After spending the evening arguing with my mentally deficient flatmates about how to arrange an elaborate credit card scheme to acquire points yet be charged no interest, acquire no net debt and involving two front companies and a chicken.
“It has to be a really good chicken though, in case the tax department check it out” – Dan
“Yeah a really fluffy one” – Me
I thought the best way to get rich quickish is to start your own religion, so welcome to The Guide to Starting your own Religion.
First of all, you must consider the market. Is there room for religion in today’s society? I heard on the radio that young people are more likely to turn to tarot cards than religion to solve their problems. Sounds bad? Could Religion be a dying market? Don’t think so, fewer people in religion now means a bigger potential consumer base that isn’t saturated with competitors. Could you ask for a more fertile playing ground? I don’t think so.
Additionally, considering we live in an age of the brand experience, where your life, status, and very existence is defined by what your branded possessions say you represent, there’s going to be a few souls that are feeling a little empty on the inside. Enter food for the soul.
So you’ve got a chance, who’s your target audience? The white upper-middle-class is taken, forget middle America, and the youth market is being cornered as we speak – so come up with something new. Perhaps atheists? There’s bound to be a bunch of chumps willing to check out the Church of Atheism (TM) despite the obvious irony.
Now, getting established and selling God. As religions have been around for a while, you can learn from their mistakes. First of all, door knocking sucks. Don’t do it, it’s not cool. Don’t wear suits all the time, you want to create an individual branded experience for your church, and suits brand Jehovah or Mormon – you do not want to make that link to your new super cool and ultra-hip religion. Pedophilia is also not cool. It can’t always be avoided, but the impact can be reduced.
First of all, don’t establish a church if you are a pedophile, second of all don’t make it a men-exclusive club. The harsh reality is that, in terms of acceptance, men pedophiles are worse than female pedophiles. Natalina D’Addario only got 4 months for having oral sex with a 15-year-old student. Clearly he was asking for it, unlike the victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by men. Thus make all your pastors female, no men allowed. This is called damage control.
Finally, you have to be aware that as a newbie to the big wide world of religion, you do not want to be branded as a cult. The idea is not to kill people, but to get rich. Thus, in order to guarantee your legitimacy you want to align yourself with a traditional religion.
Your church is going to be a brand extension of a traditional religion, hence your branded and fantastic new religion draws upon the characteristics, and more importantly the legitimacy, of traditional religions, to make your target audience feel like they can trust you. Now you get all the feeling and trust from your flock without having to work from the beginning of time.
Now let’s get onto the selling. Your God has to come from traditional religions, say Jesus, or just “God”. But wait… when you mention a traditionally based religion does everyone groan and think you’re a right-wing virgin? Not cool. Unfortunately, you can’t just whack in some booze and sex to lighten things up, that’s way too cultish. Instead, you have to work within your parameters.
Sex before marriage and getting trashed is still evil, but if you can avoid people feeling guilty about having sex while trashed you will out-perform traditional religions by far. The easiest way to distance people from their guilt is to use non-emotive words when describing their sins… oops! Did I say sin? No! I meant natural life challenges that help develop your soul.
Sorry did you say you got drunk and screwed some guy who said they would call but didn’t? Don’t worry you were just facing a natural life challenge in which you lost yourself temporarily (got drunk), resulting in the union with someone you discovered was not your true soul mate (had sex with someone you just met). Do you feel better? Of course, you do! Because I just excused your behavior (and thus guilt) by describing everything in a way that doesn’t say you’re a cheap slapper. Which leads us to…
Point two, idols. One of the ten commandments says you shouldn’t worship idols, but done carefully you can get away with a lot. The Catholic church has statues, why can’t you have an uber-cool arm bracelet to satisfy your target audience’s consumeristic desires?
Give them something to hold onto, they are weak and so is their faith, they need a safety blanket so they don’t question your religion too hard. And how do you get away with it? Say it’s a statement declaring the belief of your flock, to get Christianity (or other traditional religion) out there. Thus you make money and the traditionalists get off your back.
Now the real tricky part, worship. If you make worship suck then your religion sucks and there’s no money for you. You have to integrate yourself into popular culture, instead of hymns go for pop. You want flashing lights, a stage, a hot skinny guy and girl (with tight, but not revealing clothing) singing repetitive drivel that has no substance. It works for pop, make it work for you.
As for the worship part, well do lots of singing and not lots of talking and when you do talk, make it easy to digest by employing simple analogies and repetition, repetition, repetition! You don’t want people to get bored, so make sure the eye focuses on many points across the stage, a film clip to the left, colored lights that move around the stage, an enthusiastic and gorgeous host that really uses their space and forces the eye to move.
Now to make this pay, you’re in it for the cash right? Of course, you are! So you need to collect cash, what are you going to use? A traditional collection plate… loser! As if you want five-cent pieces, people are tight arses and you want to make them pay. Pass around something with holes big enough to let coins fall through, a colander, a flowerpot, a bag with holes in it… anything!
Then while people are pulling out their notes, give them speeches that associate giving money with the love and approval of your God. You could say Jesus gave up everything for us, and if you give just a little, even if it’s your last dollar, Jesus will love you for it and you are truly like Jesus… join a charity collection company, learn the ropes, and then pump those chumps for cash.
How do you maintain control of your church? Go for the family thing, or come up with a bunch of cronies who “pray” to find the next new dude to head your front religion. No one will question them because they are closer to the bank account… I mean God than the average pleb.
So in a nutshell? Prey on the insecurities and fears of your target market, offer them an easy quick fix and they’ll be so blind to your manipulations and bling they will faithfully hand over the contents of their wallet every week!
Get convertin’ folks!