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A parody religion or mock religion is an imitation belief system that challenges spiritual convictions of others, often through humor, satire, and/or burlesque (literary ridicule). Often created to achieve a specific purpose related to another belief system, a parody religion can be a parody of several religions, sects, gurus, cults, and or new religious movements at the same time or a parody of no particular religion, instead parodying the concept of religious belief. In some parody religions, emphasis is on making fun and being a convenient excuse for pleasant social interaction among like-minded, e.g. the Church of the SubGenius. Other parody religions target a specific religion, sect, cult, or new religious movement.
One approach to parody religion aims to highlight deficiencies in particular pro-religious arguments — the thinking being that if a given argument can also be used to support a clear parody, then the original argument is clearly flawed. An example of this is the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which parodies the equal time argument employed by intelligent design Creationism.
Several religions that are classified as parody religions have a number of relatively serious followers who embrace the perceived absurdity of these religions as spiritually significant, a decidedly post-modern approach to religion. For instance, in Discordianism, it may be hard to tell if even these "serious" followers are not just taking part in an even bigger joke. This joke, in turn, may be part of a greater path to enlightenment, and so on ad infinitum.
List of notable parody religions 
Parodies of particular beliefs 
The following were created as parodies of particular religious beliefs:
- Eventualism, a subtle parody of Scientology.
- Invisible Pink Unicorn, a parody of theist definitions of God. It also highlights the arbitrary and unfalsifiable nature of religious belief, in a similar way to Russell's teapot.
- Kibology, a humorous Usenet-based satire of religion, partly parodying Scientology.
- Landover Baptist Church, a satiric parody of Fundamentalist Christianity.
- Last Thursdayism, a joke version of omphalism, created to demonstrate problems with unfalsifiable beliefs, and the variant Next Wednesdayism inspired by John Landis's running movie gag See You Next Wednesday.
- Pastafarianism, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody of intelligent design Creationism, and religion in general as a modern version of Russell's teapot.
- The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism, the Christian denomination attended by most residents of Springfield in the animated TV series The Simpsons. It has been used to parody many religious beliefs and activities, though its absurdly long, qualifier-filled name is a parody of Protestant denominations in particular, as is the history of its founding: centuries ago, Presbylutherans split from the Catholic Church during the "Schism of Lourdes" to defend their "holy right to come to church with wet hair," a right the Presbylutheran church later abolished.
- The First United Church of the Fonz, a religion founded by Family Guy character Peter Griffin after disagreeing with the religious views of his father.
- Tarvuism, a spoof religion that British comedians Peter Serafinowicz and Robert Popper are working on for TV channel, Adult Swim, that will parody instructional religious videos such as those of Scientologists and Christians.
- The First Church of the Last Laugh is the spoof religion behind the annual Saint Stupid's Day Parade in San Francisco.
- Dudeism, or the Church of the Latter-Day Dude, based on the cult classic, The Big Lebowski.
Post-modern religions 
The following are post-modern religions that may be seen as elaborate parodies of 'real' religions:
- The 24 Hour Church of Elvis, an art museum and gallery, which is also a commentary on the extreme awe often accorded the Rock musician Elvis Presley.
- Bokononism, a fictional religion from Kurt Vonnegut's novel Cat's Cradle, where one major point is that human happiness is more important than truth, even scientific truth. Another is that Bokononism freely acknowledges that all its tenets are false.
- The Cult of Vi and the Church of Emacs parody the "religious" aspect of the Unix editor war.
- Church of the SubGenius, often regarded as a parody of religion in general, with elements of fundamentalist Christianity, Scientology, new-age cults, pop-psychology, and motivational sales techniques amongst others, has become a movement in its own right, inspiring several books, art exhibits, rock albums, conventions, and novelty items.
- Dudeism, a modern form of Taoism using The Big Lebowski as a liturgical vehicle.
- Discordianism, although many Discordians specifically view the label of 'parody' as dismissive, arguing that the inlaid humor and silliness are just as profound and legitimate as that of any other form of spiritual pursuit.
- Iglesia Maradoniana ("Church of Maradona"), an Argentinian group of fans of the top association football player Diego Armando Maradona.
- Jediism, In 2001 following an Internet campaign, the fictional Star Wars "religion" Jedi became a parody religion in several Commonwealth countries as 1.5% of the New Zealand and 0.7% of the UK population stated their religion as Jedi in the official census (see Jedi census).
- Kopimism, the belief that file sharing is a sacred virtue which must remain protected.
- Matrixism, Matrixism or The Path of the One is a new religious movement inspired by the Matrix movie trilogy. The sociologist of religion Adam Possamai describes these types of religions/spiritualities as hyper-real religions due to their eclectic mix of religion/spirituality with elements of popular culture and their connection to the fluid social structures of late capitalism. Conceived by an anonymous group in the summer of 2004 it claims to have attracted 300 members by May 2005, and the religion's GeoCities website has claimed "over sixteen hundred members". There is some debate about whether followers of Matrixism are indeed serious about their practice; however, the religion (real or otherwise) has received attention in the media.
Usage by atheist commentators 
|“||I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours.||”|
— Stephen F. Roberts
Many atheists, including Richard Dawkins, use parody religions such as those of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Invisible Pink Unicorn — as well as ancient gods like Zeus and Thor — as modern versions of Russell's teapot to argue that the burden of proof is on the believer, not the atheist.
Dawkins also created a parody of the criticism of atheism, coining the term athorism, or the firm belief that the Norse deity Thor does not exist. The intention is to emphasize the claim that atheism is not a form of religious creed, but instead merely denial of beliefs. A common challenge against atheism is the idea that atheism is itself a form of "faith", a belief without proof. The theist might say "No one can prove that God does not exist, therefore an atheist is exercising faith by asserting that there is no God." Dawkins argues that by replacing the word "God" with "Thor" one should see that the assertion is fallacious. The burden of proof, he claims, rests upon the believer in the supernatural, not upon the non-believer who considers such things unlikely. Athorism is an attempt to illustrate through absurdity that there is no logical difference between disbelieving any particular religion.
See also 
- USA Today - Spaghetti Monster is noodling around with faith
- "Say 'Hebbo' to Tarvuism!". Chortle.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- UK govt statistics on Jedi
- Dianna Narciso. Like Rolling Uphill: Realizing the Honesty of Atheism. p. 6. ISBN 1-932560-74-2.
- Dawkins, Richard (2006). "Chapter 2: The God Hypothesis". The God Delusion. London: Bantam. ISBN 978-0-593-05548-9.
- Richard, Dawkins. "Let's Hope It's A Lasting Vogue". On Faith (Newsweek). Retrieved 2007-04-12.
- Inside the Spiritual Jacuzzi article by Jesse Walker about parody religions and other "customized faiths"
- Crazy Watering Can music video, illustrates the use of religious symbolism via parody of a symbolic watering can with religious significance (similar to Bertrand Russel's teapot).