If you are old enough, you likely remember the events of March, 1997. A UFO-based religious group called Heaven’s Gate, led by Marshall Applewhite, garnered media attention after 39 of its members were found to have committed suicide in a 9,200 square foot building they had rented in San Diego, California.
Heaven’s Gate’s belief system centered around aliens who were allegedly preparing to recycle the Earth by wiping it clean. This meant that to survive the rejuvenation, humans would have to leave the Earth’s atmosphere. They referred to the human body as a vehicle or a vessel which was meant to help them on their journey to the ‘Next Level’ — an evolutionary level above human beings.
Everything that the group had been preaching came to an abrupt conclusion with the arrival of the Hale-Bopp Comet in 1997. The Heaven’s Gate website, which is basically frozen in time from prior to the comet’s arrival reads:
“Whether Hale-Bopp has a “companion” or not is irrelevant from our perspective. However, its arrival is joyously very significant to us at “Heaven’s Gate.” The joy is that our Older Member in the Evolutionary Level Above Human (the “Kingdom of Heaven”) has made it clear to us that Hale-Bopp’s approach is the “marker” we’ve been waiting for — the time for the arrival of the spacecraft from the Level Above Human to take us home to “Their World” — in the literal Heavens. Our 22 years of classroom here on planet Earth is finally coming to conclusion — “graduation” from the Human Evolutionary Level. We are happily prepared to leave “this world” and go with Ti’s crew.”
A total of 39 members of the cult were found dead on March 26, 1997. It was determined that the mass suicide took place in waves over a period of three days, and that the cult members took phenobarbital mixed with apple sauce, and washed it down with vodka prior to putting plastic bags over their heads.
One would think that after 18 years, and with the majority of its believers either dead, or hanging out with aliens, that the website would have been abandoned long ago. This, however, is not the case, and in fact the cult still even has a functioning and manned email address listed on the page (firstname.lastname@example.org). One Reddit user, named Mark Bryan decided to contact the group, and surprisingly within just 5 hours he received a response. Below is a copy of his email conversation with the unknown individual:
As it turns out, the domain name is run by the Telah Foundation, which includes just two members, and the contact for the domain is Mark King, who was appointed trustee for the cult and sued in the past to halt the sale of unauthorized Heaven’s Gate merchandise by a man named Chuck Humphrey. Humphrey later committed suicide like the rest of the cult members had.
“The Group left us to take care of the website, book and the tapes that they wanted to speak for them,” The Telah Foundation told CBS Las Vegas. “Very few people ask for the book or tapes, so very little is given out.”
Regardless of the circumstances surrounding Heaven’s Gate, you have to give them credit for their foresight to have the webpage running 18 years after those fateful days, especially since the internet was only in its infancy in early 1997.