Religion, as you might guess, is a pretty hot-button topic around the world, and it has been throughout history. Of all the things you can talk about, very few are likely to generate the kinds of heated debates that a discussion of religion will.
Of course, it’s even harder to take a religion seriously when the people who run them aren’t taking them seriously at all. Here are some of the best parody religions people ever devised, some of whom a decent amount of people actually practice.
10. Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth
Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, or TOPY as the cool kids call it, is a made-up religion that focuses on, well, psychic powers and magic, if you could not tell from the title. You probably could also tell that they aren’t particularly focused on correct spelling in any way, shape, or form. In reality, the misspellings are intentional, as the “church” teaches people that doing away with “normal communication” helps you better understand yourself. Also, in addition to the whole psychics and magic are real aspects, TOPY also likes to promote guiltless sexuality. Well, if you insist …
At this point the religion is pretty much defunct, having run its course from 1985-2008, probably because people realized that reading the website, with its intentionally horrendous spelling, was just too annoying to persist.
It’s probably not a shock to learn that people take movies way too seriously. In general, people are overly invested in popular culture; just look at Comic Con. However, if you were asked what movies might spawn an actual religion your first guess probably wouldn’t be The Big Lebowksi, the cult hit that has quite frankly taken on a life of its own over the years. However, that is indeed the case with Dudeism, a religion that we assume involves lots of bowling and White Russians.
Dudeism has fun with itself, with its own website imploring people to “join the slowest-growing religion in the world.” Astonishingly, there are over 150,000 people worldwide ordained as Dudeist priests, which is something you can do on their website, and probably want to leave off of your resume. But that’s just, like, our opinion, man.
And now we go from fans of a movie who just want to chill out and relax, to arguably the most diehard members of fandom in the world: the Star Wars nerds. These are the people who can recite everything that has ever happened not just in the universe that George Lucas created, but in the Expanded Universe as well, and who will argue with you for hours about whether Han shot first, or if Boba Fett really died in Return of the Jedi.
And speaking of Jedi, that’s exactly what they proclaim themselves to be: members of Jediism. The Temple of the Jedi Order was founded in 2005, and its members proudly proclaim that they are not practicing some fictional religion, but people who truly go about their day-to-day lives, more or less living their lives by the creed, “What Would Obi-Wan Do?” They preach peace, love, justice, and learning to use their powers for good. If they are anything like we expect them to be, those powers probably revolve around the ability to make really cool-looking cosplay outfits.
Perhaps more than any other religion on this list, Discordianism is closer to being an actual religion, and less of a parody, than any other. The principles of Discordianism are basically all about chaos. In fact, the central deity in Discordianism is Eris, the Greek goddess of chaos. The religion was originally founded in the late 1950’s, following the publication of the book Principia Discordia.
While we said that it’s less of a parody religion than the others on this list, that might just be due to the fact that Discordianism is extremely subtle in its mockery, while remaining more dedicated to keeping up the façade of being a legitimate religion. Of course, considering the Discordian Bible, The Honest Book of Truth was “taken by a garbage collector, who refused to return it,” maybe it’s not quite as subtle as we previously thought.
At first, Kibology sounds more like something Neville Longbottom excelled in at Hogwarts, but it’s actually an “alternative religion,” started by a man named James “Kibo” Parry back in 1989. This, like so many other parody religions, began in the very early stages of the Internet, so it’s basically what would happen if the people at 4chan started a religion.
Kibology actually phased out the parody religion aspect, at least to an extent, in the late 1990’s, and focused more on satire and all-around mockery. They spend their time following what people they deem to be “mad scientists” are saying, and skewering it incessantly. These people include, for example, Gene Ray, who created the Time Cube theory, which states that every day is actually made up of four separate days occurring at the same time, and makes 1000% sense.
5. Landover Baptist Church
Perhaps the most scathing parody religion on our list, the Landover Baptist Church was created as a satire of the religious right in general, and fundamentalist Christians specifically. It was started by a man named Chris Harper, who was apparently a little irked by Liberty University’s decision to expel him for creating a satirical radio program. Liberty, in case you are not aware, was founded by Jerry Falwell. So you can pretty much guess where Harper and the LBC’s satire was directed.
The church is, of course, entirely fictional, right down to the place where it supposedly exists (a made-up town called Freehold, Iowa). The satire extends to created pastors and members of the church. Also, quite hilariously, the LBC and its most prominent member Betty Bowers (also fictional) serve in conjunction with organizations that have the unfortunate acronyms of B.I.T.C.H. and B.A.S.H. – the latter of which stands for Baptists Are Saving Homosexuals.
One of the most overt parody religions out there is Eventualism, founded by writer Mike Vardy. Pretty much everything about Eventualism is over-the-top in its absurdity, right down to its (now pretty much defunct) website, which provides five key steps toward becoming an Eventualist.
For example, the teachings of Eventualism include “studying the circle,” and note that the typical circle, well, goes on and on in circles. It also says that you should brew your own beer, get a lot of e-mail inboxes, and increase your cable channel subscription. The bottom line, if we are interpreting Eventualism’s teachings right, is that everything you watch will wind up teaching you something, eventually. Even if Snooki’s on it.
The Missionary Church of Kopimism was founded by a 19-year-old Swede named Isak Gerson, and if you’re wondering where the name came from, the religion is dedicated to the idea that file sharing and copying information is “a sacred virtue.” So yes, it is an Internet religion that commands you to pirate all of those files and share them with the world. We have a feeling this one will really speak to a lot of our readers.
One of the primary beliefs of Kopimists is that information should be freely available to anyone, hence the idea that it is the duty of its members to copy files and share them around the world. Despite being what would appear to be just an excuse to illegally share music and movies around the Internet, the Missionary Church of Kopimism is legitimate to the point where, in 2012, it conducted an honest-to-God wedding in Serbia.
2. Invisible Pink Unicorn
The Invisible Pink Unicorn, or IPU for people too lazy to type that out, is an atheist parody religion with a history that dates back to at least 1990, when it was first mentioned on a discussion board on the still-burgeoning Internet.
And then, like everything else that spirals out of control into the depths of cynical mockery, it was brought to the forefront by some college students who came up with a manifesto that laid out the tenets of this religion. Included is a line describing their unicorn overlords, which sums up every point they were trying to get across in lampooning religion in general: “We have faith that they are pink; we know logically that they are invisible, because we can’t see them.”
Pastafarianism is a funny word. You know what’s even funnier? Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yeah, that probably got your attention, didn’t it? Chances are you’ve heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but a lot of people probably don’t realize what the Hell it actually is. Well, it’s the central figure in Pastafarianism, also known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
The religion was created primarily to debate the idea of creationism and intelligent design being taught in the school systems, with the Flying Spaghetti Monster first being mentioned in a 2005 letter to the Kansas State Board of Education. In the letter, its author, Bobby Henderson, speaks at length that there is a being that closely resembles an anthropomorphic glob of spaghetti, and that his god was just as valid, and had just as much historical evidence, as what was to be taught in creationism courses.
Of all the religions on this list, Pastafarianism is truly the most overtly satirical, and also the most hilarious. And that’s why we love it. That, and the fact that its deity sounds positively delicious.