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Julius Schacknow (August 21, 1924 - July 30, 1996) was a cult leader in the United States. He was born into a poor Orthodox-Jewish family in Brooklyn, New York in 1924. He served in the Navy during World War II.
In 1976, he stopped making public appearances and turned to multi-million dollar real estate and construction businesses, which reportedly did $100 million in sales in the mid-1980s. The business collapsed with the real estate market at the end of the 1980s, leaving behind a financial mess and prompting scores of followers to desert Schacknow.
He called himself the "sinful messiah" and claimed he had to sin in order to know what it was like, saying that he intentionally demonstrated the evils of the world so that they can be overcome. In his messianic role, he taught that he had been freed from his former sinfulness after coming to God and by living life as Jesus had demonstrated. He taught that by overcoming evil, he continued the messianic work of Jesus and forever condemned all those who continue to sin, especially those whose excuse for sinning was that only Jesus could be sinless since he was the only begotten Son of God. From his earliest days as a religious teacher, he was accused of using his charisma and position as a religious leader to manipulate young women, suggesting it was God's will that they sleep with him. At the time of his death, he was known to have seven "unofficial wives".
Julius Schacknow, also known as Brother Julius of The Work, was severely wounded in World War II. His war injuries may have been influential in his later psychological disturbances, including hallucinations, delusions of being the Christ, and of terrorist-like behaviors directed toward his 'wives', children and followers. Julius' family was heavily genetically predisposed to bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Even though he lived his delusion as 'the Christ', it is more likely that he was a paranoid schizophrenic. He had an extreme ability to convince others, and was a sexual predator and showed some traits of being a sociopath. However, it was unlikely that anyone would have been able to tell the degree of his pathology until they were already under his control and unable to get out.
 External links
- Cult leader's problems grow as following shrinks
- Connecticut Cult Leader One Of Many 'Messiahs'
- Cult leader Brother Julius dies at 71
- 15 years in destructive churches