History is littered with examples of what works, and what doesn't, when it comes to organized religion. I thought it'd be fun to theorize what traits a new age religion might have. Many religions are having trouble growing a membership base in today's environment. My guess is the more you align your new age religion with my 5 simple rules, the more people you'll find interested in your cause. Throwout every preconceived notion you have about what religion is, and let's go back to basics. Here's 5 rules for starting a new age religion...
At no point when making this religion will we make, or accept money, even if it's charitable. It's not just about the natural greed, money has surrounding it. By accepting money, religions are forced into certain decisions, which are counterproductive to being successful. If I give your religion money, and others do to, what would you do with it?
Maybe you would open a bank account, and put the money in there. Sounds reasonable to me. So now your new age religion has a decision, about how to spend that money. Who's going to make those decisions? What are we going to spend the money on?
Accepting that money has forced you down a path, maybe you never wanted to go down. You need a place to put that money. You need people to spend it. You need ways to spend it.
The only interest true religion has, is to spread it's word, so that as many people as possible, can benefit in a positive way. If your message is a good one, naturally, the more people that believe it, the more the impact that positive message with have on humanity. I have trouble seeing how mixing money into the equation is a net benefit for your new age religion. Sure, you can have money to expand operations, but you also have to deal with business, which brings many negative implications, like needing a hierarchy, greed, corruption, and power. Your religion doesn't need any of that involved, so let them keep their money.
In order to have churches and locations, you would need money. You don't have any. You need to think outside the box in terms of organization. The internet would be a perfect organizer for a new age religion. You can find programs that can organize people, and make communicating easier, many for free. The power of people networking, heavily believing in anything, is incredibly powerful. If the message was clear, and positive enough, I'm sure your new age religion would grow easily.
As the religion grew, possibly some of the members would have locations or areas, that different people, in different places, could use to meet. Volunteering land, time, a good laugh, or a shoulder to cry on, all seems safe to me. While I can respect, and picture, a new age religion working strictly on the internet, meeting each other is important I think. Bonds are more strongly built in person. Your religion should have a sense of community, without ostracizing, non-members.
Whether you like it, or not, if you have locations and income, you may be a church, but you are also a business. Your new age religion should understand to stay as far away from business as possible.
Sex Is Okay
If people are forced to restrict natural human emotions, you will always see something occur in society to counter-balance it, and it will be negative. This happens both on an individual level, and in masses. Marijuana is one example. A certain amount of humans developed a want for marijuana. Nobody decided for them that they liked it, but they tried it, and made the decision they wanted more in future. An outside force comes along, that restricts that natural human emotion. They lie about the effects, and make it illegal, to curb usage. Our result? Wide spread availability through a huge black market, generating zero taxes. Gang, and turf wars. Huge expenses through our judicial system. Zero quality control.
Not exactly a success in my opinion. Restricting natural human emotion, will equal negative consequences. Ask a priest to restrict his natural human emotions, and I don't need to tell you the results.
Besides sex is okay, in fact, it's awesome! My religion would make it very clear, that consensual sex, between two loving, mature people, would be encouraged. If it feels good, and it doesn't hurt you, or anyone else, I say do it. It's never been the sex anyone has had an issue with anyway. They dislike young people having sex, teenage pregnancy, STDs, rape etc. What does any of that actually have to do with sex?
I'm glad the age where when we didn't want our kids to do something, we just straight lied to them, appears to be over. Kids are just too savvy, now days, too connected, to have the wool pulled over their eyes so drastically. Lying to people, as an ends to justify the means, is wrong, and it just plain doesn't work. Your new age religion will go without all that.
Whatever your version is, you have to allow for others to have a different view, and you have to respect it. We said above that "the only interest true religion has, is to spread it's word, so that as many people as possible, can benefit in a positive way". This means of course, my new age religion has zero concern about what any religion is doing. What that religion is off doing, and believing, has no interest to my new age religion. All my religion cares about is spreading the word, and benefitting as many people as possible.
That means my religion will never say your religion is wrong. It makes it impossible to have an us, versus them, mentality. They have a right to believe whatever they want, and so do we.
I would say it's impossible for one religion to be mad at, or condemn another religion, would't you? That sounds much more like a human emotion to me. Your new age religion certainly won't make people feel stupid, for believing something different than you.
No Converting Pressure
If your religion is that life expanding, and awesome, you shouldn't need the hard sell. What would you say if you saw a group of seemingly happy people, getting together for BBQs, playing games, and giving back to the community? You probably be like, what are those guys doing? Looks fun, maybe I'll see if I can join.
Let's not overcomplicate the process. Your new age religion needs no sales pitch. You're not trying to recruit, if it happens, it happens. You will understandably be excited about your message, your people, and your own journey. Understand though, you aren't looking to impose your will, or pressure people in any way.
This means no weekend doorbell rings at 8am. Have your new age religion simply present the information, and let the potential member make up their own mind.
I was going to suggest you formulate your new age religion's version of creation, based on science, and proven fact. My thinking is it would be an easier sell in today's day and age, but I also realized in saying that, I was actually showing too much of my own personal bias, and an overall incorrect thinking.
Whether your religion even chooses to attempt to explain the universe's creation is totally up to you. It's certainly not up to me, to tell you what to believe in. Regardless of what explanation your new age religion can muster, it will never be as important as what your message for today is, and the action your new age religion takes. How your members behave will have much more of an impact on membership, than having the perfect answer, ever will.
The most important rule not listed is you have to have a respect for every single person, and creature on this planet, and their right to exist. I can assure you, the God that created this wonderful world, doesn't play favourites.
I wrote these rules to help you avoid some of the pitfalls that might come with starting a new age religion. I'm certain all religions started out with their compasses pointed due north. Combine my rules, with a whole bunch of general happiness, love, and understanding, and I'd be shocked if your new age religion, can't both stand the test of time, as well as inspire millions.