The 20 Weirdest Religious Beliefs
We find it easy to dismiss the fantastical beliefs of people in other times and places, but those that we’ve been exposed to since childhood seem not so far out. Virgin birth? Water turning into wine? A fig tree shriveling on the spot? Dead people getting up out of their graves and walking around?
All of the following beliefs are found in respected religions today. They have been long taught by religions that either are considered part of the American mainstream or are home grown, made in the U.S.A., produced here and exported. Some of these beliefs are ensconced in sacred texts. Others are simply traditional. All, at one time or another, have had the sanction of the highest church authorities, and many still do.
How many of them can you match up with a familiar religious tradition? (The answers are at the bottom.)
1. The foreskin of [a holy one] may lie safeguarded in reliquaries made of gold and crystal and inlayed with gems--or it may have ascended into the heavens all by itself. ( 2)
2. A race of giants once roamed the earth, the result of women and demi-gods interbreeding. (1, 6). They lived at the same time as fire breathing dragons. ( 1)
3. Evil spirits can take control of pigs. ( 1)
4. A talking donkey scolded a prophet. ( 1, 3)
5. A righteous man can control his wife’s access to eternal paradise. ( 6)
6. Brown skin is a punishment for disobeying God. ( 6)
7. A prophet once traveled between two cities on a miniature flying horse with the face of a woman and the tail of a peacock. ( 4)
8. [The Holy One] forbids a cat or dog receiving a blood transfusion and forbids blood meal being used as garden fertilizer. ( 7)
9. Sacred underwear protects believers from spiritual contamination and, according to some adherents, from fire and speeding bullets ( 6)
10. When certain rites are performed beforehand, bread turns into human flesh after it is swallowed. ( 2)
11. Invisible supernatural beings reveal themselves in mundane objects like oozing paint or cooking food. ( 2)
12. In the end times, [the Holy One’s] chosen people will be gathered together in Jackson County, Missouri. ( 6)
13. Believers can drink poison or get bit by snakes without being harmed. ( 1)
14. Sprinkling water on a newborn, if done correctly, can keep the baby from eons of suffering should he or she die prematurely. ( 2)
15. Waving a chicken over your head can take away your sins. ( 3)
16. [A holy one] climbed a mountain and could see the whole earth from the mountain peak. ( 1, 2)
17. Putting a dirty milk glass and a plate from a roast beef sandwich in the same dishwasher can contaminate your soul. ( 3)
18. There will be an afterlife in which exactly 144,000 people get to live eternally in Paradise. ( 8)
19. Each human being contains many alien spirits that were trapped in volcanos by hydrogen bombs. ( 5)
20. [A supernatural being] cares tremendously what you do with your penis. 1,2,3,4,6,7,8.
Key: 1-Evangelical or “Bible Believing” Christianity, 2-Catholic Christianity, 3-Judaism, 4-Islam, 5-Scientology, 6-Mormonism 7-Christian Science 8-Jehovah’s Witness
Each of these beliefs is remarkable in its own way. But the composite goes beyond remarkable to revealing. What it reveals is an underlying belief that is something like this:
The process that produced this world and human life is best unveiled not by the scientific method but by the musings of iron age herdsmen (1,2,3,4,7,8) or science fiction writers (5), or con artists (6) whose theories are best judged by examining only assertions that cannot be falsified.