Aum Shinrikyo: Revealing the Undertakings of an International Cult That Had a Recipe for Armageddon

by Marcia Mondie
Criminology / Criminal Justice
Faculty advisor: Dr. Neal McNabb

Aum Shinrikyo was a Japanese cult established by the charismatic leader Shoko Asahara in the mid-1980’s. This cult is best known for their terrorist attack of the Tokyo subway system in 1995 using Sarin gas, which killed 13 and injured nearly 1,000 travelers. Aum Shinrikyo has had thousands of followers worldwide, including a domestic branch within the United States. This project provides an in-depth analysis of the cult’s structural belief system and its impact on society, as well as applying a theoretical framework to explain the group’s extremist/terrorist behavior. Since Aum Shinrikyo’s religious practices consist of more than one religion, Akers’s Social Learning Theory is applied to provide a basic understanding of the behaviors and rationale of members who choose to commit illegal acts.