When you’re the creator of a universe, it’s easy to start to feel like you’re a little bit untouchable. But some people take it even further than that—they genuinely think they’re God—or at least, a god. What is it that makes us believe in the divine? Why do we think we can control the weather? And how do we know what’s real and what isn’t when we can’t see the whole picture? We’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a coffee shop, on the bus, or at the park, and you see someone who is just… different. They’re not like anyone else around them, and they know it.
They walk differently. They talk differently. They act differently. And they talk about themselves like they are God-like—as if they can do anything and everything with just a thought and a snap of their fingers. From celebrities and politicians to religious leaders and average Joes on the street, countless people believe that they have been chosen by God to do His work on Earth.
Some of them believe that their role in life is to lead us all toward salvation; others feel like they have been called upon by God to set the world right and bring justice to humanity. Still, others view themselves as prophets whose job is to spread His word.
But these people aren’t God-like at all! At least, not in any way that matters to us mortals here on Earth. So let’s take a look at 10 people who think they’re a god but actually aren’t.
10 Shoko Asahara
The first on our list is Shoko Asahara of Japan, who believed that he was Christ and even the first “enlightened one” since Buddha. The group formed in the 1980s, blending both Buddhist and Hindu beliefs. This man eventually made his followers believe that doomsday was about to come.
What’s so scary about this cult is how many followers he had and how many actual believers recognized him as God. Not only was this cult popular in Japan, but it even had a lot of followers from various parts of the world. With that, this cult was actually recognized as a terrorist organization in the U.S.
Asahars was actually the leader of Aum Shinrikyo, a violent cult that was responsible for the sarin gas attack in Tokyo in 1995. The attack killed 13 people and injured thousands more. Because of the attack that they carried out, Asahara was eventually executed along with seven other members of the cult.
9 Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez
Next, we have Oscar Ramiro Ortega-Hernandez. Ortega-Hernandez was a self-proclaimed prophet who believed God had given him the mission to attack the White House in 2011. He was reportedly considered one of the most dangerous persons in the United States, and he had a lengthy criminal record to back up that assertion. He was also influenced by talk show host Alex Jones and his various conspiracy theories.
Ramiro referred to himself as the modern-day Jesus. Unfortunately, his future plans seemed to indicate that he may have been more interested in standing trial because of the crimes that he committed, as well as the crimes he planned on carrying out. He was actually not afraid of prison time because he knew that his mission would take precedence over everything else. Eventually, when caught, he was deemed to be someone that was fit to stand for trial.
8 David Shayler
The notorious David Shayler, a former MI5 officer, is known for his controversial beliefs. He claimed that he was the son of God and that he held all the secrets to eternal life. Shayler also believed that he had been crucified and reincarnated as Astronges, a Jewish revolutionary put to death by the Romans around the first century BC!
Shayler worked as a spy for MI5 until 1997, when he was terminated for revealing classified information about the agency. After being fired, Shayler began to develop his theories about his divine birthright and mission on Earth. He started writing books and giving speeches about his ideas—some of which included him being sent by God to save humanity and that he was born with “magical powers.”
His beliefs were actually disturbing to everyone who talked to him and really made them question Shayler’s sanity. After all, whenever this man speaks, he surely has his way of letting people feel more cynical about him being the son of God.
7 Apollo Quiboloy
What would this list be without the famous pastor Apollo Quiboloy? Apollo Quiboloy is a self-proclaimed religious leader and founder of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name (KJCNA). He claims to be “the Appointed Son of God” and even said he was born on the prayer mountain. Along with his claims that he was the Son of God that could save humanity, this man is also facing an investigation into his activities of human trafficking in the United States.
Quiboloy’s religious claims are bizarre and controversial, but his followers are extremely devoted to him. He has been accused of using drugs and alcohol to keep members under his control, as well as brainwashing them through fear tactics and self-destructive practices like sexual abuse.
He has his followers but also has detractors: other people who are against him because of his extreme beliefs and practices. Some say that he is a cult leader, while others believe that he is nothing more than a scammer who just wants money from his followers. Despite all these controversies surrounding him, Apollo Quiboloy still continues to thrive because of his loyal followers who believe in everything he says.
6 Hogen Fukunaga
Next, we have Hogen Fukunaga, a Japanese religious leader and founder of the controversial cult, the Honohana Sampogyo foot-reading cult. He’s known for his unique beliefs and practices, including the idea that he’s able to cure diseases, read people’s pasts, and see their futures.
Because he made his followers believe that he was God, he took advantage of their health by telling them that he could read the past and even take a look at their future.
Under Fukunaga’s leadership, Honohana Sampogyo grew rapidly throughout Japan—so much so that it became one of the largest religions in Japan (despite being based on strange practices). Fukunaga believed himself to be divinely inspired and that he was genuinely God.
He even tricked his own followers into believing that they could be cured of any disease by simply paying him money. However, this landed him a prison sentence for fraud.
5 David Koresh
Ever wondered what it’s like to have someone convinced that you are the Messiah? Take a look at David Koresh, a messiah-like figure who led a cult that ended in disaster. He grew up as a typical boy and had a normal childhood, but he began to change when he became a teenager. Koresh claimed that God spoke to him and told him he was the Messiah. He also said that God gave him a car and that it was something that no one else could drive but him!
Eventually, Koresh started to believe that he was King David, who reigned over Israel 2,000 years ago. As time passed, he became the leader of a group of followers known as the Branch Davidians. He preached an apocalyptic message to his followers. He was known for his charismatic personality and ability to persuade people to join his group. Koresh’s teachings included the belief that the end of the world was imminent and that his followers were chosen by God to survive the coming apocalypse. He also claimed to be the final prophet mentioned in the Bible’s Book of Revelation.
In 1993, the FBI conducted a raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, where Koresh and his followers were living. The siege lasted 51 days and resulted in the deaths of 76 Branch Davidians, including Koresh. The FBI believed the group was stockpiling weapons and preparing for a violent confrontation with the government. The standoff ended when the FBI launched a tear gas attack on the compound, which led to a fire that engulfed the building.
4 Charles Manson
This list wouldn’t be complete without the appearance of Charles Manson. He was born in 1934 and moved in with an aunt and uncle at age seven after his mother was imprisoned. Manson himself spent much of his youth in and out of juvenile detention for crimes such as petty theft and larceny. And this pattern continued into adulthood. In 1967, he moved to San Francisco after being released from prison.
As an American cult leader, Manson gained notoriety in the late 1960s for orchestrating a series of nine murders, including the brutal killing of actress Sharon Tate, who was eight months pregnant at the time. Manson’s twisted philosophy, which he called “Helter Skelter,” was inspired by a twisted interpretation of the Beatles’ song of the same name.
Manson believed that a race war was imminent and that he and his followers, whom he dubbed the “Manson Family,” would emerge as the victors. He also made claims of being a messiah and a god-like figure. Manson used drugs, sex, and psychological manipulation to control his followers and convince them to commit heinous crimes.
Manson’s claims of being a god were a part of his delusional belief system that he used to justify his control over his followers. He believed he was a divine being with supernatural powers, and he used his charisma and manipulation to convince others of his supposed god-like status. Manson also believed that he had the ability to manipulate reality and shape the world according to his will. However, despite his claims of being a god, Manson was ultimately convicted of murder and spent the rest of his life behind bars.
3 Marshall Applewhite
Next on the list is Marshall Applewhite, a self-proclaimed prophet who led the religious cult called “Heaven’s Gate.” The cult believed they were being tasked with a spiritual mission by God. They also believed that they were extraterrestrial beings who had been sent to Earth to spread a message of salvation. They preached that the world was about to end and that the only way to survive was to shed their physical bodies and ascend to a higher plane of existence
Applewhite originally had some sort of nervous breakdown but then met a nurse named Nettles, who had a strong knowledge of the Bible. The two believed they were tasked to have a spiritual mission here on Earth. Applewhite and Nettles traveled around, going to places and gaining more followers—it worked! They eventually grew into a large group of people who shared their beliefs and practiced them every day.
On March 26, 1997, the group members donned black and purple uniforms and consumed a lethal cocktail of phenobarbital and vodka to “graduate” to the next level. Applewhite died along with his followers.
2 Jim Jones
As we near the end of our list, we have Jim Jones. He was one of the people who genuinely believed that he was God. As a pastor of his own church, he had a large following. And before he became one, he was actually a student pastor too!
Jones was the leader of the Peoples Temple, a religious organization that gained notoriety due to the tragic events that took place in Jonestown, Guyana, in 1978. Jones believed that he was divine and that his mission was to create a utopian society. He preached about socialism, racial equality, and his vision of a world without poverty. He gained a large following, and his congregation grew to include thousands of members, many of whom were poor and disenfranchised.
Jones’s charismatic personality and powerful rhetoric allowed him to control his followers to a dangerous degree. He convinced them to move to Jonestown, a remote settlement in Guyana, which he referred to as the “promised land.” However, the settlement was a nightmare, with little food, poor living conditions, and extreme punishments for those who disobeyed Jones’s rules.
In November 1978, a congressman investigating the situation in Jonestown was killed, along with four others. This event triggered the mass suicide of more than 900 people who drank cyanide-laced punch, including children and infants.
1 Alan John Miller
To finish this list, we have Alan John Miller, also known as AJ Miller, an Australian religious leader who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. Miller believes that he is the second coming of Jesus and has been sent to Earth to save humanity. He has gained a large following of devoted followers, many of whom believe in his divinity and follow his teachings.
Miller’s teachings include a focus on love, forgiveness, and a rejection of mainstream Christianity. He preaches about the importance of developing a personal relationship with God and emphasizes the need for individuals to take responsibility for their own spiritual growth. His followers believe he possesses supernatural powers, including healing and performing miracles.
Despite the controversies surrounding Miller’s claims of divinity, his followers remain steadfast in their beliefs and continue to support him. Some have even moved to his community in rural Australia, where they live and work together in a communal setting. At this compound, they are preparing themselves for the apocalyptic end of the world.