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The planet Earth is made up of one giant supercontinent that all of humanity live on. The landmasses are separated by jungles, deserts, mountain ranges, large rivers, and other geographical barriers. However, They are all connected through portals called Realm Gates, which are scattered thoughout the supercontinent. The portals vary in size, from those which could only transport several people at once, to larger ones that can move hundreds or even thousands. These gates exist across different different countires. Their people have their own cultures, traditions, and celebrations, but all follow one organized faith.

Realm Gates are controlled by the organized religion, which exists in some form across these countries on the continent. Priests are the only ones who can activate or de-activate the portals. Churches spring up around these gates, and control access to them. They are considered sacred gifts from the gods, and destroying one is considered sacrilege. The knowledge of these portals are known to the public. These gates connect to each other as well as to the Main realmgates at the country's capital. This gate controls all the other gates in the country, and connects to the realmgates of the capitals of other nations.

The world exists alongside a parallel reality that is equivalent to hell. This realm is filled with creatures called daemons that cross over into the world. The only thing keeping the daemons out is a thin barrier that exists between realms. This barrier is powered by human worship. Because of this, The religion wants to maintain a unified church without splitting into different factions like the monotheistic faiths of today, such as christianity and its many denominations. Since there are numerous countries on the landmass, each with its own people and cultures, it would be difficult to keep the faith consistent without causing misinterpretations and unwanted additions.

How can I credibly describe how this church maintains its unity across a supercontinent without splintering?

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    $\begingroup$ "Burn the heretics" $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 10 '17 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Given that religions on a singular earth cannot maintain unity. I'm unsure how a religion across multiple earths will be able to do so. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Oct 10 '17 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Shardmartin en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Free_Zone_(Scientology) There's at least one example of a Scientology faction separate from the core church. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Oct 10 '17 at 16:11
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    $\begingroup$ @Shardmartin Scientology isn't even a century old, give it time $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 10 '17 at 20:56
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    $\begingroup$ FWIW, destroying one of these portals sounds more like it would be "sacrilege" or "sin" than "heresy", since "heresy" is term usually confined to the holding of unsanctioned ideas, whereas the former each describe a wider variety of actions. e.g. on this Earth, disinterring bodies from a churchyard and defiling the remains is not "heresy", but it would be considered by most to be sacrilegious. $\endgroup$ – guenthmonstr Oct 10 '17 at 23:13

17 Answers 17

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Most Effective: Through guidance of a deity

There isn't a single classical religion on the planet that hasn't experienced fracturing. Even the Jews, who I'd argue have shown the most cohesion with respect to time, have differences in beliefs. The only assured way I'd see is if that religions deity periodically dropped down to answer questions and silence the non believers.

Semi Effective: Religious Assimilation

One semi-effective historical solution is what the Romans and the Greeks did which was have a polytheistic religion that could adopt and constantly redefine their gods as time and borders changed. This proved effective when conquering lands by allowing a route of direct integration for local deities and sub sequentially cultural adoption.

Less Effective: Burn the Heretics

There are instances where religious fracturing was prevented through creedocide. Needless to say if you manage to kill everyone with a different opinion then your option becomes 'right'. This is the least effective because it backfires all to often from the immorality of creedocide, the difficulty of finding and killing all the dissenters, etc.

Side Note at Polytheism:

Polytheism seems to be the most stable with respect to fracturing. Arguably, you could say the Hindus are the most 'unfractured' as they all share the same pantheon and relative mythology. The gray part comes in at who the focus is of which denomination [Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, Smartis..]. This was also true for the Greeks and Romans.

There is also the semi magic answer (hinted at by my first option)

Since there are these 'magic' portals that can only be operated by priests. Why not have it so that the qualification to be a priest is granted solely by religious conformity moderated by divine approval. This way religious arguments are implicitly settled by divine intervention. If God does not like Priest bob's views he loses his power to the gate and everyone blames his ideological discrepancy for it.

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    $\begingroup$ One aspect I believe has led to the stability of Judaism is that they actively encourage internal scrutinization of their written text. Though there is still some sectarianism, it's mostly limited to the strength in which they conform to certain ideals. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 10 '17 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ I have to disagree. There has been a lot of schisms, separations, spinoffs, etc from Judaism. Christianity being the most obvious one, but the Samaritans a long time ago are another example, or currently the difference between Orthodox and Non-Orthodox Judaism. See this for reference, and more examples: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jewish_schisms $\endgroup$ – Nico Oct 11 '17 at 7:04
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    $\begingroup$ I agree for the first answer, Real Deity. That's probably the only way to keep a religion united. $\endgroup$ – dna Oct 11 '17 at 9:50
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    $\begingroup$ @anon Jesus himself was a Jew who had some ideas not all other Jews agreed with (like that he was the Messiah); I'm not sure how much more "fracture" you can get. $\endgroup$ – errantlinguist Oct 11 '17 at 15:00
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    $\begingroup$ @anon Jesus Christ was born and raised in a Jewish family, in the Jewish religion. He did not abandon the narrative of Judaism, especially Abrahamic beliefs, he just modified it. At the time of JC, Judaism was not entirely a monotheistic religion. JC brought it back to monotheism, and Judaism followed suit, but still wavered until well past the prophet Mohammed. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 11 '17 at 16:25
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Holy Mother Church, AKA Roman Catholicism, is proverbially "wise in years", it has maintained a global network of influence and a general uniformity of ritual for centuries. There is no real reason for a church that is organised as a political and imperial entity, (this is a somewhat controversial thing to call the Church but none of the Catholics I know have ever argued with the definition, just the implications) should fracture to begin with. Sorry if this doesn't help you any but it's the closest thing I can give you to an answer, look into the way the Catholic Church maintained standards and contact across it's chapterhouses and missions during the colonisation of the Americas for guidance to cohesion across large distances and varied settings.

P.S. the portals, both as natural centres of worship and as transport bottlenecks, will actually help a great deal in preventing divergence.

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    $\begingroup$ Probably the worst example, the roman catholic church has in many cases driven sectarianism. Christianity alone is probably the most fractured religion with the roman catholics and coptics being the oldest denominations. $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 10 '17 at 13:57
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    $\begingroup$ @anon Exactly core Catholicism has remained unchanged to spite many splinters falling off. $\endgroup$ – Ash Oct 10 '17 at 13:59
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    $\begingroup$ Catholicism fought tooth and nails to maintain unity over the course of European history, and still lost a lot of it. Research the Holy Inquisitions, the Münster Rebellion and the 30 Years War for details. The question is how much of these could have been avoided if the Catholic church had the right popes at the right times. For example the reformation by Martin Luther could have been avoided if the Catholic church had been more susceptive to constructive and legitimate criticism (which they then mostly followed anyway decades later). $\endgroup$ – Philipp Oct 10 '17 at 15:01
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    $\begingroup$ @Ash you only call the "core Catholicism" "core Catholicism" because it has split up and there are resemblances... basically with anything that splits up into multiple things but still shares some common part you can search for the "core thing". $\endgroup$ – Brian H. Oct 10 '17 at 16:16
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    $\begingroup$ @BrianH. I call it "Core Catholicism" because it has maintained it's particular ritual trappings, and because it is in a position to record a widely accepted history in which various religious groups are said to have "broken from" it rather than the other way around. $\endgroup$ – Ash Oct 11 '17 at 9:47
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Religion by it's very nature is prone to schisms. There are no examples of a religion on earth of any longevity that hasn't split and factionalized. This is such a common phenomena that it's possible that it is a fundamental part of human nature.

If it's impossible for religions on one earth to not split constantly. It's going to be impossible for a religion spanning multiple earths to do so.

To quote xkcd:

Human subcultures are nested fractally. There is no bottom.

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    $\begingroup$ Unless god occasionally descends and says you are wrong $\endgroup$ – anon Oct 10 '17 at 17:36
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    $\begingroup$ @anon That just gives more text to be misinterpreted, and argued over. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Oct 10 '17 at 17:55
  • $\begingroup$ Then allow me to introduce the religions of the aboriginal peoples of Australia. 40,000 years of uninterrupted belief in exactly the same thing, completely unfractured, until white men came and took their religion away from them. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 11 '17 at 13:59
  • $\begingroup$ @JustinThyme Are you sure that they have one homogeneous religion? Something tells me that there is regional variation like there is with every other aspect of their culture. $\endgroup$ – sphennings Oct 11 '17 at 15:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JustinThyme And what's their population numbers? Yeah, just a hair less than billions. False comparison. $\endgroup$ – fredsbend Oct 11 '17 at 17:02
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Instead of looking to the extremely fractured religion of Christianity, as it implied by your use of the word "church", look instead to Hinduism.

In our world, in Hinduism, there is almost no centralization, and a huge variation in dogma and in what is considered scripture. There is even more variation in how scripture is interpreted, and a millions times more variation in ritual and religious practices. And this is in South Asia and Indonesia- where there are huge culture differences (for example, Nepal vs Gujarat) and huge language differences (Tamil Nadu vs Uttar Pradesh). So here is an example of a pluralistic, non centralized religion that is hugely popular among very many people.

Why is this? How can this be? Loot no further than the lack of centralization and the encouragement of tolerance in Hinduism. So if you want a common religion, have virtually no centralization, core tenants, except one of tolerance for the difference between people, and respect for the world around us.

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  1. Remain in contact with the people. It is not enough for them to camp out at the portals. They must regularly send out missionaries and teachers to keep in touch with the people and ensure that they all have the same spiritual teaching/programming.

  2. A strict and precise dogma that does not give wiggle room for followers to come up with different interpretations.

  3. Have a way to deal with heretics. Not necessarily burning at the stake, but something to discourage people from going against established doctrine.

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This might help. The Universe May Be Conscious, Say Prominent Scientists A religion that is based on universal consciousness across all universes. Not only could it be grounded in science, it integrates all humans in all universes together under one consciousness, with one purpose.

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    $\begingroup$ Since I have an up-vote, I will add this as a comment. The 'religion' of the Gatekeepers will obviously be based on technology, especially the technology to run the gates. The religion would have to be 'non-dogmatic' and 'non-ideological' enough to survive technological, scientific, and mechanical change. It would have to be based on advanced education, and it would have to be pervasive and dominant enough to prevent others from discovering the secret of the function of the gates, so as to prevent competitors. Society would support it since it could 'filter' movement between universes. $\endgroup$ – Justin Thyme Oct 10 '17 at 15:58
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The simplest way is dogma. If you have a holy book, that is written to be less vague about things, then it can be used as a source of a single absolute truth. Any deviation from this is unacceptable to that religion.

This in itself becomes "fun" as times change and proscribed ancient practices become outdated... but if the book is clear enough then schisms can be prevented. Killing anyone daring to even think about questioning it helps a lot too.

Basically, killing anyone not toeing in line is the easiest way to keep solitary control of the religion.

If you don't want violence and oppression, then the next best thing is to have a historical genocide of such epic proportions that everyone considers its not worth letting it happen again, such that everyone basically agrees to keep things stable whilst possibly having enough laxity in secular life that the religion continues its practices and teachings without any opposition or schisms forming.

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  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by historical genocide? One caused by the church? $\endgroup$ – user32862 Oct 10 '17 at 17:14
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    $\begingroup$ @Shardmartin any significantly bloody and violent war between religions in a previous schism. $\endgroup$ – gbjbaanb Oct 10 '17 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ The Western Bible has been used to support a great many mutually-incompatible beliefs. You'll need to create a religion and scripture optimized specifically to prevent fracture. Regular rotation of clergy will help, as will using the gates for aggressive exogamy to help keep culture uniform. $\endgroup$ – arp Feb 4 at 17:43
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This religion is functional, it controls access to the gates. Gates provide opportunity for trade and cultural exchange and the protocol for this will be the province of the priests. This can be extended through each of the realms to coherent and mutually agreed conventions. It will be in the interest of all realms to maintain this and, as a manifestation of religion, this will act as a force to maintain unity within the religion and through all the realms.

This does not prevent cultural differences, but will establish common values and some commonality of belief. Religions avoid splitting by maintaining common core beliefs - this does not necessarily have much to do with gods, and far more to do with how people generally interact with each other.

Schisms in the religion would cause problems with gate travel and benefit none.

Religion does not fracture because it is functionally important. The gods do not matter because they are not part of day-to-day life, but the gates are. The religion effectively serves the gates and, through the gates, the needs of the people. Gods are maintained for reasons of explanation, but no one disputes the importance of the gates and 'gate traffic' - effectively the gods are trumped by economics.

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I could not decide if I should post an answer, or a reply to someone else’s answer, so here is what I’ve got. The core is MichaelK’s reply. “Find the reasons a church could splinter, and then eliminate the reasons from your world.” I would reply to him if he had posted an answer. Why do religions splinter? For every split I can think of, from mass genocides down to a family deciding to move to the church down the road, it seems to always boils down to an exchange like:

Person A: “I believe X and it is true.”

Person B: “But what about Y?”

Person A: “It is not X, therefore it is false.”

Person B: “Well, forget you.”

Anon did a great job putting together most of the possibilities. Burning the heretics would never solve this. In fact, there’s nothing quite like unjust death, perceived or otherwise, to solidify a rebellion. I am not convinced that the deity himself stepping down and stating truth would remove schisms, as they are often not issues of core belief.

So what short circuits and removes this cycle? It seems the most effective is toleration. This is not, “you must also believe what this other person believes” as that is really the same thing as above. It is having a small and flexible core that basically everyone agrees to almost instinctively. Everything else is accepted based off of that. You could have a priest in a massive stone building, surrounded by candles and incense performing a solemn ceremony to open the gate, step through, and find that the ceremony on the other side of the gate involves grass skirts, steel drums, and a conga line. If the first priest tries to stop them saying that is not how it is done, you will soon have two churches. If he says “I’m in!” and joins the end of the line, the church’s unity is reinforced.

I give that example, but as passing through a gate would be much like crossing the street, customs around one gate would probably evolve to be similar, while geographically separated gates could be quite different. They would end up being anchor points of culture across realms, while regions away from any gate would evolve to be quite different between realms.

One more point that is only somewhat related to the first is, how fractured is fractured? For the Hindu and the Shinto, there is not one religion, there are thousands of religions. I am not sure you will find two Hindu who believe the exact same thing. And they don’t care. One time I was talking to a Hindu man about our religions and I finally got it through my head that he considers me, as a Christian, to be part of his religion. It is a strange concept for me, but I can see how the Hindu can be so accepting of others. They’re not others.

Using the heavily splintered Christian church as an example, it is worth asking at what level you need unity in your world. It is kind of amazing how you can pull a Catholic priest from Europe, a redneck Baptist from America, and poor farmer from the jungle of Nicaragua; set the Nicene Creed in front of them, and they will all sign up for it. Ok, maybe the revision of it, but even that dates from 381 A.D. For all the bickering and out right war, there is nothing like a category 5 hurricane to get the Baptists and the nuns out with the chainsaws working side-by-side.

Quite long. I guess I’ll post it as an answer. (“avoid responding to other answers. I...can’t”)

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Portals grant their operators the ability to instill the full trust of the people in anything stated ex cathedra. One of the portals is the "Master Portal" which grants its operator the ability to instill the full trust of the other portal operators in anything stated ex cathedra.

Optionally, the "Master Portal" may have some built-in ability to prevent its operator from abusing its power to violate the established order. For example, if the religion is based on the portal operators electing the "Master Portal" operator, it may prevent the "Master Portal" operator from using his ability to influence elections.

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    $\begingroup$ Potential plot-hook: The "Master Portal" actually isn't a real thing, but was a piece of dogma invented by the first discoverers of the portals. They fabricated this story for the hierarchy of power to work correctly. One day, a portal operator may discover that they are able to influence the "Master Portal" operator--plot ensues. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 10 '17 at 19:37
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean "instill the full trust of the people"? Ex cathedra? $\endgroup$ – user32862 Oct 10 '17 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ @Shardmartin By "instill the full trust of the people", I mean that the portal gives its operator a superpower which allows them to choose to influence the minds of the people so that they trust what they say in an official context. Ex cathedra means "with the full authority of office" and is used whenever the Pope is stating something officially as opposed to casually. $\endgroup$ – called2voyage Oct 10 '17 at 20:09
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Actually, if in your world a God (or a set of Gods) really exist, then it is easier to justify the unity than the disgregation: the God will just give the same indications and rules to everybody, and that is how everybody believes and behaves the same. Also, if you really have Gods, and you actually speak to them, the last thing you would do if you have a bit of common sense is disobey them: if they gods say you should not go your own way and found an alternative Church, you surely better not do it. Also, what would your alternative church do, since there would not be any god associated to that, as it is not recognized by the God?

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Consider that there are many people, including posters on this site, who have turned Einstein's theories into a religion, and consider his works 'The Gospel According to Einstein'. He is venerated, and anyone who dares make any claim that is contrary to his proselytizations is called a heretic. His writings are used as the sole determinant of truth and fact. Relativity has become the only source of explanation of the universe that they need. For over 80 years, his word is inviolate. Even the mass media revers his name, universally.

You don't need a god to make a religion, you just need a belief. Something that you can blindly follow. Something that answers those great mysteries of life. A central figure that epitomizes this belief system, that humanizes it. A creed. An organized body that perpetuates that belief system. And an organized body of enforcers who ensure that the belief is kept strong, and that all contradicting ideas are suppressed.

I can easily see how these gatekeepers, physicists by training, could over time coalesce into a common belief system, supported universally by science, education, politicians, the media, and the general public, across many universes that shared the same physics. Once the educational system is brought on board, and it is taught from infancy, I can also see that no other views would become established.

They would be very highly educated physicists whose career, future, and indeed purpose in life would all be dependent on the veracity of the theories behind their gate. The entire financial empire that was funded by the proceeds from the gate fees would be at risk. Absolutely inestimably large sums of money. And the peoples of the universes would be dependent upon their knowledge and expertise to keep the gates, and thus economic prosperity, operating. If someone 'invented' or even 'theorized' a different physics that would do the same thing, their financial and meaningful world would collapse. They would have a vested interest in ensuring all science was directed at 'proving' their physics was the 'only truth'. They would control the knowledge that society was based on.

They would believe they are believing in SCIENCE, in truth, in validated facts, in the immutable realities of the universes.

In reality, they would be worshiping the religion of 'Gativity', or whatever the theory of the physics behind the functioning of the gate, and the theorist who first proposed it, would be its patron.

The most enduring religions have been the aboriginal religions - they were not seen as religions, (no formal routine services) but as the everyday way of life. They lived their religion every day, not just on the 'formalized day of worship' or during 'expressions of faith' rituals.

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Communication

The gates provide instant communication between the realms.

  1. This works better if each gate can be tuned to reach any of the other realms. Thus you have nearly instant communication between all of the realms.
  2. It is better still if the gates have a non-transport "communication channel" that can communicate with the gates in all the realms simultaneously. This can be simplex like standard radio or duplex like the telephone or Skype.
  3. Best is if the communication can reach the other gates in the same realm.

Option 3 avoids the communication lag within the realm.

Now we have the problem of breakaway gates. The ones running a gate that is physically isolated from other gates within a realm may decide to be big fish in a small pond.

If option 3 works with transport too then breakaways would be very difficult. Just have a central armed base that can send troops to any gate, problem solved.

Transportation

Another way of solving that issue is to have the gates in each realm not map to the same geography. That way if gate 1 and gate 2 in realm A are far apart, they may be near each other in realm B. This would make it hard to be totally isolated. It also means that realms with nearby gates will likely have major roads traveling between them. Travel maps would then have multi realm "shortest path" routes. This is the most interesting option to me.

Control

Another method that could work is to have a central control that can shut down or operate any gate. No one at a local gate could buck the system because their gate would be shut down until troops are ready to cross it and deal with the situation.

I prefer the combination of Communication and Transportation. The Control method simply means that the area of the master control will become a hotbed of intrigue with different factions trying to get enough of their people posted there to control the system. That can be an interesting story but I've read that story way too many times.

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How sinister is your religion? When the central church determines that a realm is drifting away from it's perceived core values, it somehow destroys the realm portal to that realm (or, prevents the portal from working between that realm and "the rest" of the realms).

This means that when a realm's religion splinters, it effectively goes dark - no one can travel from/to it.

This also leaves open the possibility of a splinter religion forming in multiple realms and actually forking away from the main set of realms, which could lead to some interesting plot mechanics

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As @anon had quite wisely suggested, the best solution is having dieti(es) actively guarding true faith by divine intervention. However, the deities might not actually exist, or refuse to punish heretics magically. In this case, your Church (I am going to use Catholic terminology, since, like it or not, it is the longest living and greatest centralized religious organization on the World.) needs to rely on mortal methods.

Others suggested, that you should have a liberal, decentralized, polytheist mythology. This really helps if you only want to avoid 'open schism' (priests saying to each other: You heretic are going to burn in the Hell!), but would encourage regions to 'like' different gods from the same pantheon , and worship them above the others, or to develop fundamentally different interpretations. So if you really want your people to believe in the same things, you are going to need a centralized church.

My advice:

1.) Have one leader Your Church cannot allow endless disputes on synods. It needs a pope, that, after hearing the arguments, finally decides what is Right.

2.) Travel a lot If the religious leaders of each region stay there infinitely, they are going to loose contact with the other parts of the Church, and identify to much with their province. Ideally, even your 'pope' should be in constant motion, visiting local communities one after another, like the apostles did in the early days of Christianity. They would use both the portals, and conventional means of transport in-dimension.

3.) Become integral part of the society The real cause of the influence of the Church was not it's centralized power, but its omnipresence on every level of everyday life. It stood on the side of the kings, diligently writing down his edicts. It regulated the lust and greed of the lords. It stood by the cradle, marriage bed (not literally) and dying bed of the burgeon. It celebrated together with the peasants. It maintained hospitals and schools: the priest did almost all the intellectual work. Wove the structure of your Church into the structure of society, so that everybody benefits from it's functions, not only the warlords and merchants using the Gates.

4.) Don't let secular powers interfere Often in the medieval times kings tried to nominate bishops themselves, and 'revolted' against the pope, refusing to proclaim his edicts. Other times they held back church taxes, or did not appoint bishops for a long period, letting their secular gubernators collect the incomes of the bishopric.

Often even the papal throne became a subject of power struggle between kingdoms or the powerful families of Rome City, leading to anti-popes. Not to mention when the King of France forced the Pope to move into Avignon, and live under his influence: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Avignon_Papacy

Such events would mean a huge loss of face to the Church, so you have to hold the secular powers firmly in hand.

5.) Do not abuse your power You want your Church to be a moral authority. This does not mean that you need the maximal amount of direct secular power. If you raise the taxes to much, depose to much popular monarchs, or your priest do too much rotten things, your moral authority will sink, leading to people finding answers to their thirst after God elsewhere.

However tempting the immediate benefits of power, wealth and pleasure may be, your clergy should avoid making itself loathsome and loosing credibility.

6.) Learn to change while not changing The personal and social needs which are to be satisfied by faith change over time. While keeping the dogma strictly, your Church needs to speak to the people in different ways, shifting emphasis from one part of the teaching to the another. The leadership should carefully balance, whether a given theological direction, local movement or belief is outright heresy, or is, although using different 'tone' as the mainstream Church, useful and eligible. Ecclesia semper reformanda est

7.) Support multiculturalism Your Church is to work on a lot of different cultures. It has to do everything to slowly and peacefully mold them together. Send priests from culture A to culture B, organize pilgrimages, and regularly hold a great Event (like the Olympics in the ancient Greece) where not only the clergy, but a significant part of the simple believers would come together, to glorify the gods, while also doing something fun.

Wisdom and Luck Some of the above points are contradictory: How should the priests maintain living social ties with Everyday Joe if they are constantly sent to foreign cultures? Where is the line between holding back an aggressive dictator and abusing your power? The Church needs wise, blessed and quite saint leaders to decide what is good for the religion, which as little self-interest as possible.

+1) Have an enemy Have a small but noticeable fraction of your people follow a radically different faith. Not some petty heresy to which is easy to convert and back, but something sinister, abominable and unholy, like satanism. If this bad religion is the only alternative in the mind of the people, they will rather stick to the orthodox teachings.

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Strange, frequent ritual actions that encompass every part of life

Philosophers love to argue, and nothing will change that. The only way to prevent disagreements in your faith is if you value blind adherence and suppress original thought, which (in addition to never working) will stifle cultural growth. Religions based on philosophy tend to fragment as disagreement in dogma develop.

But warring factions can come together when they see the other side performing the same ritual that they use to define themselves. And the more frequent these rituals occur, the more frequent these "common moments" become.

Oh sure, we might disagree about high philosophical concepts like the number of attributes in the Godhead, or whether God created the universe for Man or whether Man exists to serve God, or exactly how divine or how human the nature of the Messiah is, or the precise wording of the daily prayer rituals, but if I see you washing your hands before eating bread just like I do, or making a blessing after eating and using the toilet just like I do, or wrapping leather straps around your arm each morning just like I do, how can I not recognize you as being a brother?

But if our philosophy is all we have, and your philosophy differs from mine...well, then you're a heretic and you can burn.

It doesn't really matter what these rituals are. However, they should have the following traits:

  1. They should be strange. You want rituals that nobody would think of doing if they weren't part of the faith. Otherwise, the fact that someone else is doing them doesn't really mean that they are a part of the faith and seeing someone else doing them will fail to convey the same effect.

  2. They should be based on action, not speech or philosophy. Precise wording in prayer rituals changes very easily and as previously mentioned philosophy is inherently volatile among people with a scholarly nature and can swiftly result in schisms if this is your foundation for identity. Actions, by contrast, are more durable. They can evolve but it takes a lot more time in isolation for them to become unrecognizable.

  3. They should be frequent. A festival once a year is better than nothing for uniting people, but what you really want is something that is always happening so that you can be reminded of them constantly.

  4. They should be slightly intrusive, but not too intrusive. The harder these rituals are to perform, the more meaningful it is that someone is doing them and the stronger the cohesion effect will be. On the other hand, you don't want them to be so difficult that they drive people off or so intrusive that they stifle technological progress. This is the most difficult bit to balance. Dietary restrictions, odd styles of clothing and fixed prayer intervals or holy days are all typical options since while they can be bothersome they don't really prevent a society from doing anything that would benefit that society's survival.

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This realm is filled with creatures called daemons that cross over into the world. The only thing keeping the daemons out is a thin barrier that exists between realms. This barrier is powered by human worship.

Seems to me you've got the answer right there already. Apostasy and heresy here on Earth are punished in a variety of ways, but none so visceral and persuasive as this: the incursion of hordes of godawful, bloodthirsty daemons.

The religion is unified because splitters get eaten by monsters.

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