Omnism - What Is It?
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
According to the online Merriam-Webster dictionary, the definition of Omnist
is one that believes in all religions - an incorrect definition. Omnism is better described as the recognition of all religions and what they have in common.
And then there is Wikipedia that says Omnism can be seen as a way to accept the existence of various religions without believing in all that they profess to teach. The Wikipedia article has many problems with citations, verification, and references but I give the writer a good grade for effort. There are very few references available to explain and define Omnism.
Omnism is not a religion and has no leader. There is no Pope of the Omnists or a Dali Lama of Omnism.
Philip James Bailey is credited with coining the term Omnist. He was tutored by a Unitarian minister, considered becoming a Presbyterian minister, and studied law but never practiced law. Bailey is known almost exclusively by his one voluminous poem, Festus, first published anonymously in 1839, and then expanded with a second edition in 1845. Festus is theology and philosophy, and was an attempt to represent the relation of God to man, and to postulate "a gospel of faith and reason combined." (Wikipedia)
In the Jeffrey Moses book Oneness, Moses states that "throughout the ages, the scriptures of all religions have proclaimed that humanity is one great family. ... almost all the principles that are associated with religious thought are shared by every religion." Moses gives The Golden rule, Love thy Neighbor, Speak Truth and other examples as precepts common to all religions.
If you look for an Omnist Church, you might come across The First Omnist Church, a formal religious educational institution in the State of Hawaii (2020) and registered with the IRS as a religious organization (2018). On the surface and based on limited posted information, it is an Evangelical Christian organization. Yes, they may be Omnists as they claim, but they present themselves as a religion. It appears that someone has declared themselves a Messiah but then again, they use hashtags like "Jedi" so although I don't personally consider this an example of Omnism, it is their belief.
An Omnist can follow a single religion and still believe that the major religions have commonalities. An example from Jeffrey Moses' Oneness is Speak Truth.
Putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbor: for we are members of one another. Christianity
Speak ye every man truth to his neighbor; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates. Judaism
Him I call indeed a Brahmana who utters true speech, instructive and free from harshness, so that he offends no one. Buddhism
A devout Christian can agree that Judaism and Buddhism have similar teachings about truth. The same can be said about a devout follower of Judaism or Buddhism. That doesn't mean that the religions are the same, interchangeable, or is a move away from ones own religious beliefs.
6. An Omnist can be religious, agnostic, humanist or atheist. They can agree that some basic beliefs are universal.
7. Most YouTube videos regarding Omnism show a lack of understanding of the concept.
The question is, do you understand Omnism now or are you more confused than ever? The short explanation is that an Omnist follows their personal beliefs but respects the commonalities of religions. The Omnist does not try to convert anyone to Omnism because Omnism is not a religion. There are 8 billion people in the world. There are over 4,000 recognized religions. There are 12 major religions: Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Shinto, Islam, Sikhism, Confucianism, Jainism, Hinduism, Taoism, Baha'i, and Zoroastrianism.
An Omnist looks to find the best of what people of different belief systems have in common, not what sets them apart.