6 Bizarre Fringe Religions from Around the World

No matter if you are devoutly Christian or relatively atheist, your religious views (or lack thereof) tend to play a major role in your moral code, method of thinking, and much more. Choosing to subscribe to a particular religious school of thought can be a life-changing experience. However, this influence becomes all the more obvious when you adhere to so-called "alternative" or fringe religions.

When it comes to weird faiths, it can be hard to draw the line between "religion" and "cult." Some of the organizations on this list toe that line; some pole vault right over it and sail far into the distance. Whether you live Prince Phillip or are very suspicious of electromagnetic waves, this list of weird religions has got you covered.

Photo: 8300 / Pixabay / CC0 1.0

  • Prince Phillip Movement

    Prince Phillip Movement
    Photo: Christopher Hogue Thompson / via Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    An interesting fringe religion that originated on the remote island nation of Vanuatu, the Prince Phillip Movement represents a religious sect in which a human leader is honored as a deity. Although the true level of dedication of each member is subjective, as a whole, the foundation of this sect lies in the fact that they believe the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Phillip, to be a god-like descendant of one of their spirit ancestors.

    The legend goes that Phillip was the son of an "earth spirit" and that he traveled across the waters in order to marry his rich and powerful wife. The devout followers on this remote island keep a shrine of the Prince and have high hopes the Duke will visit them, and in the best-case scenario, move to the island to live amongst them for good.

  • Church of Euthanasia

    A religious group that has its basis in alien intelligence, among other things, the Church of Euthanasia is certainly one of the most complex fringe religions. Inspired by a dream its founder, Rev. Chris Korda, had, at the very basic level the Church of Euthanasia rests on the notion that aliens have been trying to warn us that our planet's ecosystem is failing and the best way to save the world is to kill ourselves. In fact, this is actually the slogan of the church: "Save the planet, kill yourself." Asserting that the planet is a living, breathing, organism that is in crisis, largely due to the careless and egregious way in which humans have treated it, the Church of Euthanasia believes that there are far too many people in the world. 

  • The Universe People (Cosmic People of Light Powers)

    The Universe People (Cosmic People of Light Powers)
    Photo: Che / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

    A religious sect with Czech and Slovak origins, the Universe People believes that aliens are continuously orbiting Earth, waiting for the right time to transport followers of the religion to another dimension. The Universe People incorporates elements of ufology, Christianity, and an array of conspiracy theories. Founded by Ivo A. Benda, the general consensus is that a fleet of spaceships led by Ashtar Galactic Command is orbiting the Earth, waiting to take their chosen brothers and sisters to the promised land.

  • Nuwaubianism

    Photo: Mitch Paradise / flickr / CC-BY-NC 2.0

    A religious organization led by Dwight York, the Nuwaubians have been a controversial group since the very beginning. Arguably no longer in existence, the Georgia-based church was said to have been essentially dissolved in light of its founder being sentenced to 135 years in prison for child molestation and racketeering, among other things.

    With roots in Black nationalism as well as Egyptian pyramid worship, Nuwaubianism basically utilized a variety of religions to explain the oppression of Black people, various conspiracy theories, and much more. Although the church technically no longer exists, there are still some devout Nuwaubians in existence that maintain Dr. York's imprisonment was a massive conspiracy and have dedicated themselves to protecting the legacy of York and his teachings.

  • Happy Science

    Happy Science
    Photo: Matt From London / flickr / CC-BY 2.0

    Happy Science was founded in the mid-80s by Ryuho Okawa after he read some literature written by Shinji Takahashi, the founder of another religious group, the God Light Association. Happy Science incorporates elements of various religions from around the world. Okawa claims to be a prophet with the ability to channel the spirits of Muhammad, Jesus Christ, Buddha, and Confucius. With a foundation based on the notion of a “fourfold path” of love, wisdom, self-reflection, and progress, the ultimate goals of Happy Science as a religion involve creating love, peace, and happiness for all on Earth. However, they are also a political organization and deny the Nanjing Massacre ever happened, so it's best to be cautious of this group.

  • Pana Wave

    The spawn of another Japanese religious group known as Chino Shoho, Panawave was actually founded in the mid-80s. Members typically dress in all white in the belief that this protects them from electromagnetic waves, which they believed were being used against them in order to try and kill off their leader, Yuko Chino. They traveled around Japan in a convoy of white vans in 2003, searching for somewhere safe to live before May 15, which they believed was doomsday. May 15 came and went, as did their next predicted doomsday, May 22, 2003, and in 2006, Chino died, essentially breaking up the religion.