As hopeful as I am in this post-Osama world, the cynic in me always is ready for things to go kerflooey on a global scale. And when things get real scary, like most people, I think about starting my own religious cult. I’ve obviously got the leadership thing down, having been captain of my high-school debate team. If you’re not inclined to join my cult, maybe you’ll want to start your own, and in the that spirit, I’ve put together some tips to make your cult as successful as possible.
- Pick a date for the end of the world. Avoid the beginning of any century–be creative. Who’s to say the world won’t end on March 30th, 2012? Or tie your personal vision to an astronomic event–comets have been done to death, but what about the next asteroid shower?
- Get as many people to agree with you as possible–ideally, you should have at least twenty followers–otherwise it’s really more of a club than a cult.
- Choose a spiritual name for your followers to call you. You will have more luck drawing adherents if you avoid really American-sounding names like ‘Greg.’ Also avoid names which are difficult for your followers to pronounce, like Azhgtilsksh.
- When the ‘end times’ come, remember–you don’t have to kill yourself just because your followers do.
- If you have a regular job, quit. In addition to the long hours involved with starting a cult, you lose some credibility if you have to miss a vigil or a sacrifice because you’re ’stuck at work for another hour.’
- Convince your followers to have sex with you in exchange for their salvation. If they are not convinced, threaten to shoot them.
- Good places to build your compound: the desert, the mountains, or anywhere in Idaho. Bad places: the banquet room of a Holiday Inn and your apartment.
- Avoid telling potential converts about the killing themselves part. Wait until you get all their worldly possessions, then start dropping hints about ‘the next world.’
- Be sure to tell your followers that when they kill themselves (see above) they will be going to a better place. Nobody will give you all their worldly possessions if you tell them you’re ‘just not sure what will happen when this all shakes out.’
- Don’t tell people you’re God. Acceptable substitutes–Vessel of God, Messenger of Truth, Most Eminent Visionary. Bad choices–Smart Guy, Man Who Is Better Than Others, Guy Who Tells People To Kill Themselves.
- Find corporate sponsorship. With more cult startups expected than ever before, competition for lost souls will be intense. If you could be known as The Nike Cult of The Impending End Times, you’ll have a better shot at getting new members.