The FAQ answer is simple: Penguinism needs followers to be a religion, but the question can be answered another way, starting with the assumption that we have some followers of Penguinism.
This discussion will be heavily based on science. Do not worry; Penguinism and science are not mutually exclusive, and when science suggests something to us, we accept the science. More will be discussed about Penguinism and science in a later article.
So first off, Sq’wak is not a god. Sq’wak is not supernatural. Often I see religion defined as “belief in the supernatural, especially gods.” However, this definition is not widely used in anthropology, sociology, or psychology, and fails to capture a lot of the nature of religion. It also happens to be rather vague, as it requires a definition for “supernatural” and “god.” Even if we say that supernatural is beyond nature, then we need to know what is and is not natural, before calling something “supernatural.”
There are a number of scientific definitions available to us. But religion is notoriously difficult to define. Ninian Smart avoided it entirely, with his seven dimensions of religion, by instead providing a descriptive framework of elements generally found in religion. Jan Van Baal, on the other hand, defined religion as “all explicit and implicit notions and ideas, accepted as true, which relate to a reality which cannot be verified empirically (Modern Societies & the Science of Religions).” I liked this definition, and relied upon it in development a definition used in “A Novel Definition of Religion” and “Towards Being Secular.” However, even this definition is not complete enough. Instead, I now rely on a unified psychological and anthropological model of religion.
This definition takes into account cognitive signatures of religious belief, and cultural dimensions of religion. To really tell if Penguinism constitutes a religion, we would need to find a religioid belief, as described in the paper. But the belief in Sq’wak is very similar to other existing religious beliefs, including the belief in gods and Kami. There is also an afterlife belief. So it is reasonable to say that we have our religiod beliefs. There are also numerous cultural dimensions, such as the visage of The Divine Penguin (renderings will be posted eventually), and other elements of doctrine, including the harmony between Penguinism and science, which again will be addressed in detail later. So it is reasonable to call Penguinism a religion.