The various political candidates touting their religious beliefs and trying to convince the public of their devout natures are really missing out on pandering to an ever-increasing religious audience.
These days, more people than ever are turning away from traditional faiths like Christianity and Judaism. Instead, less-known beliefs far from the spotlight have been quietly gaining members. As a public service, I thought it would be nice to redirect political attention to possibly more lucrative arenas.
Consider for example, Nuwaubianism. It was founded by a man now in prison for money laundering and child molestation charges, but that’s not surprising. Founders of religions, including Moses, Jesus and Mohammad, usually face persecution by unjust authorities. This faith has some unusual tenets, such as everyone has seven clones living around the world and that women “created” men through genetic manipulation.
Then there’s the Church of Euthanasia, which has taken on the issue of overpopulation. It recommends that to save the planet, members should kill themselves. The four basic tenets of faith are: suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy.
Another group that is gaining interest is Raëlism, a self-described atheist UFO faith. According to its founder, Yahweh is an alien who spoke to him in 1973, revealing that all people were created through DNA techniques by another alien named Elohim.
Kemet is the rebirth of ancient Egyptian ideas. Adherents believe that there’s one god, but he manifests himself in multiple minor deities.
Yoruba, the largest native African faith, shares many traits with other religions. Believers claim that fate is linked to thoughts and actions. Death is not an end. Rather, like Hinduism, it simply is part of a cycle as a person moves to unity with the supreme deity, named Olodumare.
Mandaeism is an ancient faith that was once declared a Christian heresy, but has endured. It rejects Jesus and focuses instead on John the Baptist. Followers also spurn all other religious leaders, like Moses and Mohammad, considering them false prophets, too.
Let’s not forget a small cult that worships Peanut’s cartoon character Charlie Brown, or Thelema, founded by English mystic and drug addict Aleister Crowley, who borrowed from ancient Egypt and added some magic and homespun philosophy.
None of these religions – and there are many more – have wide followings now, but neither did any of the major religions of the world at one time. Abraham, according to the Bible, began Judaism with only his wife and two sons (one of whom he tried to sacrifice.) How many followers did Buddha have when he died? A dozen? Mohammad convinced his son in law Ali to convert, but struggled after that and eventually had to flee his hometown.
Christians love to point out that Jesus only had a few people who knew he existed as if it’s something special. Actually, no major faith started with more. Most had less.
Yet, somehow, they all grew. So has the Mormon faith, begun by Joseph Smith in upstate New York. He only had a few followers for many years. That’s also true for Scientology, which was started by science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard and now claims Hollywood stars among its members.
There’s no telling where the next “true” faith will come from. The only reality is that religions have life cycles: old faiths die; new faiths replace them. As one ancient Egyptian once moaned – quoted in a book Man and His Gods – “If Osiris never lived, then mankind has lived under an illusion for 2,000 years.”
Osiris never lived.
Religion is the illusion. Surveys increasingly indicate that people are rejecting the old, tired faiths and looking for new ones. Politicians better get on the bandwagon before they find themselves not just talking to empty minds, but to empty buildings as well.
Bill Lazarus regularly writes about religion and religious history. He also speaks at various religious organizations throughout Florida. You can reach him at www.williamplazarus.com. His books are available on Amazon.com, Kindle, bookstores and via various publishers. Many of his essays are posted at www.williamplazarus.blogspot.com