Church of Heavenly Stigmata
These are an Evangelical Christian movement established on the Net during preparations for the first manned Mars flight by the Reverend Shire Kavanagh. It ties Christianity and the fate of the cosmos up with the settlement of Mars. They tend to stand apart from the Unified Church of God, and effectively constitute a minority belief or cult.
In Heavenly Stigmata doctrine Mars symbolizes the blood of Christ, a permanent sign to the sinful that their sins were forgiven on the cross. Reverend Kavanagh made no secret of his belief that Jesus was an ‘extra-terrestrial’ that came to Earth from beyond our galaxy, and in this doctrine, Mars plays a central role as a stop over and the place that Christ returned to after his Crucifixion.
Mars is the god of war, it is Rome the conqueror and the Devil tempting Christ in the wilderness. For the members of the church, Jesus is on Mars still, it is the desert testing Christ, and now testing Mankind. To survive the End of the World (tentatively dated to 2166) a believer must make the pilgrimage to Mars, must go through the ordeals of life on Mars and must fight the Devil and find Christ. Mars is a stepping stone to Heaven, after all. The religion aims to try and keep Mars ‘pure’ and free from human interference, to oppose sinful city developments and any moral or ethical freedoms, to oppose any research into the existence of alien life (dead or otherwise). To prove that Jesus walked on Mars and fought the Devil there, to prove that Mars was created in 4004 BC.
The Church believes that the infamous ‘Face of Mars’ was a sign from Jesus to his faithful, and they are continually launching unauthorised (and often disasterous) expeditions around Cydonia seeking the physical presence of their Saviour.