Well folks, if a pandemic, a murder hornet scare, locusts, wildfires caused by gender reveal parties, and a record-breaking hurricane season weren't enough, we've now reached the alleged second coming of Christ phase of 2020. Earlier this week, a cult leader who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus H. Christ himself and two of his aides have been arrested in Russia for organizing an illegal religious organization, amid allegations of "causing grievous bodily harm to two or more persons," extortion, and the deployment of "psychological violence" to inflict harm on others.
Sergei Torop has been allegedly running this Messianic cult for around 30 years. A year after losing his job as a traffic cop in 1989, Torop says he experienced a revelation that he was reborn as the second coming of Christ under the name Vissarion. In 1991, he founded the Church of the last Testament, based on the beliefs that Jesus watches over humanity close to Earth and that the Virgin Mary was actually running Russia -- sorry, Putin!
Since then, his views have shifted slightly, as he claims he's the Messiah. Throughout his three decades as a cult leader, he's gained nearly 4,000 (literal) followers, many of whom live in "remote hamlets in the Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia," with 6,000 more followers allegedly around the world.
“I am not God. And it is a mistake to see Jesus as God," Torop said in 2002. "But I am the living word of God the father. Everything that God wants to say, he says through me."
So what are those things, you ask? Aside from claiming he was put on the earth to warn mankind about the evils of war and the dangers of environmental degradation, he also has some strong beliefs on women, saying that girls need "to understand not to rise above the man, not to be proud of her independence but to be shy, inconspicuous and weak." While nonetheless off-putting, these views have clearly helped him with the ladies, as Torop has two wives and six children, and at one point married a then-19-year-old who had been living with him since she was 7, according to the Daily Mail. Yes, literally every single element of this story is incredibly on-brand for 2020.