Monday, May 29, 2023

When different defines religion

| June 7, 2022 1:00 AM

I’ve always been a believer in the freedom to believe. No two humans are the same, and our personalities, experiences and families vary so widely that it’s a wonder we share any perspectives at all.

Over the years, our neighborhood has seen a lot of proselytizing door-knockers. I admit to avoiding them, so the religious tracts piled up — most of them familiar, others pretty far-fetched. The diversity reminded me of research I’d collected on very unusual religions. This partial list ranges from the quite serious to the facetious, in any case exemplifying that faiths and beliefs are as diverse as man himself.

So to kick off another mini-series on minority religions in the U.S., let’s start with the unusual:

Thelemic Order of the Golden Dawn: A combination of western and eastern spiritual beliefs with seven grades of initiation linked to the seven chakras of yogis (heart, throat, third eye, etc.), seven planets and seven metals.

The Church for the Churchless: Self-described as church for anyone who needs to belong but can't make the commitment, for people of all faiths and no faith to come together, with no confession, eternal damnation or judgment.

The Temple of Love, a.k.a., “The world peace religion:” Their goal is to save life on Earth from self-extinction events by uniting Christianity, Islam and all religions with a common goal of world peace. The peaceful unity aspect reminds me a little of the more mainstream Baha’is.

Shamanism: Based on the belief that the visible world is pervaded by invisible forces or spirits that affect the lives of the living. Shamans drive them out.

The Rational Universal Church: Rationalism is the belief that reason is the basis for establishment of religious truth, not revelation or authority, without regard to dogma.

The Church of Critical Thinking: “Your suspicion is our mission;” not a religious organization, nor does it acknowledge the existence of any deities. Believes separation of church and state has become too blurred, and teaches people to use critical thinking to independently analyze everything they’re told and reject what doesn’t survive that process.

And on the lighter side:

The Church Of Googlism: States a convincing argument can be made that the search engine Google is the uniting force among contemporary religions, because those of all religions from around the world use Google, collectively approaching the divine. To quote it, “Muslims, Christians, Jews and even Scientologists use Google and Her mighty Algorithms in search of life's great mysteries … bringing hope for religious peace.”

“Difference of opinion is helpful in religion.” — Thomas Jefferson

And sometimes a little entertaining.

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email

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