The Candid Guide to Starting a Religion

    It has often been said that religion is the foundation of society and civilization, so what better way to leave your mark on this world than by starting your own. The more followers you gain the more minions under your command err… I mean the more enlightened and spiritually satisfied those under your benevolence shall be.

    Accumulating followers however is not as easy as it may seem, for most will already be enlisted and loyal to another. You may have to resort to imposing your religion on the un-expecting masses through intimidation, false promises, bribery, leading a crusade, or should worst come to worst, proselytize door-to-door, preferably during dinner hours, when the entire family is peacefully gathered and most vulnerable.

    Like all organizations, your religion will need a goal and a set of rules to achieve said goal. The goal usually is some kind of reward at the end of your life and comes as a direct result of your actions or accomplishment during your life. This is where the rules come in, because if you don’t tell people what to do, the poor souls will be lost and never make it on their own.

    Secondly you will need a few important people to represent your religion; these people should have either committed a miracle, been martyred, or been highly regarded, like Woody Allen. Although it’s usually a good idea to make the people that wrote your religion as one of the main characters, it’s not a good idea to make yourself one, or else face accusations of selfishness and self-indulgence. No, in order to seem more modest, you must earn that respect; light yourself on fire or throw yourself off a cliff all in the name of your beliefs. This should draw them in by the thousands and you shall be idolized and revered and worshipped, although you’ll still be dead.

    Most modern day religions are ironically complicated despite being monotheistic. In any case, the texts of your religion should be thousand of pages long, preferably hand written or orally transmitted for a few hundred generations (this telephone game will actually improve your story). Hidden codes should be inserted in the final text so as to satisfy conspiracy theorists and add intrigue and interest in your religion (random references to iconic relics are a plus). These texts should then be transmitted to those with authority and influence who will interpret the texts to their benefit all the while increasing the allure and influence of your religion; it takes a good politician to do these two seemingly opposite things at once.

    The true sign of success as a religion is not actually in the number of followers, or the vast amount of wealth the leaders accumulate but actually in the number of universities that offer courses on your religion, only then will your religion be truly accomplished; for anything the erudite believe is worth learning is actually worthy of existence.

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