Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Church of Ekankar is a very new religion originally founded in 1965 by Paul Twitchell. Its headquarters are based in Minnesota, USA. They seem to be loosely associated with Christianity in their references to "God" although they seem to see god as more of a nondescript divine being, rather than one associated with any particular faith. Interestingly they have adopted the Hindu and Buddhist ideas of reincarnation and Karma, believing in past lives and the idea that the soul continues to exist after the body is dead. The basic beliefs of this church are that light and sound ore gifts from god and that it is possible to traverse different plains of reality through soul travel.

They believe very much in the importance of family and especially children. They believe that children are important in that they have an innocence and a an unbiased outlook on the world which is lost by the time one reaches adulthood. Therefore they believe that there is a lot to be learned from children and they are an important part of their beliefs. This kind of focus on the family is a very American feature of the religion. As is the fact that membership requires a yearly donation of $130, or $160 for a family pass.

They don't seem to be confined to America however they seem to have followers all over the world, some as far as Asia and Africa. I terms of defining America, ECK certainly follows the American phenomenon of ordinary people creating their own religion, and then making money from it. The idea that if somebody doesn't like the religions that are on offer for them, they can simply create their own, is a very American one. Some of the more recent ones such as ECK seem to be moving away from any Christian affiliation and tend to be more spiritual beliefs, taking elements from lots of religions.

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