A woman's unborn child is the key to a cult leader's sinister plan.
The Men Who Would Be the Messiah
Woven from equal parts current intrigue, "What if?" and sheer suspense, Doug Richardson True Believers asks what would happen if a couple's quest for a child coincided with the dreams of an obsessive psychopath.
Dean Theroux, one of the main characters in True Believers, is a Charles Manson-esque cult leader, obsessed with the tale of Jesus Christ's resurrection, intent on preserving his legacy by fathering a child. His obsession crosses over into madness and crashes into the American dream of a powerful couple with everything to lose.
The millennial brouhaha that brings more and more cults to the forefront is cunningly integrated into True Believers. Here are just a few of the cults that have had profound impact on the latter half of the 20th century:
Charles Manson and "The Family"
A diminutive man with a limitless ability to mesmerize, Manson assembled a doomsday cult that centered around himself as a God/Satan figure at Spahn Ranch in Los Angeles. Although he did not commit any murders himself, he convinced his followers to go on a horrific slaughter in the summer of '69 that famously included Sharon Tate, the then-pregnant wife of director Roman Polanski. Manson was convinced that the slaughter would instigate world-wide race riots, or "Helter Skelter," which would then leave his family to rule the earth. Manson is currently imprisoned at San Quentin.
Jim Jones and "The People's Temple"
Jim Jones created the People's Temple as an inter-racial mission for the sick, homeless and jobless. In the '50s, his following in Indianapolis, IN, was well over 900, due to his gospel of equality, love and freedom for society's lowest members. Persecuted and ridiculed for their socialist beliefs, Jim Jones moved the Temple to Ukiah, CA, where he predicted the end of the world via nuclear war. Later the Temple moved to San Francisco, then LA, and in the '70s, to Jonestown, Guyana. In the late '70s, after human rights abuses were reported, a delegation including U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan inspected the compound, which sparked a paranoid shooting spree by Temple security, in which four people and Congressman Ryan were killed. Fearing the consequences, Jones and the Peoples Temple opted for group suicide, and drank cyanide-laced grape Kool-Aid. 638 adults, including Jones, and 276 children died.
David Koresh and the Branch Davidians ("Students of the Seven Seals")
In 1919, Victor Houteff founded this breakaway organization of the Seventh-Day Adventists in Waco, Texas, which adhered to the strictest principles of purity in the belief that Jesus's return to earth was imminent and only the purest would ascend. David Koresh (until then named Vernon Howell) assumed leadership in 1987, renaming the compound Ranch Apocalypse and appropriating other men's wives as part of his new spiritual doctrine. Like other doomsdays cults, the Branch Davidians collected an enormous arsenal of weapons and guns to arm themselves for Armageddon. In the spring of 1993, the U.S. Treasury's Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Fireams decided to arrest Koresh. Their decision led to a bungled shootout. The FBI's subsequent 51-day siege and the state of confusion at Ranch Apocalypse resulted in a fire on April 19, 1993, that left Koresh and 75 followers dead.
A doomsday cult based in California and founded by Marshall Herff Applewhite and Bonnie "Ti" Lu Trusdale Nettles (a.k.a. "The Two"),Heaven's Gate had 21 women and 18 men voluntarily commit suicide for three successive days in three groups, beginning March 23, 1997. They lived austere, celibate lives as preparation for the next level of existence: life without sexual identity, gender or activity. Some committed voluntary castration. Based on a mixture of Christian beliefs and UFO theories, Heaven's Gate followers not only believed that extraterrestrials sought to bring humans to a higher level, but that properly-timed suicide would lead their souls to be "replanted" in a container that would take them to that higher level.
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Copyright © 1999 Newfront Productions, Inc. and Avon Books