The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a breakaway cult from the Roman Catholic Church founded in Uganda in the 1980’s after their leaders claimed to have visions of the Virgin Mary.
The goals of the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God were to obey the Ten Commandments and preach the word of Jesus Christ. The emphasis on the Commandments was so strong that the group discouraged talking, for fear of breaking the Ninth Commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”
Movement leaders declared that the apocalypse would occur in the year 2000.
In 1999, the state owned New Vision newspaper ran an interview with a teenage member. He said, “The world ends next year. There is no time to waste. Some of our leaders talk directly to god. Any minute from now, when the end comes, every believer who will be at an as yet undisclosed spot will be saved.”
With the new year looming, activity by Movement members became frenzied, their leaders urged them to confess their sins in preparation for the end. Clothes and cattle were sold cheaply, past members were re-recruited, and all work in the fields ceased. January 1, 2000, passed without the advent of the apocalypse, and the Movement began to unravel.
With members beginning to rethink their decisions to sell off their belongings and give all of their money to the church, another date was immediately predicted. March 17 was the new end of the world, a doomsday that would come “with ceremony, and finality”.
On the seventeenth, group members arrived at their church in Kanangu to pray and sing, minutes later nearby villagers heard an explosion, and the building was gutted in an intense fire that killed all 530 in attendance, including dozens of children. The windows and doors of the building had been boarded up. The five principal cult leaders were assumed to have died in the fire. Several days before a Movement leader was seen buying 50 liters of sulfuric acid, which may have started the fire.
Four days after the church fire police investigated Movement properties and discovered hundreds of bodies at sites across southern Uganda. Six bodies were discovered sealed in the latrine of the Kanungu compound, as well as 153 bodies at a compound in Buhunage, 155 bodies at one Movement leader’s estate at Rugazi, where they had been poisoned and stabbed, and an additional 81 bodies lay at another Movement leader’s farm. Forensics investigations indicated that they had been murdered weeks before the church inferno.
After interviews and an investigation were conducted, the police ruled out a cult suicide, and instead consider it to be a mass murder of a total of 778 people conducted by Movement leadership.