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David Mirkin conceived the idea for the episode

"The Joy of Sect" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 8, 1998. In the episode, a cult called the "Movementarians" takes over Springfield, and Homer and the rest of the Simpson family become members. Homer and Bart are initially introduced to a pair of young Movementarian recruiters in an airport. Homer becomes brainwashed, and moves his family into the cult compound. David Mirkin (pictured) had the initial idea for the episode, Steve O'Donnell was the lead writer, and Steven Dean Moore directed. The writers drew on many groups to develop the Movementarians, but were principally influenced by Scientology, Heaven's Gate, the Unification Church and Peoples Temple. The episode was later analyzed from religious, philosophical and psychological perspectives, and books on The Simpsons compared the Movementarians to many of the same groups that the writers had drawn influences from. The show contains many references to popular culture, including the title reference to The Joy of Sex and a gag involving Rover from the television program The Prisoner. USA Today and The A.V. Club featured "The Joy of Sect" in lists of important episodes of The Simpsons.