Throughout human history, religious beliefs were the reason (and sometimes just a pretext) many conflicts, strife and bloody wars. When people like to believe in something, it is impossible to convince them - even if it's the belief that you should immediately commit suicide to get on a spaceship, which is located in a comet flying near the Earth.
Many charlatans, swindlers, and sometimes just crazy used religion as a cover for their own enrichment and gaining popularity. Here are some of the most famous "religious leaders" of this kind.
1. Sathya Sai Baba
The leader of the neo-Hinduism famous for healing the suffering, clairvoyance, the resurrection of the dead and other phenomenal deeds. Until his death in 2011, millions of followers of Sai Baba's revered as a miracle worker, and the incarnation of God on earth, but even with the 1970s, many have expressed doubts about the wonderful abilities of the famous guru.
British journalist Mick Brown conducted an investigation of Sai Baba and found that those who were religious teacher allegedly "raised" or dead so far, either, and did not die at all. Brown accused the guru not only for fraud but also of sexual abuse, although evidence has not led the last journalist.
No official charges brought against Sai Baba was not so many still consider him clairvoyant, having supernatural powers.
2. Peter Popov
Dr. Popov made his name on television with sessions "of communication with God." In his weekly program, broadcast in 1980, Peter A. struck the imagination of the audience, selecting "random" people in the studio and talking about their health problems, and then miraculously "healed" patients.
Phenomenal "gift" Popov brought about $ 4 million a year, while in 1987, James Randi has not found that the "miracle worker" uses a miniature earphone through which his wife informs him about in the audience. Popov himself claimed that his wife "accidentally" gave him the names and diagnoses of spectators, but the reputation of "healer" has been spoiled forever.
3. Todd Kunz
Pastor Kunz on TV to convince people that if they are transferred to the account of a preacher of $ 1 thousand, then the Lord will bless all of their financial undertakings, and soon every one will be sacrificed, if not a billionaire, you probably millionaire.
From the point of view of the law in the actions Kunz was nothing reprehensible in the end, people transferred money voluntarily, but when one of the television stations withdrew the story of luxury apartments and luxury cars belonging to the "clergy", many thoughtful about the true nature of the "sermons" .
Todd Kunz never revealed how much donations he received, so it was impossible to charge him with fraud, besides the pastor did not take any obligation, except "God's blessing", the presence or absence of which is extremely difficult to prove.
4. Jim Becker
Jim was the organizer of one of the most scandalous and profitable family business history, with his first wife, Tammy Faye Becker since the mid-1970s to the late 1980s, led a popular TV show «The PTL Club» («PTL» - «Praise The Lord "in the lane with English. -" Praise the Lord "). Numerous issues have brought a married couple so much money that they have opened their own amusement park, and even bought a television satellite transmission to broadcast around the clock on its own channel.
In 1980 the couple became a legend, they imitated and worshiped, and their statement, "If Jesus were alive, he would be shown on television" has become the motto of many televangelists.
This continued until one of the employees of Becker actress Jessica Hahn is not accused him of rape - Jim had to shell out $ 287 thousand, so it did not come to court.
The scandal with the rape has become an occasion for a thorough audit of the spouses, during which were discovered several large machinations with land and some other criminal acts preacher, after which he landed yet by the court which ordered Becker to pay a fine of $ 500 thousand, and sent to prison 45 years.
A loving wife publicly said it will wait for Jim, but three years after sentencing Tammy Faye divorced him and married another man.
5. Gerald Payne
In 1993, the Gerald Payne and several of his associates established a religious organization under the modest name «Greater Ministries International» (translated as "The Great International clergy" or "Greater international ministry"). Case «GMI» became one of the biggest in the history of religious quackery - under the guise of church institutions operated a real pyramid scheme.
During the trial it was revealed that in six years 'saints', the headquarters of which is located in Tampa, Florida, have been able to extract from the 18 thousand gullible parishioners more than $ 500 million, and the main argument for donors began assurances that the money soon return to them twice.
Employees Payne used the classic techniques of the organization of the financial pyramid: the first to invest in the "good cause" really got their dollars back, so even with interest, so the rumor of "charitable" donations quickly spread among the greedy and minded but extremely religious people in the US, and poured into the coffers of the organization of a powerful flow of funds.
Soon, however, the activities of Gerald Payne became the object of attention of the police investigation was conducted, and then the trial took place, which resulted to Payne and his priests steel prison terms ranging from 13 to 27-years.
6. The Baptist Foundation of Arizona
It is a charitable religious institution promised his congregation to provide "services Asset management of Christians who want to take the help of the venerable clergy, to profit from their investments».
As a result, financial fraud, investors' Baptist Foundation "suffered multimillion-dollar losses when, in 1999, the Baptists announced their bankruptcy. The assets of a religious organization is about $ 70 million in the financial commitments of $ 530 million, but the investigation revealed that the "Economists from God" did not disdain any pyramid schemes or machinations with land and real estate. Several leaders of the "Fund" have been recognized by fraudsters and for many years put behind bars.
7. Swami Nityananda (Paramahamsa Nityananda)
This Hindu religious leader magazine «Mind Body Spirit» recognized as one of the hundred most influential spiritual leaders of our time. Swami (the honorary title of Hinduism in Sanskrit, "Swami" means something like "self-controlled" or "free from feelings") lives and teaches in the ashram (abode of religious sages in India) Nityananda Dhayanapeetam located near Bangalore.
A spiritual teacher called for the revival of the ancient Vedic tradition, and in 2010 he became a member of a huge scandal when an Indian TV channel aired a video which show how "holy" has sex with two women, one of which is similar to a popular actress in the country.
After that Nityananda was arrested on suspicion of rape and fraud, and he spent behind bars for more than two months before it was decided to release on bail. The trial lasted about two years, when the representative of the company's administration admitted that the video was an attempt to blackmail one of the employees.
Soon, one of Indian Americans again accused the guru of rape, resulting in many prominent religious leaders in India have stopped advocate Swami Nityananda. The investigation into his case has not yet been completed.
Swami Muktananda 8.
Swami Muktananda is known as the creator and founder of Siddha Yoga practices - meditation system designed to self-realization of a successful person. Gradually, these practices have gained such popularity that created Muktananda movement "Siddha Yoga Dham," grew and by the end of the life of the spiritual leader has 37 ashrams and meditation centers around 300 worldwide.
In the 1980s and 1990s, several women accused of sexual harassment Muktananda. One of them, for example, claimed that the swami molested her on the pretext of checking her virginity, others claim about rape, and even though no evidence was not righteous deeds guru victims has not been shown, this smelly history is turned away from the teachings Muktananda many of his followers.
9. Jim Jones
You could say that little Jimmy has become a hostage of education - the mother of a child convinced him that it was none other than the Messiah, and she believed it implicitly.
Jim began to preach in the mid-1950s in Indianapolis, where he established a Protestant organization "People's Temple", which later became part of the "Church of Christ", and Jones himself was ordained a priest. In 1965, Jim and his "Temple" moved to California, because he believed that it can only survive in the coming nuclear war.
By that time, the pastor has got a few relatives and foster children, and had hundreds of faithful parishioners. Jones preached the idea that his followers and himself after death are inseparable and reborn on another planet for the eternal bliss.
Gradually work Jones acquired distinctly paranoid character. He urged all the existence of an international conspiracy of special services directed against members of the religious community, and then called on all residents of Johnstown (settlement members of his sect in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, a nation on the northeast coast of South America) to commit mass suicide to prevent "enemies" take possession of their immortal souls.
November 18, 1978, the year 909 Jones followers, including about 300 children, took the poison of them later found the body of a preacher with a gunshot wound to the head. He shot himself or did somebody of his followers at the request of his spiritual mentor, is still unclear.
10. Arnold Potter
In the first half of his life, Arnold Potter was a supporter of the "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints," or simply the Mormons. His cross himself, Joseph Smith - one of the founding fathers of this religious organization. In 1840 Potter with the Mormons went to Utah, and then for a few months, went to Australia, where it took some "cleansing, life-enhancing change", after which he returned to the United States and declared himself an incarnation of God on Earth.
"Potter Christ," "Son of the living God" - as he calls himself not just wandering around Iowa dressed in a white robe, wandering Arnold was accompanied by several of his followers in black robes.
In 1872 Potter wrote in his forehead some of their "titles" and threw himself off a cliff, so to get to heaven and finally attain the divine essence, but the congregation did not follow the example of his mentor. Arnold got to heaven or not - history is silent about it.
11. Marshall Epplvayt
Traveling to the United States in the 1970s, Marshall Epplvayt, son of a priest, and his common-law wife, a former nurse Bonnie Netls spent many hours talking about the fantastic universe of "Star Trek," Divine Revelation and that when the end of all things, humans and aliens will certainly meet. These conversations led to the creation of a new religious cult whose followers to avoid contact with the outside world waiting ambulance sent to heaven.
In 1997, some of the community "Heaven's Gate" waited for his chance: after the famous comet Hale-Bopp was relatively close to Earth, Epplvayt and 39 of his followers committed suicide in order to have time to "find a place on a spaceship that Located in a comet, "one of the basic provisions of the religion Epplvayta.
12. Buddhists extortionists
This summer, in Toronto, Canada turned up a group of "Buddhist monks" who because of his shaved head and bright yellow-orange robes looked almost real. However, the behavior of "saints" sharply different from those among the "seekers of enlightenment" - they begged from passers-by money and food, and otherwise pursuing their grimacing while the victim did not shell out again.
These followers of Buddhism in Toronto said they did not have to beggars any relation.
13. Menachem Yulus
Rabbi Yulus famous for his fictional journey in search of the lost during the Holocaust Torah scrolls. The rabbi, who calls himself a "Jewish Indiana Jones", was able to gather on the charitable cause of the lost fragments of the sacred books of the Jews for more than $ 1 million.
Menachem Yulus said that managed to find the lost scrolls in the concentration camps of Auschwitz, Bergen-Belzema and many other places - these stories allowed him to pay for the education of their children in the best private schools. But some of the large amounts received on account of his charitable foundation, Yulus still spent to purchase ancient documents, which it is presented to donors as proof of their activities.
When the fraud was discovered, the rabbi pleaded guilty to fraud and received four years in prison.