Cultist groups have permeated society ever since people could chat and share ideas en masse, although modern cult experts today often clash about what, exactly, makes a group of people a cult. What's a loony or eccentric organization to one expert is often seen by others as a religion or sect, which are terms loaded with less cultural stigma. Whatever the best working definition might be, here we present some of popular culture's craziest cults of our time.
Reverend Jim Jones started the Peoples Temple to help homeless, jobless and sick people of all races, but former members claimed widespread abuse within the group. To remove his group from further scrutiny, Jones started a colony in the jungles of Guyana, where he hoped to build a tropical utopia. When a congressman visited the commune with three journalists to investigate the abuse claims, they were shot and killed when trying to leave. After the shootings, 913 commune members – including hundreds of children – perished after drinking poisoned Flavor Aid.
(Editor's Note: This description was updated to delete "mass suicide," as there is debate over whether it was a murder or suicide.)