Sergey Anatolyevitch Torop is also known as Vissarion. Born on Jan. 14, 1961, he has a beard, flowing robes, and claims to be the son of God.
Vissarion worked as a traffic policeman until being fired in 1990. At this point he claimed to have had a spiritual revelation: that he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ. His first sermon, during which he founded the Church of the Last Testament, took place in 1991. The church combines elements of the Russian Orthodox Church with Buddhism, apocalypticism, collectivism, and ecological values. Vissarion has gained more than 10,000 followers—4,000 of whom live in clustered cabins and yurts in southern Siberia.
Vissarion has predicted the end of the world several times. He teaches reincarnation and civility and requires his adherents to live a life free from vices. Members of the sect must abstain from smoking, swearing, drinking, and using money. In return for their piety they are treated to sermons from Vissarion, who addresses his followers from a hill, wearing white robes and shaded by a red velvet umbrella.
The church has claimed its secluded settlement in the Siberian forest—around double the size of New Jersey—is the largest religious reservation in the world.
View Tiberkul Religious Settlement in a larger map