Some predict the arrival of the Antichrist and the end of the world, others see humanity as a genetic clone created by extraterrestrial gods. The sects in Spain that are still active are sometimes simple anthropological oddities , but in other cases they are real criminal organizations that pose a real danger.

Sexual crimes, kidnapping, psychological and physical abuse , aggressive proselytizing, authoritarian control, manipulation, money laundering and extortion are just some of the crimes that weigh on these cults.

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1. What is a sect and how does it work
? 2. How many sects are there in Spain?
3. The 10 most amazing sects in Spain.

What is a sect and how does it work?
A sect is a group of individuals united by a generally minority belief system and divided from the general doctrine.
Originally, the concept of sect was used to name alternative interpretations to the official Catholic doctrine, but today the term groups together those groups whose religious or philosophical beliefs pose a danger to the community. Its main feature is the secrecy, persuasion and isolation of the individual .
In fact, the potential victims of the sects are people who are going through a period of emotional crisis, economic difficulty, emotional crisis and depressed mood . These subjects are easily manipulated and find the comfort and help they need in the group. Then the process of “brainwashing” begins.
Through meticulous persuasion techniques, a parallel process of creating ties of affinity and dependence on the group, and breaking ties with the family and the rest of society, is created. The main claims are usually an attractive new system of values ​​and beliefs, and the existence of a self-proclaimed supreme leader .

How many sects in Spain are still active?
According to estimates, there are currently between 200 and 250 sects in Spain that are still active , but there is an even more chilling figure: some 6 million people have been in direct or indirect contact with sects at some point. In addition, 40% of the population could be at risk of being captured by a sect.
Since the recruitment occurs on people who are in a situation of emotional vulnerability, the economic crisis and the social fracture of recent years have been a breeding ground for the growth of sects.
A list of the most influential sects in our country. | Image from: Jametlene Reskp.
Most of these groups are concentrated in Valencia, Madrid and Barcelona: Being urban centers with a flow of many people, it favors the movement and establishment of groups. The figures that are considered in Spain are not far from the situation in other countries such as Germany, Italy or France, although these countries have specific legislation for sects.
In Spain there is no legislation that regulates this type of groups, since many times they are hidden behind religious associations and therapeutic groups . Most of the crimes charged to cult leaders are human trafficking, child abuse, psychological damage, extortion and crimes against public health.

The 10 most amazing sects in Spain today
From a UFO religion that sees the human race as a genetically engineered creation to the creepy Family of Love that preaches incest, pedophilia and rape, some sects are still active offering a curious variety of doctrines.

1. New Acropolis
“Philosophy, Culture, Volunteering” is the slogan that heads the website of this international organization founded by the philosopher Jose Angel Livraga in Argentina in 1957. Its main message is the following: putting into practice the teachings of classical thinkers you can reach universal brotherhood and the development of individual capacities.
Although the approach may seem ideal, some former members denounced aggressivemethods of recruitment and psychological abuse. Experts consider it a sect, due to the secrecy that surrounds the organization and its strongly hierarchical structure, and its group in Spain has raised suspicions for covering up fascist and anti-Semitic ideology.
The main legs of the association are holding conferences and philosophical and esoteric courses, and volunteering. Behind these recruitment methods are dangerous messages such as the elimination of misfits in the new future, a fascist symbology and paramilitary aesthetics that include greetings to the leader.
It was considered by the European Parliament as one of the most dangerous sects .

2. Scientology
Converted into one of the most controversial religions in the world, Scientology has been fighting for decades against anyone who dares to say that it is a sect. However, documentaries such as “Going Clear” expose irregular practices such as psychological abuse and extortion .
Although it was created in the 1950s in California, its popularity increased with the entry into its ranks of celebrities such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta. In Spain, since 2007 it has been considered a Church, which has a series of humanitarian programs for social improvement . His hook: get to the truth through the knowledge of the person.
One of the most controversial points that makes many see it as a sect is that its membersThey learn the details of their doctrine little by little and by paying large amounts of money. This allows them to go up the ranks in the organization until they reach the highest level, where they have access to the leader’s documents.
In the aforementioned documentary, the methods of psychological abuse that would have caused, for example, the divorce between Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, or John Travolta’s reluctance to leave the church due to threats to reveal details of his private life, are exposed. The church denies it and denounces anyone who dares to make such accusations.

3. Gnostic Association
Gnosis is, literally, the science par excellence and the supreme knowledge, and it is also the heart of the doctrine of one of the most active Spanish sects: hundreds of thousands of followers follow the message of the Gnostic Institute of Anthropology that replaces the redemption of Christ for individual redemption through profound personal sacrifice.
This organization was created in 1954 in Colombia by a healer who called himself Samael Aun Weor, and after his death in 1977 his knowledge spread to several countries, also reaching Spain. Currently there are dozens of Gnostic centers throughout Spain, where talks and conferences are held as a method of recruitment .
Patricia Aguilar, kidnapped by a Gnostic, on her return to Spain. | Image from: Youtube.
The knowledge transmitted by the “master” was a mixture of occultism, esotericism and Eastern philosophical influences whose rise in recent years has multiplied adherence to his principles.
The main doctrine divides the being into personality, essence and ego, being the essence something innate and the personality something acquired, so that man develops his ego and evil as he grows. Gnostic psychology seeks the education of these three parts to achieve the unity of the intellect, the soul and the instincts. Thus the self-realization of the being is completed .
The experts denounce practices of physical and psychological abuse on the members of the association, as well as extortion and other crimes. In a 2015 Gnostic congress in Santiago de Compostela, the baby of a couple who had attended the event died of suffocation, and recently there was the case of the kidnapping of the Spanish Patricia Aguilar in Peru.
The Gnostic Church has always distanced itself from what it considers individual malpractice.

4. Jehovah’s Witnesses
It is surely the most well-known religious sect in Spain, with a long presence and intense proselytizing activity. Jehovah’s Witnesses are known for spreading their message door to door, as each of its members is seen as a prophet (witness) whose mission is to convey God’s (Jehovah) message to others.
Officially, it is a millenarian and restorationist religion segregated from Catholicism for its denial of the Holy Trinity. It was founded in 1881 by Charles Taze Russell as a modern variant of Protestantism, as it preaches a return to primitive Christianity and individual reading and interpretation of the Bible, without intermediaries.
One of the most important messages of his doctrine is the announcement of the end of the world, after which only a few will be able to access the kingdom of heaven. Unlike Christianity, Jehovah’s WitnessesThey believe that death is the end of existence , but when God resurrects those who are gone, the adepts will be saved.
Through this message, the congregations serve as meeting places and attract thousands of followers and volunteers who finance the organization . One of the most controversial points is his opposition to scientific advances and his refusal to undergo medical treatments such as blood transfusions.
In addition to the fact that some of its members have been involved in cases of child sexual abuse, this organization is considered a sect due to its practices of isolating the person from their social environment (it is required to break with anyone who is not part of the group). of the community) andits control through autocratic and coercive leadership .

  • To learn more: Jehovah’s Witnesses: what they are and what their rules are.

5. The Raelians
When the esoteric is incorporated into the doctrine of a sect, its belief system may seem extravagant, but sometimes it acquires a surprising capacity for conviction . This is the case of the Raelians, one of the Spanish sects that convinces its followers that we are not alone in the universe.
Master Rael revealed, in 1974, that the human race is a genetically engineered creation by the superior gods, the Elohim. These gods are extraterrestrials belonging to a superior civilization that have created the Earth through science.
Rael, the founding composer of the Raelian Movement. | Image from: Youtube.
The Raelians see homosexuality as a natural genetic circumstance and are LGBTI activists. In addition, they have actively advocated cloning as a method of achieving immortality , and geniocracy as a form of ideal political government in which jinn rule human societies.
The UFO religion or cult of the Raelians is still active in Spain, but it only has a dozen members. Although they have been accused of pedophilia for their lax conceptions of sexuality, they have been firm in the fight against any sexual abuse.

6. Mormons
The Church of the Saints of the Last Days is the official denomination of a religion better known as the Mormons and whose proselytism and internal hierarchy make many consider it a sect . In the world they have 14 million members, 47,000 of which in Spain, where they have been active since 1969.
However, many others do not consider Mormons to be a sect, since they do not hide anything and are only a doctrinal split from Catholicism. As peculiarities, they believe that God was in America, that Mary had other children after Jesus, and that we can all become a type of divinity .
The Mormons is a religious group founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith that has developed heterodox practices such as polygamy or baptism of the dead. Currently , Mormons do not practice polygamy , but they are prohibited from smoking and drinking, as well as having sex before marriage.
The members of the community cover their maintenance with 10% of their salary. The new members carry out an apostolate for one or two years all over the world preaching their faith, and it is considered that there are about 200 missionaries in Spain. They are easily recognizable because they wear a white shirt, tie and an identification tag .

7. Family of Love
The International Family or Family of Love is a sect that was born from the hippie movement in the late sixties and evolved into one of the most destructive religious groups. From its inception through the teachings of David Brandt Berg, its message revolves around the close relationship between religion and sex .
In fact, sexual scandals have dotted the organization and its founder since its inception, and without going any further, his own daughters and granddaughters accused him of repeated sexual abuse. It was later revealed that sex was one of the main weapons of seduction used by the “missionaries” of the congregation to attract new members.
In 1993, 70% of the members of the Family were minors, and the sect wascontinuously subjected to complaints of kidnapping, sexual abuse and pedophilia.
The key to the Family of Love (initially called the Children of God) was the apocalyptic revelations of his guru, and the rules established in the more than 3,000 scripts he wrote, in which he claimed that God likes sex because it is beautiful. and that sexual practices are natural and recommended, including pedophilia, incest and rape.
Although very minority, the Family continues to have a community in Spain, where they camouflage their message in the guise of an environmental and humanitarian organization.

8. Palmarian Church
Luxury and power are the adjectives that best describe one of the most disturbing splits in the Catholic religion, andone of the sects in Spain that are still active . The Church of Palmar de Troya is one of the most bizarre confessions that constitutes, in addition to a new religious code, a whole structure with its churches and its Popes.
It was born, in fact, from a series of Marian apparitions and mystical ecstasies near Palmar de Troya, in Seville, where in 1968 the seer Clemente Dominguez founded a religious congregation. From there an entire eschatological rhetoric is built that affirms the arrival of the Antichrist and the end of the world from a series of apocalyptic visions.
As its creators spread the Palmarian church throughout the world through intense proselytizing activity, they exert increasing pressure on its followers to finance an authentic Palmarian Vatican that accumulates wealth and luxury through external donations. Several accusations of money laundering weigh on them .
Basilica in Palmar de Troya, where one of the most important Spanish sects is located. | Image from: EFE.
Clemente Dominguez was the first Palmarian Pope until his death in 2005, and has been succeeded by three more. From the beginning, the Palmarian Pope excommunicated the Roman Pope and considered the Vatican as “the great whore”and forerunner of the Antichrist. Its base of operations is the basilica of Palmar de Troya, a luxurious cathedral of 3,500 square meters.

The Palmarian doctrine is ultraconservative and contemplates rigid precepts that oblige women to wear a veil and forbid them to wear pants, and requires the faithful to avoid watching television, going to the movies or interacting with people of other cults.

9. Opus Dei
The particularity of this sect known as Opus Dei is that it belongs to the Catholic Church itself , that is, it is not born from a split. However, its secrecy and the rigidity of its ultraconservative precepts have put it in the spotlight of criticism and many consider it a sect to all intents and purposes.
Its origins date back to 1928, when Jose Maria Escriva de Balaguer, a Spanish priest canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II, founded the Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei. In 1950 the Holy See recognized it as an autonomous ecclesiastical body within the Catholic Church, and according to data from the prelature itself it has 2,083 priests and 92,600 members.
Its mission, officially, is to foster awareness of the universal call to holiness by observing the norms in ordinary life, which include the sanctification of work, prayer and mortification, charity and apostolate, and renunciation of religion. double life.
Although they receive the support of the official Church, they have been criticized for their aggressive recruitmentof adolescents, especially through their educational institutions, its restrictions derived from ideological fundamentalism, the psychological damage it causes in many people, physical punishment and authoritarian control, among others.

10. Moon
After a long journey and several accusations, in 2001 the 200 members in Spain of the Moon religion founded in South Korea in 1954 managed to get the Constitutional Court to protect their right to establish themselves as a church . Considered de facto as just another church, the Moons carry on their backs the stigma of being sectarian, fanatical and self-excluded.
The so-called Unification Church was created by Sun Myung Moon in Seoul, but its largest congregation is in the United States with about 2 million members.. The key to his doctrine is that Jesus could not complete his mission, and God turned Sun Myung Moon into a new Messiah in charge of completing the divine work.
In 1957 God revealed the mission to the prophet and he reflected it in “The Divine Principle”, a sacred text of the Moonies, which mixes the Christian tradition with Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism . The most controversial of his doctrine was the declaration that Jesus Christ was not God, but a good man who failed in his mission, and therefore the cross is seen as a symbol of defeat.
As with other religious sects, the Unification Church got generous financial contributionswith which he managed to create a whole network of projects, companies, communication media and centers from which he spreads his message. In addition, its leader was accused of arms trafficking.

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