Now I’m not expressing any real value judgment as to the merits of these “religions” (I guess the quotes aren’t a good start). I’m simply highlighting some of the more unusual (often hilarious) belief systems out there… but again… I make no judgment. 😉
1. Jediism – The Jedi Religion
Little did George Lucas realize what he was starting. With his Star Wars movies, he set in motion a religious movement that has inspired generations of fake-light-saber waving, nylon-cloak-wearing warrior-nerds.
Adherents, or “real world” Jedis believe the Force actually exists.
According to the Star Wars mythology, the Force is the energy that holds the Universe together and flows through every material thing (obviously borrowing some concepts from Eastern religions).
Jedis are monks/knights capable of controlling and using the Force, and bound by a code of morality and justice.
So you can see the appeal to every mathlete hoping to use a light saber to bore a hole in to the forehead of an evil bully.
Jediism has been referred to as a blend of Taoism and Buddhism that also incorporates elements of medieval chivalry. While there’s no formal central doctrine, all this is loosely referred to as the “Jedi Code”.
Though I haven’t confirmed it, there’s a rumor that the Jedi elders force anyone wanting to join to sit in a dark room and watch the original trilogy 16 times in a row (the first trilogy ONLY, as the newer films are widely considered an abomination).
2. The Church of Ed Wood
Ed Wood is famously known in Hollywood as one of the worst (if not the worst) directors of all time (hear that Paul Verhoeven? You and your classic Showgirls are off the hook.)
Since his death he’s gained quite the cult status, and his off-camera exploits were brought to life by Johnny Depp in the 1994 film Ed Wood (directed by Tim Burton).
Ed Wood’s most celebrated picture is Plan 9 from Outer Space, which was in fact the last film of Bela Lugosi (a bit of a trainwreck himself).
So the Church of Ed Wood (or “Woodism”) labels itself a pop-culture religion that hopes to bring spirituality to those people who don’t find it in more mainstream religions. A “punk-libertarian religion” if you will. They look upon Ed Wood as a savior (but as the church notes, not the savior.)
Tenets include upholding the morals and ideals of Edward D. Wood and preaching Ed’s message of total understanding and acceptance, regardless of what modern society may say.
Wood was also a transvestite in 1950s America… probably not a fun time to have a sexual identity crisis.
The church claims there are over 3000 legal “Woodites” worldwide.
3. Aetherius Society
What do you do if you’re stuck as a cab driver, but also have a passion for Yoga? The answer is obvious… you start your own religion.
On an uneventful day in 1954, George King was sitting alone in his London apartment when suddenly, out of the blue, Alf (well not really Alf… but “Aetherius”) shouted:
“Prepare yourself! You are to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament.”
So he did just that.
King started the Aetherius Society which hopes to combine alien wisdom of the “Cosmic Masters” and Yoga into something useful that will bring balance to humanity.
They believe Jesus, Buddha and Krishna are in fact aliens (yes… plausible), and one of their claims to fame is that the aliens alerted them to the imminent Chernobyl disaster a good 4 hours before it melted down. Well… I’m convinced. Why lie?
They claim about 650 adherents.