For the first four decades of his life, Marshall Herff Applewhite strove above all to do his father proud. He followed his father, a Presbyterian minister, into the seminary, devoted himself to his church, married and had two children. He taught music at a Catholic college, led choruses at Episcopalian and Unitarian churches, and sang with the Houston Grand Opera.
But by the early 1970s, Applewhite, who this week led 38 members of his UFO cult to join him in a fatal cocktail of phenobarbital and vodka in California, could no longer hide his secret: For several years, according to friends and former cult members, Applewhite had been engaging in homosexual relationships.
"Applewhite was so alienated from his homosexuality that he was teaching people not to have sex," said Lewis of the Institute for the Study of American Religion, who has studied Applewhite and Nettles' group for more than 20 years. "He would put people of opposite sexes together and force them to learn to become neutral, nonsexual."
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