When was the last time you’ve witnessed a formation of a new religion? Certainly not recently. But here’s a chance to observe a contemporary religion being granted legal permission to pass as an official religion.
Founded by a 19 year old, philosophy student hailing from Sweden, Kopimism is the latest addition to list of religions,after it was formally recognized by the Swedish government. This establishment took 3 attempts in one year in order to be recognized due to dogmatic formalities.
Kopimism gives an entirely new definition to religion as it does not mention at all about faith in God or anything along these lines. They dwell on the sanctity of information and copying it. Like Om (ॐ),the nazalized vowel-chant of Hinduism, Ctrl-V and Ctrl-C are the cantillates of Kopimism. Their rituals of “worshipping” include sharing files of information.
While asked the young pioneer, his stance on file sharing is interesting as he deems the sharing of information as a faith rather than an activity or passion. He believes all information and files must be made available and legal to all people.
The way of our humanity works, certainly gives a path to bafflement and astonishment.
The ability to produce facsimiles of the abstract knowledge and creations of others is the very basis of humanity and is a fundamental product, and process, of advanced cognitive function, which virtually no other species on Earth has exhibited, and certainly never with the depth and veracity we’re capable of. If anything about any of our behaviors is sacred, it must be this.
Can all of you just convert to Kopimism because the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”. If you need to share files to exercise your religion then they just have to respect that.
The Swedish government agency Kammarkollegiet finally registered the Church of Kopimism as a religious organisation shortly before Christmas, the group said.
“We had to apply three times,” said Gustav Nipe, chairman of the organisation.
The church, which holds CTRL+C and CTRL+V (shortcuts for copy and paste) as sacred symbols, does not directly promote illegal file sharing, focusing instead on the open distribution of knowledge to all.
It was founded by 19-year-old philosophy student and leader Isak Gerson. He hopes that file-sharing will now be given religious protection.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“Being recognised 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,” he added.
By John Tagliabue, NY Times, July 25, 2012 STOCKHOLM–People almost everywhere are file sharing these days, using computers to download music, films, books or other materials, often ignoring copyrights. In Sweden, however, it is a religion. Really.
Even as this Scandinavian country, like other nations across Europe, bows to pressure from big media concerns to stop file sharing, a Swedish government agency this year registered as a bona fide religion a church whose central dogma is that file sharing is sacred.
“For me it is a kind of believing in deeper values than worldly values,” said Isak Gerson, a philosophy student at Uppsala University who helped found the church in 2010 and bears the title chief missionary. “You have it in your backbone.”
Kopimism–the name comes from a Swedish spelling of the words “copy me”–claims more than 8,000 faithful who have signed up on the church’s Web site. It has applied for the right to perform marriages and to receive subsidies awarded to religious organizations by the state, and it has bid, thus far unsuccessfully, to buy a church building, even though most church activities are conducted online.
As regular church attendance drops among the 9.4 million Swedes, the Church of Sweden has been selling off disused churches, but it has not yet responded to the Kopimist bid.
“We have something similar to regular priests,” said Mr. Gerson, 20, who claims a permanent link to the divine through a Nokia smartphone. “We call them ops, or operators, and their task is to help people with things like meetings. There are not that many rituals. We are a tolerant community.”
Asked whether he believed in God, Mr. Gerson replied: “No, I just believe in our values. It’s just a belief in holy values.”
The Kopimists rose out of Europe’s growing piracy movement, which was born in Sweden about a decade ago. In elections to the European Parliament in 2009, the country’s Pirate Party got 7.1 percent of the vote, though in national elections the next year its share plummeted to less than 1 percent.
The movement has spread abroad, to at least nine European countries. In May, Germany’s Pirate Party won almost 8 percent of the vote in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state; in Berlin last year, it won 8.9 percent in elections to the state Parliament.
But Kopimists like Mr. Gerson, the son of a Jewish father and a Christian mother, insist that the church does not sully its hands with politics, though they admit that the line between politics and religion can be elusive.
The government has no problem with Kopimism, as long as its adherents do not break the law.
“It is our responsibility to register religious communities that fulfill certain criteria,” said Mareta Grondal, an official at the government agency that registered the church. “We do not look into how communities act in a practical way.”
A religious community is recognized, Ms. Grondal said, if it fulfills certain requirements, like writing a charter and filing it with the agency, electing a governing board and paying an annual fee, now about $70. The Kopimist request for registration was twice refused on technicalities before being granted.
“The government cannot, should not interfere with what people believe in,” Ms. Grondal said. “That would be a dangerous path to take.” But the government has been interfering with what people do of late, and shows few signs of allowing religious freedom to justify copyright infringement.
“More and more file sharers are getting busted, especially within the last year,” said Anna Troberg, the leader of the Swedish Pirate Party, which has about 8,500 members. “The big movie companies, the big record companies, want someone to go to trial,” she said, to act as a deterrent to others.
The trend is clear and Europewide, and not even prayer appears able to hold it off. In a disclosure of diplomatic cable traffic published last year by WikiLeaks was a detailed request by the United States Embassy to the Swedish government to stop copyright infringement. A Dutch court in May ordered Internet providers to block the Pirate Bay Web site, which is linked to the Pirate Party, or face large fines, a ruling that will virtually block access to the Sweden-based site for the Dutch. Britain’s High Court issued a similar judgment in April.
Mr. Nipe called it a “kind of an inquisition–like burning people.”
Not all Swedes share the Kopimist dogma that information wants to be free, regardless of copyright, yet many welcome the group’s fervor in searching for new approaches to information sharing.