Because of the possible protections afforded “freedom of religion” under the constitutions of many countries, we’ve seen various groups or individuals seek to exempt their activities from the normal operation of the law by claiming to be or belong to “churches” or “religious organizations.” The use of certain otherwise proscribed drugs, for example, has been claimed to be an important part of “religious practice” (see, e.g. Holy Light of the Queen and the drug ayahuasca; and the amazingly prolific Church of the Universe, involving marijuana). More commonly, perhaps, people attempt to form churches or to become recognized as ministers of churches in order to avoid taxes, whether on property or income. Negotiating the rendering interface, so to speak, between caesar and god, is not easy.
Now we learn that in Sweden, official recognition has been given to the Church of Kopimism. After knocking on Kammarkollegiet‘s door twice before, Isak Gerson’s Missionerande Kopimistamfundet got third-time-lucky as the gates to status opened.
What do they believe in? Information. Yep. Information. This, from their official site—which may or may not be available when you try, having been Slashdotted:
For the Church of Kopimism, information is holy and copying is a sacrament. Information holds a value, in itself and in what it contains, and the value multiplies through copying. Therefore, copying is central for the organisation and its members.
Being recognized by the state of Sweden is a large step for all of kopimi. Hopefully, this is one step towards the day when we can live out our faith without fear of persecution . . .
I suspect this is more a direct attack on copyright than it is a critique of (official) religions. But it points up once again the incompatibility, in my view, of an empirical system open to argument and evidence (whether or not it comes anywhere near that “ideal”) and a belief-based system holding inarguable premises—or, to put it another way, perhaps, parliamentary supremacy versus supreme being supremacy. j
Those of us in Canada who delve and spin in the world of information may find it harder to persuade the revenue folks of our deserving sanctity. But according to Gerson, we are probably already members of his church:
The community of kopimi requires no formal membership. You just have to feel a calling to worship what is the holiest of the holiest, information and copy. To do this, we organize kopyactings – religious services – where the kopimists share information with eachother through copying and remix.