5 Hilariously Weird Ways People Used Religious Loopholes

In the beginning, God created the heavens, the Earth, and the laws that would dictate mankind’s behavior. About 20 seconds later, mankind started figuring out how to get out of doing any of those, and due to the fact that gods don’t employ teams of high-priced lawyers to proofread their books, there are plenty of loopholes ripe for exploitation. As the saying goes, every time God closes a door, he forgets to mention anything about jimmying open locks. For example …

5

There Are Power Tools And Computers For The Amish

Famously, as documented by the anthropologist Alfred Yankovic, the Amish are Dutch-descended Christians who reject sinful modern technology like electricity or anything else created after 1785 or thereabouts. But raising barns is hard, and you have to admit that those dastardly English have invented some pretty nifty power tools. If only they could dispense with the sinful “power” element.

Great news! There are companies that have found ways to retrofit power tool designs in such a way that they’re totally compatible with Amish law. Mosey on down to the annual Buckeye Tool Expo in Dalton, Ohio, and you’ll meet a lot of people clad in black jackets, anachronistic suspenders, and long, flowing beards trying out the latest range of Amish-approved tools.

The drills, sanders, and table saws work the same as they do for the rest of us, but using compressed air, which was designed by God, instead of electricity, which is how Satan powers his dildos.

But with those tools, Amish businessmen are in danger of becoming successful enough they might need *gasp* computers to keep track of their business! Thankfully, someone has that covered, too. Some interpretations of Amish law see no problem with using modern technology as long as they never bring it into their homes, so trade shows can advertise throwback laptops (no internet, no video, no fun) to Amish folk wealthy enough to own an office separate from where they sleep, entertain, and churn butter.

4

Some Muslims Allow Hour-Long Marriages So They Can Get Busy

As you can probably imagine, Islamic law isn’t a big fan of extramarital sex. Among more devout Muslim communities, they aren’t even permitted to enjoy a frozen yogurt with the opposite sex, let alone get it on with them. That creates an issue for Muslims who would like to, you know, at least have a conversation with someone before they enter into a binding, lifelong legal contract with them.

Thankfully, the Quran provides a workaround. According to Shia Islamic law, there’s nothing preventing Muslims from entering into a temporary marriage, known as “nikah mut’ah” or “marriage lite.” It doesn’t require as much pomp and ceremony as a traditional marriage, the dowry requirements are much lower, and it automatically ends if the contract isn’t renewed, so there’s no divorce headache to worry about. It’s the burner cellphone of marriages.

Of course, ideally, a nikah mut’ah should end with a traditional marriage proposal, but that isn’t obligatory. The spirit of the law is for it to serve as a way for prospective couples to go on a few dates and at least find out whether they like the same video game consoles. Instead it gets used as a cheat code for devout-but-horny people to have a whole bunch of casual sex. And the nikah mut’ah can bend a little further than that. At least one Muslim call girl offers it as a service. “Kamillah,” a high-priced London escort and Twitter sensation, will charge you an extra $100 to marry you for an hour. At the end of the session, while you lie in a puddle of your own sweat and myriad other fluids, she’ll guide you through the brief verbal divorce ritual and then call it a night.

3

People Are Converting To Native American Religions So They Can Get High

In the United States, marijuana laws are complicated, to say the least. Depending on which state you live in, the legality of weed lies anywhere on the wide spectrum between like totally legal and 20 to life for carrying suspiciously bagged oregano. And because of contradicting federal laws, you’re never 100 percent safe. Not even with a prescription. Not even in a legal state. Not ever.

Unless you have a note from your shaman.

In 2014, the U.S. government officially recognized that drugs such as cannabis and peyote are important to Native American ritual practices, and granted significant leeway for Native groups to buy, sell, and use such substances. But more importantly for dreadlocked white dudes, the laws are legal on the grounds of religious freedom, so it doesn’t require you to be genetically Native American — just a member of their religion. So dealers and dispensaries have been rebranding themselves as “churches” in order to exploit the loophole.

It all started back in 1997, when an ex-Mormon from Utah named James Mooney registered his peyote-dealing operation as the Oklevueha Native American Church — the white stoner’s Peyote Church. The police, seeing that Mooney was about as Native American as chicken carbonara, threw his ass in jail. But after a very successful and lucrative religious discrimination lawsuit, a free Mooney went about setting up the new “churches” around the country. He even successfully lobbied to expand the range of acceptable drug use to include a hallucinogenic tea called ayahuasca and cannabis, which is about as native to America as the name “James Mooney” is.

As you can probably imagine, bona fide Native Americans aren’t too happy about this situation. In 2016, the National Council of Native American Churches gave a statement clarifying that they condemn non-natives pretending to convert to their religion just to get high. But their new stoner flock has promised to not only use their new religion to sell weed, but also dutifully spread the Good Word of … they’ll get around to figuring that out eventually.

2

Jewish People Redefined “Work” To Beat The Sabbath

According to Jewish and Christian lore, God needed a break after six whole days of Universe-creating. So on the seventh day, known as the Sabbath or the Shabbat, he took the whole day off and binge-watched Orange Is The New Black. Then he commanded that nobody is ever allowed to work on the Sabbath, or else he’d ram a lightning bolt up their ass. Which makes sense. What, you’re going to work seven days a week? Are you saying you work harder than God? Here’s a ticket to Hell, heretic.

But what constitutes “work,” exactly? Sure, it was easy back in the days when everyone was a farmer and had one chair in their house, but things are infinitely more complicated now. According to Halakha — panels of rabbi that are tasked with figuring this stuff out — you might be violating God’s “no working” law simply by applying makeup, opening an umbrella, or even pressing a button. Have you ever tried spending a day not pressing a button? It’s impossible! So the Jewish people figured out a number of ways to get around these restrictions so that they don’t have to just lie in bed one whole day every week.

The craftiest is probably the “eruv.” According to Biblical law, you are only allowed to carry things (even your kids) on the Sabbath if you do so inside an enclosed space. So in cities around the world, Jews started “enclosing” their neighborhoods by connecting all the buildings with fishing lines, creating an almost invisible fence which technically turns their streets into private spaces, allowing Orthodox Jews to do things like hang out with friends and carry groceries home without incurring God’s wrath.

Helayne Seidman/New York Post

Google Maps
They’ve basically lassoed all of Manhattan by now — which, according to cowboy law, is now theirs.

Then there are other things that you’re not allowed to do even if you’re really inside, like operating electronics, and that includes elevators — a real bummer if you live on the 20th floor. So most elevators in Israel, and some in New York, have a Sabbath setting, which means they constantly go up and down, automatically stopping at every floor. It’s agonizingly slow, but it’s better than schlepping up 30 flights of stairs.

Satlsh Krlshnamurthy/flickr
Of course, by the time you get to your floor, it’s likely the Sabbath will be long past.

Finally, another rule that God passed down so the Jews would have to play life on hard mode is known as the “Sabbath year,” or the Shmita. Once every seven years, Jewish farmers are supposed to let their land rest for a year and not disturb the soil. So how do they eat that year? Well, the law states that they aren’t allowed to work their own land; it doesn’t say anything about working someone else’s land. So every seven years, most Israeli farmers transfer legal ownership of their farm to someone else.

That “someone else” is actually one guy in particular. George Shtraykhman, a 25-year-old telemarketer, is a non-Jewish Israeli citizen. And once every seven years, George also temporarily becomes one of the biggest landowners on Earth, with approximately $33 billion worth of Israeli land. A year later, he gives it all back, because there’s one thing better than being a billionaire: being a mensch.

1

Catholics Can Eat Beaver During Lent Due To The Church Classifying Them As “Fish”

If you’re both Catholic and a hardcore carnivore, then you probably dread Lent, the annual six-week tradition leading up to Easter during which you’re not supposed to eat meat on Fridays. For them, the prospect of avoiding bacon for six entire days every year is too much to bear. They just want meat, and any kind of meat will do.

Enter beavers.

In the 17th Century, Catholic colonists in Northern America were suffering under the Church’s tyrannical rule which dictated that for a few days a year, they should consider eating a couple of fucking vegetables instead of shooting another buffalo. But according to official Catholic doctrine, fish does not count as meat, so some clever priests figured that all they needed to do was expand the definition of what a fish is. So the newly appointed Bishop of Quebec successfully lobbied his superiors in Rome to have beavers (as well as other semi-aquatic mammals) reclassified as “fish” for culinary purposes. Hell, by this metric, Michael Phelps is fair game, as long as you catch him in the water.

This adjustment was so successful that the “beavers are fish” dogma survives to this day. In fact, the beaver meat trade is so lucrative during Lent that some restaurants have gotten in on the action. Brenton Brown, co-owner of Bootleggin’ BBQ in heavily Catholic St. Louis, put smoked beaver on his menu after realizing that business sharply declined during Lent. Their profits have since skyrocketed, though the same cannot be said for the beaver population.

Other restaurants in Catholic neighborhoods around America have taken to including muskrat on their, uh, fish menu, even though they reportedly taste less like halibut and more like a pile of fried assholes. Still better than tofu, though.

S. Peter Davis is the creator of the Three Minute Philosophy YouTube series, and is the author of the book Occam’s Nightmare.

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