Start Your Own Religion - For Pleasure and Profit
The Basic Buiness Model
First off, let’s take a look at a standard business model, employed but a number of well known religions.
1) Central Figure:
This is a ‘must have’.
The Central Figure is the entity that is in charge. The giver of life, the maker of laws, the receiver of worship and prayer, the distributor of vengeance and punishment, the unseen one to whom we must answer and to whom we will go at the end of our materialistic existence - the creator of all we see and know. Referred to in many ways, we will refer to this entity - who is usually seen as male, as the Central Figure.
Try making up your own name for the Central Figure now and write it in this space …………………. In keepin with some of the more modern Religions, sometimes known as Cults, You could be the Central figure! Consider this to.
2) Sacred Texts:
It is always handy to have a road map!
These come in a variety of basic flavours but are something that: The Faithful or Believers can cart around with them for ready reference; The Scholars or Holy Men can interpret for the Faithful as they are clever and the Faithful are not; The Faithful can swear on if called before the Judiciary; Adds Mystery to the Religion as by and large they date from antiquity or at the very least a space ship from a far off galaxy.
Sacred texts can be:
- Handed down from a far off time, with the origins being shrouded in mystery and the authors lost to man.
- Written following Divine Intervention, for example dictated to a scribe that the Central Figure has chosen as his earthly representative.
- Written by followers of a Prophet, who has been sent by the Central Figure to help mankind out of his current, piss poor lifestyle. Essentially a combination of biography and quotes from the Prophet and Central Figure themselves.
- Found. They can be found in tin boxes, leather satchels, wooden chests, old ladies tea caddies or space craft. Often located in remote areas, the finding of the Texts, either by chance or design, all helps to add to the Mystery.
- So secret that no one knows what is in them but get handed bits every now and again to keep them going, by the Senior Figures.
Sacred Texts tend to be a role call of how to live your life in a way that will please the Central Figure. There are usually details of what to do, what to eat how to dress, when to pray etc etc. If you cannot be fagged to go into too much detail on these things the Scholars or Holy Men can usually be relied on to fill in the blanks when they interpret the Scared Texts.
It is a good idea to include an Intangible Promise. An Afterlife is usually a good one. Make sure that you do not promise anything that you cannot deliver on such as ‘tea and crumpets for the Faithful at 16.00 everyday’. It is better to be a bit vague and yet ensure that the Faithful are suitably impressed to want to put up with all the rubbish you ask of them in the here and now, in order that they get their hands on the benefits in the then and there. Suffering now in order to enjoy later, is an oft found central theme and of course one should never miss an opportunity to introduce the concept of Eternal Damnation that awaits those who do not toe the line.
Think about your Sacred Text now. What will you base it on or will you just make it up as you go along? Take time to work this one out. What will be in your Intangible Benefits scheme? The menu from your local takeaway might be handy but will often lack many insightful phrases or ideas other than ‘we deliver within a 5 mile radius’.
3) The Prophet
The man on the street is worth two in the clouds.
The standard issue Central Figure is never really seen. You might get the odd bit of Divine Intervention or loud voices from rolling clouds in the sky but you rarely get manifestations of the Central Figure on earth. To this end having a prophet is a good idea. He is an ‘ordinary Joe’ type with an extraordinary background or understanding. He is often in direct contact with the Central Figure or has been sent by him as a messenger with a very serious message. Some Prophets are just ordinary Joe’s until they get the Calling from the Central Figure, which changes their life and sets them on a path of setting everyone else right.
Most Prophets do a good bit of wandering around. Spreading the word, gaining Believers, suffering a bit, living a blameless life according to the stuff laid down by the Central Figure. Prophets are also a good source of the Sacred Texts themselves or a ‘man on the spot’ fillip to them.
Think now about your Prophet now. Will he be man or alien? Will he provide the Sacred Texts or just advertise them and show how good it is to live according to their words?
4) The Organisation
If you want to get ahead, get organized.
The process of getting the Religion off the ground and into the heads of as many people as possible requires a great deal of skilful organization. The average religion requires a variety of levels of staff, premises, uniforms and all the paraphanalia that goes with it. All of this can be termed the Organisation.
Most Religions have a good, solid, old fashioned hierarchechy. At the top of the tree are the Senior Figures who decide, with the help of Scholars what the Religion is and how it applies to the Faithful or if he hasn’t signed up yet, the Man in the Street. Next come the less senior figures who help the smooth running of the organization right down to the Salesmen who are instrumental in run the Showrooms where the Faithful can attend and continue in the observance of the Religion.
Organisations and assets are expensive to run and that is why Religions have good quality senior staff who are charged with operations and monetising the Religion to produce a revenue stream from the Faithful.
Consider how you want your Organisation to operate. How will you monetise the Religion - will the Faithful pay a tithe or will you rely on contributions only? Getting the Organisation right is one of the most important steps in setting up your own Religion.
Let us now consider some of these in detail:
a) Senior Figures
The Boss is always right
These chaps are the representatives on earth of the Central Figure. There is usual one overriding Supreme Senior Figure who is either voted in or just takes the reins of power because it suits him. He will determine the company policy of the Organisation and how that policy is carried out. Most Senior Figures appear rarely in public though the Supreme Senior Figure will gladly tip out regularly to give his views, admonish the Faithful , clear up any misunderstandings on company policy and of course because it is good PR.
Do you want to the sole Senior Figure with the structure flowing down from you so that you retain the Power and the Glory?
b) Scholars or Holy Men
Not everyone understands, sometimes you have spell it out
Scholars or Holy Men interpret the Sacred Texts so that the Organisation can spread the word in an easy to assimilate fashion. A good quality Sacred Text will use arcane wording open to various interpretations and this is where the Scholar comes in.
He will spell out exactly what the Sacred Texts mean and how the Faithful should comply with them. Depending on the requirements of the Organisation or Government of the day, the Scholar will cheerfully imply any sort of interpretation needed including chucking in a few items to the commonly understood version that do not exist in the original text. It is therefore a good idea to ensure that the original Sacred Texts are only reviewed by Scholars to avoid letting the cat out of the bag.
Scholars like to add a few points of personal flair and imagination and are often responsible for stipulations relating to what the Faithful can eat, how they dress, when and how they should observe the Religion, when they may work and of course those old faithfuls Law and Order. Scholars are big on what are suitable punishments for transgressors against the Religion either from within or without.
Whilst many Religions happily publish the Sacred Texts for the Faithful to own, these are usually ‘translations’ for public consumption and not the original unabridged Sacred Texts themselves.
Make sure these guys can read!
c) Not So Senior Figures
It’s easy to make a buck. It’s a lot tougher to make a difference
As with any large Organisation, Religions need a good helping of middle managers or Not So Senior Figures. These people operate at a local level with Senior Figure authority and are by and large responsible for the Salesman, Showrooms, grass roots support and revenue stream generation.
Think now about the level of delegation you will allow and the people you allow it to. You don’t want Not So Senior Figures talking out of turn about company policy or having their own interpretation of the Sacred Texts.
Blessed is he who has found his work; let him ask no other blessedness
Any Religion needs good ground troops. These are the ones who turn out on the Holy Days to lecture to the Faithful, take their money, try and bring in new recruits to the Religion and keep the wheels of the Organisation running at the ground level. Salesmen need to be committed to the cause, should have Belief and be largely unquestioning. It helps if they are a good listener and keen on local community stuff as the average member of the Faitful likes nothing better than a good whinge or requires endless support of one sort or another.
Ensure you have total loyalty and that once the Salesmen have the Faithful in hand that they do not start running their own version of things. How many people do you know like that?
Show them what you’ve got to offer
Most Religions have showrooms. This is where the Salesmen and the Faithful congregate on Holy Days to hear the ‘translations’ of the Sacred Texts, a little lecture on the Religion, observe the Religions practices, give over some of their money to the Organisation and if you are lucky a bit of a sing song too.
Showrooms are expensive things to keep going so most Religions are keen to pack the Faithful in and obtain there donations as efficiently as possible. Having been in the business for quite a few years, most Religions have the freehold of the Showrooms and a quite a few bob in the bank to tide them over periods of poor attendance or low quality giving.
It helps if the Showroom is really well done out, with Gold and the like to demonstrate the power of the Religion and the enthusiasm of those who are the Faithful.
Do you know a suitable building and an interior decorator who specialises in the ‘Religious Look’? Check through Yellow Pages now!