How NOT to Start a Religion!

By Shawn White

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March 14, 2016

So, you want to create your own religion, eh? Well, good for you; you’ve come to the right place. I’ll give you a checklist of things to be sure to avoid so that you will get started on the right foot. Be prepared to have the masses follow you as you gain wealth untold!

Practically speaking, what are the sorts of things one ought to avoid when fashioning a new religion? Just follow these general guidelines and all should be well:

  1. LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Never, ever, ever start your new religion in a location that already has had a firmly established religious presence for roughly 1,500-2,000 years. Especially when the religion you are going to compete with is the center of that people’s religious, political, and dietary life. That would be very, very foolish. Case in point: This new group of upstarts attempting to establish itself in Jerusalem. What a bunch of loons.
  1. DO NOT paint your religious leader as a failure. Sure, he (or she) might be a morally upstanding person, but does that matter if he (or she) willingly walks into hostile, enemy territory, allows himself (or herself) to be arrested, questioned, beaten, mocked, flogged, and executed? Who wants to follow a “leader” like that? Not me, that’s who, and neither does anyone else. If he (or…oh why bother…) is humiliated this way, no one is going to come following after him. Case in point: that Nazarene fellow. Just look what happened to his movement once THAT happened. It was as dead as he was.
  1. YOU MUST place the early followers in the best light possible. Repeat after me: Avoid Cower, Embrace Power! Avoid making them dim-witted, skeptical, and bickering. They ought to be well educated, the brightest and the best; ready to stand, fight, and protect until the end. Again, don’t be like those Nazarene’s followers: weak and cowardly. They ran as soon as the smallest bit of trouble appeared on the horizon. They couldn’t even bring themselves to speak on his behalf when he stood before the authorities, going so far as to even deny they knew him. Loyalty? Hardly present in that lot. I heard that all but one wouldn’t even stick around for the execution – they all went into hiding. They didn’t even help give him a burial. “With friends like these…” am I right? Remember: BEST LIGHT POSSIBLE!
  1. DO NOT make up blatant lies that are easily disproved. When you begin making up the backstory of your religion, do not use too many details. Keep things just vague enough so that the story itself cannot be readily verified. And for goodness sake, DO NOT make up details about the very place you are looking to begin this crusade. Make it some far off land where those who are in your hearing will have to take what you say on blind faith.

Case in point: Here was another serious misstep by those foolish followers. The very place where their leader was captured, beaten, flogged, and executed was also the same place he was buried. But, in violation of this very instruction, his followers eventually got up the courage to begin telling people that: (1) we know where he was buried, and (2) he is no longer there because he was resurrected. C’mon! Do I look like I just rode in on a camel yesterday? Seriously, that’s laughable! Do you know how many people knew about his death and where he was buried? Literally everyone! These guys should have consulted me before they ever made a move. This is such a rookie mistake.

  1. Continuing on from point number four, AVOID making someone from the Council be a sympathizer and offer his own tomb to bury the leader after he was executed. Are you kidding me? Everyone knows it was the Council that condemned this man to death. Given time, I am positive the Jewish leaders will proclaim that no such person sitting on their Council would dream of doing such a foolish thing as to align themselves with the likes of these. Egg on the face, am I right? Do these upstarts think we are gullible? Sheesh…
  1. DO NOT make women your chief eyewitnesses, because you know…they’re women. I mean really, who’s going to believe them? Again, another fatal mistake on the part of these uneducated hicks.
  1. DO NOT make your religion something that will be terribly offensive to the sensibilities of those around you. This can be quite the balancing act, because in this particular city you have to be mindful of Jewish, Roman, and Greek sensibilities. So try and make whatever you preach appeal to as many of each group as possible. This will be tough, but definitely avoid what those newbies have been doing. They are talking like madmen, and at the rate they are going, NO ONE will join them. They are saying things like their disgraced and executed leader has risen from the dead and that you too can rise from the dead if you just believe in him. What a lark!

Only some of the Jews believe in this so-called resurrection and even then, it supposedly happens at the end of time. Hey knuckleheads – it is not the end of time yet, we are still here. And for the Romans, what an embarrassment! They pride themselves on executing criminals and now this ragtag band of nobodies are running around saying their leader is not dead? Hello! I wouldn’t let the Romans hear them saying that. That’s an indirect slap in their face implying they can’t do their job. And the Greeks! They are not going to stand for anyone claiming to come back into their body after their soul has escaped its prison. That is plain, foolish talk. Nope, these guys have a lot to learn about starting a religion.

  1. DO keep the origins of your story limited to as few people as possible. The smaller the number of conspirators, the much better off you will be and the longer you can keep the fable going. The more people who are in on the plan, the less likely you are succeed. You never know who is going to slip up and start talking, plus it is hard to keep everyone’s story straight, especially when you all split up and start spreading your message near and far. Keep it small and you can rest easy. These Christians are in for a rude awakening when their tale starts to unravel. Just see how long it lasts.

Look, just do what I advise above and you will be ok. Ok? And mark my words, these rabble-rousers won’t last a year with the tales they’ve been spinning. Heck, I even heard a story where they were asking for money and some guy went out and sold his property and brought them proceeds (ok, so he kept a little back for himself, but who wouldn’t?), and do you know how they thanked him? They KILLED him!!! Now, how is that supposed to get people excited about your message and get them to want to follow you? Oh, it gets better. When his wife came to check up on her husband because he hadn’t returned home, she “mysteriously” died, too! Whoever is running their PR campaign is absolutely clueless. I mean, the only way they can even possibly get their movement off the ground is if it were even remotely true – bwahahahahahahaha – and WE ALL KNOW that’s NOT the case.

So, just follow my simple tips and you’ll be fine. Trust me.

Yours sincerely,

Skepticus


Shawn WhiteThis article was written by Shawn White (PhD candidate, Faulkner University), who was a classmate of Fox & Stratton at Biola University.

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By Shawn White