Here are some religious sects in the world whose beliefs and practices seem peculiar to others.
Jainism is an ancient religion from India. According to Jainism, salvation can be attained only after many years of extreme asceticism, which involves abstention from sex for pleasure, renunciation of material wealth, and much fasting.
Here are some unusual practices of this sect:
- Ahimsa, or the so-called non-injury to animals and some even wear masks to avoid inadvertently harming insects or microbes by inhaling them.
- They belief that every living being has a soul
- Jain monks do not eat when it is dark or in front of a layperson,
- They do not accept food that is cooked for them
- They do not wear shoes
- They do not stay in one place for a prolonged period of time
- They do not touch any person of the opposite sex
- They wear simple white clothes or nothing at all (nuns always practice the former).
Hare Krishna is the popular name of The International Society for Krishna Consciousness, a Hindu sect in North America. Members follow the teachings of a 16th century Hindu saint, Caitanya, a major Hindu deity.
- Followers participate in ecstatic dancing and chanting.
- Men shave their heads and wear saffron robes after the manner of Indian holy men
- Women wear the sari, a traditional Indian dress.
Amish, Mennonite Christians
Amish are Christian religious denominations that are known for simple living and plain dress. They follow the Mennonite practice of avoiding modern conveniences and adhering to plain living.
- Men wear black suits and grow beards but not mustaches.
- Women wear bonnets and aprons with their dresses.
- They normally travel by horse and buggy, and their houses have no electricity.
- They do not permit their children to be educated beyond the 8th grade.
- They reject involvement with the military or warfare.
- They believe that Amish must never resort to violence or to take up arms in war.
- Ironic it seems, but they used physical punishment to control the children.
- They belong to the Old Older Amish Church with about 170,000 members.
Flagellant is a religious cult that appeared during the occurrence of Black Death, the epidemic of bubonic plague in the 1300’s.
- They believed the plague to be God’s punishment to people’s sins, and flogged themselves to win God’s mercy.
- Flagellants practice an extreme form of mortification of their own flesh by whipping it with various instruments.
Jehovah’s Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. Witnesses acknowledge allegiance solely to the kingdom of Jesus Christ.
- They refuse consequently to salute any flag, vote, perform military service, or otherwise signify allegiance to any government. This policy has brought them into conflict with governmental authorities in many countries.
- Common celebrations such as national holidays and birthdays are not observed.
- They believe that Jesus was not God in a human body, but rather that he was God’s firstborn (created) Son created before all other creation.
- Blood transfusion is not allowed or is rejected by witnesses.
Rizalista groups immortalize and worship Jose P. Rizal, Philippine National Hero, as a divine being. Rizalista groups venerate Rizal for his apparent parallelism with Jesus Christ. Some of their striking commonalities are as follows:
- Both were morally upright and exemplary in their own rights.
- Both were pious and both were Asians.
- Both of them originated from countries which were under foreign rule during their time. Both were advocates of solidarity, equality and peaceful coexistence in spite of differences in social status, ethnicity and creed.
- Both possess extraordinary character and have the purest intention in pursuing their missions.
- Both of them were healers and both were great visionaries.
- Both were advocates of reform and peaceful means to carry out their missions.
- Both strongly denounced prejudice, apathy, immorality and cruelty.
- Both were messianic in their own rights.
- Both were victims of trial by mockery.
- Both were executed by their enemies.
- Both died for a noble cause.
- Both their teachings have enduring influence to many people around the world.
- Rizalista groups consider Rizal as god, the son of Bathala, the reincarnation of Christ, a spirit, an avatar, a saint and a prophet
- Others believe that he is a god and a man at the same time.
Dao Cao Dai is the religion’s shortened name, the full name is Dai Dao Tam Ky Pho Do (Great Religion [of the]Third Period [of]Revelation [and]Salvation). The term Cao Dai literally means “high place.” Followers of the Cao Dai religion celebrate mass in the Great Temple at Tay Ninh, southeast of An Loc, Vietnam.
- Their beliefs mix Islam, Christianity, Buddhism and Taoism. Cao Dai has its own Saints, including Joan of Arc of France and the British statesman Sir Winston Churchill, Sun Yat-sen, Victor Hugo and others. Caodaiists credit God as the religion’s founder.
- They believe the teachings, symbolism and organization were communicated directly from God.
- A pantheon of venerated entities: the Buddha, Confucius, Jesus Christ, Lao Zi, Guan Yin and Guan Yu.
The Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) is a pseudo-Christian cult founded by Ruben Ecleo, Sr. in 1965 on the Philippine island of Dinagat, off the coast of Mindanao.
Ruben Ecleo is considered by PBMA followers to be a reincarnation of Jesus Christ. According to sect doctrine, Ecleo Sr. was trained by “voices” to fluently read and write Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, and Aramaic, in order to interpret the ancient mysteries.
- He also made predictions of the future.
- PBMA followers also viewed Ecleo Sr. as a Christ-like figure, who could accomplish anything by reciting the Mantra.
- Like the Christ of the Bible, were also able to resurrect the dead.