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Do you have what it takes to be a cult leader?

Updated: Apr 6, 2022

Cover Art by Geena San Diego

Do you have what it takes to be a cult leader? Take this quiz to find out! Answer these twelve short questions, add up your points, and find the cult leader that matches your score.

What are your thoughts on aliens?

a. I believe in them so strongly that they are probably on their way to abduct me as a reward for my allegiance.

b. They’ve been to Earth already, we just didn’t notice.

c. Probably out there somewhere.

d. Not real.

Do you take the lead in group projects?

a. Yes, always.

b. If no one else does it first.

c. If I have to.

d. No, never.

Where do we go when we die?

a. People with my beliefs and who are similar to me go somewhere good, everyone else goes somewhere bad.

b. People who were generally good go somewhere good, and people who were generally c. bad go somewhere bad.

c. I don’t know.

d. Nowhere, we just stop existing.

Should there be a school dress code?

a. Yes, we should wear uniforms.

b No, there should not be one at all.

c. A basic dress code is fine with me.

d. You should be allowed to wear what you want, as long as it doesn’t distract other students.

How do you feel about yourself?

a. I’m better than people around me.

b. I like myself.

c. I’m okay.

d. I’d rather be someone else.

How true is this statement?: I was chosen to do something special. I have a purpose.

a. Completely true.

b. Somewhat true.

c. A little true.

d. Not true.

How many friends do you have?

a. People like to be around me without me having to try. People who don’t know me very well consider me their friend.

b. I don’t have any friends.

c. I have a lot of friends.

d. I have a few friends.

Whom do you look up to?

a. People who did problematic or shocking things to achieve something.

b. No one, just me.

c. Celebrities.

d. Politicians.

How true is this statement?: I am not bothered by the idea of hurting people physically and emotionally. I can see myself hurting people in these ways.

a. Completely true.

b. Somewhat true.

c. A little true.

d. Not true.

How true is this statement?: I like to scare people for fun.

a. Completely true.

b. Somewhat true.

c. A little true.

d. Not true.

How true is this statement?: I am comfortable with or enjoy seeing violence and things that other people might find scary or disturbing.

a. Completely true.

b. A little true.

c. Only in movies.

d. These things scare me.

Which of these pets would you have?

a. A rare breed of lizard.

b. A pet rock.

c. A guinea pig.

d. A dog or a cat.

Scoring your quiz:

For each A, give yourself 81 points.

For each B, give yourself 54 points.

For each C, give yourself 27 points.

For each D, give yourself 0.5 points.

You are…

Score: 972–851

Image by Wikipedia

Image by The Conversation

You are… Jim Jones.

You are fascinated by religion and death, and your cult will cause the largest mass suicide in modern history.

Jim Jones spent his childhood idolizing Hitler’s suicide, as well as experimenting on animals and conducting funerals for them. In the 1950’s and 60’s, Jones became the leader of what eventually became the People’s Temple, an evangelist group that supported racial integration. He also claimed to be able to see the future and heal the sick, and in 1965, he and his church relocated to northern California, fearing a nuclear disaster that he had predicted. In the following years, he faced various allegations, including that he was taking his followers’ income for his own use. In 1977, they moved again, to an agricultural commune in Guyana that he christened “Jonestown.” There, he took passports and millions of dollars from his followers, threatened them with blackmail and physical assault, and staged mass-suicide rehearsals. On November 14, 1978, U.S. Representative Leo Ryan of California, a group of reporters, and relatives of the cult’s followers arrived in Guyana to investigate. However, before they and several defectors from the cult could board planes to leave, members of the People’s Temple opened fire, killing Ryan and four others. On November 18, fearing retribution, Jones ordered his followers to drink cyanide-laced punch, with the children first, killing 913. Jones later died from a gunshot to the head, which is believed to be self-inflicted. Learn more about him here.

Score: 850–729

Image by CNN

Image by Wikipedia

You are… Marshall Applewhite.

You’re obsessed with astrology, the cosmos, and finding a greater purpose in life – and you’re definitely going to start a cult. Like Applewhite, you’ll find your co-leader while staying in a psychiatric institution, and take a six-month long road trip around the United States before getting started.

In 1975, Applewhite, his partner Bonnie Lu Nettles, and twenty people from Oregon left everything to move to Colorado, where Nettles and Applewhite renamed themselves “Ti” and “Do.” Their followers were promised that an alien spacecraft was going to arrive to take them to the “kingdom of heaven.” Though the cult faltered with Nettles’ death in 1985 – and when the aliens did not, in fact, arrive – it made its return in the early ‘90s. Applewhite began his recruiting anew and purchased a large house in Rancho Santa Fe, California in 1996. By then, the group’s focus had shifted to the 1995 discovery of the Hale-Bopp comet, which they believed an alien spacecraft was hiding behind. In March of 1997, when the comet reached its closest distance to the earth in 4,000 years, Applewhite and his followers drank a mixture of vodka and phenobarbital, hoping that they would exit their “vehicles” and ascend to a higher plane.

Applewhite and 38 members were found dead in their house by police on an anonymous tip, dressed in matching dark tracksuits and Nike sneakers. Check out their website,, or read more about them here.

Score: 728–607

Image by NY times

Image by Kyodo times

You are… Shoko Asahara.

You’re obsessed with politics, the apocalypse, and getting revenge, and your cult will murder quite a few innocent civilians.

Shoko Asahara (formerly Chizuo Matsumoto) was born partially blind, and after not being accepted to medical school, he began his own religion, Aum Shinrikyo, in Japan in 1984. The cult (whose name means “supreme truth”) combined Hindu and Buddhist beliefs, as well as apocalyptic Christian prophecies, and was granted legal status as a religious organization in 1989. Followers paid thousands for rituals involving Asahara’s hair, bathwater, and blood. In 1990, Asahara fielded a list of 25 candidates for parliament, with the hope of becoming Prime Minister of Japan. After their rejection, however, Asahara began prophesying the end of the world. He directed his followers to gather firearms and develop biological weapons, including the nerve gas sarin. In 1995, five of the cult’s members released sarin gas into the Tokyo subway system, killing thirteen people and injuring 5,500. Asahara and his followers were later arrested, and the cult’s sites were shut down. Asahara was executed by hanging on July 6, 2018. Learn more about Asahara and Aum Shinrikyo here.

Score: 606–485

Image by wikipedia

Image by greg smith rolling stone

You are… David Koresh.

You’re a natural leader who thrives in conflict, and you’re going to start a destructive cult born from a Christian religious sect.

David Koresh (formerly Vernon Wayne Howell) joined the Branch Davidians of Waco, Texas in 1981. By 1990, he had had an affair with the sect’s sixty-year-old prophetess, attacked their Mount Carmel compound following her death, shot her son several times, and taken control of the compound. Koresh also had several “spiritual” wives, many of whom were children, started a retail gun business, and stockpiled weapons in preparation for the apocalypse, which prompted investigation by the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. The government eventually attempted to raid the compound in 1993, resulting in a 51-day standoff between Federal agents and the Branch Davidians. During this time, they attempted to gain information on the Branch Davidians by providing them with bugged gallons of milk. Meanwhile, the Branch Davidians remained inside, holding their children up to the windows. The siege eventually culminated with the Federal agents’ deployment of tear gas, after which the Branch Davidians set three fires simultaneously within the compound, killing 76, with Koresh himself among them. Learn more about the Branch Davidians and the Waco Siege here. Score: 484–363

Image by Andrew Harnick the atlantic

Image by the AP/chicago tribute

You are… Donald Trump.

You always want to have the biggest and the best of everything, love to be the center of attention, and often lie to cover even the smallest of mistakes. Your cult will be unconventional, and will cause destruction on a national scale.

Donald Trump’s cult leader mentality began as a child raised by an authoritarian father, and with his election as President, his following became half the country. Using talk-show hosts, religious broadcasts, and right-wing media, Trump spread his mind control far and wide, causing his followers to turn on their morals and engage in the violently unpatriotic events of January 6, 2021. Read more about Trump’s cult from the Eagle’s Scream here.

Score: 362–241

Image by
Image by Matthew Naythons wikipedia

You are… Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

You strongly disagree with the norms and structure of society, and want to surround yourself with people who share your desire for peace and community; and though your cult won’t kill anyone, it’ll come pretty close.

Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh began his teachings in India, and Westerners were flocking to him by the 1970s. However, Rajneesh’s progressive beliefs faced backlash in India, so he and his followers relocated to a massive abandoned ranch near the small retirement town of Antelope, Oregon. At this new site, dressed in red and working 16-hour days, the Rajneeshees began to construct their city: Rajneeshpuram. However, their rapid development of the ranch, gradual takeover of the town, and progressive beliefs were not supported by the residents of Antelope, who sought to evict them. Taking matters into their own hands, the Rajneeshees attempted to elect their own members to positions of power – by any means necessary. To suppress voter turnout, they developed their own type of salmonella, which they used in several poisonings, the most notable of which being the largest bioterror attack in American history. It occured at a salad bar in the town of The Dalles, affecting over 750 people. They also started the “Share A Home” program, which involved recruiting homeless people for their ranch with the offer of free food and housing in exchange for votes. The cult collapsed soon afterwards, amid a flurry of allegations (including attempted murder), and Rajneesh was deported in 1985 after pleading guilty to violating immigration law. To learn more about Rajneesh, his commune, and their crimes, watch the documentary “Wild, Wild Country” on Netflix.

Score: 240–119

Image by Isis Aquarian the washington post

Image by Isis Aquarian the art forum

You are… Father Yod.

You’re vegan or vegetarian, probably think that you have some deep psychic connection to the universe, and are an unsweetened tea enthusiast. Though your cult will ultimately be peaceful, it’s going to be weird as hell.

The Source Family cult began in Los Angeles in 1969 with the Source Restaurant, one of the first vegetarian restaurants. It was opened by a former Marine and bank-robber named James Baker, who would later be known by his followers as “Father Yod.” In the early 70’s, he and his 150 young employees moved into a three-bedroom house in the Hollywood Hills, where they all took on the last name “Aquarian,” and were given new first names by Baker. Baker also “married” fourteen of his female followers, some of them teenagers, and started a rock band (“Ya Ho Wa 13”). His cult drew their beliefs from several religions, and eventually, his followers even began to worship him as a god. However, their living conditions drew scrutiny from local authorities, and they fled to Hawaii. On August 25, 1975, Baker went hang gliding off of a 1,300 foot cliff on the eastern shore of Oahu, with no prior hang gliding experience. He crash-landed on the beach and died from his injuries nine hours later. Within two years, the Source Family dissolved. To learn more, watch “The Source Family” on Amazon (it can also be found on several other platforms).

Score: 118–6

Image by careyschool

You are… the average Kindergarten teacher.

You’re generally calm and quiet, but not unnervingly so, and you have a normal amount of friends. Chances are, you regularly eat toast and attend school. You don’t hold grudges or make enemies.

It could be argued that the average Kindergarten teacher has a cult following, but their followers are required to leave at the end of the day. Their commune is run by the government. At a public school, the followers do not wear uniforms, and there is very little religious influence. They tend not to commit mass poisonings, mass murders, mass frauds, or mass suicides. It’s safe to say that you won’t be leading a cult – but you can still join one.

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