How many religions do you know? People are usually familiar only with the most famous and traditional religions such as Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. In fact, there are many other, lesser-known religions that are practiced by people all over the world. To show you some of the most interesting, bizarre, and unique religions that you might not know about, we compiled this post with 25 Most Bizarre Religions That Actually Exist.
Also known as the Raelian Movement, Raelism is a UFO religion that was founded in 1974 by former French car-racing test driver Claude Vorilhon (now known as Rael). The religion is based on the belief that scientists from another planet came to Earth and created all forms of life, including human beings, thousands of years ago.
Developed by L. R. Hubbard in 1954, Scientology is a religion that studies people’s true spiritual nature and their relationships to themselves, their families, groups, Mankind, all life forms, material universe, spiritual universe, and the Supreme Being. According to Scientology, Man is an immortal spiritual being whose experience extends well beyond a single lifetime.
Nation of Yahweh
The most controversial offshoot of the Black Hebrew Israelites religious movement, Nation of Yahweh is a religion named after its leader Yahweh Ben Yahweh. It bases some parts of its theology on its interpretation of the Bible; however, it departs from mainstream Christianity and Judaism and is sometimes considered a hate group or a black supremacist cult.
Church of All Worlds
The Church of All Worlds is a neo-pagan religion founded in 1962 by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. Based in Cotati, California, the religion evolved from a group of friends and lovers who were inspired by a fictional religion of the same name in the sci-fi novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.
Subud is a religious movement based on spontaneous and ecstatic exercises. It was founded by Indonesian spiritual leader Muhammad Subuh in the 1920’s. The movement was restricted to Indonesia until the 1950’s, when it spread to Europe and America. The central feature of Subud is “latihan,” a spontaneous, spiritual activity, which is usually held for an hour twice a week.
Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
Also known as Pastafarianism, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a mock religion that was based on an open letter by Bobby Henderson to the Kansas School Board that demanded that the theory of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be taught along with theories of Evolution. Pastafarianism is legally recognized as a religion in the Netherlands and New Zealand.
Prince Phillip Movement
One of the most bizarre religions in the world, the Prince Phillip Movement is a religious sect followed by tribal people in the Pacific island country Vanuatu. The cult is believed to date from 1974, when Prince Philip and the Queen Elizabeth II visited the country. Since then, the villagers have been decorating their shrines with framed portraits of Prince Philip.
The Aghori is a feared Hindu cult that is considered to have split off from the traditional Kapalika Order in the 14th century. Many Orthodox Hindus condemn the Aghoris due to their twisted rituals. What type of twisted rituals, you ask? They live in cemeteries and feast on human flesh. They also drink from human skulls, chew the heads off live animals, and meditate on top of cadavers in search of spiritual enlightenment.
A Japanese religious movement founded in 1977, Pana Wave combines elements of Christianity, Buddhism, and New Age doctrines. The movement is famous for their unusual attitude towards electromagnetic waves, which – according to Pana Wave followers – are to be blamed for climate change, environmental destruction, and other major problems of the modern world.
Universe People is a Czech UFO religion founded in the 1990’s by Ivo Benda, also known by his extraterrestrial name, Astar. Benda claimed he experienced several direct personal contacts with extraterrestrial civilizations, which led him to establish the movement. Universe People fight against modern technologies and negative ideas while spreading love and positive vibes.
Church of the SubGenius
The Church of the SubGenius is parody religion that was established by American writer and filmmaker Ivan Stang in the 1970’s. The church itself heavily disregards the idea of absolute truths and instead focuses on a much more interpretive lifestyle. It teaches a complex philosophy that focuses on J. R. “Bob” Dobbs, an alleged salesman from the 1950’s, who is revered as a prophet by the Church.
Also known as the Nuwaubian Movement, the Nuwaubian Nation was a religious organization founded and led by Dwight York. The religion was based on a weird mixture of black supremacist ideas, worship of the Egyptians and their pyramids, and beliefs in UFO’s and various conspiracies related to the Illuminati and the Bilderbergers. In April 2004, York was sentenced to 135 years in prison for child abuse and other crimes.
Also known as the Religion of Chaos, Discordianism was originally created as a prank religion by two young hippies, Kerry Thornley and Greg Hill, in the 1960’s. The movement was later made world-famous by the American author Robert Anton Wilson who based the philosophy of his iconic satirical sci-fi books The Illuminatus! Trilogy on Discordianism.
Created by Australian yoga enthusiast George King after his extra-terrestrial experiences in the 1950’s, the Aetherius Society is a religious movement whose philosophy and teachings come from highly advanced intelligence from other planets as well as from other world religions, most notably Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism.
Church of Euthanasia
Founded by Reverend Chris Korda and Pastor Robert Kimberk in Boston in 1992, the Church of Euthanasia is considered the world’s only anti-human religion. The church promotes solution of overpopulation and related ecological problems by a massive voluntary population reduction. The famous slogan of the church, “Save the Planet—Kill Yourself,” has been seen at various public events.
An alternative Japanese religion, Happy Science was founded by Ryuho Okawaon in 1986; it was officially certified as a religious organization in 1991. Happy Science believers have a strong faith in the God of the Earth known as El Cantare. In order to attain true happiness, also known as enlightenment, they practice the teachings of Ryuho Okawa on a daily basis by praying, studying, self-reflection, and meditating.
Temple of the True Inner Light
The Temple of the True Inner Light is a religious organization based in Manhattan which believes that psychoactive substances such as dipropyltryptamine, cannabis, LSD, mescaline, psilocybin, psychedelic mushrooms, and others are the true flesh of God. The organization also believes that all religions are based upon the psychedelic experience.
A religious movement followed by thousands of Star Wars fans all over the world, Jediism (or the Jedi Church) is a new religion that incorporates the fictional teachings of the Jedi. They believe that The Force is a very real power in the universe. In 2013, Jediism was actually the seventh largest religion in the UK with an incredible 175,000 followers.
One of the world’s oldest monotheistic religions, Zoroastrianism was founded by the Prophet Zoroaster (or Zarathustra) in ancient Iran, approximately 3,500 years ago. For about 1,000 years, it was one of the most powerful religions in the world and was the official religion of Persia (modern Iran) from 600 BCE to 650 CE. These days, however, it is one of the world’s smallest religions with just over 100,000 followers worldwide.
A blended religion practiced mainly in Haiti and the Haitian diaspora, Haitian Vodou (commonly seen as Voodoo) was invented by African slaves who were brought to Haiti and converted by Roman Catholic missionaries in the 16th and 17th centuries. Greatly influenced by Christianity, it was this mysterious religion that inspired the revolution against Haiti’s French colonizers more than 200 years ago. After the revolution, Haiti was established as the second independent nation in the Americas after the US.
Also known as Neo-Druidry, Neo-Druidism is a religion that generally promotes harmony and worship of nature and respect for all beings. The religion is partly based on the traditions of the ancient Celtic tribes, but modern Druidism also incorporates Shamanism, love of the Earth, animism, pantheism, adoration of the Sun, and belief in reincarnation.
Rastafari is a young religion developed in Jamaica in the 1930’s, following the coronation of Haile Selassie I as King of Ethiopia in 1930. Rastafarians believe Haile Selassie is God and that he will return members of black communities living in exile back to Africa. Followers of this religion place emphasis on what they regard as living naturally. They are known to wear dreadlocks and smoke marijuana to increase their spirituality.
Church of Maradona
Also known as Iglesia Maradoniana, the Church of Maradona is a religion based in Argentina that worships the iconic Argentine soccer player Diego Maradona. The symbol for the church is D10S, which combines the Spanish word for Gods (Dios) and the shirt number of Maradona (10). The church was founded in 1998 by fans that claim Maradona was the greatest soccer player in history.
Meaning “the supreme truth” in Japanese, Aum Shinrikyo began in the 1980’s as a spiritual group mixing Hindu and Buddhist beliefs. The group’s founder, Shoko Asahara, declared himself to be both Christ and the first “enlightened one” since Buddha. However, the group gradually became a paranoid doomsday cult, convinced the world was about to end in World War III and that only they would survive.
One of the most bizarre religions in the world, Frisbeetarianism is a parody of the spiritual belief in life after death. The founder of the movement, American actor and comedian George Carlin, defined the concept of the religion as a belief that “when a person dies, his/her soul rises and is thrown like a frisbee onto a roof, where it becomes attached and remains.”
Photos: 25. wikimedia commons (public domain), 24. Scientology Media, Church-of-Scientology-Los-Angeles-night-shot, CC BY-SA 2.0, 23. Dror Eiger, Black hebrews Dimona visit1, CC BY-SA 2.0, 22. Book cover via Amazon (fair use; illustrative purposes only; no free images available), 21. Max Pixel (public domain), 20. John Dill via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 19. Christopher Hogue Thompson, Yaohnanen Tribesmen Show Pictures of 2007 Visit with Prince Philip, CC BY-SA 3.0, 18. Archit Ratan via flickr, CC BY 2.0, 17. Max Pixel (public domain), 16. Che, Astar na letne, CC BY-SA 2.5, 15. Pete Birkinshaw from Manchester, UK, Act of Subgenius, CC BY 2.0, 14. Kenneth C. Budd, TamaRe, CC BY 2.0, 13. wikimedia commons (public domain), 12. pixabay (public domain), 11. Chris Korda, CoE Symbol, CC BY-SA 3.0, 10. Youngamerica, Happy science osak temple mural1, CC BY-SA 3.0, 9. Arp, Psilocybe semilanceata 6514, CC BY-SA 3.0, 8. Theme Park Tourist, Jedi Temple Duel, CC BY 2.0, 7. Alireza Javaheri, Zoroastrian temple of Yazd, CC BY 3.0, 6. shankar s. from Dubai, united arab emirates, Voodoo exhibit at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (8348740026), CC BY 2.0, 5. sandyraidy, Druids celebrating at Stonehenge (1), CC BY-SA 2.0, 4. Klaus-J. Kahle, Rasta Man Barbados, CC BY 3.0, 3-1. wikimedia commons (public domain)