How to Start a Religion : From Planning to Membership

How to Start a Religion when you felt dissatisfied with existing religions? There are times when you feel fed up with the lack of sincerity and religious tolerance within many pre-existing religions in the world.

That is when you get the urge to start a new religion of yours. You get inspired to change the world on your own terms, that is why you wish to start your own religion. It will take a lot of pressure, intelligence and effort to organize all the things to create a religion of yours and after that getting it officially recognized by the law of the land.

If it is this creation of religion you are moved to do, it will be very happy to to see the work lead idea to a get thriving membership. Let’s start a conversation to decide the various points of interest to start a religion. They are as follows :=

  • Planning the Religion
  • Earning Legal Status
  • Increasing Membership

Planning the Religion

Make a plan.

Starting a religion will definitely need a paperwork, a zeal, and a large amount of planning. You may start your endeavour by writing down the ideas about why you need to invent a religion of yours. To answer this, you must have the understanding of the basic thought and reason for the new religion’s existence will be crucial when you wish it to succeed. You may want to start a religion, because:

  • You are currently dissatisfied with ones that pre-exist.
  • You are deeply inspired by the thoughts
  • You have seen the glimpse of secret knowledge you would like to share.
  • You wish to perform various rites & ceremonies in your own sacred way.
  • You are critical of other religion.

Developing a cosmology.

If the new religion wish to explain broad queries related to the origin of the universe, the reality context, and the future way to God and Holiness, you will certainly require to develop a cosmology to explain all these things. The new religion’s cosmology may have to describe things like a creation story of the religion and future projections about the eventual collapse of the surroundings. Be as inspired or creative your new religion idea need you to be.

Selecting a unique name for the new religion.

The name of the new religion must reflect its aims, purpose and foundation on which it has been constructed. Better to choose it wisely. You may go to the basic idea of the religion and think about the beliefs or central messages of your religion. Try to reflect those ideas in the word or phrase to serve as its name. Some of the religion names invented in the past are:

  • The Church of All Worlds
  • The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
  • Discordianism
  • Scientology
  • Eckankar

Developing a list of religion’s core tenets.

Very thoughtful process is involved in this step as it might explain things about the views, relationships between people, charitable aspect toward others, Act on own interests, etc. These principles call for philosophical arguments, which must be explained how your religion will view the world on these topics differently than others. Your religion’s principles might even challenge the existence of God or contain arguments trying to prove it. If you wish to, you may write a sacred scroll or holy book that will explain it once and for all these things.

Start talking about the new religion.

Once you have completed the paper work of your religion’s core ideas, you may start inviting and conversing about your ideas with other people and motivate them to join you. Experts suggest at first you must work slowly. You might small talks with some of your own acquaintances,. Try to build from there by word of mouth. After a while, when you get a trusted and stable group, you may work with them to list out bylaws to explain how your religion will be managed and organized.

Finding a common meeting place.

Initially followers of your religion might meeting at your home or someone else’s place. As the network grows, you might have to look for a place that is more public, like a cafe, a park, or prayer hall that is convenient to each from all directions. As the religion grows, you might get into more permanent meeting place arrangement rather than a rented one like a purchased building, basement or empty warehouse.

Get to know about historical examples.

If you are getting short of inspiration while planning the religion, you may look thru the internet for the various histories of other religions. Studying the world’s major religions will definitely provide you with ideas, but you can also go through more recent examples of invented religions, like:

  • L. Ron Hubbard’s Scientology.
  • The Church of All Worlds, inspired by Robert Heinlein’s science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land.
  • Discordianism, and its foundational text Principia Discorda.

Getting Legal Status

Learn to get the benefits of official recognition.

Churches that are recognized as nonprofit organisations, according to Internal Revenue Code (IRC) 501(c)(3), and are automatically considered tax-exempt. You might not have to apply for tax protection while you meet the code’s guidelines. But tax exemption can offer financial and legal protection to your new founded religion. This will allow it to practice freely in accordance to the laid principles.

Though there is an automatic tax exemption for recognized churches, yet you can apply formally thru official channels. This will be a good idea in case you just need to be sure that whether your religion qualifies for the tax protection. The officially applying will give it legitimacy too, and need not worry in the future. In US, if you wish to apply for tax-exempt status for a new religion, you have to use IRS Form 1023-EZ.

Meeting the guidelines for legally establishing a church.

The IRS uses the term “church” broadly, and takes into consideration by any recognized religious group. The primary guidelines for recognition is observed to be an authority to any revenue the church earns may not be used to financially benefit an individual or shareholders, or to influence political decision-making (lobbying).

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will definitely going to consider whether or not a religious group officially qualifies as a church. It will check the possibilities of meeting some combination of features, that may include:

  • A creed and worship practices
  • Formal leadership
  • A clear history
  • Membership is distinct from other religious groups
  • Recognized course of study to ordain leaders in the religion
  • Form of foundational texts or literary tradition
  • Recognized or regular places to worship
  • Regular congregation and services

Applying for the certificate of formation of the religious society.

A certificate of formation or articles of formation is a document to formally incorporate a religion as a legally-recognized entity. It is able to describe what a nonprofit organization will do, how it will be managed, etc. You have to check your local laws to get information whether it is necessary to file for this document.

Getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN).

Your newly founded religion will have to apply for an EIN number from the IRS even if you qualify for tax-exempt status. This number is necessary for the religion to have any employees to work under its banner. Even if your religion is tax-exempted, you must withhold income tax on the employees of the religious group or sect.

Keeping records.

Tax-exempt status always provide religious organizations to have special tax and audit protection. Nevertheless, it is very crucial to keep excellent records of all the financial activities. These have a wide variety of entries such as salaries, expenditures, money collected from members of the religion, etc.

Increasing Membership

Frequent services or meetings.

Most successful religions have congregations that meet often to share ideas, views and thoughts. The religion you are going to create will also have services or worship procedures. You must consider holding them many times a week. You can more likely to increase the religion’s member numbers by providing the flexibility to choose when to attend services to your members and potential members.

Increase your religion’s visibility.

Getting noticed will fetch you more members. It is more crucial than ever to get the word spread about your religion in case you wish to increase its members. Ensure that your newly founded religion has active representation on all social media. You may make flyers to distribute in your community, or even give away T-shirts with message from your religion and website address. if any, etc.

Create a welcoming feel.

People get to become regular members of your religion when you provide them a welcoming place to visit. Whatever the religious services entail, consider having them in a comfortable, clean, well-organised and friendly environment that is easily accessible. People that are intimidated by or turned off of traditional religious services are more likely to attend an informal, coffee-house style service to spread the word of your religion.

Offering lots of activities and programs.

Worshiping and increasing understanding within your religion’s core tenets might be the most key aspects of your services. However, providing members with additional programs will also tend to increase the sense of community among the religion’s members, while keeping the faith of people close to the religion itself. You may consider incorporating activities like:

  • Music for services and entertainment
  • Game nights
  • Potlucks
  • Sports
  • Reading groups
  • Social gatherings of youth groups, retiree meetings, etc.
  • Community service, beautification projects, prison outreach, food drives,

Try to adhere to above given guidelines to create a religion of your own desires.

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