In this article:
- Learn what omnists believe in and what omnism means.
- Understand the finer points of omnist beliefs.
- Consider whether omnism fits with your beliefs or if it would be contradictory to the religion you currently believe in or are interested in learning about later.
- Discover if omnism is right for you or, if it isn’t, learn what alternatives there are to omnism that might suit your worldview better.
Omnism may not be the most popular religion, but there’s a chance you already believe in something similar. Omnists generally believe that you can glean wisdom from all of the world’s religions. Because of this, they are typically familiar with the beliefs of other religions, even if members of those religions aren’t particularly aware of the omnist worldview.
While that sounds dandy and all, there are finer points to omnism beyond simply being open to learning from other faiths so let’s dive in.
What Is Omnism?
Omnism is a type of theist belief that recognizes the existence and legitimacy of other religions. Theistic means that they generally believe in some form of a higher power, whether that be a humanized deity like the Judeo-Christian God or the impersonal logical god that Deists believe in.
Omnists recognize the legitimacy of other religions in the sense that they believe each religion holds its own fragment of the “truth,” not that there is a single religion that is truer than the others.
This doesn’t mean that omnists have an absolute belief that there is a God/gods/higher power. Some may be agnostic in the sense that they aren’t concerned with whether there is a higher power but rather, they only care about what wisdom different religions can offer them.
Because of this, omnism has been described as a syncretistic religion, a type of belief system that combines features of religions with each other. This usually happens when cultures combine, however, such as when a foreign religion is introduced via colonialism.
In contrast, omnists typically make the active choice to believe in omnism rather than be introduced through it via socialization or acculturation.
If that still sounds a little nebulous, that’s kind of the point. Unlike major religions, omnists don’t have a fixed system of beliefs, a holy book, or a set of mandatory rituals that need to be followed by its followers.
This makes omnism not a religion, but a spiritual belief.
Omnist Colleen Claire describes it as a loose, “very open-minded, transcended thinking” that is ultimately up to the believer. The breadth of an omnist’s beliefs is only restricted by how much they’ve learned about other faiths.
The unique strength of this belief system lies in its flexibility and open-mindedness. If there’s wisdom to be found in a different faith, you can follow it and uphold its tenets while remaining an omnist.
However, this doesn’t always work the other way around since many religions demand that their believers only believe in one single faith that must then be treated as the absolute truth.
Is Omnism Contradictory?
To many major religions, believing in a deity that isn’t their own makes you a heretic — the exact opposite of what a believer should be. To some people, this makes omnism contradictory.
Imagine you’re an omnist who acknowledges the Judeo-Christian God and Hindu deities. While your omnist and Hindu belief systems don’t have a problem with this, your Judeo-Christian religion likely will as most Christian sects do not allow their members to simultaneously believe in a second belief system. You’d have to renounce Vishnu to be a Christian.
That said, it’s only contradictory if you start out as a Christian. Remember that omnists acknowledge the wisdom of all religions which means that being open to all belief systems is never contradictory. In fact, it’s what makes an omnist an omnist.
Besides, certain sects of Christianity actually allow their followers to hold omnist beliefs at the same time as Christian ones. Unitarian Universalism, a sect rooted in Christian universalism, operates similar to omnism.
Is Omnism for You?
Omnism’s openness to other beliefs and religions gives it a special appeal to many people. But its “loose” ideology is also why it might not be the best fit for everyone. Some people prefer to have at least some tenets to follow so that they know they’re sticking to their core beliefs.
Others may not want to be omnists because they value community, something that omnists don’t really have since there are no tenets or rituals to hold them together as a group.
Other alternatives to omnism include the following:
- Spiritual But Not Religious: People who identify as spiritual but not religious do not define their beliefs by any religion. They simply believe in some kind of higher or transcendent power without necessarily acknowledging the beliefs of other religions.
- Deism: If omnism is appealing to you because it sounds like a logical approach to believing in a higher power, you’d probably appreciate Deism for its impersonal stance on God. Deists believe that the supreme being has set the rules of the universe and left it to run on its own, like a pocket watch after being winded. That being exists but does not intervene so it isn’t subject to David Hume’s problem of evil, a conundrum that can mainly be applied only to personal gods.
- Witchcraft: This might seem like an “out there” option, but witchcraft is a popular alternative faith for people in search of a Nature-attuned belief system that allows them to embrace their inner selves. Many witches are polytheists which entails belief in other gods such as the Greco-Roman, Norse, and other indigenous deities. It can even be a combination of them. This makes witchcraft a little syncrestic depending on who’s practicing it.
You can also explore other options for an alternative belief system or even choose a different major religion from the one you believe in now or were raised into.