By Arzia Tivany Wargadiredja
The biblical Garden of Eden was probably somewhere in modern-day Iraq. But what a lot of people don’t know is that there’s another Eden—a secretive place where people are preparing for the end of the world, right in the middle of the Indonesian capital.
Two weeks ago, I found myself standing at the gates of Eden. I was too afraid to ring the bell. I grew up hearing tales of Jakarta’s Eden, a mysterious cult run by a woman named Lia Eden who claims to have a direct line to God. According to her, God is angry at humanity for allowing religion to ruin the Earth. It’s gotten so bad that the only way forward is for the “purified” few to board a UFO piloted by the Archangel Gabriel and ride to a different Earth, in another galaxy, where we can start civilization over again without the negative effects of religion.
It’s a pretty bold statement to make in a country where blasphemy is illegal, and Lia Eden—her real name is Lia Aminuddin—has actually been jailed twice for insulting religion. It was back in 2005 during her first arrest that I started to hear about Lia Eden and her cult. People were calling her a “misguided,” person who claimed to be a prophet or angel. Others just said she was downright delusional.
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