No matter who you are or where you’re from, religion forms a large part of your identity. Everyone has had some kind of experience with religion, whether it be from a family member, friend, or someone knocking on your front door. We’re all familiar with it in one way or another, and it’s an aspect of life that will always be present.
Naturally, religion has spiked a lot of controversy over the years. Whose morals are right? Where does religion fall under the realm of politics? One view of Facebook for the day, and you’ll easily find the kind of heated debates inspired by religion. I’m not saying that one person is right and one person is wrong. Many times in those kinds of arguments, it all amounts to one’s perspective. We don’t always have to understand it, we just have to accept it.
Now, bear in mind, that while many religions fall under the realm of sound logic and reason, there are others that really make one scratch their heads in disbelief. One look at some of these religions, and you’ll wonder what goes through peoples’ minds. Keep in mind, that if you align yourself with any of these religions, I do not intend this article to be offensive or hateful in any way. I’m merely speaking based on the perspective and thought process of an average human being. Some religions are weirder at face value than others.
With that out of the way, let’s discuss 15 bizarre religions you won’t believe are real.
15. Church of The SubGenius
Many times in our culture, people like to mock things they don’t agree with by imitation or satire. A man named Ivan Stang felt that many traditions and beliefs in religion of his time were quite joke-worthy, so he came up with his own ideas. He spent much time criticizing many current religions of his time by drawing inspiration from them for his own little world. The end result was the Church of the SubGenius, established sometime in the 1970s. The primary god figure of the SubGenius is dubbed Jehovah 1, and on top of the stolen name, bears a lot of strange cultural references of the time, such as the Illuminati symbol and UFOs. The church itself heavily disregards the idea of absolute truths and instead focuses on a much more interpretive lifestyle. They also place great emphasis on having “Slack”, which is pretty vague in definition. Just as you would expect from a religion of this nature, many young college students and artists find themselves in their ranks, feeling that it expresses deeply felt convictions, while many others still see the whole establishment as a joke of sorts.
14. The Nuwaubian Movement
Once upon a time, a man by the name of Dwight York was a devout Muslim. He put together many Black Muslim groups in the U.S. throughout his time, but after a while, he began to shift around his teachings and beliefs, mixing in many principles and ideas from other religions. Eventually, he did away with his Muslim roots altogether and instead focused more on UFOs and Kemetism (modern belief in Ancient Egyptian mythology). This conglomerate of beliefs, along with his black-only group, created their own building and renamed themselves to the “United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors.” Some of their strongest beliefs were placed in the theory of UFOs, the Illuminati, and various other conspiracies. Perhaps their most dangerous belief was the idea that Whites were bred to be killers and lacked any emotion, thought, or being. Apparently (according to them) Cain from the Bible was so bad that his name was short for Caucasian. Eventually this movement lost a lot of its steam as its founder was tried and convicted of nearly 200 counts of child molestation and minor trafficking. He was imprisoned and sentenced to stay there for 135 years. His religion was so intense that he was labeled a “black supremacist cult leader.”
Many people question how the Earth came into existence, and you’ll probably get a different answer with each person you ask. One group of individuals who tried to explain the Earth’s origin were the Raelists. Their belief lies solely in UFOs and they run with it. They strongly believe that we as humans were created by a technologically advanced species of alien, then deposited to roam among our planet. Apparently these aliens disguised themselves as angels to purposefully deceive us from knowing that they were extraterrestrials. This species of alien is called the Elohim, which is strangely similar to a name used for God in the Christian Bible. However, Raelists are familiar with the Bible as they believe that Buddha, Jesus, and many other religious figures were simply prophets for Raelism. Their current mission is to take on the role of the final messengers to let everyone know about the Elohim so that the aliens will one day welcome them openly. If you ever come across a Raelist on the street, you’ll recognize them by their trademark symbol: a swastika embedded in the Star of David. No, I’m not making this up.
As a lover of comic books, I like to call Discordianism “the Joker Religion.” The premise of this religion is the belief in the Greek deity Eris, the goddess of chaos and discord. This belief system centers around the idea that both order and disorder are simple illusions, and that neither are more true than the other. All that exists is chaos. All who adhere to Discordianism are allowed to add in any other religion they want, so long as they accept the five laws, one of which states that they are to “go off alone and partake joyously of a hot dog on a Friday.” They also believe in what they call the Law of Fives: that everything that takes place are in groups of five or are divisible by the number five (whatever the heck that means). Their trade symbol is a parody of the Yin Yang, called the Sacred Chao (pronounced “cow”), with a pentagon on one side and the Golden Apple of Discord on the other. According to the Discordians, this symbol represents everything anyone would need to know about anything, and also represents things not worth knowing. Many experts debate whether this is a true or parody religion.
11. Prince Philip Movement
This religion is very small and only exists in a village on a small island off the coast of Australia. The Yaohanen Village told tales for many years about a sacred entity that lived in the mountains. This spirit journeyed far across the Pacific and found more land. When he got there, he fell in love with a woman and took her hand in marriage. Before he left, however, he promised to return. Yaohanen isn’t exactly a very well known place, so the likelihood of getting visitors is very slim. Nonetheless, that didn’t stop Queen Elizabeth and her husband Prince Philip from visiting in 1974. The villagers of Yaohanen believed that Prince Philip was the legendary spirit that was spoke of in their old tales, and loved him as such. After the couple left, he sent the villagers a total of three pictures of himself, all of which were kept by the village’s chief for religious purposes. In return, they sent him a club commonly used for killing pigs.
10. Happy Science
Some religions are subjected to debate to figure out whether they are true or parody religions. Others are debated about because some people believe they should be labeled a cult. This is the case with Happy Science: a Japanese religion introduced in the ’80s. Its founder, Ryuho Okawa brought all of their beliefs to light, the biggest of which is that that he himself has the spirits of Jesus, Buddha, and many other religious figures move and speak through him. He also states that he is an incarnation of their god figure, called El Cantare. Apparently, El Cantare is the secret name of God in the Old Testament (but not the New Testament strangely enough). Despite this idea of El Cantare, Happy Science recognizes the existence of many gods, which all of its advocates believe in on top of Okawa himself. Happy Science also has a political department where they encourage the use of the military and nuclear weapons. Due to their unique nature and beliefs, many have criticized the religion as a whole, labeling it a cult. Those in Japan and across the ocean have all argued about this topic. Whether its true or not, it’s easy to see that Happy Science does push the boundaries a bit.
9. Aetherius Society
Another devout UFO religion, the Aetherius Society, is a result of New Age ideas mixed with classic and recognizable religions (not exactly a match made in Heaven if you ask me). Its founder, George King, once stated that he long ago made contact with an alien species and that’s where he got the basis for the entire religion. These aliens (or Cosmic Masters), as King calls them, want to interact with humans and have true peace across worlds. King and the members of the Aetherius Society are all advocates of this true peace and try everything they can to promote it. Among their many mixed ideas from Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism, the Aetherius Society believes that a powerful being (the Next Master) will descend from the clouds in a UFO, stronger than anything this world has ever known (sound familiar?). They also believe in the idea of Spiritual Healing Batteries, which store healing energy. Their name comes from a Cosmic Master who descended from the planet Venus, along with Jesus and Buddha coincidentally. In 2011, it was suggested that the membership of the society had grown into the thousands.
8. Nation of Yahweh
Don’t let the name deceive you, Nation of Yahweh is not Christianity. They are a spin-off of the Black Hebrew Israelites: a group of African Americans who are convinced that they are the true descendants of the biblical Israelites. The Nation of Yahweh takes this belief a bit further in saying that its followers are not only Israeli descendants, but must retake their nation of Israel. Its leader, Yahweh Ben Yahweh, due to his strange beliefs, was labeled many times as a black supremacist, much like Dwight York. The Southern Poverty Law Center stated that the Nation of Yahweh went as far as to see white people as devils and that Yahweh Ben Yahweh’s true purpose was to destroy all whites. Yahweh was even outlandish enough to dictate what his followers wore, ate, and how they managed their sex lives- all in the name of his religion. Yahweh was also known to sleep with many of his female disciples. A lot of controversy was spawned regarding this religion, where Yahweh could essentially do as he pleased, but he was never imprisoned. In 2007, he passed away, but the religion is still active. However, they’ve claimed to turn from their more radical beliefs since then.
7. Church of Ed Wood
“Setting people free and pissing people off since 1996!” That’s what the slogan for the Church of Ed Wood reads on their website. I wish I had more room to show this to you readers, but when I went to their website, a pop up showed on my computer that read “To answer your question- yes we’re serious!” The Church of Ed Wood or Woodism prides itself on the films of the director Ed Wood. They believe Wood is their savior, and that his films were made to give spiritual enlightenment to all who view them. Very often, they let people from other religions watch his movies to get spiritually helped (most often due to a lack of spiritual fulfillment in their own religions). According to their website “You might think it’s silly or stupid, but Woodism currently boasts over 3,000 legally baptized followers worldwide!” I certainly have a lot of words I could say about the Church of Ed Wood, but the quotes I can pull from their website are much too priceless not to include here. My advice is to go to their website yourself; the things they say are unique and unlike anything I’ve ever witnessed before.
An Indian religion that worships the goddess Shiva, and Kali Ma, the Aghori are a feared and mysterious tribe. Probably one of the most radical religions on this list, the Aghori practices are feared and many stay away from them. Many of their beliefs are reminiscent of Buddhism and Hinduism (they are an extreme offshoot of Hinduism after all). For example, they wear little clothing to discourage attachments to material objects. That’s not what makes them so feared though. The Aghori are known for their radical rituals. Their biggest one is that when people die, the bodies are then used as clothing, turned into altars, or eaten as a reminder that we are all mortal. Many times the remains of a body that isn’t used is dumped into the Ganges River. Another of the Aghori’s disturbing traditions are drinking from human skulls. Bones are also used to make jewelry for the tribe. Some of the things they consume on top of human flesh are urine and fecal matter. The Aghori pride themselves in living in cemeteries to be closer to the dead and consistently remind everyone of the truth of mortality.
5. Pana Wave
The fears of nature itself are very real in our minds. No matter what we can construct with all of our advanced technology, the Earth could simply scoff at our structures and bring them down at any time. Pana Wave has taken this fear and amplified it. They are a Japanese religion that, like many other entries on this list, combine other religions like Christianity and New Age beliefs. In the ’80s, they began a scientific sect, in which they were terrified of electromagnetic waves- which they feared would destroy the entire world. They don’t fear many aspects of the Earth, just the waves. As a result, they constructed a lab where they believed they were safe from the waves. Their belief in this was so strong, that their leader once got sick. Afraid of the electromagnetic waves getting to her, they brought her to the mountains. They strongly believe that if the waves killed their leader, all of mankind would at once and simultaneously be wiped out. There was once a strange event where an Arctic Seal showed up in Tokyo. The group did everything they could to catch it, claiming that the waves brought it there, and that if it wasn’t returned to its natural habitat, a global crisis would occur.
Scientology is as bizarre as it sounds. In an attempt to balance science and religion, L. Ron Hubbard came up with the idea of Dianetics: a religious belief that delved into the area of medical health. After filing for bankruptcy, however, Hubbard lost the right to use Dianetics, so he simply renamed the system Scientology. Scientologists say that all of their beliefs and practices are based on sound and thorough research. They do not believe in a particular deity, instead people are encouraged to come up with their own conclusions through their own experimentation. Despite their research, Scientologists are strongly against mental health practices, such as seeing a therapist. This is solely because Hubbard’s wife spoke with doctors who advised her to get him some mental help. Therefore he labeled them as “corrupt,” and spoke against it often. They instead place an emphasis on people looking into their own minds and psyche to figure out how to help themselves. There are quite a few more practices associated with Scientology, but there are so many to number that one would be better off to do the research for themselves.
3. Church of Euthanasia
Every time I hear of this religion, I’m reminded of the line in A Christmas Carol where Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to help the poor. When he is asked why he won’t help, he merely states, “It will decrease the surplus population.” That’s the story behind the Church of Euthanasia. Their ultimate goal is to attain equilibrium with the world and its people. While that’s all well and good, the only way they see this being truly achieved is by a decrease in the population. The Church of Euthanasia feels the population must be less in order to maintain global peace and economic success. Some of their notable catch phrases include “Save the planet, kill yourself,” and “Thou shalt not procreate.” The idea of Euthanasia is already a controversial topic as it stands today, but to apply such a practice into daily lives to the point where you encourage others to kill themselves is a barbaric thought indeed. Naturally, the Church of Euthanasia frequently butts heads with devout Christians on the subject of sanctity of life. Recognizing the radical nature of their message, the Church has stated that the modern world is so absurd that their beliefs have to be absurd in order to make a difference.
George Lucas never knew what he would start with the creation of Star Wars. Numerous games, shows, merchandise, and more have been made all because of that one successful blockbuster created all those years ago. However, some have taken their love for the franchise much further and created a religion out of it. Jediism is the belief in the Force, in every way shape and form that the films depict it. It was first brought to the U.S’s attention when many people filled out the census- for religion it was marked “Jedi.” While their views are very parallel to the Jedi in the films, many Jediists state that they don’t follow it verbatim. They instead focus on additions of their own creation, as well as their own path to finding peace in the Force. Mainly they follow the 16 teachings though, which is still very much like the Jedi we all know and love. This religion has grown massively over the years, and has even led to more publicity. Just last year, there was a petition on Change.org requesting that a Jedi Temple be built on campus at a university in Turkey.
1. Pastafarianism- The Church Of The Flying Spaghetti Monster
It’s no secret that many people don’t like the common religious beliefs of today. Naturally, some have responded by creating their own paths to spirituality, but this one reaches quite a bit. The goal of Pastafarianism is to promote a much lighter approach to religion, and opposes the idea of Creation and Intelligent Design. To fight this, they worship the deity known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and say that it was this Italian treat that created the universe. While this contends with their idea of opposing Intelligent Design, the addition of the FSM was merely to satirize beliefs in God. According to the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, it was actually pirates who began this tradition and were the original Pastafarians. On the website for this church, many heated discussions occur over topics such as global warming, but the biggest conversation starter are their alleged sightings of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Probably their most interesting belief is their version of the afterlife. Heaven is a bit like paradise, but instead has a beer volcano and a hooker factory. Hell is essentially the same thing, except the hookers are full of STDs.