There are two branches (sects) of Hippoism: Literalist and Interpretist, and each branch has its own sub-sects. Members of both Churches are referred to as "The Sheep" after those who first believed in the teachings of The Messenger and The Followers.
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Literalists believe that The Book of Rules was written in rocks by the nose of The Pink Hippo and "The Revealed Truth" was written down from the words of The Messenger during his time on Earth.
Since these are the direct words of The Pink Hippo they are easy to understand by everyone and they must be obeyed in full. After all, The Pink Hippo is all-knowing and all-powerful and She would not have written her words in ways which were not obvious to everyone.
Literalists despise Interpretists as woolly liberal sell-outs.
Psychological profile of the average Literalist
Obviously not all members of the Church meet all the criteria below - but it is a fair picture of the average Literalist Sheep.
- A weak sense of empathy - an inability to see the world through someone else's eyes.
- Parental background characterised by strong discipline based on physical or emotional punishment. Not usually from a background where loving physical contact was the norm. Often sent away to school or left in the care of others. Sometimes educated in a rigid religious faith school. Sometimes from an abusive background.
- A lack of internalised responsibility - preferring responsibilities to be dictated from outside in some Holy Book.
- A desire for rules and, ideally, a strong ruler. "A strong man at the top would sort it all out. At least Mussolini made the trains run on time and Hitler got the autobahns sorted out. Margaret Thatcher had the right idea - there is no such thing as society. The country is going to the dogs and all this liberal, left-wing, namby-pamby, nanny-state stuff is a waste of time and money."
- A hatred of "spongers": those on benefit, single mothers ("they only get pregnant to get a council house"), asylum seekers ("they are only here for the welfare hand-outs - and they steal our jobs"), refugees, economic migrants etc.
- A tendency to see everything as black and white - a genuine fear of doubt and uncertainty
- A strong desire for order and "the rule of law." Fond of saying: "bring back conscription", "they need a short, sharp shock" and "it never did me any harm."
- A strong desire for harsh punishment for wrong-doers. "Lock them up and throw away the key. Hanging is too good for them - may they burn in hell."
- A psychotic, paranoid fear of those who are different: foreigners, non-believers, those with different life-styles etc.
- A sense of sexual insecurity leading to fears based on gender and sexual life style. A fear of homosexuals etc.
- Very conservative - both with a small "c" and a large "C". Deference to "betters". Supports the status quo: "rich man in his castle, poor man at his gate."
- A tendency to read right-wing newspapers such as The Daily Mail, The Express or The Daily Telegraph.
- A lack of open-mindedness and a very limited desire for enquiry - "we are OK as we are, why rock the boat?" "Ours not to reason why, ours but to do and die."
Interpretists argue that since we have not found the rocks on which The Pink Hippo wrote The Book of Rules, and we have to rely on copies of copies made many hundreds of years after the event, it is possible that the words may have been incorrectly translated and interpreted.
The Interpretist Church of The Pink Hippo believes that the "The Book of The Pink Hippo" and "The Revealed Truth" require continuous evaluation and interpretation in terms of our increasing understanding of the language used in the original copies, our current understanding of the Universe and the style of life we lead in the 21st century.
Interpretists are embarrassed by Literalists who they see as fundamentalist fanatics still living in the Stone Age.
Psychological profile of the average Interpretist
Obviously not all members of the Church meet all the criteria below - but it is a fair picture of the average Interpretist Sheep.
Interpretists have a similar profile to Literalists (see above) but with these modifications:
- They can empathise more and can understand the problems of others.
- They tend to be more liberal and tolerant.
- They do not see a need to be dogmatic about their beliefs.
- They have a strong sense of social responsibility.
- They are often members of the "caring professions".
- They read liberal or left-wing newspapers
Structure of the Hippoist church
- Church leaders must be men. For more about the role of women please see the FAQ page.
- The head of a local church is a Scholar Priest - a term shared with other religions.
- A senior Scholar Priest in charge of regional churches is a Bishop - a term also shared with other religions.
- The head of each national church is a Panjandrum.
There may be more than one Panjandrum in each country depending on how many Hippoist sects exist within that country.
For more about the Hippoist sects please see the FAQ page.
- The head of the world-wide church is The Grand Panjandrum.
In fact there are 16 Grand Panjandrums to reflect the 16 recognised sects within Hippoism.
- There is no concept of divorce in Hippoism - a wife is the property of her husband and he may do with her as he wishes.
- Ordinary church members, The Sheep, must be monogamous - a husband may have only one wife.
- Hippoist church leaders are not celibate - in fact they are allowed to take up to 12 wives and 12 concubines.
- Unlike many decaying religions, such as Catholic and Anglican Christianity, there is a long waiting list of Sheep who wish to train as Hippoist priests.
Why we have no church buildings
The country is awash with Christian churches - every village, town and city has them. Most of them have dwindling, ageing congregations and each year hundreds are de-consecrated and converted into homes or shopping precincts. The only religious growth areas, apart from the staggering number of Hippoist Cells (see below) are the increasing numbers of Mosques, Temples and Synagogues of non-Christian religions.
Hippoists have always been persecuted by other religions, by the state and by secularists (may they rot in hell), possibly because of our willingness to kill in the name of The Pink Hippo and possibly because of our intention to seize control of the state through force in order to fully implement The Book of Rules.
We therefore operate through home churches - or "Cells". These are modelled on the small congregations of Followers and Sheep that surrounded The Messenger in rural barns during his time on Earth.
Our Cells are coordinated by our church leaders using highly encrypted and anonymous electronic communications but, in the interested of security, and to thwart the activities of MI5 and The Special Branch, the Sheep in one cell do not know the Sheep in another.