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The Church of Bartholomew is the second official religion of The Kingdom of Lanaa. It was accepted as an official religion on July 27th, 2014. The religion was created in 2013 and remains prevalent only in the disputed territory of Imaitopia. This religion is mysterious and far from mainstream, thus it has been dubbed a cult. It is important to note that, though these beliefs are very different from mainstream religions, this cult has many devout followers and is in no way a joke or mockery.
The cult was formed in the early summer of 2013. During this time, The Kingdom of Lanaa was inactive, however, Imaitopia was still considered a part of the micronation. Three of the inhabitants of Imaitopia were in Hawaii at the time, and began to develop cult-like beliefs and eventually formed a religion complete with its own dogma. Upon their arrival home, they attempted to convert several people to their beliefs. Many were initially interested, but the interest soon died away and the cult retreated from the spotlight in Lanaa.
The Cult of Bartholomew worships a mysterious deity named Bartholomew. Their original god was Steve, however, it is their belief that Steve was killed by a satan-like figure they call the Rotten One. They erected a grave in Imaitopia to commemorate Steve, although they had no body to bury. They then gathered wildflowers from around the entire kingdom and placed them on his grave. The deity who replaced Steve was Bartholomew. During the reign of Bartholomew, the holy book of the Church of Bartholomew was written. The practices of this religion became more organised and it grew into a more institutionalised, regulated religion. After some time, Bartholomew too, was killed. The church has yet to find a new deity. It is uncertain how the new deities are chosen or discovered, but the Great Raptor has some sort of system for finding new deities. Even less is known about the deities themselves, however. Besides their names, few people know who or what these deities are.
In the Church of Bartholomew, there are several leadership roles. The Great Raptor is the figurehead of the entire church. He is analogous to the Pope for Catholics. Beneath him are several lower Raptors. The Raptors are essentially Acolytes. They tend to the shrines and sanctuaries, and occasionally lead in worship. In order to become a raptor, one must attend several prayer meetings and must be familiar with the entire holy book. Being well-versed in the beliefs of the church and being a regular attendee, one must pledge him or herself to following the church and the incumbent deity.
Wayshrines and Monuments
There are several monuments throughout the Kingdom of Lanaa that were created by the Church of Bartholomew. Imaitopia, being the bastion of the religion, houses three monuments. The first is the graves of Bartholomew and Steve. These graves are honoured periodically with offerings of flowers. Imaitopia also houses the secret All-Saints Shrine, which, as its name indicated, pays tribute to all the holy figures of the cult. The final monument is a shrine to Steve, and is found is Khazad-dum, the abandoned fort of Imaitopia. Outside of Imaitopia, there is one further wayshrine. The Wayshrine of Bartholomew, hidden in Goldtopia, not only has a small tree planted there as tribute, but also contains a letter, giving a warning to those who find the shrine to not disturb it, lest they incur the wrath of the cult.
Worship and Symbolism
One of the most important symbols of the Church of Bartholemew is the rainbow. Light is considered to be a cleansing, holy force in the beliefs of the cult. Rainbows are the ultimate display of light, being the embodiment of the entire visible spectrum, and so the church regards them as important symbols. Worship is done in the afternoon, when the sun is in the west. At the proper moment, the sun shines through a window in the sanctuary, passing through a prism and casting a rainbow on the altar. At this moment, the Great Raptor ascends to the altar and reads part of the scripture. When the reading is complete, the meeting is ended and the worshipers go their separate ways.