American cults began growing wildly in popularity between the 1960s and 1990s. Colorado was no exception to this trend and has housed dozens of confirmed cults over the years, but none gained as much media attention as the Concerned Christians. Eight members of the apocalyptic group were detained in Israel for planned acts of violence in the late ’90s and then deported back to the U.S.
Founded by Monte Miller in the 1980s, the Concerned Christians group was originally “designed to combat the touchy-feely New Age religious movement and take Christianity back to its apocalyptic roots,” according to a 2014 Westword article. Miller was a former marketing executive for Proctor & Gamble and established the group to follow his views on Christianity. He produced a radio program called Our Foundation that broadcast the group’s beliefs.
Westword reported Miller also predicted an earthquake would wipe Denver off the map in 1998. But when no quake came, the cult members began disappearing from Denver homes and popping up overseas in Jerusalem at Miller’s request, according to an October 2008 article from 9News. “He himself expected to be martyred on the streets of that city,” 9News reported.
“He speaks through my mouth. He just tells me, like the Old Testament prophets of the old days, and he speaks through my mouth.” – Monte Miller, founder of the Concerned Christians, to 9News in 1997
In 1999, the New York Times News Service and the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs reported eight members of the cult were detained and later deported back to the U.S. by the Israel Police after Miller circulated statements about the group “going to [their] deaths” in the streets of the ancient city where he believed the second coming of Jesus Christ would take place at the turn of the millennium. The Times reported Israel Police Brig. Gen. Elihu Ben-Onn said the group “planned to carry out violent and extreme acts in the streets of Jerusalem at the end of 1999 to start the process of bringing Jesus back to life.”
According to the Times, authorities said “the cultists specifically wanted to create a catastrophic event by provoking a deadly shootout with the police in the Old City, where, by Christian tradition, the tomb of Jesus lies, in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.” Miller, who also claimed God spoke through his mouth according to 9News, was not among the arrested members in Israel.
According to Westword, after the failed activity in Jerusalem, the cult moved back to what was then the Downtown Holiday Inn in Denver and began “preparing for the final days. But after it became clear they wouldn’t be beamed up from that futuristic-looking hotel, they took off for Greece, where they all lived peacefully until December of that year, when 25 of them were deported.” Westword reported the cult dropped out of activity after the incident in Greece, but the group still maintains a website.
Colorado is still home to active cults and cult activities. The Associated Press reported in June 2020 on the 64-year prison sentence for cult leader, Madani Ceus, for felony child abuse resulting in the deaths of two 8- and 10-year-old sisters in Norwood, Colorado.