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[Fredric Rice, The Skeptic Tank: The authorship of these files on cults has his or her own motivations for providing them and will contain his or her own bias. What I find typical is that individuals and organizations which report on cults are usually themselves a competition cult yet like to think of themselves as "a religion, not a cult." In actual fact, _ALL_ religions are cults by the primary, secondary, and terciary usage definition of the term. Some of the information you find here is inaccurate and contains urban legend -- take what you find with a grain of salt. If you wish to acquire a copy of the Law Enforcement Guide on Occult Crime, contact myself at frice@stbbs.com or at The Skeptic Tank (818) 335-9601 and I'll forward the address and information you need.] Aum Shinrikyo Formed in 1987 to predict the effective end of the world in 1997, the history of Aum was aways likely to be an action-packed affair. Such is the vast number of cults in Japan (183,000 according to one count), neither the police or press had paid special attention to allegations brought against Aum until the infamous subway gas attack inMarch. Now its chubby leader, Shoko Asahara, a professed admirer of Hitler, isone of the most demonised men in Japan.

What has since been uncovered, under the glare of the world's cameras, is an exceptionally well-organised sect with contacts outside Japan, notably in Russia and South Korea. Its 10,000 members formed a strict hierarchy of 13 levels, with specially coloured uniforms denoting which class each belonged to. For those at the bottom (or for those being punished) conditions at the cult's main compound at Kamikuishiki were exceptionally spartan, and in some cases cruel. It is claimed that child members were only allowed to wash once a week, ate frugally and were subject to solitary confinement for bad behaviour. Some also had their eyebrows dyed green and many were forced to wear special battery-powered headgear designed to produce the same electronic frequency as their leader's own brainwaves.

Police have also discovered manuals used by the cult in which methods of recruitingwere outlined as well as suggestions on which type of recruits were most likely to give the most money to the cult. When they searched Asahara's office, police discovered 22lb of gold and 700 million yen (£5 million) in cash. To comment about this Website, our paper and all associated articles, you can mail us at the Observer: bill@dial.pipex.com

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