Religion can be understood largely as an attempt of a group of individuals to understand Existential questions based on a set of cultural practices specific to that group. Sometimes these practices may not seemingly conform to our normal expectations from a 'religion'. But they succeed in fulfilling what is expected of a religion- uniting people because of the belief that they may share. However, there is one condition that all religions must comply. They must not hinder the lives of others.
Some of world's unusual religions are described below.
1. Satanism - worshippers of Satan
Worshippers of Satan can broadly be categorised as spiritualists for whom Satan is an actual deity and atheists for whom Satan is a figure symbolising crisis of faith, individualism and free will. Certain sects are notorious for their activities. Like the 'Beasts of Satan' committed murders in Italy between 1998-2004. The 'Order of Nine Angels' affirmed human sacrifice (1960s). The public practice began with the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966.
2. Church of Euthanasia - rising against the evil of exponential population growth
The constant increase in human population and a simultaneous decrease in morals and values led to the birth of this church whose sole commandment is " Thous shalt not procreate ". It identifies itself with slogans like " Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus" . The Church asks one to " Save the Planet, Kill Yourself", however purely by choice. It became infamous after putting up the video "I Like To Watch" post 9/11. The video showed hardcore porn and the footage of 9/11 side-by-side.
3. Rastafarianism - voice against oppressive colonialism
The Rastafari believe that the Ethiopian King Haile Selassie is the God of All. The aim of the religious movement is to restore pride in African identity which suffered because of the forces of colonialism. They proclaim Zion as the original birthplace of mankind and reject 'Babylon' or the world of materialism. Bob Marley is one famous Rastafari who followed the principles of Rastafarian lifestyle including ritual use of marijuana, avoiding alcohol and wearing one's hair in dreadlocks.
4. Raëlism - believe that an extraterrestrial species is responsible for the genesis of humans.
Claude Vorilhon formed the religion in 1974 as a U.F.O. religion. Raëlians believe that a humanoid species of extraterrestrials, Elohim are responsible for the genesis of the human race. They believe that the Elohim misinformed humans that they were angels and that Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and others are Prophets of Elohim. They believe that the Elohim will come back to meet us when we are peaceful and ready. They believe in awakening of the mind through awakening of the body. The usage of the Swastika as a religious symbol has caused the religious group some problems in Israel.
5. Iglesia Maradoniana - pray to the legend of football, Maradona
Diego Maradona is a legend to say the least. His fans started a religion for him in the year 1998 and has more than a million followers in more than sixty countries. The supporters of the Maradonian Church count the years since the football legend Maradona's birth in 1960. T he use of the neo-Tetragrammaton, D10S as one of the names of Maradona is popular with this group. D10S is a portmanteau word which fuses 10 (diez in Spanish) which is Maradona's t-shirt number, and dios which is the Spanish word for God.
6. The Body of Christ - Belief in God's will
Influenced by " Born in Zion,'' by Carol Balizet , t his group denounces the '' seven systems '' of mainstream society which include education, government, banking and religion. But also, medicine, science and entertainment. In 2002, the pastor of The Body of Christ sect -Robidoux and his wife Karen E. Robidoux, were charged with murder along with her husband for starving their child. They said that they were waiting for God's sign to feed the baby. This pseudo-Christian cult believes in the power of faith healing.
7. Aum Shinrikyo - belief that only followers will survive the nuclear Armageddon
Founded by Shoko Asahara in Japan (1984) who claimed to be "the lamb of God". He claimed that he could cleanse his followers of all sins and help them survive the End of the world-a nuclear Armageddon of which the USA would be the harbinger. The usage of literature like Assimov's 'Foundation' trilogy and Nostradamus's writings can be seen in the doctrines. The group was labelled a terrorist organisation after it perpetuated the Tokyo subway sarin attack which led to the death of twelve and injuring thousands.
8. Scientology - answering questions of religion through science
The Church of Scientology was established in 1954 by Ron Hubbard . The seeds were sown by the publication of 'Dianetics'(1950). The book set out to establish its concern with 'What the soul is doing to the body'.The movement is seen as Man's first effort to explain religion through science. The religion makes an attempt to restore the balance between Man’s knowledge of himself and Man’s knowledge of physical sciences which was disrupted because of the advancement in science in the 20 th century. Scientology treats man as a spiritual being.
9. Christian Science Church - Belief in the healing powers of faith
Founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy who survived an accident which could have been fatal by praying to God and reading her Bible. She wrote books like 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures'. The Church runs on the belief that " Anyone can find God to be a very present help in trouble". The followers believe that pain does not exist. "The only reality of sin, sickness, or death is the awful fact that unrealities seem real to human, erring belief, until God strips off their disguise". Though the Church propagates faith healing, healthcare is a matter of individual choice.
10. Jediism - Believers of the Force
A religion inspired by George Lucas's 'Star Wars', Jediism was founded by Daniel Jones and his brother Barney in 2008. There have been incidents when Jedis have been evicted from public places for refusing to take off their hood including the founder, Daniel which led to the beginning of a campaign for Jedi rights. The Jedis believe that the 'Force' is a reality and that morality is an innate quality of human beings. The religion asks followers to beware of the dark side of this force which leads to fear which leads to hate and which in turn leads to suffering. There is no scripture as such. But there are guidelines for Jedi marriages . Do check them out!
11. Pastafarianism - Worshippers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has only one dogma- No dogma! Bobby Henderson's open letter to the Kansas School Board marked the official beginning of this 'religion'. The letter demanded that the theory of Intelligent Design and more specifically the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be taught to students along with theories of Evolution. He reasoned that this must be done to appease the monster and used graphs showing relation between pirate population and national disasters to prove this. Seen by some as a satire against religion, the adherents claim that satire is intrinsic to religion.
12. Frisbeetarianism - Idolize George Carlin
Frisbeetarianism is the universal belief that when you die your soul goes up onto the roof and stays there for eternity as described by the comedian George Carlin and that "the soul stays stuck up there until someone knocks it down with a long pole and your new life begins". Some people think it is a rouse of sorts to honor Carlin, a Catholic who was educated at New York City parochial schools and thought organized religion was “the biggest bullshit story ever told.”
13. Aetherius society - Belief in extraterrestrial intelligence
George King combined U.F.O. claims with ideas from Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity to develop this religion in the 1950s when he claimed he was approached by an extraterrestrial intelligence called Aetherius. The spiritual organization states that it is dedicated towards spreading the teachings of advanced extraterrestrial intelligence . The adherents claim that spiritual energy is like electricity and psychic healing energy can be stored in " Spiritual Energy Batteries ". The motto of the society is " Service is the jewel in the rock of attainment."
14. Vampirism - Drinkers of blood
Though people are mostly skeptic about the identity of Vampirism as a religion, the adherents believe it is. Vampirism is derived largely from the depiction of vampires in popular culture especially Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' (1897). Vampires can be described as active vampires-who indulge in feeding on blood from a human or an animal and psychic vampires- who indulge in feeding on another person's aura. Sexuality and its representation have a big role to play.
15. Cao Dai - believe that Earth is only four spots away from Hell
A highly political religion by nature, the Vietnamese religious group of Cao Dai formed an army during the Japanese occupation of Indo-China in 1943. The Army was disbanded in 1955-56 by the premier Diem because of its opposition to him. The religion believes that there ar e 36 levels of Heaven. They further believe that of the 72 planets having intelligent life, Level 1 is closest to Heaven while level 72 is closest to Hell with Earth being positioned at level 68. The symbol of the religion is the left eye of God.