A Question I Was Asked

'Who are the "Doomsday Cult"? Is This All One Group?'

My Response:
No, there are several such groups, also you must understand that this is a name which people, mostly journalists, have called certain groups (rather than what they call themselves). Most "doomsday cults" are very tiny groups in which a charismatic leader has set a soon-coming date for 'the end of the world' and advised followers to 'prepare themselves' which often seems to mean going into a cave or wilderness area. The Russian one which has been in the news in the spring of 2008 are led by self-declared prophet Pyotr Kuznetsov, who established his own "True Russian Orthodox Church" after he split with the official church.

It has emerged that he was undergoing psychiatric evaluation when he sent his followers into a cave to await 'doomsday' which he places in the spring of 2008.

The 29 people including four children, one only 18 months old had stocked the cave with food and other supplies. Kuznetsov, 43, a trained engineer who comes from a deeply religious family, declared himself a prophet several years ago, left his family and settled in Nikolskoye. At the time he began writing books, borrowing from a mixture of established beliefs, and visited monasteries both in Russia and Belarus (the former 'White Russia'), recruiting followers.

A certain Anna Vabishchevich has been interviewed by the media during early 2008. She said her 41-year-old son, Alexander, and his wife and two teenage daughters were among the cult members. Apparently her son, a railroad worker, came under Kuznetsov's influence several years ago. He stopped eating food packaged with the universal product code which the cult regards as the mark of the Antichrist, she said.

Alexander Dvorkin of the Moscow-based independent Centre of Religious Studies said this of Kuznetsov's followers,

"Their minds are being manipulated, they are under the strong influence of their leader."

He also claimed there were about 10 similar cults in Russia, most nominally Christian and with members living in complete isolation. So far, he said, authorities have done little or nothing about them.

There are also very similar groups going under a host of names almost everywhere in the world but especially within the United States. Typically they are very small, Adventistic in theology, teaching an apocalyptic approach to the Scriptures, they are millenarian and place a very strong emphasis upon the Second Coming and upon Judgment. 'Salvation' is not usually seen spiritually as within established Christianity but as physical, political and necessitating an apocalyptic upheaval. Most (though not all) such groups observe the seventh day sabbath and consider established Christianity to be satanic; their leader alone usually considered qualified to interpret Scripture. While some of these groups are entirely passive, a worrying number believe that they themselves need to do everything within their power to initiate the final conflagration. The reasoning here is that the "time of the end" will only arrive when true believers are attacked by the state and since they normally consider themselves to be the only true believers upon earth, it is seen as within their interests to goad the authorities into attacking them. There seem to have been elements of this tendency within the theologies, and more fanatical followers, of both David Korresh and Jim Jones.
Robin A. Brace, April, 2008.