A few years ago I was asked to help in the creation of a fake religion designed to dupe people out of their money. I, of course, explained to the people asking me to do this that I had made a solemn oath never to use my superpowers for personal gain, and thus declined their request to make them rich.
This does not mean that I didn’t do the research and plan out how such a plot could be hatched. I just didn’t share it with those that would actually use this plan.
What I came up with back then was a sort of laundry list of things a new religion would have to have to make hordes of cash. The following is a partial list of what a new for-profit religion would have to do.
– not offend any existing religion
– promise personal enrichment and fulfillment with little or no work
– come from the “average Joe” but be endorsed by intellectuals.
– tie in with every mythology that it can to gain credence
– be deliberately vague in all matters of theology, but give enough information so that everyone’s personal interpretation of religion is affirmed. (Basically, whatever you believe, the new religions would say you are right… let the laity create the theology)
– have lots of trinkets and “power items” for sale to “help them on their path.”
– have testimonials available on the web
– avoid marketing it as a “religion”… call it a “personal power theology” or some such thing.
– make sure that nothing you could ever say or do would violate the tenets of your new religion. (I.e., have no concept of sin or punishment.)
I know for a fact that the guys who wanted me to create this religion for them never succeeded. The main guy is now becoming a CPA at university, and the others are still around somewhere. Nothing ever became of the idea.
That said, I find that these guys were not the only ones on this quest. What I came up with back then is spectacularly close to a new movement called THE SECRET, as seen on CNN and Oprah. http://thesecret.tv/
As I go down my list of things a successful religious dupe would need in this age I can check off each item one by one as I watch the videos and interviews regarding The Secret. These guys have it down pat. Like the New Age movement before them they’ve tapped in perfectly to the North American avarice, and are already well on their way to becoming the new Scientology.
As such I think it’s apt to re-print here a quote attributed to L. Ron Hubbard (the founder of Scientology) from back in the days when he was just a struggling SciFi author.
“…[Hubbard] told us that writing science fiction for about a penny a word was no way to make a living. If you really want to make a million, he said, the quickest way is to start your own religion.'” — Messiah or Madman_**, p.45.
Hubbard made a lot more than a million. So too will the authors of The Secret.