HowTo:Start a Religion

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'''Starting a religion''' is a surprisingly simple process. The entire system generally takes only a handful of basic steps.
+
'''Starting a religion''' is a surprisingly simple process, as most people are unquestioning and basically looking to be told what to think and do. The entire system generally takes only a handful of basic steps.
   
 
{{HowTo}}
 
{{HowTo}}
 
== Step 1: Finding your followers ==
 
== Step 1: Finding your followers ==
 
[[Image:Joseph_Smith_receiving_golden_plates.jpg|right|thumb|180px|Blurry, black and white sketches should suffice for any evidence. Remember, religion is '''faith''', not facts.]]
 
[[Image:Joseph_Smith_receiving_golden_plates.jpg|right|thumb|180px|Blurry, black and white sketches should suffice for any evidence. Remember, religion is '''faith''', not facts.]]
A [[religion]] is worthless if you don't have people to worship it. Do some basic research on who you're [[Stupid|targeting]] with your [[Bullshit|divine message.]] This step is ''critical;'' failure to optimize your gospel towards the right audience can cause your project to be [[Pagan|dead]] before it can even begin [[Scientology|conversions.]] Statistics show that 92% of religions fail in their first year. Don't meet the same fate as them.
+
A [[religion]] is worthless if you don't have people to die for it or give money or sexual privileges to it. Do some basic research on who you're targeting: e.g., lost but loyal do-gooders, middle-aged questioners, or handsome blonde preteen boys. This step is ''critical;'' failure to optimize your gospel towards the right audience can cause your project to be [[Sacrifice|dead]] before it can even begin [[Scientology|conversions.]] Statistics show that 92% of religions fail in their first year. Don't meet the same fate as them.
   
 
You'll need to determine which group of followers will benefit you most. There are four equally valid options, each with pros and cons.
 
You'll need to determine which group of followers will benefit you most. There are four equally valid options, each with pros and cons.
   
 
=== Poor, powerless people ===
 
=== Poor, powerless people ===
Follow in the footsteps of Jesus, for once in your life. Christianity, with its message of equality and spirituality over material wealth, has great appeal to the downtrodden.
+
Follow in the footsteps of [your diety], for once in your life. Christianity, with its message of equality and spirituality over material wealth, has great appeal to the downtrodden.
 
*''Advantages:'' There are lots of them, and they breed like rabbits.
 
*''Advantages:'' There are lots of them, and they breed like rabbits.
*''Disadvantages:'' They are, by definition, poor and powerless, so it's difficult to milk them for much.
+
*''Disadvantages:'' They are, by definition, poor and powerless, so it's difficult to milk them for much, if any.
 
[[Image:Religious_syms.png|right|thumb|200px|left|Brand awareness, kids. Brand awareness.]]
 
[[Image:Religious_syms.png|right|thumb|200px|left|Brand awareness, kids. Brand awareness.]]
  +
 
=== An ethnic group ===
 
=== An ethnic group ===
 
Judaism holds that Jews are God's Chosen People, in spite of the [[Egypt|slavery,]] [[Holocaust]], [[Nazi|anti-Semitism]], and general bad luck over the last few millennia.
 
Judaism holds that Jews are God's Chosen People, in spite of the [[Egypt|slavery,]] [[Holocaust]], [[Nazi|anti-Semitism]], and general bad luck over the last few millennia.
Line 24: Line 25:
   
 
=== Nerds ===
 
=== Nerds ===
As of yet, an untapped group.
+
As of yet, an untapped group, except for cult like Heaven's Gate.
 
*''Advantages:'' They possess lots of technical skills; if your computer breaks down, PC repair can immedately become a free ticket to heaven.
 
*''Advantages:'' They possess lots of technical skills; if your computer breaks down, PC repair can immedately become a free ticket to heaven.
 
*''Disadvantages:'' They tend to be skeptics. Plus, do you really want a bunch of ''nerds'' for followers?
 
*''Disadvantages:'' They tend to be skeptics. Plus, do you really want a bunch of ''nerds'' for followers?
   
 
== Step 2: Creating your main character ==
 
== Step 2: Creating your main character ==
[[Christian]]s have [[Jesus]], [[Jew]]s have [[Moses]], [[Muslim]]s have [[Mohammed]]. If you want to be in the big leagues causing [[Iraq War|international conflict]], you need to craft a convincing lead. Your Deity must be:
+
If you want to be in the big leagues causing [[Iraq War|international conflict]], you need to craft a convincing lead. [[Christian]]s have [[Jesus]], [[Jew]]s have [[Moses]], [[Muslim]]s have [[Mohammed]] and Google Employees have [[Google]]. Your Deity must be:
  +
 
*Male
 
*Male
 
*Omnipotent
 
*Omnipotent
 
*A commanding authority figure
 
*A commanding authority figure
*Male
+
*Hiding or possessing a small Penis
 
*Respectable
 
*Respectable
*A rugged, attractive image
+
*[[Chuck Norris|A rugged, attractive image]]
 
*Male
 
*Male
 
*Adept at [[Noah's Ark|crowd control]]
 
*Adept at [[Noah's Ark|crowd control]]
Line 41: Line 42:
 
*Equipped with a beard
 
*Equipped with a beard
 
*[[Breast]]-less
 
*[[Breast]]-less
  +
*Someone who says "Listen to me and do what I say or else" a lot, in plenty of different ways
   
 
In the event you cannot create a single suitable figurehead, [[Greece|polytheism]] may be the one true calling. Experiment a bit and bounce ideas off of prospective members. Believeability is a plus, but not entirely necessary; [[Christianity|religions have]] [[Scientology|been created]] [[Mormon|on less]].
 
In the event you cannot create a single suitable figurehead, [[Greece|polytheism]] may be the one true calling. Experiment a bit and bounce ideas off of prospective members. Believeability is a plus, but not entirely necessary; [[Christianity|religions have]] [[Scientology|been created]] [[Mormon|on less]].
   
 
== Step 3: Writing a backstory ==
 
== Step 3: Writing a backstory ==
{{Tip|left|In our modern, high-tech, scientific and rational world, people tend to be overly skeptical of ghosts, demons, witches and soforth. Try using futuristic things like space aliens instead. [[Scientology|Alien-based religions]] remain small compared to traditional religions, but they're the fastest growing segment of the market.}}[[Image:Receiving_golden_bibles.jpeg|thumb|180px|If you have no pre-existing basis for your religion, craft a good story. Something about receiving golden bibles from an angel should suffice.]]Without a backstory, your religion is utterly pointless. Who would believe in something without any [[Iraq War|historical basis]]? You'll need a solid explanation of how we all got here, what we're doing here, who put us here, and for what purpose. Craft a complex story involving divine acts, angels, epiphanies, godly powers, and pregnant chicks. If you can't think of anything good, take a stab in the dark. Uh... [[Mormon|golden plates.]]
+
{{Tip|left|In our modern, high-tech, scientific and rational world, people tend to be overly skeptical of ghosts, demons, witches and soforth. Try using futuristic things like space aliens instead. [[Scientology|Alien-based religions]] remain small compared to traditional religions, but they're the fastest growing segment of the market.}}Without a backstory, your religion is utterly pointless. Who would believe in something without any [[Iraq War|historical basis]]? You'll need a solid explanation of how we all got here, what we're doing here, who put us here, and for what purpose. Craft a complex story involving divine acts, angels, epiphanies, godly powers, and pregnant chicks. If you can't think of anything good, take a stab in the dark. Uh... [[Scientology|volcano dipping]], [[Church Universal and Triumphant|colorfully flaming Ascended Masters]].
   
 
== Step 4: Crafting a plotline ==
 
== Step 4: Crafting a plotline ==
Line 51: Line 53:
   
 
== Step 5: Laying out rules ==
 
== Step 5: Laying out rules ==
{{tip|right|Most conversions are impulse buys; your customer will give you about 30 seconds to make your pitch, and if you can't get across the basics of what you're selling, your prospective client will lose interest and go with a competitor.}}Rule of thumb: the basic tenets of a religion should fit on the back of a post card. Think of the Ten Commandments or the Fivefold Path of Buddhism.
+
{{tip|right|Most conversions are impulse buys; your customer will give you about 30 seconds to make your pitch, and if you can't get across the basics of what you're selling, your prospective client will lose interest and go with a competitor.}}Rule of thumb: the basic tenets of a religion should fit on the back of a post card. Think of the Ten Commandments or the Eightfold Path of Buddhism.
   
 
The rules of a religion should provide a handy how-to guide for life that covers everything from what you eat and wear to moral decisions. Questions to consider when crafting your rules:
 
The rules of a religion should provide a handy how-to guide for life that covers everything from what you eat and wear to moral decisions. Questions to consider when crafting your rules:
   
  +
 
=== Killing: Positive or negative? ===
 
=== Killing: Positive or negative? ===
You'll need to think this through very carefully; even the slightest loophole in a "Thou shalt not kill" can lead to a vigilante in the name of your god. Until you make the big leagues, that's some solid negative PR that can bring you down as a [[Wikipedia|cult.]]
+
For a religion, it's usually good to kill members of other religions or non-believers because that means more of your faith to go around. Of course, dogs, cats, and lizards are exempt because they are soulless and going to burn, rot, and be tortured ad infinitum anyway.
   
Of course, if your religion advocates killing, then you're not very concerned about PR; just kill your critics.
 
 
=== Women: Equal or subservient? ===
 
=== Women: Equal or subservient? ===
 
Are they inferior in the eyes of your god, and expected to do whatever the husband says? How many wives can each of your followers have? Does this limit apply to the [[You|leader of the faith?]]
 
Are they inferior in the eyes of your god, and expected to do whatever the husband says? How many wives can each of your followers have? Does this limit apply to the [[You|leader of the faith?]]
=== Food: What do you hate? ===
+
Most religions have foods they consider taboo; for instance, [[Hindu]]s can't eat [[cow]]s, [[Jew]]s can't eat [[pig|pork]], male [[Catholic]]s can't eat [[sperm]]. If there are any substances you really can't stand-- mayo, for example-- you can simply have your god declare them unclean, unholy, and unacceptable. You'll never have to deal with it again.
 
 
=== Afterlife: What comes next? ===
 
=== Afterlife: What comes next? ===
What's the result of following or not following the rules? Without consequences, your rules aren't enforceable. Put in a Heaven, Hell, Hades, Purgatory, whatever. Reincarnation is also good, both as a reward and a punishment ("If you disobey God's word and eat mayo, you will come back as a lowly creation; a bug, or a rock, or an eggplant, something like that. THE LORD HAS SPOKEN.")
+
If your members simply live until death, they'll get bored. You have to give them something to look forward to! How about the ability -- after they die -- of being able to assist their grandchildren on their SAT tests? Yay for heaven!
   
 
== Step 6: Determining your rituals ==
 
== Step 6: Determining your rituals ==
[[Image:Graduale_Aboense_2.jpg|right|thumb|140px|Foreign language? Check. Rhythmic? Check. Repeated as many times as you want? Very check.]]The essence of the ritual is mindless repetition, which keeps your followers from asking pesky questions like "If every religion says that every other religion is false, why should I believe in any religion?" Some tried and true methods:
+
[[Image:Graduale_Aboense_2.jpg|right|thumb|140px|Foreign language? Check. Rhythmic? Check. Repeated as many times as you want? Very check.]]The essence of the ritual is mindless repetition, which keeps your followers from asking pesky questions like "If every religion says that my religion is false, why should I believe it?" Some tried and true methods:
   
  +
*'''Hats'''. Be it a large pointy hat or a small disc, the average citizen believes the only thing between them and the "heavens" is a hat -- exploit this absurdity and require your followers to wear (or not wear) hats. Especially effective if hat-wearing-privileges are based on gender, religious seniority, or penis size.
  +
*'''Taboo Foods''': Can your followers eat fish? Can they eat pork? What about bullshit? Clearly they must, and they certainly will enjoy the dietary restrictions you impose, because they make it easier to shop and order out. Set up a system where [[food vendors]] have to pay your religious institution a fee to obtain certification or risk being ignored by members of your kick-ass religion.
 
*'''Chants and prayers'''. Chant words in a language you don't speak, babble in tongues, copy sacred texts, or say prayers fifty times until you too bored out of your skull able to think critical, rational thoughts about their meaning. When faith is going out your mouth, disbelief cannot go into your mind.
 
*'''Chants and prayers'''. Chant words in a language you don't speak, babble in tongues, copy sacred texts, or say prayers fifty times until you too bored out of your skull able to think critical, rational thoughts about their meaning. When faith is going out your mouth, disbelief cannot go into your mind.
*'''Sacrifice and offerings'''. Killing animals is historically done as a ritual in numerous religions, but these days it tends to get the ASPCA and PETA after you. You may want to hold off on sacrificing lambs and chickens. Aim your spiritual sights a bit lower; try sacrificing a vegetable, such as a squash or turnip. Offerings of money, made at altars, idols, and off-shore bank accounts, are a great source of supplementary income.
+
*'''Sacrifice and offerings'''. Killing animals is historically done as a ritual in numerous religions, but these days it tends to get the local SPCA and PETA after you. You may want to hold off on sacrificing lambs and chickens. Aim your spiritual sights a bit lower; try sacrificing a vegetable, such as a squash or turnip. Offerings of money, made at altars, idols, and off-shore bank accounts, are a great source of supplementary income.
 
*'''Feasts and fasts'''. Everyone loves a feast, especially if you're in the United States. Schedule as many holiday feasts as possible, and you'll keep your pudgy people pleasant. Fasts aren't as popular these days, but add some in anyway; market your religion as a combination of spiritual salvation and a proven weight-loss regime.
 
*'''Feasts and fasts'''. Everyone loves a feast, especially if you're in the United States. Schedule as many holiday feasts as possible, and you'll keep your pudgy people pleasant. Fasts aren't as popular these days, but add some in anyway; market your religion as a combination of spiritual salvation and a proven weight-loss regime.
 
*'''Substances'''. Some religions also involve the ritual use of substances such as wine or peyote. Hint: get your congregation to fire up a few bowls, start reading your Sacred Text, and then put Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on in the background. It's waaay trippy, man!
 
*'''Substances'''. Some religions also involve the ritual use of substances such as wine or peyote. Hint: get your congregation to fire up a few bowls, start reading your Sacred Text, and then put Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on in the background. It's waaay trippy, man!
Line 77: Line 81:
 
*Your followers. This is the most common method, and your weekly paycheck is easily collected in the form of a "tithing," "donation," or "charity drive." As long as there's a positive cash flow, you can call it whatever you damn well please.
 
*Your followers. This is the most common method, and your weekly paycheck is easily collected in the form of a "tithing," "donation," or "charity drive." As long as there's a positive cash flow, you can call it whatever you damn well please.
 
*Politicians. You'll find that "donations" from politicians are exceedingly generous. Be sure to repay the favor with a loving endorsement for the giver's "generosity."
 
*Politicians. You'll find that "donations" from politicians are exceedingly generous. Be sure to repay the favor with a loving endorsement for the giver's "generosity."
*The government. This is the hardest to accomplish; you'll need to either a) convince an existing government to adopt your religion as the state religion, giving you a portion of tax money to maintain the "moral well-being" of its citizens, or b) [[Sealand|create your own government]], setting your own rules and regulations.
+
*The government. This is the hardest to accomplish; you'll need to either A) convince an existing government to adopt your religion as the state religion, giving you a portion of tax money to maintain the "moral well-being" of its citizens, or B) [[Sealand|create your own government]], setting your own rules and regulations.
   
 
== Step 8: Getting out there ==
 
== Step 8: Getting out there ==
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Nothing says spiritual redemption better than a page thrown together in [[Time Cube|Microsoft FrontPage]] in fifteen minutes giving a basic outline of your beliefs. Toss a link around a bit in guestbooks and comments, and [[Google]] will pick you up. If all goes well, you should end up the top hit for "holy deity religion spiritual one true path." That's the money search.
 
Nothing says spiritual redemption better than a page thrown together in [[Time Cube|Microsoft FrontPage]] in fifteen minutes giving a basic outline of your beliefs. Toss a link around a bit in guestbooks and comments, and [[Google]] will pick you up. If all goes well, you should end up the top hit for "holy deity religion spiritual one true path." That's the money search.
 
=== b. Opening a place of worship ===
 
=== b. Opening a place of worship ===
[[Image:Dome of the rock distance.jpg|right|thumb|200px|You don't need to be this fancy, but it'd be nice.]]Is your god physical? Can you pretend that they are for the sake of getting on your feet? Open a place of worship near you. You need not build an extravagant cathedral; a rented-out storefront in your local strip mall will suffice. Remember: the one true religion always has humble beginnings.
+
[[Image:Dome of the rock distance.jpg|right|thumb|200px|You don't need to be this fancy, but it'd be nice.]]Is your god physical? Can you pretend that they are for the sake of getting on your feet? You might just want to consider certain parts of the earth to be holier than other parts of the earth. Open a place of worship near you. You need not build an extravagant cathedral; a rented-out storefront in your local strip mall will suffice. Remember: the one true religion always has humble beginnings.
  +
 
=== c. Boastful beginnings ===
 
=== c. Boastful beginnings ===
 
If you've gathered financial backing already, blow it on promotion. [[Prostitution|Hire people]] to join the ministry, [[Spam|advertise]] on television, and [[Bribe|pay]] stores to only accept your religion's prayers as currency. Remember: the one true religion always has extravagant beginnings.
 
If you've gathered financial backing already, blow it on promotion. [[Prostitution|Hire people]] to join the ministry, [[Spam|advertise]] on television, and [[Bribe|pay]] stores to only accept your religion's prayers as currency. Remember: the one true religion always has extravagant beginnings.
 
=== d. Stir up a shitstorm ===
 
=== d. Stir up a shitstorm ===
Raise some hell. Hold protests. Declare bounties on [[Salmon Rushdie|celebrities]] on the word of your god. If all else fails, start a campaign to create a colony that's "holier" than current civilization. Somewhere in the Rockies should [[Utah|suffice]].
+
Raise some hell. Hold protests. Declare bounties on [[Salmon Rushdie|celebrities]] on the word of your god. If all else fails, start a campaign to create a colony that's "holier" than current civilization. [[Utah|Somewhere in the Rockies]] should suffice.
   
 
== Step 9: Milking the profit ==
 
== Step 9: Milking the profit ==
You should be rich and famous by this point; you're the leader of a major religion, you have people worshipping your creation, and you will never pay for another check when you're on a date. Milk it for all it's worth. [[Plane]]s, [[train]]s, [[automobile]]s, [[lion]]s, [[tiger]]s, [[bear]]s, [[Rice Krispies|snap, crackle, and pop]]. Gather as much as you can from your followers. Take pride; you are the most powerful man in existence.
+
Piggyback on the cowardice of your government's attitude toward local religions: demand equal treatment as previously established religions such as tax-free real estate, exemption from military duty, and ability to practise scientific ignorance.
   
Now book it to Mexico.
+
You should be rich and famous by this point; you're the leader of a major religion, you have people worshipping your creation, and you will never pay for another check when you're on a date. Milk it for all it's worth. [[Plane]]s, [[train]]s, [[automobile]]s, [[zeppelin]]s, [[maglev]], [[high-speed rail]], [[lion]]s, [[tiger]]s, [[bear]]s, [[Rice Krispies|snap, crackle, and pop]]. Gather as much as you can from your followers. Take pride; you are the most powerful man in existence.
  +
  +
Now book it to Canada.
  +
  +
==See also==
  +
*[[HowTo:Invoke God's blessing while a duck is standing on your head]]
   
 
[[Category:Religion]]
 
[[Category:Religion]]
{{VFH}}
+
{{FA|revision=1597232|date=20 February 2007}}
  +
  +
[[hu:Hogyan alapítsunk vallást?]]
  +
[[zh:伪基文库:如何建立一个宗教]]
  +
[[zh-tw:偽基文庫:如何建立一個宗教]]

Latest revision as of 01:13, January 12, 2012

Starting a religion is a surprisingly simple process, as most people are unquestioning and basically looking to be told what to think and do. The entire system generally takes only a handful of basic steps.

Gorillatrans HowTo 
This article is part of Uncyclopedia's HowTo series.
See more HowTos

edit Step 1: Finding your followers

Joseph Smith receiving golden plates

Blurry, black and white sketches should suffice for any evidence. Remember, religion is faith, not facts.

A religion is worthless if you don't have people to die for it or give money or sexual privileges to it. Do some basic research on who you're targeting: e.g., lost but loyal do-gooders, middle-aged questioners, or handsome blonde preteen boys. This step is critical; failure to optimize your gospel towards the right audience can cause your project to be dead before it can even begin conversions. Statistics show that 92% of religions fail in their first year. Don't meet the same fate as them.

You'll need to determine which group of followers will benefit you most. There are four equally valid options, each with pros and cons.

edit Poor, powerless people

Follow in the footsteps of [your diety], for once in your life. Christianity, with its message of equality and spirituality over material wealth, has great appeal to the downtrodden.

  • Advantages: There are lots of them, and they breed like rabbits.
  • Disadvantages: They are, by definition, poor and powerless, so it's difficult to milk them for much, if any.
Religious syms

Brand awareness, kids. Brand awareness.

edit An ethnic group

Judaism holds that Jews are God's Chosen People, in spite of the slavery, Holocaust, anti-Semitism, and general bad luck over the last few millennia.

  • Advantages: Your followers will feel ever-so-special.
  • Disadvantages: You can only grow as fast as they can reproduce, so you'll need to pick a big one.

edit Rich, crazy people

Scientology targets rich, mentally ill celebrities, and every American knows about it.

  • Advantages: Rich people have tons of money, power, and influence. Crazy rich people have tons of money, power, influence, and tabloid-worthy exploits. Do the math.
  • Disadvantages: When money can solve most of your problems, you don't need to turn to religion for help.

edit Nerds

As of yet, an untapped group, except for cult like Heaven's Gate.

  • Advantages: They possess lots of technical skills; if your computer breaks down, PC repair can immedately become a free ticket to heaven.
  • Disadvantages: They tend to be skeptics. Plus, do you really want a bunch of nerds for followers?

edit Step 2: Creating your main character

If you want to be in the big leagues causing international conflict, you need to craft a convincing lead. Christians have Jesus, Jews have Moses, Muslims have Mohammed and Google Employees have Google. Your Deity must be:

  • Male
  • Omnipotent
  • A commanding authority figure
  • Hiding or possessing a small Penis
  • Respectable
  • A rugged, attractive image
  • Male
  • Adept at crowd control
  • Blessed with an easily singable name
  • Equipped with a beard
  • Breast-less
  • Someone who says "Listen to me and do what I say or else" a lot, in plenty of different ways

In the event you cannot create a single suitable figurehead, polytheism may be the one true calling. Experiment a bit and bounce ideas off of prospective members. Believeability is a plus, but not entirely necessary; religions have been created on less.

edit Step 3: Writing a backstory

Tip

In our modern, high-tech, scientific and rational world, people tend to be overly skeptical of ghosts, demons, witches and soforth. Try using futuristic things like space aliens instead. Alien-based religions remain small compared to traditional religions, but they're the fastest growing segment of the market.

Without a backstory, your religion is utterly pointless. Who would believe in something without any historical basis? You'll need a solid explanation of how we all got here, what we're doing here, who put us here, and for what purpose. Craft a complex story involving divine acts, angels, epiphanies, godly powers, and pregnant chicks. If you can't think of anything good, take a stab in the dark. Uh... volcano dipping, colorfully flaming Ascended Masters.

edit Step 4: Crafting a plotline

You need to make sure that your followers will keep coming back. Keep them entertained with cliffhangers. You can create these by crucifying your god, enforcing constant struggles, or crafting tabloid fodder. Any way you look at it, something's got to keep them interested. When you've got it figured out, put it in some sort of book. Writing down your story gives you an easy reference, and lends credibility to it; after all, if someone bothered to publish it, it must be true.

edit Step 5: Laying out rules

Tip

Most conversions are impulse buys; your customer will give you about 30 seconds to make your pitch, and if you can't get across the basics of what you're selling, your prospective client will lose interest and go with a competitor.

Rule of thumb: the basic tenets of a religion should fit on the back of a post card. Think of the Ten Commandments or the Eightfold Path of Buddhism.

The rules of a religion should provide a handy how-to guide for life that covers everything from what you eat and wear to moral decisions. Questions to consider when crafting your rules:


edit Killing: Positive or negative?

For a religion, it's usually good to kill members of other religions or non-believers because that means more of your faith to go around. Of course, dogs, cats, and lizards are exempt because they are soulless and going to burn, rot, and be tortured ad infinitum anyway.

edit Women: Equal or subservient?

Are they inferior in the eyes of your god, and expected to do whatever the husband says? How many wives can each of your followers have? Does this limit apply to the leader of the faith?

edit Afterlife: What comes next?

If your members simply live until death, they'll get bored. You have to give them something to look forward to! How about the ability -- after they die -- of being able to assist their grandchildren on their SAT tests? Yay for heaven!

edit Step 6: Determining your rituals

Graduale Aboense 2

Foreign language? Check. Rhythmic? Check. Repeated as many times as you want? Very check.

The essence of the ritual is mindless repetition, which keeps your followers from asking pesky questions like "If every religion says that my religion is false, why should I believe it?" Some tried and true methods:
  • Hats. Be it a large pointy hat or a small disc, the average citizen believes the only thing between them and the "heavens" is a hat -- exploit this absurdity and require your followers to wear (or not wear) hats. Especially effective if hat-wearing-privileges are based on gender, religious seniority, or penis size.
  • Taboo Foods: Can your followers eat fish? Can they eat pork? What about bullshit? Clearly they must, and they certainly will enjoy the dietary restrictions you impose, because they make it easier to shop and order out. Set up a system where food vendors have to pay your religious institution a fee to obtain certification or risk being ignored by members of your kick-ass religion.
  • Chants and prayers. Chant words in a language you don't speak, babble in tongues, copy sacred texts, or say prayers fifty times until you too bored out of your skull able to think critical, rational thoughts about their meaning. When faith is going out your mouth, disbelief cannot go into your mind.
  • Sacrifice and offerings. Killing animals is historically done as a ritual in numerous religions, but these days it tends to get the local SPCA and PETA after you. You may want to hold off on sacrificing lambs and chickens. Aim your spiritual sights a bit lower; try sacrificing a vegetable, such as a squash or turnip. Offerings of money, made at altars, idols, and off-shore bank accounts, are a great source of supplementary income.
  • Feasts and fasts. Everyone loves a feast, especially if you're in the United States. Schedule as many holiday feasts as possible, and you'll keep your pudgy people pleasant. Fasts aren't as popular these days, but add some in anyway; market your religion as a combination of spiritual salvation and a proven weight-loss regime.
  • Substances. Some religions also involve the ritual use of substances such as wine or peyote. Hint: get your congregation to fire up a few bowls, start reading your Sacred Text, and then put Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" on in the background. It's waaay trippy, man!

edit Step 7: Lining up finances

Codex Gigas

The more antique your holy literature, the more credible it seems.

Religions are gigantic empires, taking lots of money to sustain themselves. If you want to stay afloat, you'll need to get financial backing. You can go a few different ways depending on your own personal preferences.
  • Your followers. This is the most common method, and your weekly paycheck is easily collected in the form of a "tithing," "donation," or "charity drive." As long as there's a positive cash flow, you can call it whatever you damn well please.
  • Politicians. You'll find that "donations" from politicians are exceedingly generous. Be sure to repay the favor with a loving endorsement for the giver's "generosity."
  • The government. This is the hardest to accomplish; you'll need to either A) convince an existing government to adopt your religion as the state religion, giving you a portion of tax money to maintain the "moral well-being" of its citizens, or B) create your own government, setting your own rules and regulations.

edit Step 8: Getting out there

You've made all the preparations. You've got a character, a story, and a plan for survival. It's time to put it out there. There are several ways to establishing yourself.

edit a. Create a website

Nothing says spiritual redemption better than a page thrown together in Microsoft FrontPage in fifteen minutes giving a basic outline of your beliefs. Toss a link around a bit in guestbooks and comments, and Google will pick you up. If all goes well, you should end up the top hit for "holy deity religion spiritual one true path." That's the money search.

edit b. Opening a place of worship

Dome of the rock distance

You don't need to be this fancy, but it'd be nice.

Is your god physical? Can you pretend that they are for the sake of getting on your feet? You might just want to consider certain parts of the earth to be holier than other parts of the earth. Open a place of worship near you. You need not build an extravagant cathedral; a rented-out storefront in your local strip mall will suffice. Remember: the one true religion always has humble beginnings.

edit c. Boastful beginnings

If you've gathered financial backing already, blow it on promotion. Hire people to join the ministry, advertise on television, and pay stores to only accept your religion's prayers as currency. Remember: the one true religion always has extravagant beginnings.

edit d. Stir up a shitstorm

Raise some hell. Hold protests. Declare bounties on celebrities on the word of your god. If all else fails, start a campaign to create a colony that's "holier" than current civilization. Somewhere in the Rockies should suffice.

edit Step 9: Milking the profit

Piggyback on the cowardice of your government's attitude toward local religions: demand equal treatment as previously established religions such as tax-free real estate, exemption from military duty, and ability to practise scientific ignorance.

You should be rich and famous by this point; you're the leader of a major religion, you have people worshipping your creation, and you will never pay for another check when you're on a date. Milk it for all it's worth. Planes, trains, automobiles, zeppelins, maglev, high-speed rail, lions, tigers, bears, snap, crackle, and pop. Gather as much as you can from your followers. Take pride; you are the most powerful man in existence.

Now book it to Canada.

edit See also

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