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Open-source religion

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Title: Open-source religion  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
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Subject: List of religions and spiritual traditions, Decentralization, Temple of Set, MIVILUDES, New religious movements
Collection: Decentralization, New Religious Movements, Open Content, Open Source Philosophy
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Open-source religion

Open-source religions employ open-source and free-culture movement.[2]


  • Origin 1
    • Discordianism, Copyleft, and open-source software 1.1
  • Open-source in established religious traditions 2
    • Open-source Judaism 2.1
    • Open-source Yoga 2.2
    • Open-source Wicca 2.3
  • Open-source in establishing new religions 3
    • Yoism 3.1
    • Belief Genome Project 3.2
  • See also 4
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7


The term "open-source religion" first appeared as both a reference to the open-source

  • Definition of Open-Source as maintained by the Open-Source Initiative
  • Definition of Open as maintained by the Open Knowledge Foundation
  • Definition of Free as maintained by

External links

  • — on the beginnings of Religion 2.0 and the "Religion of 'what is'".
  • — on the explosion of open source collaboration notes the existence of "open source projects in law and religion."
  • — on the relationship between human liberation and Internet-based open source innovations, with a specific reference to open source religions

Further reading

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  21. ^ Open Source Yoga Unity v. Bikram Choudhury (N.D. Cal., 4/1/05, No. C 03–3182 PJH)
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See also

The Belief Genome Project aims to use crowdsourcing to catalog all beliefs as a resource for those wishing to build and discover their own belief system.[31] The project is an initiative of the Open Source Religion Social Network, a website established in 2009 by Sidian M.S. Jones which he described as "a system for the mixing of religious and non-religious beliefs in an individual, even across multiple religions."[32]

Belief Genome Project

According to its founder, Daniel Kriegman, Yoism (founded 1994) combines rational inquiry, empiricism, and science with Spinozan or Einsteinian pantheism.[25][26][27] Inspired by the Linux operating system, Kriegman describes his religion as "open-source" and explains that, similar to open-source software projects, participants in Yoism do not owe their allegiance to any leader and that their sense of authority emerges via group consensus decision-making.[1][28][29] Yoism adopted the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike copyleft license for sharing original works in May 2015.[30]



Several projects aiding individuals and communities in formulating their own belief systems cite inspiration from ideas common to the open-source movement and self-identify as open-source religions or religious initiatives. The establishment of new religions through open-source methods is closely related to chaos magic, which emphasizes the pragmatic use of belief systems and the creation of new and unorthodox methods,[23] the difference being that any knowledge gained through such innovation is shared openly.[24]

Open-source in establishing new religions

Concerned with the lack of a source text containing documentation on Wicca in the tradition of Gerald Gardner, Dr. Leo Ruickbie self-published Open Source Wicca: The Gardnerian Tradition (2007) for "putting you back in control of spirituality." The work, a collection of "the original foundation documents of Wicca" authored between 1949 and 1961, was published digitally and in print under a Creative Commons Attribution license.[22]

Open-source Wicca

[21] Following proprietary claims on Yoga movements by some Yoga instructors, Open Source Yoga Unity was formed in 2003 to assert that Yoga movements reside in the

Open-source Yoga

Beginning with the Open Siddur Project in 2009, open-source projects in Judaism began to publicly share their software code with open-source licenses and their content with free-culture compatible Open Content licenses. The explicit objectives of these projects also began to differ from Rushkoff's "Open Source Judaism." Rather than seek reforms in religious practices or doctrines, these projects used Open Content licenses to empower users to access and create their own resources from a common store of canonical texts and associated translations and metadata. By 2012, open-source projects in Judaism were mainly active in facilitating collaboration in sharing resources for transcribing and translating existing works in the Public Domain, and for adaptation and dissemination of works being shared by copyright owners under Open Content licenses.[14]

The term "Open Source Judaism" first appeared in Hebrew Bible and other essential works of Rabbinic Judaism. Rushkoff conceived of Judaism as essentially an open-source religion which he conceived as, "the contention that religion is not a pre-existing truth but an ongoing project. It may be divinely inspired, but it is a creation of human beings working together. A collaboration."[17] For Rushkoff, open-source offered the promise of enacting change through a new culture of collaboration and improved access to sources. "Anyone who wants to do Judaism should have access to Judaism. Judaism is not just something that you do, it's something you enact. You've got to learn the code in order to alter it."[18] The 2003 publication of Rushkoff's book Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism[19] and an online forum dedicated to "Open Source Judaism" inspired several online projects in creating web applications for generating custom made haggadot for Passover, however neither content nor code for these were shared under free-culture compatible Open Content terms.

Open-Source Judaism logo

Early open-source efforts in Judaism can be traced back to 1988 with the free software code written for calculating the Hebrew calendar included in Emacs. After the popularization of the term "open-source" in 1998, essays and manifestos linking open-source and Judaism began appearing in 2002 among Jewish thinkers familiar with trends in new media and open-source software. In August 2002, Aharon Varady proposed the formation of an "Open Siddur," an open-source licensed user-generated content project for digitizing liturgical materials and writing the code needed for the web-to-print publishing of Siddurim (Jewish prayer books).[15] Meanwhile, media theorist Douglas Rushkoff began articulating his understanding of open-source in Judaism. "The object of the game, for me," Rushkoff explained, "was to recontextualize Judaism as an entirely Open Source proposition."[16]

Open-source Judaism

For established traditions whose canonical works, records of discourse, and inspired artworks reside in the Public Domain, keeping these works open and available in the face of proprietary interests has inspired several open-source initiatives. Open access to resources and adaptive reuse of shared materials under Open Content licensing provide a structure by which communities can innovate new religious systems collaboratively under the aegis of copyright law. For some religious movements, however, public access and literacy, and the potential of adaptive reuse also provide an opportunity for innovation and reform within established traditions. In an interview by A. J. Jacobs in the Atlantic Magazine on open-source religion, Aharon Varady (founding director of the Open Siddur Project) explained that "cultures breathe creativity like we breathe oxygen" arguing that open-source provides one possible strategy for keeping a tradition vibrant while also preserving historical works as non-proprietary during a period of transition from analog to digital media.[14]

Open-source in established religious traditions

Discordianism and the concept of KopyLeft go hand in hand. Although just a small part of the counter-culture gestalt, I believe that the Principia Discordia was probably one of the earliest expressions and strongest champions of this idea, which has since seen such concepts as the Open Source Software initiative, with endeavours such as the Linux Operating System.”[13]

By the mid-1970s, the concept had influenced a generation of Discordians.[11] The project to create Tiny BASIC was proposed in Bob Albrecht and Dennis Allison's Dr. Dobb's Journal of Tiny BASIC Calisthenics & Orthodontia, a journal of the Homebrew Computer Club, a small group of computer hobbyists who began meeting in 1975 around Silicon Valley. The first lines of the source code for Tiny Basic as released in 1976 by Li-Chen Wang stated ‘(ↄ) COPYLEFT ALL WRONGS RESERVED’. In 1984/5 programmer Don Hopkins sent Richard Stallman a letter labeled "Copyleftall rights reversed". Stallman chose the phrase to identify his free software method of distribution.[12] The relationship between Discordianism and "Kopyleft" remain part of the culture of Discordianism, as explained by the Discordian Rev. Dr. Jon Swabey in his Apocrypha Discordia.

Commercial publishers are not likely to be interested in the Principia due, at least, to the counter copyright on it–for, if they had a good seller, then other publishers could print it out from under them. Consequently publication and distribution will have to occur spontaneously, thru the “underground”, as alternative cultures learn to meet their own needs and provide their own services. This non-commercial limitation of the Principia is to provide less limitations in other respects, and it is not an accident. The Principia is not simply a handbook, it is a demonstration.[10]

Before the coinage of the term open-source in 1998 or even the birth of the Free Software movement, the Principia Discordia (1963), a Discordian religious text written by Greg Hill with Kerry Wendell Thornley, included the following Copyright disclaimer, "Ⓚ All Rites Reversed – reprint what you like." By 1970, the implications of the disclaimer were being discussed in other underground publications.[9]

Discordian reference to the mythological Kallisti, or Apple of Discord, by way of a kosher food symbol in place of a conventional Copyright symbol.
Page of the Principia Discordia that includes the following Copyright disclaimer, "Ⓚ All Rites Reversed – reprint what you like," the earliest example of what would become a declaration of copyleft.

Discordianism, Copyleft, and open-source software

An open source religion would work the same way as open source software development: it is not kept secret or mysterious at all. Everyone contributes to the codes we use to comprehend our place in the universe. We allow our religion to evolve based on the active participation of its people....An open source relationship to religion would likewise take advantage of the individual points of view of its many active participants to develop its more resolved picture of the world and our place within it.[8]

: Open Source Judaism (2003), where he offered the following description as an introduction to Nothing's Sacred: The Truth about Judaism in his book, Douglas Rushkoff The term was popularized by the media theorist, [7][6]). In 2001, Ozacua (later Yoism) began describing itself as "the world's first opensource religion."[5] design and user experience with his essay, "The Holy War: Mac vs. DOS."operating system had popularized religious metaphors in comparing Umberto Eco (In 1994, the scholar and novelist [4][3]

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