How many religions do you know that require the wearing of a colander? Or an entirely white wardrobe? Or that frequently combine worship with hog-roast rodeos? Prepare to be amazed by 7 faiths you didn't know existed.
1. The Prince Philip Movement
Image via Wiki
Residing on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu, a small sect of the Yaohnanen tribe worship a rather regal god; our own Prince Philip.
Before their contact with colonising societies, the people of the Yaohnanen area told ancient tales about a pale-skinned mountain spirit who travelled overseas to a distant land. There he would marry a powerful woman and, in time, return to them.
This legend began to make a lot of sense in one person: Prince Philip. The Duke of Edinburgh had indeed travelled across the lands to marry a powerful woman and who the tribespeople saw in photographs and clippings on the walls of colonising police stations. Their beliefs were cemented when, in 1974, the Queen and Prince Philip made a royal visit to the New Hebrides. Their mountain spirit had finally returned with his bride, as legend foretold.
Each year, on the Prince's birthday, the tribe plan an elaborate feast. This includes consuming their ceremonial drink, kava, made from the roots of a pepper tree, which makes the drinker's mouth go numb. The consort is aware of this tribe's worship of him, and regularly sends them gifts and signed photographs.
It might be tempting to think of this cult as outright bizarre, but by combining their ancient beliefs with new Western influences, they have found ways of preserving their heritage and culture.
Pastafarian stained glass. Image via Vengaza
Pastafarians are worshipers of the flying spaghetti monster. Their only dogma is that they have no dogma. The alternative religion began after the church's founder, Bobby Henderson, wrote an open letter to a school board in Kansas that had decided to teach other theories of creation alongside evolution. He argued that if they taught established religious alternatives, they should also teach Pastafarianism.
The central premise of the religion is that an invisible and undetectable spaghetti monster created the universe after a long night of drinking. They claim that it was his intoxicated state that caused the universe to be flawed. Believers parody mainstream religions with their further assertion that all evidence for evolution was planted by the monster as a test to the Pastafarian faith.
The religion is officially recognised in Poland, New Zealand and The Netherlands where its many followers can register to officiate weddings and regularly pose for their passport photos sporting colanders on their heads. Pastafarian pastors are suitably ordained as 'Ministeronis'.
3. Pana Wave
Members of Pana Wave wearing white to protect them from electromagnetic waves. Image via Odd Culture
In 1977, Yuko Chino began a faith named Chino-Shoho in Tokyo. The new religion used aspects of Buddhism, Christianity and New Age beliefs. Chino's followers thought she was the new messiah, after Buddha, Jesus and Moses.
Pana Wave became a scientific arm of Chino-Shoho, merging the religion and spirituality with political activism. A laboratory was created to research the electromagnetic waves, which they saw as the enemy. When their leader got sick during the 1990s, the blame was put on those same waves, which are also deemed responsible for climate change and other environmental damage.
Followers of Pana Wave wear only white cloth, which they believe blocks the harmful waves. They also appear unannounced at the sites of various Japanese environmental disasters. For example, when a bearded seal named Tama-chan was spotted in the Tama river in Tokyo, a group creatively named The Society That Thinks About Tama-chan appeared asking for permission to return him to the arctic—that group was actually a cover for Pana Wave.
4. The biker's church
Having emerged from the rough background of 'scooter trash' biker culture in 1997 with addictions and a criminal past, Garner “Hillbilly” Foster found a new lease of life through his Christian faith. This rebirth prompted him to establish Capital City Bikers Churches, places of worship for bikers on the road.
Designed to have a clubhouse atmosphere, these churches boast non-alcoholic bars, pool tables, lounges and live house bands.
The average attendance is an impressive 3000 and the churches also host rodeo and roast events as well as all sorts of biker parties.
Image via Church of Jediism
In 2008, 23-year-old Daniel Jones founded the Church of Jediism in the UK, claiming that there were "more Jedi than Scientologists in Britain". In 2009, 405,179 British people officially recorded Jediism as their religion.
The church website describes itself as a "community of like-minded Star Wars and Sci-Fi fans who communicate through the common love for the way Jedi are portrayed in the movies and the values they stand for."
Celebrity believers include Thomas Ian Nicholas, Warwick Davis and Gail Porter.
7. The Maradonian Church
Image via On Cuba
Created by a core of super fans, Iglesia Maradoniana is a religion that formed to worship the retired Argentine football player Diego Maradona.
The faith was first founded on October 30, 1998, Maradona's 38th birthday. Iglesia Maradonians have their own Lord's prayer as well as 10 holy commandments:
- The ball is never soiled
- Love football above all else
- Declare unconditional love for Diego and the beauty of football
- Defend the Argentina shirt
- Spread the news of Diego's miracles throughout the universe
- Honour the temples where he played and his sacred shirts
- Don't proclaim Diego as a member of any single team
- Preach and spread the principles of the Church of Maradona
- Make Diego your middle name
- Name your first son Diego
Not all Argentinians welcome the new religion as many think the player's history of drug problems make him an insulting choice for a national hero.
Read more: 10 Innovative uses for old churches
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