Church of the SubGenius

Church of the SubGenius
Church of the SubGenius

The Church of the SubGenius is either an extremely sinister cult, or (much more likely) an extremely elaborate practical joke feeding on the subculture of conspiracy theory. The Church claims to reveal the truth according to J. R. “Bob” Dobbs: an alien, known as JHVH-1, had been masquerading as G-D but now wanted it revealed that there was a conspiracy created by normal people to deplete the “slack” (the opportunity to effortlessly achieve your goals) of the so-called “abnormal” people, known as SubGeniuses.

To this end a church was developed, one that gleefully takes money and teaches through poster and flyer art, “devival” meetings, and recorded rants (first broadcast on community radio stations and through tape trading, now available on-line).

The primary icon of the SubGenius movement is the trademarked illustration of “Bob’s” head, that of a middle-aged, smiling white man smoking a pipe, who looks as though he was cut out of a 1950s advertisement.

The SubGenius concept was created by Doug Smith (now known as the Reverend Ivan Stang) and Philo Drummond in the early 1980s, and word was spread through flyers and pamphlets. Thirty dollars would buy salvation, redemption, and the opportunity to put “Reverend” before your name. This fee has subsequently been paid by close to 10,000 people over the years.

In effect the Church has created a satiric commentary on religious observance and domination, conspiracy theory, and conventional morality. The “Rapture” of orthodox Christian faith is replaced by the “Rupture,” revivals are replaced by “devivals,” and so on. SubGenii gather to rant about the world and everything in it, as they waited for the coming of the Aliens on X-Day, 4 July 1998.

In the late 1990s it appeared as though the Church would have to meet a crisis as X-Day approached. 4 July 1998 was to be the day that the aliens returned, and SubGenius “clenches” the world over would gather and hold parties every year in anticipation.

The parties still continue, although they are known as X-Day plus the number of years following 1998, e.g., 2002 is known as XXXXX-Day. Many excuses have been offered by loyal SubGenii as to why the aliens did not arrive, including the suggestion that they had done so, but that the visit was either not noticed, or erased from our minds by superior technology.

But, according to the Church, it is quite likely their absence was the point, because then excuses could be made. The SubGenii exist as an excuse to have a good time and thumb their nose at organized religion and orderly behavior, as well as themselves.

Every SubGenius clench is required to have a member who does not believe, and the core belief of the movement is to believe nothing and everything, preferably at the same time; or, to paraphrase the Church itself, the SubGenius are either a joke masquerading as a religion, or a religion masquerading as a joke. Whichever they truly are would not make much of a difference.