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Heaven's Gate

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Heaven’s Gate

Control, brain washed, and mental illness. Those are the first thoughts that come to mind during and after watching this documentary. Heaven’s Gate was founded and led by Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) and Bonnie Nettles (1928–1985).Marshall Applewhite is a disturbing individual, who seems to me he just wants control over these individuals. The most shocking part is that they actually allow him to control every aspect of their lives. According to what we learned and discussed in class, Heaven’s Gate is definitely a cult. Applewhite was a charismatic leader that kept tight control. He regulated who and when they could go outside to the size a pancake could be. He also isolated them from their family and friends (separation). He controlled all of their resources. One former member even stated Applewhite would use “idol threats” to keep them there, as if they were going to miss out on the best part if they left. This destructive cult claimed the lives of 38 members and the leader.
The followers in Heaven’s gate believed that Earth was going to be recycled or “renewed” and the only way to survive was to leave Earth immediately. I felt like this group should have sat down and actually read the bible. Corinthians 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God you are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” With that said a Christian is supposed to have the Lord in charge of their lives but if someone decides that they are going to end it prematurely, then they are basically "impeaching" the Lord and putting them self in charge of their destiny instead of trusting Him. At one point the group was against suicide, so they even redefined suicide in their own words to mean “to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered.” I did not understand this; they would mention God as if they were his followers but change the word of God to fit their own purpose.
Sawyer, a former follower stated that in 1994 after losing many from the group, Applewhite starting recruiting and did not make it as low key as the years before. He said they felt like it was time to go wanted to die. At that point they were hoping to upset enough religious groups that they would be killed. Another member that grabbed my attention was Yvonne Hill who joined the group with her husband 6 months before the suicides. She was a mother of 4 and before joining the group left her children behind without a second look, she even stated in her goodbye video that “There is nothing here for me.” Nothing here for you, what about your children? They are going to cry themselves to sleep at night because their mother is gone. I am a mother of 2 and could not fathom leaving my children for anyone. They are what is “here for me.” Applewhite had definitely used enough deprogramming on Yvonne, Sawyer, and many others in the group.
Another former group member was a man named Micheal, although he did not stay in the group he still seem brain washed. He spoke openly on the documentary and even seemed to defend Applewhite and his followers. He defended the fact that they believed Mary was impregnated by an alien life form. I am unsure of whether the former members and I use former lightly, received exit counseling but I think it would have been appropriate to make it mandatory.
There was something eerie about these fanatics ranting about the UFOs, being a part of the Next level of existence, and the comet Hale-Bopp. What gets to me the most is that the fundamental beliefs of this cult are really not any more farfetched or improbable than the beliefs of any "modern" religion. This whole event can be seen as a (exaggerated) religious lesson. They might have built their lives on irrational beliefs but in my opinion Religious fervour isn't unlike mania.

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