They were regarded with suspicion. All new things were, to a certain degree – but new religions, in particular, were scrutinised by the sceptical public. After all, it was one thing to believe the words of a prophet or messiah carefully legitimated by passing millennia, but the claims of a man from last week? Hardly. It didn’t help their cause that they were a particularly mercenary religion – their beliefs were characterised as egotistic, self-interested and just plain unfriendly, and the undeniable flavour of cult permeated the soufflé of their media portrayal, and their sometimes questionable business interests didn’t help matters. They owned, amongst other things, a chain of cafes – cafes which, whilst most of the public knew of their suspect ownership, and were discomforted by the fact, were nevertheless extremely popular. How much harm, really, could buying a cup of coffee – good coffee – really do?
Every religion, of course, has its secrets, and this particular flavour had an unholy alliance with science. Ordinarily of course, religions tended to shun the rational arts – but this particular group had, in the shadowy bowels of its organisation, embraced a secret sect set upon finding scientific solutions to their spiritual problems. Their single greatest achievement had been the piacular transubstantiation – a process whereby one’s sins could be transformed from the abstract to the material – where ones transgressions could literally be made into any object imaginable. Better still, if this object were then to be accepted by another person, the sin would be transferred to them, and the original sinner was left pure in the eyes of their god. The problem, however, was that it had to be asked for, and the recipient had to know what they were asking for – you could not simply trick someone into accepting the gold ring of your murder, or the spare pen of your adultery.
He licked his lips as he looked at the triple cheesecake in the glass display case and after a moment’s thought, looked back to the teller “Oh, what the hell;” he said with a shrug, “I’ll have a slice of ‘Mortal Sin’ as well.”