Open-source religion

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Yoism symbol

Open-source religions attempt to employ open-source methodologies in the creation of religious belief systems.[1] They develop their systems of beliefs through a continuous process of refinement and dialogue among the believers themselves. In comparison to traditional religions – which are considered authoritarian, hierarchical, and change-resistant – they emphasize participation, self-determination, decentralization, and evolution. Followers see themselves as part of a more generalized open source movement, which does not limit itself to software, but applies the same principles to other organized, group efforts to create human artifacts.[1]

Among the first examples of this movement, Yoans (followers of a religion called Yoism,[2] founded 1994) claim that their version of open source religion does not have allegiance to any spiritual guide, rather the sense of authority emerges from the group via consensus.[1][3][4] Yoism combines rational inquiry, empiricism,[5] and science with Spinozan or Einsteinian pantheism[6][7] using a model inspired by open source software, specifically Linux.

Douglas Rushkoff organized the first Reboot summit, which took place in 2002.[8] Reboot aims to "provide DIY tools for individuals and communities to explore Jewish identity and meaning". Rushkoff stated in 2003 that "The object of the game, for me, was to recontextualize Judaism as an entirely Open Source proposition."[9] The 2003 publication of Rushkoff's book Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism[10] spawned the creation of the Open Source Judaism movement. Open Source Judaism, in turn, spawned several projects, including the now defunct "Open Source Haggadah" (2005).

Other attempts to form open source religions that began to take form by 2005 include The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn[11] and Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis.[12] Dr Leo Ruickbie released Open Source Wicca in 2007, seeing parallels between the way Wicca was founded and the concept of open source computing.[13]

In spring 2007, Assignment Zero reported that "for six weeks, 40 brave volunteers from across the U.S. met in a special online forum on 'Open Source Religion' to talk about their deepest beliefs"[14] (and the text of the article is itself open-source)., founded by Sidian M.S. Jones, is an online social network in which Jones describes Open Source Religion as "A system for the mixing of religious and non-religious beliefs in an individual, even across multiple religions."[15] has a project called the Belief Genome Project, also known as "The Source Code" which aims to use crowdsourcing to catalog all beliefs as a resource for those wishing to build and discover their own belief system.[16]

A similar concept has been developed and proposed in Poland under the name of "open spirituality".[17]

In 2009 an open source religious publication, Free Press Bible,[18] was introduced. Touted as an authentically non-denominational approach to open source religion and religion in general, it allows owner/users to articulate and organize their religious texts utilizing both digital media and printed or written pages within a "religious binder".

Later that year, other implementations began to employ the collaborative strengths provided by Web 2.0 and in particular wiki online collaboration platforms.[19]

Beginning with the Open Siddur Project in 2009, open source projects in Judaism began to bolster their open source credentials by publicly sharing their code with open source licenses and their content with free-culture licenses. As comparative expressions of an Open Source Judaism, their explicit objectives also began to differ from those which Rushkoff articulated in Nothing Sacred. Rather than seek reforms in religious practices or doctrines, these projects often used open source and free-culture licenses to simply empower users to access and create their own resources from a common store of canonical texts and associated translations and metadata. Not unlike Wikisource and the Wikimedia Commons, these project facilitate collaboration in sharing resources for transcribing and translating existing works in the Public Domain, and for adaptation and dissemination of works being shared by copyright owners under free-culture licenses.[20]


  1. ^ a b c Charles Piller (2006-07-23). "Divine Inspiration From the Masses". Los Angeles Times. 
  2. ^ Yoism website
  3. ^ Gunderson, Matt (January 11, 2004). "Taking 'yo' off the street and into church". Globe Newspaper Company. Retrieved 2006-08-06. 
  4. ^ Demare, Carol (December 9, 2009). "Religion called Yoism plays role in appeal". Albany Times Union, Hearst Communications Inc. Retrieved 2010-10-31. 
  5. ^ Gary Craig (2011-04-11). "Civil commitment still evolving in N.Y.". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. 
  6. ^ Kean, Sam (May–June 2009). "Open to Revisions". Search Magazine. Retrieved 2010-09-19. [Daniel Kriegman] based the [...] religion on a cocktail of rational inquiry, empiricism, and science. [...] To this rationalism [...] Kriegman mixed in a healthy dram of the pantheistic god of Spinzoa (above) and Einstein [...] 
  7. ^ Forni, Alberto (January 2010). "Yoism on Italian Radio". dISPENSER. Retrieved 2010-02-17. Yoism is a complex system that incorporates elements of philosophy and diverse religious backgrounds, ranging from the pantheism of Spinoza to Mahayana Buddhism, up to Taoism [...] 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Open Source religion
  10. ^ Douglas Rushkoff (2003). Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism. Three Rivers Press. 
  11. ^ Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn website
  12. ^ Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis website
  13. ^ P2P Foundation,, 1 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-26.
  14. ^ Bravely Exploring Our Spiritual Stars: An Adventure in Opening the Ultimate Source
  15. ^
  16. ^ Open Source Religion Basics
  17. ^ Taraka website (in Polish), accessed December 23, 2008
  18. ^ website not available 13 august 2013
  19. ^ The Wiki Religion wiki accessed January 6, 2010
  20. ^ Jacobs, Alan. "The Potential and Promise of Open-Source Judaism". The Atlantic Magazine Online. The Atlantic Magazine. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 

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