Discordianism is a religion, founded circa 1958–1959, based around the ideas of Gregory Hill (aka Malaclypse the Younger) and Kerry Wendell Thornley (aka Lord Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst) as presented in the text Principa Discordia. It holds that chaos and humor is just as important, or even more so, for a religion, and humanity in general, as order and seriousness.
Included in the Principia Discordia is an official Pope card that may be reproduced and distributed freely to anyone and everyone. Papacy, however, is not granted through possession of this card; it merely informs people that they are “a genuine and authorized Pope” of Discordia.
While the powers of a Pope are not enumerated in the Principia, we are given some idea from a note under the card which states, “A POPE is someone who is not under the authority of the authorities.” Some Discordians have also taken it upon themselves to further elaborate upon the powers of a Pope. On the back of some Pope cards, the following message can be found:
The rights of a Pope include but are not necessarily limited to:
- To invoke infallibility at any time, including retroactively.
- To completely rework the Erisian church.
- To baptise, bury, and marry (with the permission of the deceased in the latter two cases).
- To excommunicate, de-ex-communicate, re-ex-communicate, and de-re-ex-communicate (no backsies!) both his-/her-/it-/them-/your-/our-/His-/Her-/It-/Them-/Your-/Our-self/selves and others (if any).
- To perform all rites and functions deemed inappropriate for a Pope of Discordia.
The third right (requiring permission from the deceased in cases of burying or marriage, but not baptism) may be a reference to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints practice of baptism for the dead, or it may just be a witty conflation of marriage and death.
This understanding of the notion of Pope has far reaching consequences in Discordianism. For example, the introduction to Principia Discordia says, “Only a Pope may canonize a Saint. … So you can ordain yourself — and anyone or anything else — a Saint.” The last enumerated right of a Pope may be an allusion to the Necessary and Proper Clause.
A female version, with the word Mome substituted for Pope, has also been promulgated.