Heaven’s Gate

CRIME & INVESTIGATION – Tuesdays from 5 May, 9.30pm

This episode investigates the strange world of Heaven’s Gate, the American religious group led by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles. The group’s end coincided with the appearance of Comet Hale-Bopp in 1997. Applewhite convinced 38 followers to commit suicide so that their souls could take a ride on a spaceship that they believed was hiding behind the comet – and carrying Jesus. Such beliefs have led some observers to characterise the group as a type of UFO religion. They believed that the planet Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. The group was formally against suicide, but they defined suicide to mean to turn against the Next Level when it is being offered and they were convinced that their human bodies were only vehicles meant to help them on their journey. The Final Report investigates these beliefs and the strange end of the Heaven’s gate cult.