Whether you’re seeking salvation or inner peace, a god to worship or add to your home-made altar, the pop culture pantheon is at your disposal so that you may pick and choose the gods and tools of worship to service your every emotional, spiritual, and even material need.
10. Harry Potter
When they aren’t re-reading their holy texts, Potterheads commune at MuggleNet to chat about their god, study their faith and perform the usual acts of tithing. According to the Facebook page “Being a POTTERHEAD” (which is classified as a non-profit organization),
Harry Potter has reached out to 200 countries, spoke out in 69 languages, and has touched the lives of 400 million people. It is the phenomenon that ignores race, age, gender and religion and has brought us all together despite our differences.
Also known as Potterholics, Potterites and Pottermaniacs, Potterheads should never be confused with potheads as their allegiance is strictly Wizard, not weed.
9. Doctor Who
The dormant Whovian faith is currently experiencing a worldwide revival, thanks in no small part to David Tennant‘s five-year stint as the Tenth Doctor from 2005-2010. Whovians, named after the fan club newsletter issued by the Doctor Who Fan Club of America in the 1980s, exist worldwide under the banner of the Doctor Who Appreciation Society. The society organizes a number of local and regional events for fans. They have also produced two series of audio adventures based on fan-generated fiction about the show. Proceeds from the second audio series were donated to various charitable causes. DWAS also produces The Celestial Toyroom, the longest running fan-based magazine in existence.
8. John Waters
Not a god, per se, but the inspiration for the New Wave Tarot and altar candles line recently featured in the Huffington Post. Amanda Stilwell has created a set of 78 tarot cards featuring new wave musicians as well as altar candles adorned with “Saint” Stevie Nicks, Beyonce and Agent Scully from The X-Files, as well as characters from the MTV soap My So-Called Life all available through her Etsy shop. Stilwell commented:
Each one is a very intuitive process for me. This person, this icon, what do they mean in pop culture and what do they mean to me? I don’t just throw things together on the collage, I want it to be intentional and for it to have deeper meaning.
7. The Insane Clown Posse
An obscure pop culture-Christianity hybrid, the Juggalo Faith markets itself as a pathway to Jesus Christ through the music of the Insane Clown Posse (ICP). ICP, a ’90s rap group with a penchant for clownish face paint, have incorporated mystical commentary in the liner notes to their albums. However, they have no direct affiliation with the Juggalo Faith movement. Marketing itself “to all of those, who feel left out, who feel beat down, for those of you who feel betrayed, lied to, for all of the lost, the broken, the depressed, the fallen,” the Juggalo Faith is a member-based online community with ordained leadership, weekly sermons and psychological counseling.
6. Prince Philip
One of the more obscure and ancient of the pop culture faiths, the Prince Philip Movement is a hybrid of ancient tribalism and modern pop, practiced by the Kastom people of the South Pacific. The tribal people believe Prince Philip, husband of Queen Elizabeth II, fulfills their ancient myth: “…the son of a mountain spirit traveled over the seas to a distant land. There he married a powerful lady and in time would return to them.” Prince Philip’s birthday is a holy celebration whose very name is believed to give life to the tribe. Biographies of the prince act as holy texts and various shrines have been built in his honor.
5. Ed Wood
Reverend Steve Galindo founded the Church of Ed Wood in 1996. According to the church’s official website:
Woodism is a pop-culture-based religion created in 1996 by Reverend Steve Galindo. We follow the late cult director Edward D. Wood Jr., and we look to him as a savior. We at The Church of Ed Wood use Ed and his films to inject spirituality into those who get little fulfillment from more mainstream religions like Christianity. By looking at his films and his life, we learn to lead happy, positive lives. We strive for acceptance of others and of the self.
The church has baptized (online) 3,000 members worldwide, issues “Lessons of Wood” and offers members and visitors the opportunity to tithe.
According to the Temple of the Jedi Order:
Jediism is a religion based on the observance of the Force, a ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a Jedi (a follower of Jediism) believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe. Jediism finds its roots in philosophies similar to those presented in an epic space opera called “Star Wars”. It is a religion in and of itself.
…Real Jedi do not worship George Lucas or Star Wars or anything of the sort. Jediism is not based in fiction, but we accept myth as a sometimes more practical mean of conveying philosophies applicable to real life.
While Yoda and Obi Wan act as mythical figures who embody the teachings of Jediism, they are in no way worshiped by the religion that believes in The Three Tenets, the Jedi Code (created in the Role Playing Guide for Star Wars in 1987), the Jedi Creed, the 16 Teachings, and the 21 Maxims. Mirroring a mixture of Eastern mysticism and martial arts, Jediism is not to be confused with the Jedi Church, which seeks to be recognized as an official religion within the UK.
3. The Dude
The Church of the Latter Day Dude doesn’t worship Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski, per se. Rather, they emulate him through Dudeism, “a communicable form of ease” not unlike Buddhism. Fellow Dudes can congregate at Lebowski Fests around the country, hang out at the local bowling alley, or dwell in their own Dudeness with a white Russian. Compared to Taoism by the Dudeli-Lama, Dudeists follow the Take it Easy Manifesto and focus on abiding in the present while using as much lingo from the film The Big Lebowski as humanly possible.
The National Church of Bey worships musician Beyonce Knowles-Carter as a “strong, loyal, vigilant, beautiful, divine goddess.” A relatively new denomination in the religion of pop, the purveyors of Beyism promise a forthcoming temple and have published this message on their website to describe their faith:
As our congregation continues to swell, we ask that you consider what is more real; an invisible spirit on high, or a walking, talking, breathing Goddess who shows you her true form daily. Beyonce’s spirit is entrancing. We know that she was sent to this place to spread love, peace, and joy. While we do not believe Beyonce to be the Creator, we recognize that she still sits among the throne of Gods.
1. John Lennon
The John Lennon Temple of Peace, Love and Music was created by Kolya Vasin, a “self-styled Beatles preacher” who has established a series of “holy days” on the calendar “to celebrate the phenomena of rock.” John Lennon is the symbolic god of what has loosely been termed “Lennonism,” a hybrid of hippie-esque beliefs about peace and love that requires you to “imagine there is no heaven,” dwell in bags and demonstrate peace in bed. According to Vasin, whose rock n’roll faith is tied heavily to his belief in freedom from Soviet oppression, John Lennon “…is a man who has become part of God and so if we want to build the temple with all the honesty and love in our hearts the money will come somehow.” Vasin’s permanent temple will cost $12 million, funds he plans to crowdsource from the international community of rock n’rollers.