In a world with thousands of different faiths, you are guaranteed to find some very wacky and weird religions. Although their particular system of faith and/or worship may seem useless or even ludicrous to the unbeliever, to the believer, it can be one of the most important things in life.
According to a study that was conducted by the Pew Research Centers Forum on Religion & Public Life, worldwide, more than eight-in-ten people identify with a religious group. The comprehensive demographic study was conducted in over 230 countries and territories. Before we start our list of bizarre religions, we will first briefly talk about the percentages of the major religions in our world.
For examples of bizarre beliefs you won’t believe, visit our post Weird Beliefs And Kooky Occults.
The Major Religions In The World
Above is a map showing the major religions distributed in the world as of today (click the image for a better view). The map only views the religion as a whole (it excludes all denominations or sects). The map is not colored by main religion of the country, but by how the religions are distributed.
According to The World Factbook, the world population was 7,095,217,980 (as of July 2013). With over 7 billion people worldwide, Christianity is the largest religion, making up 31.50% of the world’s population. Islam is the second largest religion at 23.20%. After other major religions (such as Hinduism) including the non-religious at 9.66% and atheists at 2.01%, what is left is just 10.95% for other religions. In this small percentage of 10.95% is where our list of very unusual faiths belong.
Scientology is a bizarre religious system that was created (established back in 1954) by a science fiction writer by the name of L. Ron Hubbard (19111986). The religion was created in 1952 as an outgrowth of his earlier self-help system known as Dianetics, which is a set of ideas and practices where the primary aim is to relieve psychosomatic disorder by cleansing the mind of harmful mental images. In 1953, Hubbard incorporated the Church of Scientology in Camden, New Jersey.
L. Ron Hubbard
With 10 million members worldwide, Scientology is known as one of the most controversial new religious movements to have emerged in the 20th century. Critics often characterize the church as a cult because of brainwashing and the routinely defrauding of its members believed to take place.
The Bizarre Story
According to the story, about 75 million years ago, there was an intergalactic ruler by the name of Xenu who created a plan to help solve an overpopulation problem. He brought in billions of people to Earth in a spacecraft that resembled Douglas DC-8 airliners. Xenu then stacked the souls around volcanoes and caused the explosion of hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes, killing them all. Although they started to drift upwards, the souls were captured using an electronic ribbon (created by Xenu). Their souls were then taken to “implant stations” and then forced to watch a movie that contained misleading beliefs about the existence of God, the Devil, Jesus, and so on.
Before the thetans (Hubbard refereed to “thetans” as the souls of the dead space aliens) were set loose, they were brainwashed for a considerable period of time. After finally being set free, they roamed around and eventually, their spirits had latched on to the bodies of early mankind (they supposedly continue to do this today). Thetans are now believed to be the primary source that causes all physical and mental illness that the human race suffers from. Scientologists believe that if they can get rid of the body thetans, they will be healthier and will also gain special powers.
Some Of The Core Beliefs In Scientology
Scientology teaches that humans are immortal beings who have unlimited capabilities. Thetans are believed to be reborn time and time again in new bodies. The process is called “assumption” (similar to reincarnation). Like the religion Hinduism, Scientology postulates a casual relationship between the experiences of earlier incarnations and one’s present life. Also, with each rebirth, the effects of the MEST universe (matter, energy, space and time) on the thetan will become stronger.
The higher level of initiation is known as Operating Thetan (OT). For the members who have not yet reached this so-called higher spiritual state, the teachings are kept secret. However, once members have reached OT levels (which can cost thousands of dollars to upgrade), they supposedly get to learn how to reverse the effects of past-life trauma patterns that go millions of years into the past.
John Travolta and Tom Cruise are two celebrities known for their commitment to Scientology.
Theistic Satanism (also called spiritual Satanism or traditional Satanism) is the belief that Satan is an actual supernatural being (not solely a symbol) that one can contact, petition and worship.
Theistic Satanism Vs. LaVeyan Satanism
LaVeyan Satanism (founded by Anton LaVey in the 1960s) is often viewed as the same religion as Theistic Satanism. However, the significant difference between the two is that Satanism is atheistic (the lack of the belief in a god or gods). LaVeyan Satanists don’t believe Satan is a real being or force. Instead, they consider Satan merely as a symbol for what their particular faith encourages.
Theistic Satanism also includes the use of ceremonial magic. Although followers are dedicated to the deity called “Satan”, fortunately, the being doesn’t have the same characteristics as the Satan in Christianity. Contrary to popular belief, theistic Satanists do not promote evil such as rape and murder. Their view of Satan is a god of things such as freedom, sexuality, creativity and success.
Interestingly, Theistic Satanism does not even have a central organization. There are a variety of different branches that work independently of each other. Just a few of the branches are Joy of Satan Ministries, The Church of Azazel, The Ordo Flammeus Serpens and The First Church of Satan.
Anton Szandor LaVey: LaVeyan Satanism And Common Misconceptions
Happy Science is a fairly new (founded in Japan on 6 October 1986) religious and spritual movement that was created by a man named Ryuho Okawa (was born Takashi Nakagawaon on July 7, 1956). In March of 1991, Happy Science had officially became a religious organization in Japan.
In the 1980s, after reading a series of books published by Takahashi Shinji (September 21, 1927 – June 25, 1976) who was a Japanese religious leader and founder of the new religious corporation called God Light Association (GLA), Okawa was deeply moved. This gave him the idea to resign from his position at a prestigious trading corporation. He decided it was time to find his own religion.
Okawa claims to be the incarnation of a supreme spiritual being called El Cantare (who is the so-called creator of the universe). El Cantare is a deity that Okawa’s followers worship, and is also claimed to be identical with Mr. Okawa himself. Okawa also has another extraordinary claim. He says he has the ability to channel the actual spirits of past beings such as Muhammad, Buddha and Christ. He also claims to have direct communication with the “Guardian Spirits” of political figures.
The teachings of Happy Science are based on the Buddhist foundations of reflection and keeping Right Mind. However, in order to improve oneself (as well as society), the religion also incorporates modern day prosperity and development. Okawa’s teachings are said to center on the belief that all of the major religions in the world had originated from just one source. The Happy Science religion claims to empower individuals to achieve lasting happiness through the teachings based on universal Truth. The ultimate goal is to create a world filled with harmony, love and prosperity.
José Luis de Jesús: Founder Of Creciendo en Gracia Sect
José Luis de Jesús Miranda (April 22, 1946-August 8, 2013) was a man who claimed to be both the descendent of Jesus Christ and also the Antichrist. Miranda was the leader of the sect (based in Miami) called Creciendo en Gracia (Growing in Grace). Until his death in 2013, he was known as el Jesucristo Hombre (which translates to “the Jesus-Christ Man“). Not long after he passed away from cirrhosis of the liver, his followers gave him a new title of Melchizedek, meaning king of justice and king of peace. Instead of celebrating Christmas on December 25th, Miranda’s followers celebrate the holiday on his own birthday (on April 22nd) because they believe it is the “real” Christmas.
The So-Called Encounter With Angels
According to Miranda, in 1973, he had a vision of being visited by a pair of angles. The two angels supposedly came down from heaven to tell him that he was chosen to be the messiah. Miranda claimed that the same spirit that was once in Jesus of Nazareth, is the same spirit that is in him. Not long after his so-called encounter with angels, he began his road towards creating a new religion.
In 1988, Miranda had began to assemble a select number of his new followers. In his early teaching days, he would only preach according to the Four Gospels that narrate the life and teachings of Jesus Christ. However, in 1998, he suddenly claimed that he was the reincarnation of the Apostle Paul. This is what lead him to change his focus and begin preaching the gospel of Paul.
Although Creciendo en Gracia originally started in Miami, Florida, it later expanded into a variety of places in the Unites States and even Latin America. In 2005, Miranda had announced to his followers that he was the next phase of Jesus Christ on Earth and self-proclaimed Jesus Christ Man.
Why Did Miranda Also Call Himself The Antichrist?
Although Miranda had claimed to be the returned phase of Jesus Christ, in 2006, oddly, he also claimed to be the Antichrist. The reason he called himself the “Antichrist” is because he claimed that people are no longer required to follow the “Jewish teachings” of Jesus of Nazareth, but instead they must follow apostle Paul’s teachings (through Miranda). Interestingly, Miranda defined Antichrist as meaning “no longer following Jesus of Nazareth as he lived in the days of his flesh“.
To show their support for Miranda, his followers would get “666” tattoos on their bodies. Of course, people often link 666 to the sign of the devil. However, according to Miranda, it is not a sign of the devil. He claimed that 666 is a number of wisdom and it displays who is really following the truthful words of Jesus Christ. He would preach that the devil is no longer in existence because he was destroyed. He also preached that since Jesus died for the sins of the world, sin no longer exists. José Luis de Jesús Miranda would say that anyone who doesn’t believe in him, is miserable.
The Huge Success Of The So-Called Messiah
In 2007, Miranda pulled in $228,000 for his job as the Antichrist and the next phase of Jesus Christ. Of course, people (other than his followers) believe his entire religion was made up just for the purpose of bringing in big bucks (which is the case for many religious leaders). By 2008, Miranda claimed to have over two million followers in 30 different countries. This is a perfect example of just how easy it is to start a religion that could grow into a lucrative business with millions of followers.
Bill Maher Interviews José Luis de Jesús Miranda
Above is a funny scene from the hilarious movie Religulous with Bill Maher. Watch Maher ask Miranda some interesting questions about his bizarre religious claims and how it all started.
Temple of the True Inner Light
The Temple of the True Inner Light is a temple that is located in Manhattan. The primary belief of the religion is that entheogens (a chemical substance used for religious or spiritual purposes to induce altered states of consciousness) such as dipropyltryptamine, marijuana, LSD-25, DMT, mescaline and psilocybin mushrooms are the true flesh of God. They also believe that all religions are based upon the psychedelic experience. There is not much else to say about this very unusual religion.
As long as the human population continues to grow, it is likely that so will religion. However, although it is impossible to predict what the future actually holds, it is also fair to say that the number of believers may decline. Many believe the non-religious and atheist population in the U.S. will continue to rise because of the availability and increased use of the Internet. Does this mean that the religious population in the U.S. is going to start declining? Only time will tell. However, one thing is certain, the Earth is home to millions of people who are followers of weird religions.