The world's 6 most off-beat religions

Looking for the meaning of life? These unusual religions from the far corners of the globe may just have the answers

5 mins

1. The Prince Philip Movement, Vanuatu

The Prince Philip Movement is a cargo cult of the Yaohnanen tribe on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu. The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being, the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum.

According to ancient tales, the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return, bearing riches. To date, those riches amount to a signed photo, sent by Prince Philip, after the tribe sent him a wooden club.

2. Mami Wata, West Africa

Mami Wata is an African religion which believes that the water spirit of the same name will take a human form and abduct people from bars or markets, and release them only if they vow to be sexually loyal to the spirit. Acceptance means wealth and fortune; rejection spells the ruin of his family, finances and job.

Accordingly, ‘I thought it was Mami Wata’ has become the catchphrase of all West African philanderers, caught out by their wives.

3. Jediism, worldwide

Inspired by the Jedi in the Star Wars movies, followers of this religion wear hooded outfits and flaunt fake lightsabers, and adhere to a code that incorporates a mixture of Buddhist and Tao beliefs, as well as a healthy dose of Lucasfilm merchandise

In the 2012 British Census, Jediism was the most selected alternative religion in England and Wales with as many as 176,632 adherents.

4. Happy Science, Japan

Founded in Japan in 1986 by a man called Ryuho Okawa, this religion's stated aim is to spread happiness among all human beings. So far so good, except that Okawa believes that he is the reincarnation of Lord El Cantare, the supreme God and the saviour, who exercises highest authority and total control over the world. And that the angel Gabriel will visit Bangkok in the next 50 years. And aliens will land on earth in the next 300 to 400 years.

5. The Church of Maradona, Argentina

Iglesia Maradoniana was created by fans of the retired Argentine football player Diego Maradona, who they believe to be the best player of all time. It was founded on October 30, 1998 (Maradona's 38th birthday) in the city of Rosario. But it wasn't until the year of 2001 that they had their first gathering. They now reportedly count 80,000 members from more than 60 countries around the world. Most are expected to convert to the Church of Lionel Messi, when that is created on his 38th birthday.

6. The Gadget Hackwrench cult, Russia

Gadget Hackwrench is a Disney character from the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers cartoon series, a female mouse that was the team’s pilot, mechanic and inventor. A group of Russian fans have created a new religion around her, praying to posters of her, gathering to talk about how incredibly great she is, composing songs about her, and sticking up posters of Miss Hackwrench, wherever they go.

“She is the divine being, the most untouched and perfect sibling of the great God on Earth,” said one of her devotees. “She is strict, cute, optimistic and her level of technical knowledge is unachievable for a mortal being.”

Most devotees are said to work in IT departments.

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