The '90s were a strange time in pop culture for a number of reasons. Among other things, the '90s were an era when cults still existed in the open, and Heaven's Gate was one that was widely publicized before and after its end. The Heaven's Gate website is still somehow in operation as of this 2021 writing and many are curious about how that's even possible.
Nevermind the fact that the website is like a tribute to the Flash websites of the '90s, with the stars and outer space background, and colorful links spread out on the screen — there's also a flashing "red alert" notice at the top of the homepage, likely in reference to the cult's belief that their days on Earth were numbered. The website is a lot to take in, but it's still very much up and running.
So, who runs the Heaven's Gate website?
Keeping a website up and running isn't free. So, given that Heaven's Gate carried out its mass suicide and then seemed to publicly shut down in 1997, it's surprising that the official website has remained intact. Decades after their shutdown, the site is still up, and many of those who have studied or wondered about Heaven's Gate in the past are curious about the how and why of it all.
At the bottom of the Heaven's Gate website, there is an e-mail address of the person running the website, but they aren't quick to explain who they are or what their connection is to the cult as a whole.
However, according to Mirror, two remaining members of the cult were left behind after the mass suicide to keep the website running and Heaven's Gate's message alive. They are believed to be two people by the names of Mark and Sarah King.
The Kings are an elderly couple living in Arizona who are also said to have set up a company on behalf of Heaven's Gate, called TELAH Foundation, which stands for The Evolutionary Level Above Human.
The website itself explains what Heaven's Gate was all about, why the mass suicide was carried out, and how to learn more about the cult through various texts.
The Heaven's Gate cult leader Marshall Herff Applewhite Jr. died during the mass suicide.
Marshall Herff Applewhite Jr. was the leader of Heaven's Gate and he believed an alien spaceship was on its way to retrieve him and his followers when the 1996 Hale-Bopp comet passed closely by Earth. In videos made by Marshall that were released to the public, he explained that in order to be picked up by these so-called aliens, he and his disciples would have to morph into their alien forms from their human bodies.
By organizing three separate suicide events, which involved 15 members in two bouts, and nine in a final stage, Marshall believed he and those who followed suit in dying alongside him would be picked up by a spaceship trailing behind the comet.
39 Heaven's Gate members died by ingesting phenobarbital (which slows brain activity), mixed with pudding, and drinking liquor. They then secured plastic bags around their heads and, gradually, died off.
Although the website for Heaven's Gate is still around to this date, it's still unclear what purpose it serves. As far as the general public knows, the cult is no longer active. The couple believed to be keeping tabs on it and responding to emails from those curious about Heaven's Gate haven't come forward to explain why the site is still active either.
It's like a relic from the '90s and a time capsule of an unthinkable tragedy.