give the federal government the right in a national emergency (Y2K for example) to suspend freedom of speech; confiscate food; create a national registry; relocate populations; and organize civilians into work brigades. EO 12148 authorizes FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency) to take over the executive functions of the government. The recently declared War on Terrorism is a pretext for an invasion of civil liberties, allowing for easier access to wire taps and search warrants against Americans and to investigate the Militias, who after the bombing in Oklahoma City became the new terrorist threat (the Militias see themselves as the only defence against the tyrannical NWO).
  • The US government, through the assault weapons ban and the restrictions on firearms ownership, is trying to disarm the population to facilitate the transition into the NWO. The federal government’s actions in Waco and Ruby Ridge are taken as proof that there is a conspiracy against those yearning for freedom and preparing to defend their individual rights.
  • Ethnic discord within American society is part of the NWO conspiracy to destabilize the country. Other plots against Americans include the replacement of traditional Christian values with environmentalism as a new religion that can be used to unite the entire world, as well as the destruction of the family through the media and government child protection agencies.
  • UN and foreign troops are being secretly stationed within the United States. Americans will be unwilling to impose the NWO’s martial law; therefore foreigners will be necessary. Regularly, believers in this conspiracy follow legitimate training exercises hosted by the US military, interpreting them as secret troop movements. Most alarming for these believers is the lease of an air base near Phoenix Arizona to the Luftwaffe to train German pilots. On one occasion locals, informed of the globalist conspiracy, physically confronted a group of startled Germans and their families on a picnic. [3] Reports are also circulating about Russian troops stationed in the United States as a pre-sited occupation force, as well as the secret deployment of the Russian navy in the Gulf of Mexico. [4]
  • There are secret plans to set up concentration and slave labour camps within America. Part of this enslavement will require some form of monitoring of the civilian population, computer chips or a similar surveillance technology will be imposed, tracking all activities and transactions (thus is the mark of the Beast imposed). [5]
  • The NWO will require that the Earth be de-populated, through wars, or diseases manufactured in secret laboratories. Many of these diseases are currently being tested and spread among the people of the US even now. Quite regularly on patriot short wave radio broadcasts, listeners will phone in reports of “contrails” left by military jets or spraying operations by the proverbial “black helicopters”.

For several years, books, tapes, web sites and short wave radio broadcasts have been proclaiming January 1, 2000 as the start date for the implementation of the New World Order. The chaos resulting from the Y2K computer virus will be the pretext under which martial law will be imposed in North America. Black-outs, economic upheaval and civil unrest will necessitate the use of the military to restore order. For the vast majority of individuals who believe in the conspiracy theory, their preparations are defensive in nature. They hope to get away from populated areas and wait out the NWO. To their way of thinking, any participation in the NWO such as being registered or buying food from its agents is the equivalent of “wearing the mark of the beast”. Anyone who does will be subjected to the wrath of God: “… and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshipped his image. ” (Revelations 16: 2).

A sampling of recent advertising on a number of Christian short wave radio broadcasts gives some insight into the preparations being made in the United States and, to a lesser extent, in Canada. One commercial airing on WWCR (5070 and 3215 KHz) in early 1999 was selling a night vision device capable of being used as a short range weapon sight. One popular Y2K strategy is to transfer wealth into gold. There are two reasons for this: One will need it to trade with the foreign occupation troops after martial law is declared and, secondly, most gold will be subject to government confiscation. Brokers advertising on these end-times Christian broadcasts are selling imported and domestically minted coins that are not subject to seizure in the NWO.

There is also a massive increase in the market for survival foods. Numerous companies are marketing long-term storage food packages sold by the year. Another company has developed a month’s supply of food and a water filter that fits into a backpack, ready for when you are forced to head for the proverbial hills. Survival tablets and food that you can grow on your own (such as “survival sprouts”) are also available. A first aid video tape entitled Combat Medicine is another regular advertisement. One Y2K preparedness web site advocates owning simple, durable and reliable firearms such as 12 gauge shotguns, 30-06 rifles and .38 caliber revolvers. [6] Individuals and small groups have practically invested billions of dollars and thousands of hours planning for the Y2K tribulation, and take it very seriously!

The greatest potential for conflict between the patriot/militia community and authorities will be in the days immediately after December 31, 1999. Literally thousands will head to isolated areas to escape the New World Order and many will establish defensive perimeters. The approach of any police or federal authority may alarm those hunkered down in fear of enslavement. Even in the event of power disruption, the arrival of members from FEMA or other disaster-relief agency, may cause dug-in patriots to panic.

The Christian Identity Movement

The Christian Identity Movement (CIM) is a loose association of churches, Bible study groups and extremist political factions linked through an unusual interpretation of the Bible. According to Michael Barkun, the CIM has three core beliefs. [7] First, that Aryans (defined as White Western Europeans, not Iranians or Brahmin Hindus) are the direct descendants of the Biblical tribes of Israel, and therefore are the “chosen people”. Second, that the Jews are biological descendants of Satan resulting from the sexual union of Eve and the serpent. And third, that the Last Days are about to begin.

Their version of the Tribulation is based on a race war pitting Aryans against Jewish led non-whites. The Jews — or a Jew — will be the Antichrist. The US federal government is referred to as the “Zionist Occupational Government” (ZOG) by Identity followers, and short wave radio broadcasts by CIM pastors warn followers of the “Jewnited Nations” the “Jew World Order” and the “Jewopoly”.[8]

For CIM believers, the war has already begun. Interracial marriages are viewed as a means of diluting Aryan racial purity. [9] As a result, Christian Identity followers are in a constant state of preparedness. Randy Weaver, of the now infamous Ruby Ridge incident is a follower of the Christian Identity. He was targeted for weapons violations at the time of the botched raid. There is no shortage of other violent encounters between CIM faithful and authorities in the United States. Their radical interpretation of the Bible and Christianity has fortunately insured that their following is quite limited. For some, Y2K is interpreted as a major event in the internationalconspiracy. [10]

 

THE NEW AGERS

The New Age Movement (NAM) encompasses a vast array of beliefs: eastern religious practices; astrology; “UFOlogy”; revived (or reinvented) ancient religions such as those of the Druids or Hopi and “pyramidology”. The term “New Age” does not refer to any sort of new knowledge or beliefs, many of the practices can be accurately labeled as neo-paganistic. Instead, the term is used to describe a supposed evolutionary-spiritual transformation in humankind that is either happening or soon will.

The Dawning of the Age of Aquarius

To believers in astrology, the new millennium coincides with the departure of the Age of Pisces and the arrival of the Age of Aquarius. Pisces is the sign of self-undoing, under which we have been living for the past 2,000 years (coincident with Christianity?). Aquarius is characterized as being the ruler of the logical structure within the universal mind. The cosmic year (25,826 of our years) also has seasons. Aquarius represents the shift in the cosmic year back into summer or into the light. One of the reasons that New Agers are so fascinated with ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Mayans, is that they supposedly lived in a previous period of light and possessed a cosmic wisdom that we will soon inherit in the new astrological age.

Pyramidology

The pyramids, especially the Great Pyramid, occupy an important position in New Age beliefs. They have been reputed to generate mystical forces, or been the work of the more enlightened, such as extra-terrestrials or beings from Atlantis.

Pyramidology is the “science” of studying the dimensions and proportions of the Great Pyramid. It is believed to contain within it the history of mankind, as well as our future up to and including the Second Coming, or the arrival of our alien overseers (whatever). Various chambers and changes in the tunnels represent important events in human history. Pyramidologists have used what they declared as the Biblical cubit as well as the inch to unravel the ancient knowledge hidden within the structure. Some have argued that one pyramid inch represents one year in human history, others maintain that one pyramid inch equals thirty days. Those who adhere to this method of tea reading, have not even been able to agree on where to start the measurements from, except in the instances where predictions for the commencement of the Tribulation passed uneventfully, and those numbers were cast aside. Most pyramidologists place the end of the world at September 17, 2001. Others hedge their bets and proclaim 2012 as the end (you probably can sell more books if you are not wearing egg on your face on 2001).

The Mayans

The “Harmonic Convergence”, the New Agers’ version of the Great Disappointment occurred on August 16, 1987. The event, according to Jose Arguelle’s popular The Mayan Factor was supposed to awaken us from our cultural trance, free our personal energy fields and momentarily halt the “counter spin of history”. This conclusion was based on a calculation that interpreted the Mayan cycle of time as beginning between August 6th and 13th 3113 B.C. and ending its 5125 year cycle on December 21, 2012. The Harmonic Convergence marked the first passage of Earth through the “Mayan Beam”, which supposedly seeded life on the planet. To outsiders, the event was comical, New Age groupies rushed to “cosmic nodes” on the planet — the pyramids of Egypt and Latin America, Mount Fuji etc. — to await the arrival of the serpent-god Quetzalcoatl from a distant planet. Predictably (to ordinary mortals) nothing happened. 1987 is now re-written as the beginning of the awakening in the hearts of the truly enlightened, where the Homo Sapiens mind first slowly began to resonate with the “Centre of the Galaxy”. The prophecy will now fully culminate at 2012.

Psychics, Seers and Clairvoyants

According to New Agers, the ability to tune into the cosmos and ignore the modern polluted world we have created, allows one to delve into wisdom from which our modern technological and industrial age has blinded us. The seemingly irrational notion that someone could metaphysically transport themselves to other times or connect with future events is rationalized by one of the cornerstones of New Age doctrine, “mind over matter”. Mere physics and science are no limitations if one is able to tap into higher truths and powers of the cosmos.

Michael de Nostradamus: The most famous of all seers, Nostradamus lived in France from 1503 to 1566. He wrote cryptic, vague four-lined poems called quatrains, which believers interpret as prophecies. The actual writing of the quatrains was a mixture of Latin and French, with a mix of foreign expressions. Nostradamus has been dragged onto the year 2000 bandwagon, with supporters quoting the following quatrain:

The year 1999, seventh month,
A great king of terror will descendfrom the skies,
To resuscitate the great king of Angolmois,
Around this time Mars will reign for the good cause.
[11]

It is so completely vague as to mean almost anything negative in any newspaper or cable news report that might be released in July 1999. In Beyond the Prophecies and Predictions, Moira Timms argues that “experts” in Nostradamus agree that 1992 to 1999 are the years most likely for the Antichrist to appear, based on that and another quatrain that begins “To power will come a villain, wicked and infamous, tyrannizing over Mesopotamia” and ending with “The face of the land (will be rendered) horrible and black. ” This was used to “foretell” the events of the Gulf War, initiating the time-frame when the Beast would supposedly arrive. We should take note that the Nostradamus experts needed to insert phrases in parenthesis. Other so-called prophecies used to prove this is the end-times include the following quatrain:

One day two masters will be friends,
Their great power will be increased,
The new land will then be at its peak,
The bloody one will be told of their number.

Here, the friendship between the Americans and Russians is used to foretell the arrival of the Beast. Anyone with a rudimentary understanding of international politics could not describe the relationship between Washington and Moscow as friendly, given the disagreements over Yugoslavia, NATO expansion and Russia’s resentment of its dependence on American financial aid. Again, facts are conveniently brushed aside to make exceptionally vague poems fit current events.

Edgar Cayce: Now the equivalent of a modern-day prophet within the NAM, Cayce lived between 1877 and 1945. He was reputed to have the powers of a psychic and clairvoyant, which could only surface after he went into a self-induced trance. Cayce too predicted a period of hardship for the planet:

  • The world would be plagued by crop failures and food shortages;
  • New land masses would rise from the oceans;
  • Japan would fall into the ocean and Europe would be changed “in the twinkle of an eye”

The actual beginnings of these tumultuous changes would be signaled by the “first breaking up of some conditions in the South Sea … and in the sinking or rising … in the Mediterranean.” Like any good psychic, his predictions are exceptionally vague and cryptic. Many events remotely resembling the beginning can be retro-fitted to make it appear to be coming true. Cayce did however make a date-specific prediction for the new millennium. According to him, there would be a shift in the poles taking place between 2,000 and 2,001, triggering massive volcanic eruptions and a corresponding shift in weather patterns.

While Cayce enthusiasts point to a handful of successes, he has also had a number of monumental flops, including the death of a young child, who he psychically misdiagnosed. On a considerably less harmful level, he predicted the rising of the lost city of Atlantis to occur in 1968 or 1969 — oops.

Environmental Apocalypse

Floods, droughts and disease being brought upon the Earth by an unhappy God are not new notions. In the Old Testament, God caused a massive flood to wipe out the sinful world and clear it for a new era. Plagues, famine and the poisoning of the oceans are mentioned in Revelations. The virtual extinction of Mankind through environmental calamity has taken on a slightly new form in the New Age Movement. Adherents of ancient religions see sacredness in the Earth itself (plants, animals, soil etc.). To New Age environmentalists, an angry God is not the trigger for the next apocalypse, but a lack of respect for the planet, or “Mother Earth” will suffice. Many New Agers see modern Society as dominated by such male characteristics: industrialization, technology and war. In the New Age, Society will return to a more spiritually pure pursuit of cosmic wisdom and will be shaped by more feminine characteristics.

According to the Hopi, their earliest ancestors knew the Great Spirit and lived in harmony with his laws. They were entrusted with a sacred territory where trees, water, rocks and plants were alive in a special way for them. For the world to remain safe, the Hopi must mind these sacred lands. If they fail, or’ are prevented from doing so, the balance of the entire world would be negatively affected. (The reality of Aboriginal traditions is often open to question as there has been much invention and ‘borrowing’ in recent decades.)

Believers in Hopi mythology tell us that we are close to the end-times. Having mined and developed parts of the sacred lands, we have offended the Great Spirit. Some of the signs include: trees dying everywhere; climate change; and tectonic instability. A petroglyph of the Hopi life plan is taken as further confirmation of the gravity of our current situation. The ancient picture shows three circles, the first two supposedly represent the two world wars, while the third, following soon afterwards depicts a great purification. [12]

British scientist James Lovelock proposed in 1979 that our planet is a living organism. All life emanates from her and is protected by her: water and soil provide for plants and animals, while her atmosphere shields us from the sun’s deadly radiation. At the same time, “Gaia” (Greek for Earth) needs her flora and fauna to stay alive. Gaia is like our unconscious bodies, breathing air, digesting food, healing wounds, fighting off disease, and like our own bodies, it is done subconsciously. Mankind’s (with the emphasis on “man”) current economic system has become the equivalent of a disease on Mother Earth’s face. She will react as involuntarily as our own bodies in trying to rid the virus from its system.

According to adherents of Gaianism… “Earth Trauma is poised to ride down the only real ecological disaster on Earth: the biped who indiscriminately pollutes air and land, hacks down forests, and wantonly exterminates one hundred species of its vegetation and animal neighbors a day, in what is becoming the greatest and perhaps the fastest mass extermination in the last four billion years. ” [13]

UFOlogy

What discussion of the New Age Movement could be complete without at least a brief perusal of the pseudo-science of UFO logy? While there is a huge array of individual belief and practice within this faction of the NAM, some generalizations can be made. First, most believe that aliens have a critical role to play in the approaching New Age. One of the more well-known UFO cults teaches of the Ashtar Command, a vast fleet of ships circling the Earth waiting to intervene in human affairs and save Mankind from himself. Others see aliens as saving only the pure from the impending disaster that will usher in the New Age. Groups such as the Heaven’s Gate, believed that our alien brothers would only take “worthy” humans aboard their ships, rebuild the planet and return them to live in a new paradise as some sort of super race. As withmost beliefs composing the New Age, this too is not a new notion. It is a cheap regurgitation of the concept of Rapture long-held by some Christians.

By far, the most common source of information making up the core beliefs of UFO cults comes from individuals claiming to be “channellers”, or having the power of “remote viewing”. The reliability of this rather silly practice can best be demonstrated by the events surrounding the 1997 passing of the Hale-Bopp Comet. [14] Several remote viewers including Courtney Brown and Ed Dames gave their accounts of the aliens aboard the ship supposedly nestled in the comet’s tail on the Art Bell radio show. Whitley Strieber author of the now famous alien contact book Communion, came on another broadcast and bolstered the story. Soon the photos touted as proof were de-bunked and to Mr. Bell’s credit, he relayed that information to the public. However, the committed UFOlogists in the Heaven’s Gate knew better, packed their bags, ingested poison and tried to rendezvous with the purported Alien mother ship. Speaking of “committed”, the cult’s leader Marshall Applewhite, spent time in a mental hospital where he met his number two in the organization, Louise Nettles. She was his nurse. [15]

Aum Shinrikyo

The Aum Shinrikyo, or “Supreme Truth” cult is most famous for the March 1995 Tokyo subway nerve gas attack, where 12 died and 6,000 more were hospitalized. The alarming supreme truth behind this organization is not this one heinous attack on innocent civilians, but rather the violent history of this cult as well as its destructive plan for the future.

The cult was founded by Chizuo Matsumoto, a semi-blind herbalist who failed his entrance exam into Tokyo University. The “glorious master” was also convicted of fraud for selling herbal medicines composed of nothing but orange peels. [16] In the mid-1980s he and his wife began teaching yoga classes. In 1987, while traveling in India, he claimed to receive enlightenment and changed his name to the “Holy” Asahara Shoko. Shoko named his new group Aum Shinrikyo: Aum, is Sanskrit for “powers of destruction and creation in the universe” and Shinrikyo means “teaching of the supreme truth”. The Aum drew mostly on Buddhist ideas of rebirth and enlightenment through meditation. Its early teachings also incorporated Hinduism, with great importance being placed on Shiva, the goddess of destruction.

The group came under scrutiny after members began severing all ties with their families and “donated” huge sums of money to the leader. The bizarre practices of the new cult, who used drugs as a means of keeping members under the master’s control, also caught the eye of Japanese authorities. After a thorough rejection of the cult’s attempt to run as a party in the national election, and under attack from the police and general public, Shoko became even more bizarre. At about this time, he incorporated the “prophecies” of Nostradamus and Revelations into his end-time philosophy, and began teaching of a world-wide conspiracy involving the Jews and Freemasons.

Shoko began predicting that Japan would sink into the ocean beginning in 1999 (some Cayce creeping in?). Russian, America, Europe and China would supposedly collapse, triggering a global nuclear war. From this devastation, a race of super humans would emerge — these being cult members who have been training under Shoko. Airtight steel tanks were used to test if members had the ability to transcend into their new forms. Believers conducted tests that “proved” decreased oxygen consumption allowed one to reduce their afflictive desires and remain conscious after death and move to the new age. [17]

Pressure from authorities forced Aum to look for ways to hasten the “inevitable” and “glorious” future and escape the uncomfortable present. Like Jim Jones, external pressure triggered a perverse desire to find ways of killing either innocent individuals or cult members. [18] By the early 1990s, Shoko ordered his well-educated followers to research the manufacture of nerve gas. Sarin was made as early as 1993, and