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Finally time has come to claim Mars. Numerous giant machinery are being assembled across the globe as phase one of transforming begins. Engineers, doctors and researchers etc are working round the clock on the red soil to ensure Mars is safe for living and working. We have everything from kitchen to living quarters except a place for religious enlightenment or praying on the surface. I'm thinking maybe we can buy and convert a space station into an orbiting church, to allow worshippers to "communicate" with their god. However, getting the sponsors is easy but I have a feeling that putting a church into orbit around the red planet might not be that easy. How should I go about it? I don't want to antagonize the pope.

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    $\begingroup$ You don't. Why would you have a church in orbit but everything else on the planet? Just designate some storage room a multi-faith room and expand from that in time... $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 20 '16 at 8:04
  • $\begingroup$ @dot_Sp0T: it is still in phase 1 so only the essential services are allowed on the surface... $\endgroup$ – user6760 Dec 20 '16 at 8:08
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    $\begingroup$ You're going to antagonise the Pope by forcing people to move off-planet to worship. Your people are busy enough in their lives without having to spend a large amount of their time travelling to and from the space station... $\endgroup$ – Snow Dec 20 '16 at 8:09
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    $\begingroup$ @user6760 so you're saying there's already plenty of infrastructure in orbit? Perfect, problem solved, there's prayer rooms up there already. $\endgroup$ – dot_Sp0T Dec 20 '16 at 8:33
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Churches are centers for their religious communities. They need to be accessible; if the people can't go, the churches can't function. Sure, religions also have isolated communities (think monasteries), but those are inward-facing. Your churches, to be successful, need to be outward- (populace-) facing.

Successful churches, therefore, will be built where the people are, in the midst of where they live. Some religions' leaders will happily help this along; accessible churches mean the church has access to the people, too.

And if no space for religious congregation was built into the original plans, that doesn't mean people need to go to space. Instead, they'll make space.

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I suspect that if there is lots of commerce and colonization, Mars will already be surrounded by orbital infrastructure. Some of it will be purpose built, like space docks to receive cargo vessels, platoons of orbital mirrors to modify the climate and various satellites doing everything from weather observation to beaming down the Home Shopping Channel, so finding and repurposing something might not be a issue at all.

The real issue is the underlying assumption of the question, that there is only one faith being celebrated by the colonists. This might actually be a reasonable assumption, since after all, many of the initial colonization efforts to the Americas were designed to transplant particular faiths to the New World (think of Spanish missionaries in Mexico, French Jesuit missionaries in New France or the Puritan colonists heading out to the East coast of the modern United States. Mormon's making the great trek to Utah are another example).

So if the Mars colony was founded by people of a singular faith, who are both wealthy and organized enough to carry out the mission, and capable of preventing rival sects from settling on Mars, then you have a very interesting social set up. Having one singular "church" in orbit might represent something like the Vatican for these people, and an interesting plot point in its own right (do factions on the ground fight over control? Would an invading force from Jupiter or Earth recognize this as key infrastructure for their invasion plans? What happens when another faction arises on Mars? etc.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Maybe the orbiting station is not a routine cathedral but something like the Vatican — most people don't go there for weekly Mass. $\endgroup$ – can-ned_food Mar 17 '18 at 14:35
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They've already done this many times before

Looking at the basic logistics of putting a space station into orbit (it being a Church as such is secondary and has no real relevance), the colonists have spent an awful long time getting resources and people into orbits around Earth and Mars already.

A space station will be no different. By definition, a space station is geared toward human habitation, so you won't have to do much except keep it supplied with stuff to keep people alive (again, not an unknown task to these guys).

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    $\begingroup$ "it being a Church as such is secondary and has no real relevance". This. Unless Matthew 18:20 - "For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” - has gone out of fashion, all anyone need do to make a church is turn up with a quorum of two. Everything else, from the glories of Gothic cathedral architecture to arranging the tea rota, is an optional extra. You want a church on an existing space station? Designate a room. You want a church filling an entire space station? Buy a space station. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Dec 20 '16 at 11:34
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The Pope is one of the smaller problems:

One church is not enough.

Your first church in space is for the Catholics. Protestants are protesting.

Your second church in space will be for the Protestants. Muslim are enraged, because they want to be close to Allah, too.

Your third church is for the Muslims.

Nr 4 for Jews (singing happily "We're Jews in space)

Nr 5 for Hindus

What about the different streams inside a religion? 3 Separate space stations for 3 separate streams inside Islam. Same for the Catholics. And Protestants. And newly developed religions, like Pastafari. What about the Church of Satan and its streams?

If you start placing a single church in space, you'd get a pretty big crowd of other church space stations really fast.

And how do you orientate the Muslim Space Station to Mecca? And how do you prevent interreligious space wars? Religious people can't even live peacefully together on earth, and you want to give them Multi Billion Dollar Space Churches?

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  • $\begingroup$ I know of several church buildings shared between Christian denominations. Prayer rooms shared between different religions are not uncommon in airports. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Dec 20 '16 at 11:13
  • $\begingroup$ "and you want to give them Multi Billion Dollar Space Churces?" The scenario in the original question has its faults, but it did actually cover that aspect when it said "getting the sponsors is easy". It appears that finance will be raised independently. $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Dec 20 '16 at 11:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Lostinfrance I agree. But my feeling is, that a) we don't need only one space station but several and b) these space stations will / might be used as weapons similar to religious conflicts today. $\endgroup$ – Alexander von Wernherr Dec 20 '16 at 11:42

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