Back to the library

Religions that Never Made it: Stereotypticism

Founded in Lawrence, Kansas by Artemis Boonstock in 1874, Stereotypticism was an attempt to "mysticize, ritualize, and relig-o-cize"1 the generalized preconceptions held by many in the population concerning those of different races, nationalities, and faiths. Boonstock did believe we were all created equally in the eyes of God, "Unfortunately", mused Boonstock, "I ain't got God's eyes. And what the hell kinda hat is that?"2

Boonstock relates the story of his spiritual awakening in a passage from the holy book of Stereotypticism, The Negronomicon:

...and one night as I tossed and turned in bed, wishing to rid myself of this awful pondersome weight I felt upon me, I did thrash open my window and look out upon my land and there I saw the face of God. It was in a strawberry patch. And in the gentle night wind his mouth did move and then it did speak:

"Artemis, I'm sorry for making things so confusing for humanity, what with the differences between people and all. I need you to make things easier on everyone and put together a book in which all things concerning a man's culture and heritage are generalized. With this book, everyone can know all they need to about someone without ever meeting them. Think how helpful that will be."

And that I did, I took it upon myself from that day forward to compile all I could think of regarding those in the world I had never met. And let me tell you I did this in a scientific fashion, for science is truth: I asked everyone in town for their thoughts as well.3

By 1876, The Negronomicon numbered over 800 pages and covered 147 cultures, 12 religions and 8 distinct skin tones. Boonstock's followers, who called themselves Derogatorians, numbered around 30. They met Thursdays (Friday if it rained) in a backroom of the Lawrence Public Library where they would discuss new entries into their sacred book and revise those already entered.

"Now I heard there's a tribe out in Africa called the Cloud-walkers. Apparently they can jump right up into a tree from a standing position. Then, once they're up there, they defecate on passers-by. Have you ever heard such a thing?"

"I heard there's these people in New York who only read half the Bible; they stop before Jesus is even born!"

[stunned silence]4

As with all new religions the Stereotyptics suffered their share of persecution, most notably from another religious group taking shape at the same time: the Illiterati. The Illiterati, also known as the CWM (Christians without Morals), were a cutthroat band of ultra-fundamentalists. Their basic belief was that when Jesus died on the cross he took all human responsibility with him and nothing but continuous bloodshed and unwarranted violence would cause him to return and restore peace.

Through a series of public debates on the subject, Boonstock sought to work things out with the CWM and come to some sort of compromise. He had heard members of CWM, in addition to being hard workers and notorious lovers of hard cheese and trumpet music, were quick to settle.

He felt that instead of working against one another, it could be to the benefit of both new faiths to meld into one which combined the blind pigeonholing of whole segments of humanity with shocking brutality. Unfortunately for Boonstock, the hoped-for agreement never materialized. Somewhere along the way, his Negronomicon had failed him.

In addition to being extremely hard bargainers, the Illiterati enjoyed neither the choice of music nor the plates piled high with parmesan which were offered at the debates. Both religions, whose members were now confused and riddled with doubt, slowly lost followers and, ultimately, disbanded. And with that, the ideals of both religions were lost to history, never to return.

Boonstock died alone, unfulfilled and penniless in 1916 at the age of 82. It is said his last words were: "I hear the angels are great dancers."5

1Boonstock, Artemis. Dinners in the Hand of an Angry Dog. 1874.

2Perchfield, Pervis. The Lawrence Standard (interview). August 9, 1874.

3The Negronomicon (1:19)

4Phith, Sally. Minutes of the meeting of Stereotypticists. November 4, 1875.

5Bolloques, Red. Failed Religions of the 19th Century. 1985.

Back to the library

Copyright © 2005-2013 Graham Cranfield