Open source religions attempt to employ open source methodologies in the creation of religious belief systems. As such, their systems of beliefs are created through a continuous process of refinement and dialogue among the believers themselves. In comparison to traditional religions - which are considered authoritarian, hierarchical, and change-resistant - they emphasize participation, self-determination, decentralization, and evolution. Followers see themselves as part of a more generalized open source movement, which does not limit itself to open source software, but applies the same principles to other organized, group efforts to create human artifacts ("Divine Inspiration From the Masses" by Charles Piller, July 23, 2006, Los Angeles Times[1]).

Among the first examples of this movement, Yoans (followers of a religion called Yoism, founded 1994) claim that their version of open source religion does not have allegiance to any spiritual guide, rather the sense of authority emerges from the group via consensus ("Taking 'yo' off the street and into church" by Matt Gunderson, January 11, 2004, Boston Globe[2]).

Another early example, in 2001, Douglas Rushkoff organized the first Reboot summit that took place in 2002.[3] "The object of the game, for me, was to recontextualize Judaism as an entirely Open Source proposition."[4] The publication of Rushkoff's book, Nothing Sacred: The Truth about Judaism in 2003 spawned the creation of the Open Source Judaism movement. Open Source Judaism, in turn, has spawned other open source projects, such as the Open Source Haggadah.[5]

By 2005, a number of other attempts to form open source religions began to take form, for example, The Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn[6] and Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis.[7]

Another example is the Redefine God[8] group (coined Redefinists), an online social network for "Open Source Religion." Redefine God makes use of the concept of personal mythology as a means to design one's religion, thus utilizing Open Source Religion or Religion 2.0.

In spring 2007, Assignment Zero reported that 'for six weeks, 40 brave volunteers from across the U.S. met in a special online forum on "Open Source Religion" to talk about their deepest beliefs'[9] (and the text of the article is itself open-source).

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