One of the best job choices ever, right up there with pop diva, neurosurgeon and pharaoh of Egypt, for thousands of years has been: founder (or leader) of a popular religion. You are instantly recognized, financed and beloved.

Yet, few have ventured along this job path in recent years. The economy to be sure has devastated believer contributions of all kinds and the reduction of spirituality to mathematics lately has taken off much of the gloss. ( x plus $5 = God). Who would want to be a martyr for that one?

Selecting the Best Beliefs

If you want to develop a great career, with extravagant finances, acceptance by your friends and lasting respectability, you are better off to select a belief that your converts would wish to espouse. Without doubt, the best method is to copy the organizational models of some successful religious groups and morph them with some new galvanizing force.

A decent example would be the lustre of ancient Rome fused with Christianity (the costumes of Emperor Augustus and the values of Jesus). They combined to create the Roman Catholic Church, even though the original Romans and the earliest Christians would have been equally horrified at the notion; something like Barack Obama showing up at a masquerade dressed as Hillary Clinton.

Drawing on the same sources, they could have selected the nearby and lesser known Pemmican Hill, a few miles to the south of Rome’s famous Vatican Hill and populated since forever by indigenous peoples from prehistoric Russia. Today, we call them the Indians and the Romans for centuries have called them the Huns.

If they had worked that out, Catholic priests would be dressed in buckskins and feather bonnets, instead of the emperor’s new clothes. The first results would have been public parades and rallies, and not Christians being fed to the lions.

Building an Edifice

Every great religion erects a huge church. The examples make up a very long list: Istanbul’s Hagia Sofia; Montreal’s Oratory; Anaheim’s Crystal Cathedral (now a Catholic cathedral with the demise and bankruptcy of the Hour of Power). That’s got to be your number one priority. You might have to rent a school gym for a few months, but eventually nothing will galvanize your followers more than a splendid building program.

If you have fused spiritual beliefs with the wisdom of honey bees, for example, you might well consider getting a team of architects and developers to work up a subdivision of giant beehives, where the inhabitants are lulled to sleep nightly by enormous clouds of addictive smoke. The spiritual leader would have to be the queen. What better life than that for a feminist?

Make the Music Work for You

We all have loved the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for decades. But not when they started off as the Mormon Triple Trio. When they experienced the makeover from warbling 1950s pop tunes to wailing enormous anthems, they had to get rid of their old acts, including minstrel show numbers in blackface. Times had changed.

For any new religion, the old rules apply. Start off your morning services with big, belly-buster hymns, encouraging believers to vote Green and Al Gore, or compelling them to declare war on Biloxi. Then, turn down the volume and moxie to gentler levels, just before you collect the offering.

Remember – all women prefer their male soloists to have a nasal, tenor voice. Drives ‘em nuts. All men love to marry women with buck teeth. Think this through. You’ll get more marriage fee income than a drive-through parson in Vegas.

Don’t Be Afraid to Collect Your Accounts Receivables

The laborer is worthy of his hire. Doing religion is labour-intensive work and you should never be timid when passing around the collection plate.

No one ever asks for their money back. It’s the rules. Just continue buying your clothes, cars and other possessions at thrift stores.

Making Your Son the Heir-Apparent

It’s only wise succession planning. Just like the other leaders in your new profession, always groom your son to succeed you. Sure, he’s no entrepreneur and he’s likely duller than you, but believers expect nothing less.

Create a good direct mail program

The members of your group will each want to have a physical object to remember you by. Nothing creates cash flow more than this. Advertise coffee mugs, neckties, glassware, cutlery, with your church name and get a good stamp machine. Then cruise thrift stores for your stock.

Torture vs. Shunning: exit options for Followers

Expect it when people quit. Just handle it right. Always send a card of sympathy, with the address of the nearest 12-Step program. The discipline is up to you.

Serving the Best Pancake Breakfasts Ever

If you want more camaraderie with lower cash outlay, serve up pancakes. Syrups are good, but in a harsh economy, spread the pancakes with strawberry jam.

Creating a Great TV Program

Use cable access and here’s a neat trick: employ marionettes to spread your message. Remember the old Punch & Judy shows? A few correct strokes with a big stick on stage helps keep folks in line. And production costs will never trouble you.

…And if You’re Worried this is Right for You

Do not go outside in any electrical storms. If you fail at this work, try selling insurance.