by Raymond M. Coulombe
My wife understands the power of being a writer. When we got married decades ago she had one major rule: no starting a religion. How many husbands have to labor under that restriction? Probably not a lot of us, most likely.
The most well known Science Fiction writer who started a religion is L. Ron Hubbard. I’ll just let it go at that. If you don’t know anything about Scientology, this isn’t the place to learn it. Let’s say he was pretty successful at starting a religion and that was his intent all along.
At least he actually set out to start a religion. Robert A. Heinlein accidentally started one. Let’s go way way back in time to 1961 when he published Stranger in a Strange Land. Here’s where it gets even stranger. In 1968, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (Tim Zell) started a church influenced by Heinlein’s book. How influenced? For starters, in the book there was “The Church of All Worlds.” The name of Oberon’s church, “The Church of All Worlds.” You may notice some similarities. A lot of the ideas were also borrowed. By the way, the church is still in existence.
I’m fascinated by the magazine the church started, The Green Egg. It’s one of the more influential magazines of the neopagan movement. The magazine helped promote not just the church, but pagan religions in general. Indirectly, Heinlein heavily contributed to a whole branch of religion. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t even trying.
So my wife isn’t crazy when she warned me about starting a religion. These things happen when you start out trying to write Science Fiction.