Did you know that there’s a super-creepy cult full of homophobes in Manhattan? And no, we don’t mean Dave and Buster’s. Like a legit cult, one where the people who participate believe in a master Aryan race that came from Atlantis and is teaching its members how to prepare for the end of the world from a brownstone in Murray Hill.
The organization, known as the Congregation of the Light or just “the Light” to its members, was the subject of a lengthy New York Post investigation this weekend. The group, which has been around since the 1960s, is lead by 73-year-old Ohio native Tom Baer, who denies that the Light is a cult. Instead, he told the Post, “We’re not a religion. We’re what a church should be.”
But to be honest, it sounds pretty cult-y to us. The Post‘s main source for their article is a dude named Paul Arthur Miller, who is, of course, now writing a screenplay about the experience.
“The belief is that Planet Earth will be ending soon and we would have to defend our people and safeguard our food and supplies,” recalled Miller, now a 58-year-old West Village writer.
“They changed the doomsday date at least twice,” he said. “We were told it was imminent, weeks or months. People in the cult wouldn’t have dental work done because they thought, ‘Why bother?’ ”
The Light leaders regarded homosexuality as “a hangover from the Roman Empire” a stance that eventually pushed Miller, who is gay, to leave the group. He also notes that Light members can’t have anything decorative in their homes that doesn’t include a symbol of the group: an owl or a cross with an “x” in it.
Other less-than-great activity within the congregation includes corporal punishment and some good old fashioned marrying off young girls to older members of the religion. People in the Light refer to civilians as “know-nots,” which is at least better than “muggles.” But the former members who talked to the Post refered to their time in the group as a form of indentured servitude. Plus, someone gave the so-called church a veeerrry stern Yelp review: