THOSE looking to get in touch with their spiritual side in 2021 need look no further than Jeremy Clarkson.
A church named in honour of The Grand Tour presenter and Sun columnist was created in Uganda after he visited the town – but Jezza's not the only unlikely celebrity to be graced with godlike admiration.
“Jeremy is terribly flattered and very much likes the town," a source close to Clarkson said.
“He even bought an armchair from it, once.
“Frankly a church in his honour is long-overdue."
The bizarre institution, known as the JJeza Holiness Church, is the latest place of worship dedicated to an unlikely celebrity.
Here are some of the strangest celebrity churches – from the First Presleyterian Church of Elvis The Divine to the holy ministry of Diego Maradona.
Prince Philip – the son of a mountain god
The Duke of Edinburgh is treated with reverence by many in Britain – but to some people, the 99-year-old is literally a god.
In Vanuatu, an island country in the South Pacific, a religious sect called the Prince Philip Movement worships the Queen's husband as a divine being.
It's one of many "cargo cults" in the region – belief systems which sprang up after the Second World War where locals attributed the delivery of goods from more technologically advanced societies to certain rituals.
In the village of Yaohnanen on the island of Tanna, Prince Philip is thought to be the son of a local ancestral mountain god.
It's thought the belief was cemented in 1974 when several islanders saw the duke aboard the royal yacht Britannia with the Queen as they visited Port Vila, the Vanuatu capital.
"I saw him standing on the deck in his white uniform," said Chief Jack Naiva, the paddler of a traditional war canoe that treated the yacht, the Independent reports.
"I knew then that he was the true messiah."
Elders in the sect later sent Prince Philip a traditional "nal nal" hunting club as a gift and he sent them a picture back of him holding it.
The image has become an important religious icon, and a shrine to the Duke of Edinburgh draped with a Union Jack stands in Yaohnanen, where locals pray to him.
"We ask him to increase the production of our crops in the garden, or to give us the sun, or rain,” Jimmy Joseph Nakou previously said.
“And it happens."
'Diego is the religion of the heart'
When Diego Maradona punched the ball into Peter Shilton's net in the 1986 World Cup quarter final, the Argentine said the goal was scored by "the hand of God".
It seems some die hard fans took his words literally and, in 1998, they founded Iglesia Maradoniana – the Church of Maradona.
What started out as a light-hearted show of appreciation between a group of friends in the city of Rosario has now swollen into a group of over 500,000 worshippers worldwide.
"Our religion is football and, like all religions, it must have a god," church co-founder Alejandro Verón told The Guardian.
"We will never forget the miracles he showed on the pitch and the spirit he awoke in us, the fanatics."
Maradona, who died in November 2020 aged 60, is even used by the church for its calendar.
And the day before his birthday, October 29, is used as a special day of congregation for the church like Christmas Eve.
As in Christianity, new members of the faith join through the ritual of baptism – but the Church of Maradona's ceremony is a little bit different.
A ball is thrown at the new member and they have to use their left hand to punch it into a goal over a life-size poster of Peter Shilton.
And then once in the church, members are expected to follow its ten commandments.
They include spreading the news of Maradona's miracles throughout the universe, loving football above all else, and naming your first son Diego.
"This is Argentine folk culture," Verón told The Bubble, "Diego is the religion of the heart and it’s born out of love."
'Be something more than a hound dog'
"There's only one king," Elvis Presley reportedly said, "And that's Jesus Christ."
But if the king of rock and roll wasn't comfortable being equated with royalty, he'd be all shook up to find out he's now treated as a god by some fans.
The First Presleyterian Church of Elvis the Divine was founded in the 1990s by Reverend Mort Farndu.
He penned the New and Improved Testament and stipulated that Presleyterians face Las Vegas every day and make a pilgrimage to Graceland at least once in their lives.
"I’ve brought many people to Elvis. I’ve seen, first-hand, the awesome power of the King and I know how terrifying it can be," Rev Farndu wrote.
"I ask you to be something more than a hound dog. To finally kill a rabbit and be a friend of His!"
Countless other churches to Elvis have been created over the year and there's even a Christian church in Canada which embraces his white suits and tassels in spreading the teachings of Christ.
Dorian Baxter founded the Christ the King Graceland Church in Newmarket, Ontario, in 2003, and is now affectionately known as Elvis Priestly.
He uses the music of Elvis in his sermons and performs as an impersonator of the rock and roll icon after religious ceremonies.
Not everyone is a fan of his antics, however, with Baxter receiving an angry call from his bishop a few years after he began performing as the king.
"He phoned me out of the blue and told me… ‘Shave off the sideburns, stop using the name ‘Elvis Priestly’ and if you don’t, you’re out'," Baxter told The Toronto Star.
He refused and was banned from all Anglican church pulpits – which is why he created his own church in 2003.
Despite bringing Elvis heavily into his teachings, Baxter is unequivocal about who his church worships.
"Elvis may be the king of rock and roll," he says, echoing his idol, "But Jesus was the king of kings.”
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