Once the scale of the threat posed by the Caal Invasion became clear, a series of spontaneous Doomsday Cults arose across the Earth Federation. Some embraced the impending end of mankind, viewing it as just punishment for our sins. Others pleaded to the heavens for deliverance from destruction, often making extravagant promises of repentance and reform if only someone, anyone would come to their salvation. Pierre Villars, the Governor of New Paris, stripped himself naked and prostrated himself before the high altar of the Orange Catholic Cathedral in his capital city, and scourged his own back with a barbed cat-o-nine-tails, pledging the souls of himself and his entire world to repentance and good works if only the Lord Himself would deliver them from the Caal Armada already bearing down upon them. When the Caal fleet passed harmlessly through the system, ignoring it to plunge straight on through the Digital Gate to Avalon, this "New Paris New Passover" was widely viewed as nothing short of a miracle.
When the Caal fleet was subsequently destroyed over Avalon by an Earth Fleet task force and Vin Dane, who used The Orb to literally crush Caal-controlled warships with the power of his mind, this magickal deliverance from certain doom was in turn seen as an even greater miracle. Many of the doomsday cultists coalesced around Vin Dane as the apparent author of their prayed-for deliverance, with Pierre Villars as their emerging high priest. Wary of the fickle nature of such adoration, Vin Dane initially steadfastly denied his own divinity, but the futility of dissuading the newborn fanatics from their faith, coupled with the usefulness of having such a large and vocal bloc of the populace firmly on his side while he tried to put together the shattered remnants of the Federation under his leadership before someone even worse could step into the power vacuum left by the death of Arthur Clarke, meant he couldn't quite bring himself to shut out his worshippers completely. When the Red Spring series of riots and uprisings crippled his most powerful rivals for control of humanity at a critical juncture in the Ascension War, he again was more than willing to use the devotion of his fanatical followers as a political tool, all the while still trying to assure adherents of other faiths that he wasn't about to alienate them by trying to impose the new faith on everyone else.
Once the Ascension War was over, rather than quietly urging his followers to return to their old beliefs as many expected him to do, the Emperor instead embraced his supposed divinity with gusto. Leaders of many faiths and denominations embraced the inevitable and found theological justifications for merging their congregations into this new, syncretic faith. To Christians, Vin Dane was the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, declared as such by Andrew Tremont, the former leader of the Christian Federation during the Third Civil War, who had emerged from hiding during the Red Spring to throw his support behind the Emperor. To Jews, he was the long-awaited Messiah. To Buddhists, he was a Boddhisatva, a reincarnation of the Buddha himself. Confucians saw him as the Celestial Emperor, the perfect embodiment of authority and wisdom. To Hindus, he was an Avatar of either Vishnu, Shiva, or Brahman, a lively theological debate ensued on the subject which contiues to this day. Adherents of all of humanity's major surviving religions could thus continue with their old faith communities and traditions, yet still claim with a straight face to be part of the new faith, loyal subjects of the God-Emperor. Vocal dissenters were either rounded up and imprisoned, or driven underground by fear or persecution both official and spontaneous.
Dogmas unsurprisingly differ between the various groups within the cult, but the emerging consensus of key tenets seem to be 1) Dane was the planned salvation of humanity, blending the best of alien and human life, and therefore blessed with eternal life. 2) By receiving the Orb from the Divine, he became a god himself. 3) Ruling over us, the Emperor will continue to protect humanity throughout all time.
With the death of Empress Miranda during the Battle of the Round Table, she became elevated to sainthood and near-divinity herself, with worship of her memory blending the various aspects of the divine feminine that would be awkward to focus on the very male Vin Dane himself. Part Virgin Mary, part Mother Nature, part Fertility Goddess, her worship is very popular, especially with female adherents. But with her gone, there is no obvious successor to Vin Dane should he somehow disappear from the picture. Most of his believers do not see this as a problem: as a living god, he will live forever and cannot be killed, so there is no need for a line of succession. Others, particularly in the upper reaches of the Cult priesthood, quietly hope to place themselves in a position where, as his chief high priest, they themselves could be in a position to step into the Emperor's shoes should anything unfortunate happen to him.
Behind the ScenesEdit
Cults of the Emperor are nothing new and certainly have their basis in World History (see Romans, Japanese, et al). Marcus included this aspect of the game, mostly due to Bax's naming of the Holy Terran Empire. Although Nathan was simply trying to emulate Frank Herbert's Dune and its system of warring households, Marcus added the religious element in his original "Heresy" Y3K project (pre-Season 5).