Religion can in principle be interpreted as an attempt by a group of individuals to understand existential issues based on the totality of cultural practices specific to that group. At times, this practice does not seem to meet our usual expectations of “religion”. But they manage to achieve what is expected of people who unite religion because of their beliefs. However, there is a condition that must be respected by all religions. They must not interfere in the lives of others. Some of world’s unusual religions are described below.
1. Rastafarianism – voice against oppressive colonialism
The Rastafari believe that the Ethiopian King Haile Selassie is the God of All. The aim of the religious movement is to restore pride in African identity which suffered because of the forces of colonialism. They proclaim Zion as the original birthplace of mankind and reject ‘Babylon’ or the world of materialism. Bob Marley is one famous Rastafari who followed the principles of Rastafarian lifestyle including ritual use of marijuana, avoiding alcohol and wearing one’s hair in dreadlocks.
Claude Vorilhon formed the religion in 1974 as a U.F.O. religion. Raelians believe that a humanoid species of extraterrestrials, Elohim are responsible for the genesis of the human race. They believe that the Elohim misinformed humans that they were angels and that Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed and others are Prophets of Elohim. They believe that the Elohim will come back to meet us when we are peaceful and ready. They believe in awakening of the mind through awakening of the body. The usage of the Swastika as a religious symbol has caused the religious group some problems in Israel.
Worshippers of Satan can broadly be categorized as spiritualists for whom Satan is an actual deity and atheists for whom Satan is a figure symbolizing crisis of faith, individualism and free will. Certain sects are notorious for their activities. Like the ‘Beasts of Satan’ committed murders in Italy between 1998-2004. The ‘Order of Nine Angels’ affirmed human sacrifice (1960s). The public practice began with the establishment of the Church of Satan in 1966.
4. Iglesia Maradonian
Diego Maradona is a legend to say the least. His fans started a religion for him in the year 1998 and has more than a million followers in more than sixty countries. The supporters of the Maradonian Church count the years since the football legend Maradona’s birth in 1960. The use of the neo-Tetragrammaton, D10S as one of the names of Maradona is popular with this group, a portmanteau word which means 10 which is Maradona’s shirt number, and dios which is the Spanish word for God.
5. Aum Shinrikyo
Founded by Shoko Ashara in Japan (1984) who claimed to be “the lamb of God”. He claimed that he could cleanse his followers of all sins and help them survive the End of the world-a nuclear Armageddon of which the USA would be the harbinger. The usage of literature like Assimov’s ‘Foundation’ trilogy and Nostradamus’s writings can be seen in the doctrines. The group was labelled a terrorist organization after it perpetuated the Tokyo subway attack which led to the death of twelve and injuring thousands.