The father of a well-known sportsman has passed on to his son the belief that "everlasting torture and the doom of hell" await most Christians and that Catholicism is "masked devil worship". Now, call me
old-fashioned if you will, but, as a system of belief to live by, I don't find that terribly encouraging.
It sent me on a small research journey to find some of the world's more unusual systems of belief, some of which I anticipated would have more hope and encouragement as inducements to sign up.
One regional group in Vanuatu has Prince Phillip as its head. The Prince Regent and spouse of Queen Elizabeth is probably a little busy with other duties but he has been chosen as head of PPM (Prince Phillip Movement) and adherents celebrate his birthday every June 10 with a religious festival.
The appointment of the British royal was based on a local legend in which the son of a spirit sailed far away to marry an important woman. One day, it was believed, he would return and when the Queen visited Vanuatu, they put two and two together and came up with Phillip as their man.
I could find no information about the tenets of PPM but I'm sure they have some and I'm sure they are more positive than those mentioned at the start of this piece.
PPM at a glance:
Connections to monarchy – yes
Key date – June 10
Tenets – unclear as yet
Panawave is based in Japan and this is the religion for you if you are terrified by the presence of electromagnetic waves in our world. An important example of their work occurred in 2003 after an Arctic seal had appeared in a Tokyo river.
Their attempted abduction of the seal was based on the belief that electromagnetic waves had caused it to get lost and that, by returning it to its home, they would avert the coming doomsday.
Panawave at a glance:
Seal relocation – yes
Altar wine – no
Refreshments – at own cost
If you have no fear of electromagnetic waves and have a penchant for motorcycles, The Bullet Baba's Motorbike might be right for you. It is the only spiritual movement in the world whose item of idolatry is a 350cc Royal Enfield motorcycle.
The shrine is erected in India where the motorbike's owner, Om Banna (popularly known as Bullet Baba), was killed.
The supernatural is involved: several times the police have taken the motorbike into custody but each time it has reappeared at the crash site.
Bullet Baba's Motorbike at a glance:
Worship of motorbike - yes
Location – Chotila, Rajasthan, India
Mystery reappearances – yes
If you're looking for something more alien-inspired, Universe People could well be your bag.
This Czech-based group has extraterrestrial communications with its founder, Ivo Benda, according to whom aliens are orbiting the Earth at any given time. They are apparently on the lookout for good and loyal followers who are whisked away to another dimension.
Universe People at a glance:
Leader – yes
Another dimension – yes
Spacesuits – compulsory
If you are a Star Wars fan, Jediism might be for you. The tenets are as in the movie (light side/dark side stuff) and, rather oddly, combine fictional values from the movie with some elements of Buddhism and Taoism.
Jediism at a glance:
Inability to distinguish fact from fiction – yes
Swords – not provided
Sermons by Brian Tamaki – no
The Church of the SubGenius has a belief system too complex to explain here. The reason I have included it is that I approve of the leader's name.
The Church of the SubGenius at a glance:
Leader – Bob
Complex system of belief - yes
So, there you have it, I hope I've given you some food for thought.
The choice is now yours.
Wyn Drabble is a teacher of English, a writer, musician and public speaker.