Ever since the early days of human existence, we have tried to understand the universe using religion. Many religions believe in a creator or even several gods. It is estimated that there are currently over 4,000 practicing religions in the world.
While the monotheistic Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) are dominant throughout the west and middle east, and Hinduism, Jainism, Shikism, and Buddhism are prevalent throughout the east, there are many smaller unique religions that often go unreported.
So what are the beliefs of these small regions, and what can we learn from them?
In this guide, we’ll look at six religions of the world that you may not have heard of.
1. Iglesia Maradoniana
To many, the footballer player, Diago Maradona was a national sporting hero that took the Argentinian football team to glory in the 1986 World Cup against West Germany. For others, he was the patriarch of the religion Iglesia Maradoniana.
Founded on the footballer’s 30th birthday in 1998, the religion has ten commandments that followers adhere to. Examples of these include:
- Naming your son ‘Diago’
- To love football above all else
- To spread the teachings of the church of Maradona
The religion was originally founded by three Argentinian fans, Héctor Campomar, Alejandro Verón and Hernán Amez.
Raëlism is a religion founded back in the mid-1970s by Claude Vorlihon – who now goes by the name Raël. The basic crux of this religion is that all life on Earth was manufactured by extraterrestrial beings called Elohim.
Formally known as the International Raëlian Movement (IRM) or Raëlian Church, the faith has 40 prophets who were all human and Elohim hybrids.
Some of the most notable prophets of Raëlism include Jesus Christ, Mohammed, and Buddha. The fortieth and final prophet is of course the religion’s founder, Raël.
To be able to join the church of Raëlism, members must renounce any other religious affiliations. Alongside the belief that we’re creations of aliens, the religion’s other core principles are world peace, nonviolence, sharing, and democracy.
Although this may be one of the lesser-known religions, it still boasts tens of thousands of members across the world, including in France, Canada, Japan, and Australia. Members partake in sensual meditation as well as a ritual called the ‘transmission of the cellular plan.’
The religion believes that ever since the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima in 1945 that we’re living in ‘the age of the apocalypse’.
Wicca is a modern pagan religion developed in the United Kingdom and introduced to the world by the retired civil servant Gerald Gardner in1954. This duotheistic religion worships the Great Goddess” and the Great Horned God.
There are many offshoots of the original foundations laid down by Gardner, though typically followers observe celebrations called Estbats based around cycles of the moon associated with the goddess, and Sabbats which are the cycles of the sun associated with the horned god.
Magic is also often practiced by Wiccans, although this is not always the case.
As the popularity of TV series such as Charmed and films like The Craft rose in the 1990s, the religion spread and found new members internationally. The Wicca Academy allows new members to learn all about the practices involved.
According to the Star Wars movie franchise, the force is a mysterious energy that binds the entire universe. The force is harnessed by both the Jedi and the Sith, giving them spiritual and supernatural powers.
Jedis use force for good, whereas the Sith represents the dark side. In 2001, a campaign was launched for people to add ‘Jedi’ as their religion on the UK census forms, and over 300,000 people did.
In 2007, Daniel and Barney Jones established Jediism and began campaigning for Jedi Rights.
After their ban for not removing their hoods in a Welsh branch of the supermarket, Tesco, Daniel, and Barney protested that they were being discriminated against on religious grounds.
In response, Tesco pointed out that Jedis such as Obi-Wan, Luke, and Yoda were all frequently seen without their hoods, whereas it was only the Sith Emporer that ever remained hooded.
5. Frisbeetarianism and Pastaferianism
Frisbeetarianism follows the belief described by the comedian George Carlin, that when you die, your soul will stay stuck on the roof until someone uses a long pole to knock it off after which point, your new life will begin.
This is a parody of ancient religions that shares similarities to Pastafarianism, The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This creation myth follows that the flying spaghetti monster founded the earth after drinking too much.
The religion believes that the afterlife has a beer volcano and strippers and that hell is the same, but the strippers all have STIs.
These are a modern reshaping of the philosopher Bertrand Russel’s idea that nobody could disprove his assertion that there is a small china teapot that orbits the sun between Earth and Mars if he said that it was too small to be seen by a telescope.
6. Cao Dai
This political religion went as far as forming an army during the occupation of Indo-China by the Japanese in 1943. The army was later disbanded when it opposed Diem, the premier. The religion follows that heaven has 36 levels.
In addition to this, Cao Dai also states that there are 72 planets that have intelligent life. Earth is number 68. Heaven is closest to planet number one, and hell is closest to planet 72.
The World Is Full of Unique Religions
The list of unique religions could go on and on. Did you know that the inhabitants of Pacific Island Vanuatu all believe that Prince Phillip, the Duke of Edinburgh was a divine being?
Whatever your faith (or lack of), remember to always be respectful of others’ beliefs – be excellent to each other, and party on dudes.
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