Famous Cults In America Still Active Today

Published November 7, 2012
Updated November 9, 2023

For some, the kool aid from their cults never goes sour -- a fascinating look at the five of the most utterly insane cults in America still active today!

Five Utterly Insane Cults: Eckankar

Founded in Minnesota in 1965, the Eckankar movement promotes the idea that one can separate their soul from their body and experience the “Light and Sound” of God by journeying beyond the mortal form.

The group has been heavily criticized for the fact that nearly all of founder Paul Twichell’s works have been plagiarized from other spiritual material or blatantly fabricated. The group has also come under fire for the fact that the primary spiritual leader is also the CEO of the company that sells the founder’s materials for profit.



Raëlism itself began prior to its official 1976 formation during a series of conventions hosted in France. Raëlism devotees believe that extraterrestrials genetically engineered humanity thousands of years ago and have been guiding us throughout history through their representatives on Earth who typically have taken the form of major religious figures such as Buddha and Jesus Christ.

Members of Raëlism currently believe that the leaders of the cult are the modern-day versions of past Raël visitors and that they must teach the world to become peaceful enough to allow the Raëlist extraterrestrials to return to Earth and visit humans at embassies the Raëlist members have built around the world.

New Mathura Vrindaban

New Mathura Vindabran

Source: Wikimedia

The New Mathura Vrindaban group is an offshoot of Hare Krishna founded in 1968 by Kirtanananda Swami and Hayagriva Swami.

Under the leadership of Kirtanananda Swami, the group became infamous for a wide range of multi-million dollar racketing schemes, mail fraud, and the illegal sales of copyrighted material. Using the money earned from illegal business, Kirtanananda Swami was able to greatly expand New Vrindaban and form communities throughout the Northeast and Midwestern United States.

Famous Cults In America: The Kashi Ashram

Based in Florida, the movement of Kashi Ashram was founded in 1976 by an individual called Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati who believed that she had received visions first from Jesus Christ and then from several Hindu deities. The group promotes actions of compassion and understanding while also encouraging a community-driven lifestyle.

Many former members of the Kashi movement have criticized the group for brainwashing the members of the cult into believing that Ma Jaya was a God and that they should give themselves and their children, in some cases through informal adoption, to her for training. Though Ma Jaya herself died in 2003, the movement continues to this day.

Insane Cults Kashi Cult

Source: Flickr

The Brethren

The Brethren Cult

Source: DL Dewey

Founded in 1971 by American Jimmie T. Roberts, The Brethren exists as a radical group that believes that the only way to prepare for the inevitable end of the world is to purify oneself by giving up all modern comforts and conveniences.

Brethren are expected to make or forage for anything they need and live in groups that ignore most modern social conventions.

Members of the Brethren are also forbidden from celebrating or playing since it is believed that all forms of celebration should be saved for the return of their savior at the end of the world. Members of the group typically sever all ties to the world upon joining, which has led to movements formed by families trying to find missing family members post-Brethren joining.

Enjoyed reading about the most utterly insane cults active today in the United States? Then check out ten insane human records and the most unusual religious rituals and beliefs! Finally, step inside some of the most fascinating hippie communes of the 1970s.

Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
Cite This Article
Cox, Savannah. "Famous Cults In America Still Active Today." AllThatsInteresting.com, November 7, 2012, https://allthatsinteresting.com/insane-cults. Accessed April 19, 2024.