The Church of Kopimism, a religion based on file sharing and the free flow of information, has taken root in the U.S. a few months after gaining official recognition in Sweden.
Kopimists believe that information sharing is a holy process and that data becomes increasingly valuable the more often it gets shared. Followers of the religion consider CTRL + C and CTRL + V, the keyboard shortcuts for "copy" and "paste," sacred symbols of worship. The religion's name comes from the Swedish word for "copy."
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Christopher Carmean founded the First United Church of Kopimism after reading about the Swedish church on Reddit.
"The message resonated with me deeply, as I've always felt that sharing was right and good and should be celebrated," Carmean told Mashable. "This was enough of a reason for me to start the U.S. church."
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According to Carmean, Kopimism's central tenets are the following:
1. Copying of information is ethically right. 2. Dissemination of information is ethically right. 3. Copymixing (copying and then remixing) is a sacred act because it expands the existing wealth of information, and is seen as an act of respect. 4. The internet is holy. 5. Code is law.
If it feels good, share it.
— AdVATAR (@KopimistUSA) May 7, 2012
Joining the religion is as easy as calling yourself a Kopimist and registering online. Carmean believes the church and its 666 members -- an establishment that is "not a joke," he assures us -- is well on its way to achieving recognition in the U.S., which would grant it tax benefits and other legal protection.
"We're a legitimate religion and therefore will prevail," said Carmean. "Churches register with a state and then federally as non-profit institutions. Applications and filing fees must be submitted. Registering with the state was extremely easy, but the federal application is much more detailed. It's mostly just a bunch of paperwork."
After being asked why start a religion instead of a political party along the lines of Europe's pro-Internet Pirate Party, Carmean said that his church's beliefs go beyond the realm of policy.
"Our beliefs are as much metaphysical as they are ethical," said Carmean. "Politics deals with law and behavior. Our religion goes much farther than that."
Kopimism has also taken root in Canada, Japan, Israel and more than a dozen other countries.
This story originally published on Mashable here.