The Cult of the Pah-wraiths was formed after the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor by Bajorans who believed that the Prophets had abandoned them by watching while Bajor was ravaged. Members of the Cult embraced the notion that the Pah-wraiths would bring about the Restoration of Bajor. They identified themselves by wearing red earrings and red armbands.
After Gul Dukat had released a Pah-wraith into the Orb of Contemplation and collapsed the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole, the Cult grew in size and numbers. What was once considered a joke by the Bajoran people soon turned into a phenomenon the likes of which the planet had never seen before, with members of the Cult including Kai Winn Adami at one point. (DS9: "Tears of the Prophets", "The Dogs of War")
In early 2375, they were seen chanting in front of the Bajoran temple on Deep Space 9. A member of the group traveled to Earth and attempted to assassinate Captain Benjamin Sisko when he learned that Sisko would embark on a quest to find the Orb of the Emissary. (DS9: "Image in the Sand") This act was not sanctioned by the Cult as a whole, however.
Later in 2375, Vedek Fala abducted Colonel Kira Nerys from Deep Space 9 at Dukat's orders, and attempted to convert her to the religion of the Pah-wraiths. During her time there, a cultist named Mika gave birth to a half-Cardassian child, which Dukat claimed was a symbol of the covenant between him and his followers. However, Mika's husband, Benyan, and others were unconvinced, and Dukat attempted to have his followers commit mass suicide by ingesting promazine capsules to keep them from turning against him.
Kira, suspicious of Dukat's intentions from the start, exposed Dukat's capsule as a fake and revealed that he had no intention of dying with the rest of the cultists. Dukat escaped from the station, while his betrayed and disillusioned followers abandoned the Cult and returned with Kira aboard the USS Defiant. However, Fala, devastated by these events, took his capsule and committed suicide before the Defiant arrived. (DS9: "Covenant")
During the development of DS9: "Covenant", the idea of a group of Bajoran Pah-wraith cultists being led by Dukat was conceptually preceded by a new race of aliens being led by him. The notion of Dukat's followers being the Cult of the Pah-wraiths was thought up by René Echevarria (who was credited with writing the installment) and all the rest of the show's writing staff found it an agreeable concept. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 632) However, Echevarria was ultimately dissatisfied with how the cult is portrayed in "Covenant". "I don't think we quite invested enough in the cultists, or saw what they were getting out of it," he stated. "I don't think the Bajorans came off three-dimensionally enough. You can infer many things about where these people are coming from, but it was hard to sell that they were broken in some way." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 50)
In the short story "The Dreamer and the Dream", members of the Pah-wraith cult succeed in freeing Dukat from the Fire Caves.