Omnism is the recognition and respect of all religions; those who hold this belief are called omnists (or Omnists). The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) quotes as the term's earliest usage by English poet Philip J. Bailey: in 1839 "I am an omnist, and believe in all religions". In recent years, the term has been emerging anew, due to the interest of modern day self-described omnists who have rediscovered and begun to redefine the term. It can thought of as syncretism taken to its logical extreme. However, it can also be seen as a way to accept the existence of various religions without believing in all that they profess to teach. Many omnists say that all religions contain truths, but that no one religion offers all that is truth. Some omnists believe that to be the ultimate and/or basic religious tenet as it leads to agreeing to disagree.
Contemporary usage has modified "belief in all religions" to refer more to an acceptance of the legitimacy of all religions. The OED elaborates that an omnist believes "in a single transcendent purpose or cause uniting all things or people". That is not necessarily the conclusion of those who describe themselves as omnists. Some omnists interpret this to mean that all religions contain varying elements of a common truth, or place omnism in opposition to dogmatism, in that omnists are open to potential truths from all religions. However, as with modern physics, this does not mean that there is a single transcendent purpose or cause that unites. There may indeed be an infinite number of possibilities, or a deeper form of uncertainty in reality. There may be an influence more akin to existentialism in which consciousness is a power or force that helps determine the reality, yet is not a divine influence.
In this regard, omnism does not appear to be a form of theology, as it neither espouses nor opposes particular beliefs about God. Instead, it affirms the necessity of one arriving at an understanding of reality based on personal experience, engagement, and inquiry, and an acceptance of the validity and legitimacy of the differing understandings of others. In this, there is, however, an implied system of values or ethics.
It is a belief in equality. Not one religion or the other should be superior, preach to convert or kill in the name of "their god/s)" Everyone has their own ways of thinking and believing. There are many aspects to religion that not everyone agrees on. Therefore, omnism is just a religion that agrees to never judge against other beliefs.
Omnists acknowledge the 66 books of the bible to be a collection of manuscripts, verses, and translations compiled over sixteen centuries and is the work of over forty human authors with very different styles, translated and interpreted by many more scholars from many faiths. Most Omnists view the bible as corrupted due to the hand of man, however the Torah may be seen as a more reliable source of information, considering the fact that it is the origin of the bible. It is possible for one to be a Jewish Omnist, Muslim Omnist or Christian Omnist. How Omnism is seen can vary from person to person.
Regardless of what an Omnist believes in, the main goal is to send a message of peace with the hope of peace in return. The number of Omnists is unknown since there is currently no formal organization.
- Philip James Bailey, who first coined the term.
- Ellen Burstyn, who affiliates herself with all religions, having stated that she is "a spirit opening to the truth that lives in all of these religions".
- Chris Martin, who referred to himself as an "all-theist", a term of his own coining referring to omnism.
- Perennial philosophy
- Religious pluralism
- Wiktionary:omnitheism, similar yet different
- Herbert F. Tucker (17 April 2008). Epic : Britain's Heroic Muse 1790-1910: Britain's Heroic Muse 1790-1910. OUP Oxford. p. 344. ISBN 978-0-19-923298-7.
- "Ellen Burstyn's True Face". Beliefnet. 2006. Retrieved December 4, 2013.
- "Omnist", Oxford English Dictionary, draft revision June 2004 (accessed from oed.com October 6, 2005).