Abilene's House of Yahweh is one of four "bizarre doomsday sects" featured in "Newsweek"'s cover story on the Heaven's Gate suicides.
Peter Klebnikov, who's writing a book about his travels around the country visiting the various groups, said leader Yisryal Hawkins "seems to have a frightening degree of control over his followers."
He noted that many have pierced their ears as a sign of loyalty and that more than 200 have legally changed their last names to Hawkins. He also pointed out the unusual business practices; followers can buy mobile homes but reportedly forfeit the trailers without refund if they leave the sect.
"Newsweek"'s article discussed three other cults, in Colorado and Montana and in Eugene, Ore., where members dine on garbage recovered from grocery store Dumpsters. And an accompanying map showed four other sects - in Ohio, Los Angeles, Miami and another in Colorado. As usual, House of Yahweh leaders could not be reached for comment on their inclusion in "Newsweek's" profiles.