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The Church of All Worlds: From Invented Religion to a Religion of Invention


The Church of All Worlds is a Neo-Pagan religious group that took its inspiration from a work of fiction. The founders of this church looked at the religion that Robert Heinlein created in his science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land and decided to make it a reality. This puts them squarely in the company of what Carole Cusack has termed “invented religions.” These are religions that seek validity in works that are accepted as fiction. The Church of All Worlds, now over fifty years old, has grown beyond its science fiction roots, adopting practices and beliefs that have made them an influential part of the modern Pagan movement. Though fiction no longer plays as strong a role in their practice, they have remained dedicated to an ethic of invention. Through ethnographic research with Church members in Northern California, this paper explores how this ethic of invention manifests in official Church history, the personal relationships of members, and the creation of public rituals.

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