Those of you with a penchant for the macabre, like me, might be pretty familiar with some of the more infamous Texas cults throughout history. We have seen many of them come and go, sometimes with tragic stories ending in scandals, shootouts, and even mass deaths. You might even be able to name a few off the top of your head just reading that short list, but did you know some of these well known groups were actually started right here in Texas?? If you think you can handle it, lets check it out.

David Koresh and The Branch Davidians

David Koresh reading bible quotes to his followers, documentary footage
David Koresh reading bible quotes to his followers, documentary footage
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Alright, lets kick this off with one of the big ones and definitely one of the most obvious Texas cults, The Branch Davidians out of Waco, Texas. David Koresh was the leader of the Branch Davidians, who believed the second coming of Christ was about to happen. To prepare, the cult spent a lot of time stockpiling supplies, including illegal weapons caches that caught the attention of the ATF. Later, the FBI would take over the investigation and find themselves in a 51 day standoff with the Davidians that would see almost 90 of the cult members dead, including their leader, David Koresh. 

Marshall Applewhite and Heaven's Gate

Footage of Marshall Applewhite from one of his videos to his followers - The TELAH Foundation
Footage of Marshall Applewhite from one of his videos to his followers - The TELAH Foundation
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Heaven's Gate is probably one of the most disturbing cults on this list, but really, anytime a cult leader like Marshall Applewhite manages to convince a congregation of people to give their lives for a cause, you know it's gonna be a disturbing story. Even if you don't know the name, you've probably heard of the cult that believed the comet Hale-Bopp was a sign that their time on this earth was over. The group died together using a mixture of poison in apple sauce and asphyxiation with plastic bags after a video from their leader, Marshall Applewhite, told them it was time to ‘ascend’ from the planet. The connection to Texas? Founders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles were born here and tried to found their organization here before moving it to California after a series of legal issues in the Lone Star State. 

The Buddhafield

Poster for the documentary, Holy Hell, made about The Buddhafield cult
Poster for the documentary, Holy Hell, made about The Buddhafield cult
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The Buddhafield was a cult that came to South Austin, Texas in 1992 and is still active in other parts of the world. The allegations against the leader of this religious group, ‘The Teacher,’ stem from sexual assault to brainwashing and financial exploitation. The group moved from Hollywood to Texas in the 90s and since then, former members left the group to spread word about the terrible things happening within the cult itself. You can check out the documentary, Holy Hell, to find out more about this religious group that is still running and that even sent current members to harass former members during the release of this documentary. 

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The Children of God

Getty Images
Getty Images
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The Children of God aka The Movement aka The Family International is a currently active religious group with a lot of unfortunate history. The cult was founded in the early 1960s and by the end of the 60s, they had relocated to Thurber, Texas. As the years went on, members of the group would be found guilty for sexual assault of children and many other forms of misconduct. Notable members of the group are actors Rose McGowan as well as both River Phoenix and his son Joaquin Phoenix. 

Jim Jones and The Peoples Temple

Leader of The Peoples Temple, Jim Jones
Leader of The Peoples Temple, Jim Jones
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Jim Jones formed a group known as The Peoples Temple. This cult is one of the more widely known tragedies as it is the one that bore the phrase “Don't drink the Kool-Aid.” The group never had a sect in Texas but the infamous mass death that occurred in Guyana, or what became known as Jonestown, has a bigger tie to Texas than you might know. The massacre at Jonestown occurred after followers of Jim Jones were convinced to drink poison laced flavor aid and over 900 people were found dead from the concoction. A little known fact that might shock Texans however, is that the poison used in this widely known mass death was actually created by Houston native, Larry Schacht, also known as ‘The Doctor of Jonestown.’

Celebrities Who Were in Cults

From TV actors to pop stars, these 16 celebrities were (or were allegedly...) in cults at one point or another.

Gallery Credit: Erica Russell

Celebrities Who Practice Witchcraft or the Occult

Below, check out some famous musicians and actors that you may be surprised to learn are Wiccan, interested in the Occult, or have been associated with—or presumed to practice—witchcraft.

Gallery Credit: Jessica Norton