What You Didn't Know About The Religion Based On The Big Lebowski

We live in an age of wonders. Take, for example, the "Pastafarians" and their Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Or consider the fandoms that have inspired awesomely geeky religions over the years – Star Wars and Jediism, for instance. Is it such a stretch for a movie like The Big Lebowski to inspire some sort of life credo? Think about it for a second. How bad could a religion be that brings the laid-back teachings of "The Dude" to life? The worst possible scenario is a burned-out religious crusade to get "my rug back, man." Which — let's be honest — would be understandable, since "it really tied the room together."

If you're still questioning, you probably haven't seen the movie. As played by Jeff Bridges, The Dude's entire persona is zen in the face of whatever trouble Ethan and Joel Cohen, the writers of the film, decided to throw at him. And zen is exactly what drives Dudeism, the religion behind the Church of Latter-Day Dude.

It might come as a surprise, but Dudeism is a real-life, legally recognized religion. The website claims more than a quarter-million priests around the world. Even if those numbers are skewed, it's obvious that the religion based on The Big Lebowski is pretty major. Though nowhere near the size of Islam and Judaism, it's big enough to receive all the legal benefits that the other organized religions receive in the United States.

A legally recognized religion, Dude

The church was first founded in 2005 by journalist Oliver Benjamin. Huff Post reports that their religious beliefs and practices are informally organized. Dudeism, with the help of Benjamin, has even released a few Dudeist texts and a periodical called The Dudespaper. It seems that people get ordained through The Church of the Latter-Day Dude for one of two reasons: First, it's pretty fun. Second, an ordained priest for the church can legally marry people. Perhaps best of all, you can sign up online with just a few clicks, which is probably why the religion has such an extreme number of priests, especially for a religion that calls itself "the slowest growing religion in the world."

The tenets of Dudeism can be found in the Take It Easy Manifesto on The Church of the Latter-Day Dude website, which starts out by telling prospective converts that Dudeism is "An ancient philosophy that preaches non-preachiness, practices as little as possible, and above all, uh ... lost my train of thought there. Anyway, if you'd like to find peace on earth and goodwill, man, we'll help you get started." Which is the quick and dirty version of their core beliefs.

They do, however, explain that the religion most resembles that of the older forms of Chinese Taoism. The idea, they say, is "Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don't do anything about it. Just take it easy, man."

Dudeism has actual tenets

They go on to apply a "who, what, why" method to laying out their beliefs that say Dudeism is trying to liberate them from "Thinking that's too uptight," trying to reach a state of being that's "Just taking it easy, man," and it does these things by "Abiding."

You'd expect a religion as awesome as Dudeism to pull great applause from the cast behind the characters, but not all of them feel good about the film-inspired religion. Jeff Bridges, who played Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski, was asked about his feelings on Dudeism and The Church of the Latter-Day Dude in an interview posted on YouTube, to which he responded, "I'm flabbergasted by it." Though, he thinks The Dude would "dig it." As long as they serve White Russians, we agree with that assessment.

Whereas Bridges didn't seem to have the most committed thoughts on the subject, John Goodman, who played The Dude's best friend, Walter Sobchak, knows where his convictions lie. In a clip also posted on YouTube, Goodman told Today, "Yeah, I didn't watch my brothers die face down in the mud for this kind of religious mockery." Of course, Goodman seems to have been speaking from Walter's point of view during that segment of the interview. Unfortunately, the final member of the trio, Steve Buscemi, didn't seem to have anything to say about the Dudeism faith.