5 Odd Religions Coming to a Statehouse Near You

The statue that The Satanic Temple wants to install on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol has raised a few hackles. (Image credit: The Satanic Temple)

After a Christian religious group received permission in 2012 to erect a monument devoted to the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City, another religious group — The Satanic Temple — is formally requesting to erect its own monument.

The organization has now received more than $23,000 in donations to erect a tall statue of Baphomet, a goat-headed figure who sits beneath a pentagram. The statue features two children gazing upward at the cloven-hoofed, horned idol, whose throne will also act as a resting place "where people of all ages may sit on the lap of Satan for inspiration and contemplation," according to a statement from The Satanic Temple.

The statue is nothing if not controversial: "In my opinion, this Satanist monument does not meet with the values of Oklahomans," Oklahoma State Rep. Bob Cleveland told CNN. However, there are a number of other recognized religious groups that might also want to someday erect monuments on public property, including the following five groups: [8 Ways Religion Impacts Your Life]

1. Jediism

Inspired by the Jedi Knights from the "Star Wars" film franchise, Jedi followers "believe in peace, justice, love, learning and benevolence," according to the Temple of the Jedi Order's website. Though there are several entities claiming to be Jedi organizations, the Temple of the Jedi Order was officially registered as a religion in the state of Texas in 2005. Another group, which calls itself the Jedi Church, espouses a fundamental belief in "the force," which it describes as "an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together" — dialogue that is familiar to any fan of the "Star Wars" movies. There are reportedly hundreds of thousands of Jedi followers in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and the United Kingdom.

2. Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

This church, also known as Pastafarianism, is a protestant group that originated in opposition to the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools as an alternative to evolution. The protest quickly became an Internet phenomenon, albeit a light-hearted, satirical one that rejects religious dogma. Pastafarians believe the universe was created by a drunken Flying Spaghetti Monster, pirates are divine beings, and heaven is a place with strippers and a beer volcano. The church — which has applied to the state of Oklahoma for permission to erect a monument on the state capitol grounds — may be growing in influence: Last week, Pastafarian minister Christopher Schaeffer was sworn in as a member of the town board of Pomfret, N.Y., while wearing the traditional headgear of the Pastafarians, a colander.

3. Woodism

If schlocky movies like "Plan 9 from Outer Space," "Orgy of the Dead" and "Night of the Ghouls" fill you with spiritual devotion, you may be a candidate for Woodism, a religion that looks upon the films of alcoholic, cross-dressing director Ed Wood as holy scripture. Founded in 1996 by Wood fanatic Steve Galindo, the movement's website states that, "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 group claims to have more than 3,000 baptized "Woodites" worldwide, who celebrate Woodmas on Oct. 10, the birthday of the director. (While Wood was once labeled the world's worst director, more recent reappraisal of his work has earned him cult status.) [The Top 10 Craziest Cults]

4. Church of Euthanasia

Chris Korda, a cross-gendered vegan, founded the Church of Euthanasia in 1992 on four basic principles: suicide, abortion, cannibalism and sodomy, which is defined as "any sexual act not intended for procreation." Registered as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the group has but one commandment: Thou Shalt Not Procreate, the only way of restoring the natural balance between humans and other species on Earth. Many of the church's activities are defiantly confrontational, especially when faced with pro-life groups protesting abortion rights. Critics have charged the group with blatant misanthropy, citing its adherence to the writings of Thomas Malthus, the 18th-century scholar who believed unchecked population growth would eventually result in a catastrophic obliteration of the human race.

5. Church of the SubGenius

Another movement that arose in protest to the strict dogma of organized religion, The Church of the SubGenius is largely viewed as an elaborate parody that seems to have taken on a life of its own. Founded in 1979 by a Texas filmmaker named Douglas St. Clair Smith (aka Ivan Stang) and Steve Wilcox (aka Philo Drummond), the group believes in an extraterrestrial deity called Jehovah 1, encourages its member to "slack off," and has chosen as its symbol a grinning, pipe-smoking man named J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Ward Cleaver from the television program "Leave It to Beaver." Adherents to the Church of the SubGenius include entertainer Paul "Pee-Wee Herman" Reubens and cartoonist R. Crumb.

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Marc Lallanilla
Live Science Contributor
Marc Lallanilla has been a science writer and health editor at About.com and a producer with ABCNews.com. His freelance writing has appeared in the Los Angeles Times and TheWeek.com. Marc has a Master's degree in environmental planning from the University of California, Berkeley, and an undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin.