The Joy of Sect
- "This new so-called religion is nothing but a pack of weird rituals and chants designed to take away the money of fools. Now let's say the Lord's Prayer 40 times, but first let's pass the collection plate."
- ―Reverend Lovejoy, addressing Springfielders at the First Church of Springfield.
| "The Joy of Sect"
| Episode Information
"The Joy of Sect" is the thirteenth episode of season 9 of The Simpsons and the one-hundred and ninety-first episode overall. It originally aired on February 8, 1998. The episode was written by Steve O'Donnell and directed by Steven Dean Moore.
- "Along with the majority of Springfield, Homer and company are lured into the Movementarian cult by a slick pamphlet and tantalizing promises. But as Marge begins to realize that the cult only has money on its mind, she must try her hand at deprogramming to rescue her family."
Homer takes Bart out of school to go to the Springfield International Airport to see the local football team return from their championship loss. At the airport, they run into Glen and Jane, who tell Homer about Movementarianism and offer a free resort weekend. Homer and Bart then join the crowd to see the football team and the crowd proceeds to destroy the plane they arrived in. Back at home, Homer tells the family about the Movementarians, although Marge is reluctant to go as she feels that they'll try and talk them into something.
Homer goes to the Movementarian Compound and immediately goes fishing there. As Glen and Jane try and talk Homer into joining the cult, Homer dismisses them as they tell him that they're not allowed to drink beer. Homer is then led to watch the orientation video, which talks about how The Leader is building a spaceship to take them all to Blisstonia. However, Homer resists the video's brainwashing attempts whilst the other people who attended got brainwashed into joining. Homer is then taken through other group activities to try and break his resistance, but all fails. Glen then starts to sing "Leader" to the tune of the "Batman Theme" which finally breaks Homer.
At home, Homer tells the family that he signed them all up to the cult and they are forced to move to the compound. Whilst the family starts to fall to the brainwashing, Reverend Lovejoy is left with an almost empty church due to his congregation joining Movementarianism. Meanwhile, Mr. Burns attempts to start his own cult too, but fails. Eventually, the Simpsons all get brainwashed, except Marge. Marge escapes the compound and goes to Reverend Lovejoy for help. Groundskeeper Willie also agrees to help and the three of them kidnap the family and take them to Ned's house.
After finding that the Simpsons have been kidnapped, the Movementarians deploy their lawyers. In Ned's rumpus room, the kids are offered hover bikes (which are fake) to break their brainwashing. Meanwhile, Willie tries to break Homer's brainwashing, but almost gets won over himself. Homer is then offered a beer and as one drop hits his tongue, the lawyers show up and take Homer back to the cult. However, the Movementarians don't realize that Homer's brainwashing has been broken by the beer and he goes to show that The Forbidden Barn is empty. As he opens the doors, he reveals a flying saucer inside. The Leader tells everyone that they are doomed due to Homer's actions and the spaceship starts to fly off. However, it falls apart and it's revealed that The Leader is riding a flying bicycle with all the money he stole from the members with him. The Leader then crashes into Cletus's farm where Cletus takes the money from him.
The family go back home and everything goes back to normal and talk about how wonderful it is to be able to think for themselves again. FOX then comes onto the channel and the announcer says "You are watching FOX", which the Simpsons then mindlessly repeat.
The episode's title came from producer Jace Richdale. Showrunner David Mirkin was excited to do an episode about cults as he was fascinated by them, saying that he found them "comical, interesting, and twisted". Shortly after Steve O'Donnell wrote the first draft, news about the Heaven's Gate cult's mass suicide came out. The Heaven's Gate cult had many parallels to Movementarianism. This led to some of the story being changed to make it less like the Heaven's Gate cult.
The Movementarians were inspired by several real cults and cult leaders, in particular Scientology, Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple, the Heaven's Gate group, the Unification Church, the Oneida Society, and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. The Leader driving a Rolls-Royce was inspired by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, whilst people being held in a compound against their will was inspired by Jim Jones.