[Ed. note: originally posted on GameFAQs by user pmog here (broken link): http://www.gamefaqs.com/boards/2000008-final-fantasy-x-storyline/21477330?page=17]
The following is my translation of the section on the Temples in the FFX SUG. AFAIK, everything in this section is totally accurate – beliefs that are held by Spirans (and may be factually incorrect) are stated to be such (eg. “It is said…”).
YEVON’S TEACHINGS AND THE TEMPLES
After the appearance of Sin, what became hope for a people in the depths of despair were “Yevon’s teachings”. These teachings originated in Bevelle after Sin’s first rebirth, and soon spread all throughout the world. Today, most of the people who live in Spira believe in the teachings and think it natural to live according to them.
The organisation that spreads the teachings are the “Yevon Temples”, and their head temple is in Bevelle. Those who are affiliated with the Temples and spread the teachings are called “priests”.
A Summary Of The Teachings
The key elements of Yevon’s teachings are, more than Sin being a symbol of mankind’s sins, the advice to atone for sins and the prohibition of machina usage. They also spread word of salvation in the form of the Final Summoning, and the Temples have also been recommending summoners to undertake the pilgrimage in which to seek it.
However, looking at the teachings rationally, each point is? no better than folklore and it is obvious that there isn’t any consistent philosophy. There were people in the past who noticed this and tried to establish a doctrinal system, but all attempts to do so either failed or were obstructed by the Temples.
The Temples know that their teachings are nothing more than a temporary relief. And because they fear the exposure of that fact, they forbid the pursuit of all truths other than the teachings, and frown on change or any displays of doubt. One could argue that the backbone of Yevon’s teachings are, in other words, an endorsement of thought suppression.
The “Yevon” in “Yevon’s teachings” is derived from the person of the same name. According to legend, Yevon was a summoner who had lived in Zanarkand 1000 years ago, and also Yunalesca’s father. And it is said that when Zanarkand was attacked by Sin, he gave his daughter “Yevon’s teachings” – the teachings with which to defeat Sin. In the present, Yevon has become an object of veneration, in a similar manner to Yunalesca, as the person who gave Spira the seed of its salvation. However, many mysteries remain as to how he acquired those teachings, or what happened to him after he granted them.
Although the Yevon Temple is an enormous organisation with roots over the whole of Spira, they don’t officially have any worldly authority. Matters such as administration are left up to regional self-rule. However, it is an indisputable fact that the leaders of each area are backed up by the Temples.
The Temples possess enormous funds due to donations received daily from those who believe in the teachings They aid the people in their lives by using those finances in various ways, such as operating the shoopuf crossing service free of charge, and sponsoring the ferries. In addition, there are temples set up all over Spira which carry out dual roles, both as a place that brings salvation to the people who depend on Yevon’s teachings, and as a training ground for summoners.
The Temple Organisation
Control of the Temples is carried out by four maesters, called the “four maesters of Yevon”. Among them, a grand maester represents the Temples, while the remaining three maesters oversee the three ministries of civil affairs, military affairs, and temple affairs. Additionally, high priests are posted as representatives at each temple across the world, but they have no voice in the Temples’ inner circle and only have control over their respective temples. In an exception to the rule, Maester Seymour concurrently holds the post of high priest.
Current Grand Maester: Yo Mika. Head of all the priests. In charge of the Temples as a whole.
Current Minister of Civil Affairs: Kelk Ronso. Head of the civil officials. Controls the Ministry of Civil Affairs, which is in charge of the judiciary, treasury and general civil administration.
Current Minister of Military Affairs: Wen Kinoc. Head of the military officials. Controls the Ministry of Military Affairs, which is in charge of the general military command. Doubles as head of the Warrior Monk Corps and oversees the Crusaders.
Current Minister of Temple Affairs: Seymour Guado. Controls the Ministry of Temple Affairs, which maintains the Temple’s rituals and teachings. Also oversees the summoners. Has the authority to handle records of the sealed histories.
The Yevon Temples have regional chapters of temples all over Spira. Eliminating those that have been destroyed or abandoned along the way, the present temples total five in number. Though each temple has differing characteristics, the common feature they all have is a Cloister of Trials and a Chamber of the Fayth. Summoners gain aeons by undergoing the temple’s trials and communicating with the fayth sealed within the fayth statue.
Yevonites And Opposers Of Yevon
Yevon’s teachings, the Yevon Temples, and people associated with the Temples are often called “Yevon” for short. In addition, those who believe in Yevon’s teachings and live according to them are called “Yevonites”. Conversely, those who don’t follow the teachings or violate them are abhorred as being “opposers of Yevon”. Currently, the vast majority of people who live in Spira can be categorised as Yevonites.
The Yevon Temples’ official position is that even those who are oppose Yevon should not be harmed. But in reality, the Temples use the Warrior Monk Corps to crack down on those who are regarded as opposers of Yevon.
The Yevon Temples have the “Warrior Monk Corps” as its personal military force. The principal duties of the warrior monks are the defense of the temple of St Bevelle and the protection of high ranking priests, as typified by the maesters. They don’t play a fundamental role in security around the world, although they are deployed throughout Spira in times of emergency.
Officially, the Warrior Monk Corps are considered to be a moderate organisation. But behind the scenes, they have a duty to crack down on traitors to the Temples, and have oppressed and caused harm to those like the Al Bhed for a long time. However, most people are unaware of this fact.
Zanarkand, The City At The End Of The World
Zanarkand is a city state that flourished in the far north 1000 years ago. It is said that Yunalesca, the summoner who first defeated Sin, also came from this city. The Temples explain that the city also reached new heights of prosperity by using machina, and that it was destroyed by Sin as its punishment and now only remains as ruins. However, it is unclear as to whether this is true or not. This is because the journey to Zanarkand is long and dangerous, and there are only a few people who have been able to actually see the state of the city with their own eyes and come back alive.
The only power capable of defeating Sin – the “Final Summoning” – is said to rest in these lands, and thus people today call Zanarkand “Yevon’s sacred place”. Summoner all continue to journey towards Zanarkand.
The Traitor Omega
Although the Yevon Temples were established and its teachings had become widespread, 600 years passed where no one was able to defeat Sin. During that time, there were by no means a small number of people who doubted Yevon’s teachings and thought about trying to defeat Sin in their own way. Omega was also one of those who questioned the teachings. Originally a priest of Yevon, he was executed for harbouring doubts about the teachings and openly rebelling against the Temples. Unable to go to the Farplane even after his death, Omega became a fearsome fiend and continues to remain on Spira even to this day.