Movementarianism, whose followers are known as Movementarians, is an evil brainwashing cult which for a brief time ensnared many of Springfield's citizens. The Movementarians are led by a mysterious figure known only as "The Leader" who is seen only in portrait. The Movementarianism caused several marriages such as the marriage of Otto Mann and Barney Gumble.
The process of getting new members involves the following steps:
- Get attention of potential members at airports and other public places and invite them to a free weekend retreat.
- At said weekend retreat, show the attendees brainwashing films. Should that fail, use other techniques like feeding them low-protein gruel, starting large chants or forcing them to sit before the "circle of judgment".
- Once members are ensnared, force them to hand over their life savings and the deed to their house. Then, force them to move into the movementarian compound.
The Movementarians believe that their religious figurehead - The Leader - will one day open the doors of "The Forbidden Barn" and lead them to the planet of "Blisstonia" (well known for its high levels of Bliss). The Cult members live in a Movementarian compound, where they do backbreaking labor all day and watch as the Leader rides around in what appears to be a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud. Cultists are forced to perform labor for thousands of years before being able to travel to Blisstonia. The religion also includes a mass marriage in which all of its members are matched up on a printout. These marriages include same sex marriage and the marriage of parents and children.
The Leader's will is actually carried out by a small group of especially devoted followers who recruit members, perform rituals (such as the mass marriage) and run the compounds. The Leader has also has a cadre of lawyers at his service, including the Blue-haired Lawyer.
The Leader is a mysterious figurehead who is worshiped completely by the Cult followers. He aspires to brainwash and dominate the will of the people of Springfield and take their money. His followers try to bend others' wills to worship the leader via methods such as chanting, brainwashing videos and low protein gruel. The Leader lives in the "Forbidden Barn," and would sometimes observe the workers, while driving around in a black limo, and would wave his visible white-gloved hand to the people. In the end, it is revealed that The Leader is actually a fraud after Homer opened the doors to The Forbidden Barn. The cultists see a spaceship inside, which rises but eventually falls apart, revealing the Leader who is riding a flying bicycle filled with money bags, and making spaceship sounds with wax paper and a comb. At first, Kent Brockman was extremely skeptical of the leader, even starting a brief expose in which an image of the Leader looking like a hick is shown. But, it turns out that the station was bought by The Leader and Kent immediately begins singing his praises.
Behind the Laughter
According to the DVD commentary for the episode, the Movementarians were largely inspired by Scientology, the Jim Jones cult and the Peoples Temple, the Heaven's Gate Cult, the Raelians, the Oneida Community, the Rajneesh movement and Chen Tao. Also, the Movementarian compound features elements from the cult TV series The Prisoner, such as the Rover guard "balloon". The leader himself may be based on L. Ron Hubbard.
The group bears a number of resemblances to the Church of Scientology, the most well known of the above-named groups, such as enticing people with false promises, professing non-mainstream beliefs, wielding great legal power, and exploiting their followers. Ironically, Nancy Cartwright, the voice of Bart Simpson, is a member of the Church of Scientology. This was likely joked about by Bart's rather fast brainwashing.