Society - Culture
By: - at January 11, 2014

20 Little Known Religions and Cults

Given that we are all unique with varying tastes and interpretations in regard to pretty much everything, it’s understandable that there are a variety of religions as well as cults throughout the world tailored to a variety of needs.

Nobody can say they understand and know everything, this is why many believe we have religion, cults as well as spirituality. In a world where uncertainly is commonplace, we all want to better understand ourselves, the world and the universe in which we live. Given that we are all unique with varying tastes and interpretations in regard to pretty much everything, it’s understandable that there are a variety of religions as well as cults throughout the world tailored to a variety of needs.


20)  Builders of the Adytum
Established in 1922 by Dr. Paul Foster Case, Builders of the Adytum (BOTA) is a religion that amalgamates elements of Christianity, Judaism, Astrology and aspects of psychology as well as occultism. Followers believe that both Judaism and Christianity originate from the occult, they also promote meditation. Due to the wide range of influences on the religion, a number of its devotees come from a variety of other religions to better understand their spirituality.

Dr. Paul Foster Case
Established in 1922 by Dr. Paul Foster Case, Builders of the Adytum (BOTA) is a religion that amalgamates elements of Christianity, Judaism, Astrology and aspects of psychology as well as occultism.
Courtesy of Joetuite


19)  Asatru
Based on mythic tales, Asatru is religion that is a reinvention of an ancient Nordic religion. Followers believe that there are four main Gods coupled with a number of minor deities. Most members of the religion reside in small communities that revolve around the religion that they call Kindreds. Followers subscribe to what they regard as virtues to govern their life decisions. Unlike the original religion on which Asatru is based, current day followers merely provide things like honey-wine as offerings to their gods.

Mjolnir, the hammer of Thor
Based on mythic tales, Asatru is religion that is a reinvention of an ancient Nordic religion. Followers believe that there are four main Gods coupled with a number of minor deities.

The Valknut symbol
Based on mythic tales, Asatru is religion that is a reinventioni of an ancent Nordic religion. Followers believe that there are four main Gods coupled with a number of minor deities.


18)  Jainism
Jainism was established over 2,500 years ago in India and it continues today with around four million followers. The religion believes that numerous Gods exist and that they do so amongst humans, existing as part of a convoluted social standing. The Jain deities represent various human ideals and like Buddhism, the objective of the followers is to obtain spiritual completion then releasing the spirit of the constant series of birth as well as death. Individuals who complete their personal struggle come to be known as Jinas, there are numerous temples for believers located throughout India. They all feature various depictions of the spiritual guides, known as Tirthankaras. Gifts are commonly presented to the depictions in accordance with Jain rituals. Furthermore, meditation is also a fundamental aspect of the religion.

Symbol and motto of Jainism
Jainism was established over 2,500 years ago in India and it continues today with around four million followers.
By Mpanchratan, via Wikimedia Commons


17)  Cheondoism
Established in Korea, Cheondoism dates back to 1812. Cheondoism is based in Korean Buddhism and Shamanism combined with aspects of Christianity. In recent years, it has garnered significant popularity in North Korea and it’s currently the nation’s main religion. Followers believe that God is in each and every one of us, that people should strive to make the world a paradise. The stated goal of the movement is to have believers be intelligent and moral individuals with strong social consciousness.

Cheondoism Flag
Cheondoism is based in Korean Buddhism and Shamanism combined with aspects of Christianity.


16)  Unification Church
Founded in South Korea in 1954, the Unification Church adheres to an unusual take on the popular beliefs of Christianity. Three million strong followers worship the religion’s leader, Sun Myung Moon, as they regard him as the Messiah and followers subscribe to the doctrine called “Divine Principle”. The teachings promote peace throughout nature and between the sexes. Ultimately, the objective of the church is to establish “true families” and the followers feel this is obtained via mass weddings. Such ceremonies are viewed as a means to fulfill the religion’s idea in regards to God’s objective that involves embracing the love and pleasure throughout existence. This is the belief that true love and joy can only be obtained by establishing the “perfect” sin-free family. It is this way alone that the Unification Church sees that divinity can be established. Although the religion doesn’t specifically mention a spiritual world, followers believe that their spirits will live forever.

Unification Church Symbol
Founded in South Korea in 1954, the Unification Church adheres to an unusual take on the popular beliefs of Christianity.
By RicHard-59, via Wikimedia Commons


15)  Aladura
Established in the early 1900s, the Aladura religion revolves around “prophet healing” churches in Africa. Leaders assert that they have approximately one million followers, most of whom are from Nigeria. The religion is specifically associated with the Anglican take on Christianity and was created in reaction to various missionary endeavors throughout Africa. Aladura is characterized with emphasis on the idea of divine healing, coupled with a rigid moral line of conduct. Followers combine Anglican rituals with African traditions and numerous items are used during rituals. Leaders are regarded as prophets, who followers believe will heal the devout through a combination of rituals and prayer.

Aladura symbol
Established in the early 1900s, the Aladura religion revolves around “prophet healing” churches in Africa
Courtesy of aladura.net


14)  Falun Gong
A relatively new religion, Falun Gong has more than two million followers. Based in China, it was established in 1992 by Li Hongzhi and it mixes aspects of Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism as well as the nation’s folklore. The objective of Falun Gong followers includes achieving spiritual and mental revival. The religion’s members conduct special meditation sessions to rejuvenate their souls and purge themselves of various ailments. The religion has garnered some concern from authorities, who originally viewed the movement as dangerous. There are suggestions that at least some followers of Falun Gong believe that aliens manipulate world leaders to cause division throughout the world.

Falun Gong Symbol
A relatively new religion, Falun Gong has more than two million followers.
By Ixitixel, via Wikimedia Commons


13)  Cao Dai
Founded in 1926, Cao Dai is a religion that amalgamates aspects of Taoism, Confucianism, Catholicism and Buddhism. Officials of the group assert to have around 6 million devotees to the faith and followers worship a variety of saints from the root religions from which Cao Dai derives. The asserted goal of the faith is to produce a world that is more tolerant, as it is believed that humanity as a whole shares a collective divinity. The various rituals of the religion are somewhat influenced by the occult, though predominately derived from Taoist practices. Followers often conduct séances, coupled with traditional prayers and elaborate spiritual ceremonies.

The Cao Dai eye
Founded in 1926, Cao Dai is a religion that amalgamates aspects of Taoism, Confucianism, Catholicism and Buddhism.


12)  The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God
A splinter group of the Roman Catholic Church, The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, was established in Uganda, during the 1980s. Just as the name suggests, the religion advocated strict adherence to the Ten Commandments.

Followers refrained from talking because of the commandment about not bearing false witness. Their belief in the Ten Commandments was rooted in a belief that the adherence to them will prove advantageous when the apocalypse happens. Their views, especially their concern about the apocalypse, were illustrated in their literature ‘A Timely Message from Heaven: The End of the Present Time’ and followers had to memorize the literature.

The group believed that Mother Mary would have a significant part in the apocalypse and saw themselves in a similar light to Noah’s Ark. For example, providing a vessel for the righteous in a flood of sinning.

Followers were secretive and given their emphasis on silence, they were relatively unknown to the broader community until 2000. In March of that year, approximately 300 devotees perished in a blaze in what was most likely a mass suicide. Investigations unearthed many graves, which increased the death toll to more than a 1,000. There is speculation that the deaths and fire were a mass murder for which the leadership was responsible.

The Ten Commandments
A splinter group of the Roman Catholic Church, The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God, was established in Uganda, during the 1980s.


11)  Church of the SubGenius
The Church of the SubGenius is an organization who parody religion, conspiracy theories and pop-culture in general. The church asserts that it was established in the 1950s by salesman J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. However, it actually began in 1979 upon release of a flyer. Upon publication, it quickly gained acclaim from groups in the underground culture with particular acceptance on college campuses. It later gained attention through the underground music scene and via the Internet.

Jehovah 1, primary deity of the Church of the SubGenius
The Church of the SubGenius is an organization who parody religion, conspiracy theories and pop-culture in general.
By Kenneth Huey, via Wikimedia Commons

Bob Dobb's picture on a wall, act of the SubGenius
The church asserts that it was established in the 1950s by salesman J. R. “Bob” Dobbs. However, it actually began in 1979 upon release of a flyer.


10)  Raelism
Raelism, otherwise known as the Raelian Church, is a group established by Claude Vorilhon. The organization, and especially Vorilhon, gained world-wide attention when they claimed to have been a part of a successful cloning procedure in 2002. The group preaches secular and hedonistic ideas, rather than worshiping deities. Raelian followers believe that all things are made up of only physical elements. They dismiss the notion that there is a human soul or a God. They also feel that mind transfer is possible, meaning it’s possible to produce an exact clone in regards to personality and mind.

Raelian Symbol
Raelism, otherwise known as the Raelian Church, is a group established by Claude Vorilhon.


9)  The Creativity Movement
The Creativity Movement is a white supremacist group that promotes the “Caucasian Only” group that followers call “Creativity”. The cult was established by Ben Klassen in 1973 and the word “creator” doesn’t actually reference any God. It is used in relation to white people who followers believe were the creators of humankind. Although the group uses the word Church in their name, they are actually atheistic. When Klassen died in 1993, Creativity almost disappeared until it was resurrected as the New Church of the Creator by Matthew F. Hale. He served as its leader, known as Pontifex Maximus, until 2003 when he was incarcerated after plotting with the group’s security head and FBI informant, Anthony Evola, to kill a federal judge.

Creativity Movement Symbol
The Creativity Movement is a white supremacist group that promotes the “Caucasian Only” group that followers call “Creativity”.


8)  Nation of Yahweh
Founded in 1979, the Nation of Yahweh is a religion made up of African-American followers as an alternative branch of the Black Hebrew Israelites. They were established by Hulon Mitchell, Jr, otherwise known as Yahweh ben Yahweh. The group’s objective involves African Americans, who they see as the original Israelites, returning to Israel. Followers believe Yahweh ben Yahweh is the Son of God, which sets them and their beliefs apart from those of the Black Hebrew Israelites as well as other offshoot groups. The believers have garnered controversy because of Yahweh’s legal issues as a result of accusations that the group is a black supremacist cult. Their most harsh critics are the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who have stated that the views of the Nation of Yahweh are a hate group because the followers allegedly believe that African Americans are “the true Jews", and Caucasians are “white devils”. The group is also said to believe that Yahweh’s personal mission is “to destroy all whites”.

Nation of Yahweh Symbol
The Nation of Yahweh was established by Hulon Mitchell, Jr, otherwise known as Yahweh ben Yahwe


7)  Church of All Worlds

Dearinth Goddess
Founded in 1962, the Church of All Worlds is a religion established by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, along with his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart.
By Oberon Zell-Ravenheart

Founded in 1962, the Church of All Worlds is a religion established by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, along with his wife Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart. They initially began as a bunch of hippies that drew inspiration from a fictional religion described in Robert A. Heinlein’s novel ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ (1961). The group’s mythology includes aspects of science fiction but they also believe in things such as Mother Nature, Faries and a number of various deities. Much of their rituals revolve around the Gods and Goddesses of ancient Greece. Over the years, the group has continued to base aspects of their religion on works of fiction. After the success of the Harry Potter books, Zell-Ravenheart established a school for wizardry which was inspired by the Hogwarts School from the Harry Potter novels.


6)  The Church of Euthanasia
The Church of Euthanasia (CE) is an activist group established by Chris Korda. The group identifies itself as a not-for-profit, educational organization that is dedicated to bringing a unity to all species. With satire and dark humor, the CE employ music, sermons, publicity stunts as well as direct action highlight issues relating to the welfare of Earth. They have just one single commandment, which forbids procreation. The CE sarcastically endorses anything that will reduce the world’s population without physically harming others. Some examples include: abortion, cannibalism of those that are already dead, suicide and sexual acts that are not for the sake of procreation.

Church of Euthanasia Logo
The Church of Euthanasia (CE) is an activist group established by Chris Korda.
Courtesy of churchofeuthanasia.org


5)  Universe People
Universe People, otherwise known as “Cosmic People of Light Powers”, is a Czech religious movement that is based around Ivo A. Benda. It began in the late 1990s, followers believe in the existence of various extraterrestrial civilizations and that those societies communicate with Benda as well as numerous other “contactors.”

The group claims that they are contacted telepathically and by direct personal contact. As described by Benda, the various alien civilizations pilot a fleet of spaceships that orbit the Earth led by Ashtar Sheran. Their mission is to monitor and assist the good people of Earth with the ultimate objective to transport the movement’s followers to another dimensions.

The Universe People’s beliefs involve some aspects of UFO-ology, Christianity and various elaborate conspiracy theories. The followers also believe evil forces conspire to micro-chip the world’s population.

Spacecraft in the Night, symbolic of Universe People message
Universe People, otherwise known as “Cosmic People of Light Powers”, is a Czech religious movement that is based around Ivo A. Benda.


4)  Prince Philip Movement
The Prince Philip Movement is a group within the Yaohnanen tribe in Vanuatu and followers feel that Prince Philip is a divine figure. They believe he is related to John Frum, who is a figure in the Vanuatu spiritual myths that is said to bring prosperity and wealth to his followers.

The cult began after the Yaohnanen villagers noted the respect British colonial officials showed to Queen Elizabeth II and reached the assumption that her partner, Prince Philip, is related to Frum. It’s unclear just when the cult was established, though it is believed to be around the 1950s.

The groups’ views were reinforced when the royals visited Vanuatu in 1974. Prince Philip is aware of their beliefs and since learning of the cult, he has exchanged gifts with a number of the cult’s leaders as well as met some of the followers.

Followers of the Prince Philip Movement
The Prince Philip Movement is a group within the Yaohnanen tribe in Vanuatu and followers feel that Prince Philip is a divine figure.
By Christopher Hogue Thompson, via Wikimedia Commons


3)  Eckankar
Established in 1965 by American John Paul Twitchell, the religion of Eckankar embraces what followers call the heavenly spirit of “Eck”. The religion shares similarities with a number of Eastern religions, specifically in relation to the fact that devotees believe in the idea of reincarnation. Their core idea that a soul is reborn repeatedly until it ultimately achieves purity.

Devotees believe that they can obtain spiritual growth through the use of specific medication-oriented activities. They also feel that with such exercises, the soul has the ability to free itself from physical constraints and enter a spiritual world that they call the Sugmad. Followers say that when they finally finish their long spiritual journey they are reunified with Eck.

Established in 1965 by American John Paul Twitchell, the religion of Eckankar embraces what followers call the heavenly spirit of “Eck”
 


2)  The Church of Bible Understanding
Founded in 1971, The Church of Bible Understanding is a group that was established by Stewart Traill. The believers focus their attention predominately on troubled teenagers by exploiting their vulnerabilities. During the 1970s, the cult expanded throughout the United States. Traill and his followers believe that he is the prophet Elijah reborn. Believers reside in communities that give the vast majority of their money to their leaders, Traill has accumulated millions. He oversees every element of members’ existence with shame, vicious character assassination and communal humiliation.

Critics have accused Traill of having alarmingly efficient means of stopping critical thinking, which can cause serious psychological harm. Alarmingly, Traill oversees a group in Haiti. Some former devotees allege that the kids are brainwashed and blackmailed into joining the group for clothing as well as food. Despite the suspect operation, the cult gets government funds for its Haiti Missions.

Children part of the Church of Bible Understanding
Founded in 1971, The Church of Bible Understanding is a group that was established by Stewart Traill.


1)  Nuwaubianism

Nuwaubian Constitution
Dating back to New York in the 1970s, Nuwaubian’s initially began as a Black Muslim organization and the group has since gone through a number of changes.
Courtesy of nuwaubianfacts.com

Dating back to New York in the 1970s, Nuwaubian’s initially began as a Black Muslim organization and the group has since gone through a number of changes. Nuwaubianism is an umbrella term that references the teachings of Dwight York, otherwise known as Malachi Z. York, and Issa Al Haadi Al Mahdi. In 1993, the group set up base in Georgia, where they built a small city inspired by ancient Egyptian buildings. It has since been abandoned and destroyed.

York established Nuwaubianism by bringing together a wide variety of sources, including numerous cults and religions, coupled with a plethora of unusual beliefs. Whites are believed to have originated a slave race of mercenaries, who were intended to serve blacks but turned the tables and enslaved blacks.

There are a number of wild ideas that these followers believe; such as:  it is crucial that afterbirth be buried to ensure that Satan won’t use it to produce a duplicate in the image of the new born. In some cases, aborted fetuses are believed to survive the operation and manage to live on in sewers where they collectively conspire to enslave the world.

According to the group, humans were originally symmetrical as well as ambidextrous before a meteorite hit Earth and skewed the planet’s axis. They said this resulted in handedness and caused the heart to move from the center of the chest. Nuwaubians believe everyone has several clones that live in various places across the planet, women existed for generations before using genetic manipulation to invent men and homo-sapiens culminated from experiments conducted on Mars.

Nuwaubians believe that Nikoli Tesla was an alien who arrived on Earth from Venus and that the Illuminati, a secret society determined to achieve world domination, have raised Satan’s son, since his birth on June 6, 1966. Supposedly, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was the mother. The Pope is believed to have witnessed the birth and conducted necromantic rituals in celebration of the child’s birth. The child was mentored by Richard Nixon and currently resides in Belgium, where it is physically attached to a computer known as “The Beast 3M” and alternatively as “3666”. York is now incarcerated after conviction in regard to money laundering and child molestation but Nuwaubianism still carries on to this day.


Conclusion
There has never been a shortage of religious beliefs and despite their diversity, the one thing they all have in common is the drive of the followers to better understand themselves, their surroundings, the world around them as well as the universe. With that in mind, there’s no doubt that religions and cults will always exist. Each has their unique set of beliefs and rituals that people will continue to join, for better or worse.


 

 

 

 

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