World of Storm and Fury:
World Facts and Lore:
Yarelaism, the dominant religion in northern Oortesia, is a monotheistic religion that worships the god Yarelae. The church of Yarelae teaches that the world is in a constant struggle of good versus evil within the world, darkness against light. All matter is considered to be evil, since it is believed that the world was created by those of darkness. Therefore, only the soul of a being is considered to be pure, not the body of a being, which explains why suicide is acceptable in the church, but not encouraged. Yarelae is considered to be a merciful but just and occasionally wrathful god. After a being dies, which is really just its soul being set free, it is judged by Yarelae. If found to be pure, the soul is allowed into paradise, if not, it is put into another form to live in the world and try again.
The hierarchy of the church of Yarelae has The Perfect as a sort of pope, Yarelae's representative in the evil of the world, at the head. The Perfect is also the Bishop of Fa'Islea. The leaders immediately below The Perfect, are Bishops, in Arundel they are also called The Pure. Beneath the Bishops within Arundel are The Lights, each Bishop has about three Lights below him or her, and below the Lights are the Priests and Priestesses of Yarelae.
Almost all followers of Yarelae eventually undergo a Merging, attaching them to Yarelae, as it were. Once a person is Merged, they are not to eat meat, are required to dress modestly, keep only enough money to live on and give the rest away, and must abstain from sexual intercourse. Most Yarelaists who are not Priests wait to be Merged until they are on their deathbed, especially since a corpse can be Merged within five days of the soul's departure. Followers are expected to attend worship three times a week, be loyal to their spouses, keep from becoming attatched to their worldly possessions, refrain from murdering, stealing, and telling untruths, be morally upright; and to do their utmost to keep from being sent back to the world from paradise after their deaths.
Within the Yarelaist aligned nations of the Eastern Empire, Kordal and Lys, the Church organization is similar, though differing slightly in titles. The Bishop of Fa'Islea is recognized as the spiritual leader of the Church, but considerable temporal power is exercised over Church affairs by the Aristocracy, members of which make up most of the upper Church heirarchy within the Empire. The titles of 'Pure' and 'Lights' are not used, instead the most prestigious of Church leaders are Archbishops. Historically, the Archbishop of Constantia has had the privilege of coronating the King of Lys, and the Empress of the Eastern Empire was coronated by the Archbishopess of Kordalburg. Some Bishops report to one of the Archbishops, while others report directly to The Perfect. There are then Priests and Priestesses, and also Monks and Nuns, the devout followers who have generally undergone the Merging, and these cloistered worshippers consist of both Clerical and Lay Orders.
The religion also has a somewhat different tone within the Eastern Empire. Other than the most pious, few would even consider undergoing a Merging while they live. Worship services are typically attended twice per week, once at weeks end, and another at midweek. And, given that humans and halflings have much shorter lifespans than elfs (very much shorter in the case of humans), the process of attaining Paradise is generally seen as more of a progression than something to be achieved in a single lifetime. It is generally accepted that the well-to-do, powerful Aristocrats and wealthy Merchants, are very close to Paradise, as evidenced by the favour which Yarelae has granted such, giving them dominion even over the Evil of this world. Noble Rulers are considered the Annointed of God, Chosen to Rule in His Name. Whoever can extend one's domains, amass greater wealth and punish the criminals therefore clearly is close to Paradise. One should therefore seek to better one's status in this life, to amass power and wealth through moral and legal means, so to gain the upper hand in the Battle against Evil. Conversely, those baseborn of lowly status are expected to work hard, obey the law and serve those more favoured, learning from the example of their betters so they too may uplift themselves ever closer towards Paradise.
There is even a line of scholarship which holds that none have yet entered Paradise, that entry will take place only far in the future. Thus, the surest way to eventually be amongst those who will one day enter Paradise is to uplift both oneself and one's nation, taking the Favour of Yarlae and putting it to use to show the world of ignorance and darkness the Glory and Light of Yarelae. A powerful man should therefore be willing to expend his posessions, and a lowly man his life, in furtherance of this Great Cause. When taken to extremes, this does become officially heresy, for example, the Obtainment Heresy describes those who believe it is a Moral Duty to take away the property of a thief, or indeed an immoral man. Not only the Church, but also the secular governments in the main take a dim view of this heresy, since by extending the definition of 'immoral' to include even the smallest act of impiety it would then seem to justify war and brigandage against nearly every man--many of the remaining loyalists to King Fortinbras at the end of the latest Lys civil war were self-confessed Obtainmentists.