How Heaven's Gate Used The Promise Of UFOs To Lure Their Victims

Heaven's Gate was a cult formed by leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles in 1975. The duo lured their followers through posters and presentations, promising salvation. Although the group borrowed beliefs from the Christian religion, they also believed that a UFO would come to save them and take them to the "Next Level" when the world was wiped out. Per ATI, one of the Heaven's Gate promotional posters read: "Two individuals say they were sent from the level above human, and will return to that level in a space ship (UFO) within the next few months."

Both Applewhite and Nettles believed that they were the "two witnesses" mentioned in the Bible's Book of Revelation with the passage: "And I will grant my two witnesses authority to prophesy for one thousand two hundred and sixty days wearing sackcloth," via (SF Gate). Nettles was already a spiritualist and astrologer before the founding of Heaven's Gate, and together with Applewhite, they came up with new age beliefs and made up their own interpretation of the Bible passage.

Luring members through UFOs

Although the thought of being saved by a UFO seems bizarre, Applewhite and Nettles gained a following that believed in what they preached. Adding UFOs to their belief system was a way for the duo to attract the media and gain more followers, according to a report from SF Gate. Sociologist Robert Balch, who studied Heaven's Gate, said, "They were influenced by a lot of New Age ideas, and by esoteric interpretations of the Book of Revelation. It was a blend of stuff. They added UFOs as they went along." It was attractive to people because of the familiarity of Christianity but with an added element of UFOs that make it modern and interesting.

The members of Heaven's Gate had to follow strict rules. They were to let go of all their earthly belongings and had to steer clear of drugs and intercourse. Followers were required to leave their families behind and live together in order for them to reach the "Next Level" which was also called TELAH (The Evolutionary Level Above Human), per ATI.

Heaven's Gate members believed that the Earth will be "recycled" at some point and the human race will be wiped out (via Heaven's Gate). When that happens, a UFO will come down to save the followers and bring them to the Next Level.

The coming of the UFO

In 1985, Bonnie Nettles died of cancer. Marshall Applewhite was left to lead Heaven's Gate, and it was then when he focused on ingraining followers with the idea of a spacecraft coming to save them. Based on Heaven's Gate's teachings, the human body is merely a vehicle that will be left behind when the Earth's recycling happens, per ATI.

In April 1997, the Hale-Bopp comet was scheduled to fly by the Earth. Applewhite then told his followers that the spacecraft will follow soon after to take them to the Next Level, and for that to happen, they must leave their vessels. On March 26, the bodies of 39 Heaven's Gate members were found deceased in their headquarters in California, per Rolling Stone. They were all dressed alike in Nike sneakers and dark tracksuits. It was discovered that the members took their own life by ingesting barbiturates mixed with applesauce and washed down with vodka. They then placed bags over their heads to suffocate.

The members and Applewhite killed themselves willingly, although they did it as they believed it was a way to leave their vessel and prepare for the coming of the UFO that will save them. Although Heaven's Gate ended with the mass suicide, their official website that contains their beliefs still exists to this day.