We have previously published a variety of lists on strange religious practices, religions you never knew existed, and weird cults, but not a list of bizarre religions. This list is designed to fill the gap by discussing ten religions that most of us have not heard of (for good reason as you will see). Be sure to use the comments to tell us about any other bizarre religions and, especially, your own experiences of them.
Scientology has featured on a previous list, but if I didn’t include it here the comments would be inundated with “where’s scientology?” questions. The Church of Scientology is a cult created by L Ron Hubbard (Elron) in 1952 as an outgrowth of his earlier self-help system called Dianetics. The Church of Scientology holds that at the higher levels of initiation (OT levels) mystical teachings are imparted that may be harmful to unprepared readers. These teachings are kept secret from members who have not reached these levels. In the OT levels, Hubbard explains how to reverse the effects of past-life trauma patterns that supposedly extend millions of years into the past. Among these advanced teachings is the story of Xenu (sometimes Xemu), introduced as an alien ruler of the “Galactic Confederacy.” According to this story, 75 million years ago Xenu brought billions of people to Earth in spacecraft resembling Douglas DC-8 airliners, stacked them around volcanoes and detonated hydrogen bombs in the volcanoes. The thetans then clustered together, stuck to the bodies of the living, and continue to do this today. Scientologists at advanced levels place considerable emphasis on isolating body thetans and neutralizing their ill effects.
The Creativity Movement (formerly known as World Church Of The Creator), is a white separatist organization that advocates the whites-only religion, Creativity. It was also a descriptive phrase used by Ben Klassen, that included all adherents of the religion. The use of the term creator does not refer to a deity, but rather to themselves (white people). Despite the former use of the word Church in its name, the movement is atheistic. Creativity is a White Separatist religion that was founded by Ben Klassen in early 1973 under the name Church of the Creator. After Klassen’s death in 1993, Creativity almost died out as a religion until the New Church of the Creator was established three years later by Matthew F. Hale as its Pontifex Maximus (high priest), until his incarceration in January 2003 for plotting with the movement’s head of security, Anthony Evola (an FBI informant), to murder a federal judge.
Obviously spelling is not a fundamental part of this religion! Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth (TOPY) was founded in 1981 by members of Psychic TV, Coil, Current 93, and a number of other individuals. The ever-evolving network is a loosely federated group of people operating as a unique blend of artistic collective, and practitioners of magic. TOPY is dedicated to the manifestation of magical concepts lacking mysticism or the worship of gods. The group focuses on the psychic and magical aspects of the human brain linked with “guiltless sexuality”. Throughout its existence, TOPY has been an influential group in the underground Chaos magic scene and in the wider western occult tradition. TOPY’s research has covered both Left-hand path and Right-hand path magick, various elements of psychology, art, music, and a variety of other media. Some of the influences on the network have been Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare, and Brion Gysin.
The Nation of Yahweh is a predominantly African-American religious group that is the most controversial offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites line of thought. They were founded in 1979 in Miami by Hulon Mitchell, Jr., who went by the name Yahweh ben Yahweh. Their goal is to return African Americans, whom they see as the original Israelites, to Israel. The group departs from mainstream Christianity and Judaism by accepting Yahweh ben Yahweh as the Son of God. In this way, their beliefs are unique and distinct from that of other known Black Hebrew Israelite groups. The group has engendered controversy due to legal issues of its founder and has also faced accusations of being a black supremacist cult by the Southern Poverty Law Center and The Miami Herald. The SPLC has criticized the beliefs of the Nation of Yahweh as racist, stating that the group believed blacks are “the true Jews” and that whites were “white devils.” They also claim the group believed Yahweh ben Yahweh had a Messianic mission to vanquish whites and that they held views similar to the Christian Identity movement.
The Church of All Worlds is a neo-pagan religion founded in 1962 by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. The religion evolved from a group of friends and lovers who were in part inspired by a fictional religion of the same name in the science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; the church’s mythology includes science fiction to this day. They recognize “Gaea,” the Earth Mother Goddess and the Father God, as well as the realm of Faeries and the deities of many other pantheons. Many of their ritual celebrations are centered on the gods and goddesses of ancient Greece. Following the tradition of using fiction as a basis for his ideas, Zell-Ravenheart recently founded The Grey School of Wizardry inspired in part by Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the school in the Harry Potter novels.
Universe people or Cosmic people of light powers (Czech: Vesmírní lidé sil světla) is a Czech religious movement centered around Ivo A. Benda. Its belief system is based upon the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations communicating with Benda and other “contacters” since October 1997 telepathically and later even by direct personal contact. According to Benda those civilizations operate a fleet of spaceships, led by Ashtar Sheran, orbiting the Earth. They closely watch and help the good and are waiting to transport their followers into another dimension. The Universe People’s teachings incorporate various elements from ufology (some foreign “contacters” are credited, though often also renounced after a time as misguided or deceptive), Christianity (Jesus was a “fine-vibrations” being) and conspiracy theories (forces of evil are supposed to plan compulsory chipping of the population).
The Church of the SubGenius is a parody religion that promotes slack, while in a meta-commentarial way, satirizes religion, conspiracy theories, UFOs, and popular culture. The church claims to have been founded in the 1950s by the “world’s greatest salesman” J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. “Bob” Dobbs is depicted as a cartoon of a Ward Cleaver-like man smoking a pipe. The church really started with the publication of SubGenius Pamphlet #1 in 1979. It found acceptance in underground pop-culture circles and has been embraced on college campuses, in the underground music scene, and on the Internet. An important SubGenius event occurred on July 5, 1998: X-Day. The Church had been predicting that on this day the world would be destroyed by invading alien armies known as the X-ists (which is short for “Men from Planet X”). When the event didn’t come to pass, the church administrator who predicted it was tarred and feathered – but allowed to continue on as administrator. Paul Reubens (Pee-wee Herman) is a SubGenius minister. Patrick Volkerding, the founder and maintainer of Slackware Linux, is also a SubGenius affiliate, and he has confirmed the Church and “Bob” inspired the name for Slackware.
The Prince Philip Movement is a cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being, the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum. According to ancient tales the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and came to the conclusion that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends. When the cult formed is unclear, but it is likely that it was sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Their beliefs were strengthened by the royal couple’s official visit to Vanuatu in 1974 when a few villagers had the opportunity to observe the prince from afar. Prince Philip was made aware of the religion and has exchanged gifts with its leaders and even visited them.
The Church of Euthanasia (CoE), is a political organization started by the Reverend Chris Korda (pictured above) in the Boston, Massachusetts area of the United States. According to the church’s website, it is “a non-profit educational foundation devoted to restoring balance between Humans and the remaining species on Earth.” The CoE uses sermons, music, culture jamming, publicity stunts and direct action combined with an underlying sense of satire and black humor to highlight Earth’s unsustainable population. The CoE is notorious for its conflicts with Pro-life Christian activists. According to the church’s website, the one commandment is “Thou shalt not procreate”. The CoE further asserts four principal pillars: suicide, abortion, cannibalism (“strictly limited to consumption of the already dead”), and sodomy (“any sexual act not intended for procreation”). Slogans employed by the group include “Save the Planet, Kill Yourself”, “Six Billion Humans Can’t Be Wrong”, and “Eat a Queer Fetus for Jesus”, all of which are intended to mix inflammatory issues to unnerve those who oppose abortion and homosexuality.
Nuwaubianism is an umbrella term used to refer to the doctrines and teachings of the followers of Dwight York. The Nuwaubians originated as a Black Muslim group in New York in the 1970s, and have gone through many changes since. Eventually, the group established a headquarters in Putnam County, Georgia in 1993, which they have since abandoned. York is now in prison after having been convicted on money laundering and child molestation charges, but Nuwaubianism endures. York developed Nuwaubianism by drawing on a wide range of sources which include Theosophy-derived New Age movements such as Astara as well as the Rosicrucians, Freemasonry, the Shriners, the Moorish Science Temple of America, the revisionist Christianity & Islam and the Qadiani cult of Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the numerology of Rashad Khalifa, and the ancient astronaut theories of Zecharia Sitchin. White people are said in one Nuwaubian myth to have been originally created as a race of killers to serve blacks as a slave army, but this plan went awry. Here is a list of some of the more unusual Nuwaubian beliefs:
1. It is important to bury the afterbirth so that Satan does not use it to make a duplicate of the recently-born child
2. Furthermore, some aborted fetuses survive their abortion to live in the sewers, where they are being gathered and organized to take over the world
3. People were once perfectly symmetrical and ambidextrous, but then a meteorite struck Earth and tilted its axis causing handedness and shifting the heart off-center in the chest
4. Each of us has seven clones living in different parts of the world
5. Women existed for many generations before they invented men through genetic manipulation
6. Homo sapiens is the result of cloning experiments that were done on Mars using Homo erectus
7. Nikola Tesla came from the planet Venus
8. The Illuminati have nurtured a child, Satan’s son, who was born on 6 June 1966 at the Dakota House on 72nd Street in New York to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis of the Rothschild/Kennedy families. The Pope was present at the birth and performed necromantic ceremonies. The child was raised by former U.S. president Richard Nixon and now lives in Belgium, where it is hooked up bodily to a computer called “The Beast 3M” or “3666.”
The Nuwaubians built a city modeled on Ancient Egyptian buildings in Putnam County, Georgia (pictured above). It has now been demolished.