Narrate your spiritual experiences in the Stories format.

The Heaven's Gate Cult

The Heaven's Gate Cult

The Heaven's Gate was an American UFO destructive cult started by Marshall Applewhite, in California, which led many people to commit suicide. To know more about this strange cult, read on...
Sourabh Gupta
The Heaven's Gate cult is one of the many millennial and UFO-based cults around the world. It was led by Marshall Applewhite and his partner, Bonnie Nettles. Marshall claimed his spiritual name was 'Bo', but more recently, he was called 'Do' (pronounced as doe) and Bonnie Nettles used the name 'Ti' (pronounced as tea). Heaven's Gate was one of three organizations that were founded by Applewhite. The first was Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM), which he started in 1975. He traveled to Colorado desert, where he unsuccessfully waited for the arrival of a UFO. Then, Applewhite started the Total Overcomers Anonymous (TOA) in 1993. He put an ad in USA Today stating that the Earth was about to be 'recycled', i.e. the whole world was to be wiped clean (or rejuvenated), of the evil forces.

Their Beliefs

The Heaven's Gate cult members believed that they could only save themselves by leaving the planet immediately, or to put it bluntly, by committing suicide. The cult was officially against suicide, and hence they believed in an alternative definition of 'suicide'. According to them, suicide meant, 'to turn against the Next Level when being offered'. The belief was that the body was only a medium to help them in their journey. In this pursuit, the members added 'ody' (meaning 'children of the Next Level') at the end of their names. By Next Level, they meant the Kingdom of Heaven. This fact was mentioned by Applewhite himself in a video that was filmed just days prior to the members committing group suicide.

Applewhite combined elements of Christianity, with unusual beliefs about UFOs and paranormal phenomena. He also construed the passages from gospels and the Book of Revelation, to relate to UFO visits. In a peculiar way, he described a story in the Book of Revelation, in which two witnesses are killed, and remain dead for three and a half days, but are then revived and sent to the clouds. He believed that the Earth was in control of evil hands. Applewhite claimed that about 2,000 years ago, aliens had come to Earth from the Kingdom of Heaven (the Next Level). One of these aliens was 'Do', who was commanded by his female counterpart 'Ti'. 'Ti' was referred to as 'Heavenly Father' by Applewhite. He claimed that 'Do' left his body and entered the body of Jesus Christ. Sometime later, another group of aliens (or extraterrestrial beings) returned, and they moved into human bodies, but got scattered. Later, in public meetings, he said that the converts (the members of his cult) were the long lost crew.


The cult was the idea of Applewhite and his partner, Bonnie. Applewhite met Bonnie, a nurse in a hospital, where he was a mental patient. He started to believe that Bonnie and he were 'the two', i.e. the two witnesses spoken about in the Book of Revelation (Chapter 11, verse 3) in the Holy Bible. They tried to run an inspirational bookstore, which was unsuccessful. It was then that they traveled around the country, including the churches, to announce their mission. However, only a few people came forward in support.

Group Structure

The cult's members gave up their worldly possessions, and lived a life of celibacy and asceticism. They lived together in a rented house in Rancho Santa Fe, California, and shared everything communally. Some members, including Applewhite, underwent castration. They called themselves brothers and sisters and lived their lives as monks and nuns. They wore unisex garments and abandoned their children and family before joining.

On 26th March, 1997, 39 members of the cult, including Applewhite, committed suicide in their rented home, hoping that a UFO would come to rescue them. Two more members attempted suicide in a similar fashion, in May that year, out of which one survived; however, he committed suicide later again. They were widely publicized as cult suicides.

People who are depressed or suffer from various phobias, often fall prey to such groups and in process, live a void life. If anyone falls into such a trap, we should help him or her to differentiate between right and wrong, so that they lead a trouble-free life.