Recently a screenshot went viral:
A service Eternalprayer.org offered people a chance to inscribe prayers on the blockchain for $19.99 ($16 if you use promo code PRAY2JESUS, purchases over $50 can be split into monthly payments, only non-crypto currencies accepted, a red flag in itself) and offered NFTs of prayers. The website disappeared soon after it went live, existing for a little over a week. Now it’s just a dead Shopify link. The fact is Eternalprayer.org was a scam on its own terms—there’s no blockchain to verify the prayers, the prayer NFTs are nowhere to be found, and the site is dead. Let’s put aside the issue of whether religion itself is a scam.
Religion has been existing for as long as humans have been around, so it has a lot of experience adapting to changing cultural and technological dynamics. But this is far from the first attempt to bring together crypto and religion. None of the projects that came up during research are actual products you can interact with, most are just series of blogposts that ponder the idea of integrating religion and blockchain and a couple going several steps beyond that. We’re going to explore projects covering a majority of global religions and see how some believers see the blockchain and crypto as tools to implement the most important dogma of each faith. Read through to the end to find out about the first blockchain native religion called 0xΩ.
There are probably dozens of catholic blockchain projects, including one backed by Rick Santorum (the politician, not the byproduct of anal sex, as one might have guessed if they google ‘santorum’). Most of them disappear immediately after they appear. But the one that actually tried to grapple with the dogma was Catholic Blockchain.
The main piece, the manifesto, the thesis nailed to the digital door, is ‘5 Ways the Catholic Church Can Use Blockchain Technology to Better Carry Out Her Mission’. The whole piece is worth a read, but the main tenets of the church the author considers are helping the poor internationally, storing baptism and holy matrimony data on the blockchain, and freeing up a value that’s stored in the church’s immense real estate holdings by selling pieces of it to investors. For instance, it says,
The Catholic Church is a global institution. Blockchains are also global. Think these two things might go together?
The reason the article is SEO optimized and clickbaity is simple: one of the founders and editor-in-chief—Brantly Millegan—is also the creator of ChurchPop, a kind of Catholic Buzzfeed. Yes, the content is exactly as weird as it sounds, with such pieces as a podcast titled “7 Amazing Reasons to Love Jesus (Even If You Aren’t Religious)”; “27 Delightfully Terrible Christian Puns to Annoy the Heck Out of Your Friends With” (How does Moses make his coffee? Hebrews it.); “10 Quotes About Hell from the Saints that Just Might Scare You Into Heaven” with
Poor Judas! Above seventeen hundred years have elapsed since he has been in Hell, and his Hell is still only beginning.
Another fascinating piece on Catholic Blockchain considers who should be the Patron Saint of the Blockchain. The task of praying to God personally falls on St. Padre Pio, a 20th-century priest, and saint.
The main reason laid out in the article is his decentralized nature (he is said to have performed the miracle of bilocation, meaning he was seen in several places at once), the fact that he performed miracles in the 20th century, making him both modern and old, and the fact that Mr. Milligan is a Padre Pio geek:
St. Padre Pio engaged in an explicit, physical battle with demons, he suffered stigmata, he levitated, bilocated, read people’s souls – and did it all as a humble, obedient servant of Christ and His Church.
So now you know who you should pray to when riding the dip.
As the oldest Abrahamic religion, Judaism has the most experience in adapting to a changing world. A connection to ancient wisdom is achieved through the use of the Torah (not to be confused with the Tor browser, which can connect you to the dark web). But the adaptability comes from an open-minded interpretation of the sacred text.
NFTorah claims that the Torah was the original blockchain, a connection through three millennia to Moses and the first Jews.
The “Torah blockchain”, the foundation of Judaism, is the supreme example of decentralized validation and global consensus,
state the creators of the project on its website.
Launched in March of 2021, NFTorah aimed to sell NFTs of Parshas and then use the money to pay for new physical Torah scrolls. The OpenSea account only lists two sales, and the project has been silent since March 2021.
The man behind the project is Mordechai Lightstone, the self-proclaimed ‘Rabbi for the Extremely Online’.
A layman’s interpretation of Buddhism will very likely include the idea that transactionality is antithetical to this belief. Judging by the publication dates, the founder of Lotos network spent several weeks on Medium trying to rationalize a way out of this conundrum.
The solution they came up with was more radical than just using the blockchain to monitor for corruption and send money to the needy around the world, a common staple among religious blockchain projects. The idea was to transfer the mechanics of Buddhism onto the blockchain:
Decentralization solves the major problems of religion — corruption, incentivization, efficacy, and accessibility. Corruption is made impossible by transparent transactions. Karmic incentivization is made tangible. Efficacy is made empirical through open-source protocols. Global accessibility is reached through a cloud-based matchmaking service.
The Medium blog for the project is mostly centered on whether making money and Buddhism can mix, and every time the answer seems to be yes. Whether referencing a student of Buddha that used some sexy ethereal nymphs as external motivation or shaping the image of Buddha as an entrepreneur, the author of the blog seems to reach the conclusions that only support his ideas.
The main question that jumps out when studying the project was summarized well in an article for Lion’s Roar, a website that studies ultramodern Buddhism: “Are the Buddhists incorporating the technology, or is the technology incorporating the Buddhists?”
The only project on the list that’s actually active and has serious funding behind it, CAIZCOIN is the foundation for a financial system built on Islamic financial principles. As per their Lightpaper,
“It aims to prove that a financial system with moral backing can adapt to an instantly developing world and innovate with new ideas and solutions.”
The core is the principle that loans should not accrue interest — a staple of Islamic financial systems. In fact, they claim to be the first blockchain project to be certified by the Fatwa.
Envisioned as more than just a coin, it’s meant to be a whole ecosystem — a secure messenger, a wallet, an exchange, an investment pool that shares the benefits with all CAIZ holders, a bespoke blockchain, a credit card, a bank, an NFT platform, a stablecoin, a coin for investing in precious metals with physical gold backing it, and more. The only real-world influence beyond a dozen social pages and a handful of articles are ads on German taxis and a Sarajevo stadium changing its name to Caizcoin Arena.
Other partners include a German MMA league and an organization called MAX FIGHT.
It’s worth noting that until the coin goes on sale and starts being used in the real world, the only difference between CAIZCOIN and the other entries on the list is that it has a stadium named after it.
While the other projects in this list are attempts to take religions of the past, their approaches, and find how they fit in with the blockchain, 0xΩ (0xOmega) looks at the inherent qualities of the blockchain and considers what a faith based on it might look like. The project is adequately decentralised and ethereal, existing only as articles on various news outlets and a Twitter account, dedicated primarily to retweeting the trippy thoughts of its 𝔯𝔶𝔭𝔱𝔬𝔭𝔯𝔬𝔭𝔥𝔢𝔱.
0xΩ was created by Matt Liston, a controversial crypto entrepreneur best known for filing the largest lawsuit in the history of the field against his former business partners in cryptocurrency betting startup Augur. Like many young people, Liston is disenfranchised, confused, and lost. His solution is to build a religion that’s fully democratic, adaptable, viral, accepting of the fact that reality has totally splintered and there’s no going back. To build the tools for people in different realities to use the trustless nature of the blockchain
“Blockchain and cryptocurrency, ubiquitous social media and surveillance capitalism, machine learning, Al, drones, virtual reality, increasingly automated capital, and a growing deluge of other technologies and cultural trends introduce existential threats to a society and human intelligence system rooted in a monotheistic consensual reality and a linear conception of time,”
states Liston in an interview for Spike.
Liston sees value in the same properties of the blockchain adored by hardcore adherents of the technology and studied by representatives of religions. But he does not suggest bringing the old world into the new. Instead, he suggests we look into the inherent values built into the blockchain and then consider its spiritual aspect.
“Blockchain and cryptocurrencies are fundamentally liquid trust. Smart contracting enables rapid and flexible construction of multi-agent games within self-sovereign economies with emergent social properties, yet current efforts in experimentation with these systems are primarily focused on machine coordination and asset financialization and are led by a homogeneously engineering-minded community. Without provocation, we will miss the social coordination capabilities at a point when they are most dearly needed. 0xΩ is an experiment in digital hyperstition to accelerate cybernetic culture research. It is an amplified, viralised provocation in search of a fractal cathedral.”
Far out, dude.