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Bounded ChoiceTrue Believers and Charismatic Cults$
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Janja Lalich

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780520231948

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520231948.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 July 2021

Denouement

Denouement

Chapter:
(p.91) CHAPTER 5 Denouement
Source:
Bounded Choice
Author(s):

Janja A. Lalich

Publisher:
University of California Press
DOI:10.1525/california/9780520231948.003.0005

This chapter highlights an incident that represents a major turning point in the life of the cult group Heaven's Gate. Nettles fell ill sometime in the early 1980s, a fact that was kept from most members, and died in 1985, most likely from liver cancer. After her death the changes did not appear to cause any major concerns within the core group or crises of faith among the general membership. The trauma of Nettles' death altered and threatened the group's existence but ultimately was overcome, as Applewhite proved his ability to assert his charismatic authority and reaffirm the transcendent belief system. The followers continued to remain under his control and influence. Therefore, the self-sealing system was preserved and bounded choice prevailed. Finally, in killing themselves, the group believed that they were making a logical and even ecstatic choice, given the history and context of the group to that point. This bounded choice was dictated by the same four principles seen at each stage of the cult's evolution.

Keywords:   crises of faith, charismatic authority, self-sealing system, bounded choice, evolution

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