Heaven’s gate came into existence after Bonnie Nettles and Marshal Applewhite met during the counterculture years, back in 1972. They believed that they were witnesses for the end time who have been mentioned in Revelations 11. This religious grouping believed that a UFO would come so as to help them achieve higher levels of existence and hence take them to heaven (Zeller, 2011). In 1975, their initial meetings in California and Oregon resulted in their first followers.
The activities of the group became widely known in 1996 when they established a website to inform other people that there existed a gate to heaven. The two Heaven’s gate leaders were fascinated with science fiction, astrology and UFO’s. With time, they saw it as their duty to harvest earthly souls and save the maximum number of people possible. Just 9 months after their first meeting, they cut all ties with their family members and set out to spread their teachings. Those who believed in teachings of the duo gave up on society as they prepared to transition to higher levels of existence (Zeller, 2011).
It is widely accepted among scholars that most followers of Applewhite accepted to follow in his suicide mission because they were largely dependent upon him. By socially ostracizing them, he was able to instill total allegiance and submission. Applewhite fit the traditional charismatic leader definition while others have christened him “master manipulator”. He led seven other group members for surgical castration due to the belief that the next level beings did not subscribe to any genders (Zeller, 2011).
Further, he used the New Testament verses which hold that there is no marriage in heaven. After learning that Comet Hale-Bopp was approaching, the members believed that Nettles would be in a spaceship which would be following the comet. Therefore, they totally isolated themselves in March 1997 and wrote their farewells. Applewhite was among the last four Heaven’s Gate members to die after his three assistants aided him commit suicide before taking their lives as well. Finally, 39 members of Heaven’s gate were dead.