These Star Wars Fans Have Embraced Jediism as Their Actual ReligionMar 23, 2017
With two new Star Wars movies embraced by fans and more on the way, the sci-fi fantasy series created by George Lucas is now more popular than ever. The movies haven’t just spawned legions of devoted fans, but an actual religion too. If you’re looking for a belief system that incorporates lightsabers, then Jediism might be just for you.
When the U.K. was conducting its 2001 census, statisticians noticed that .07% of the population – around 390,000 people – listed Jedi as their religious affiliation. The statisticians initially wrote it off as a joke by those with no religious affiliation, but they underestimated just how strong the Force of the Jedi truly was.
Jediism is indeed very real to those who practice with the Temple of the Jedi Order and use its teachings to guide their lives. Those who adhere to Jediism as their religious choice have no official meeting place of worship, as the religion exists almost completely online. There is some structure of leadership to the outfit though, with higher ranking members scattered throughout the continents.
Jedi-convert, Alex Bird told Elite Daily that after trying out belief systems ranging from Catholicism and Buddhism to Atheism, he gravitated towards Jediism because it aligned with his values.
According to the Temple of the Jedi Order’s website, the religion is “based on the observance of the Force, a ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a Jedi believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe.” The always evolving doctrine outlines three tenets of the religion: focus, knowledge and wisdom. It also includes a creed and code system of what those who practice Jediism believe, such as “the worth of all life” and a society that does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, religion or sexual orientation. “The Jedi belief system is a patchwork quilt of Taoism, Buddhism, Catholicism and Samurai,” said Beth Singler, a researcher in the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University. They’re also against the death penalty – even for those who subscribe to the Dark Side.
Like any religion, Jediism has its own holidays such as Jediism Day on May 25th, and Day of Harmony on September 21st. Ironically, it doesn’t officially endorse the popular May the 4th Be With You.
While the Temple of the Jedi Order makes it clear on its website that the Jedi in the Star Wars movies are fictional, there are members who believe they can use the Force to levitate objects with their mind. Becoming a Jedi isn’t just a simple few clicks of the computer mouse. While the actual swearing-in ceremony is rather simple and takes place in a chat room, the studying process is longer. “This was roughly the culmination of a year and a half of study,” said Bird before taking his Jedi oath.
For Bird and those who subscribe to Jeddism, it’s not so much about geeking out on Star Wars – though Bird does have his share of Star Wars memorabilia – but being a good person and incorporating Jedi principals into his life. David Walker, the Anglican Bishop of Manchester says that for those that don’t feel connected to the older religions, Jediism simply offers another way for people to feel connected and give meaning to their lives. This all raises the question: at what point does a belief system actually become a recognized religion?
The Temple of the Jedi Order applied to be entered onto the register of charities with England’s Charities Incorporated Organisation in 2016, but was shot down. The Charity Commission for England and Wales cited their denial based on the argument that Jediism didn’t satisfy its credentials for “moral and ethical improvement for the benefit of the public”, despite England and Wales having around 177,000 people registered to the Temple of the Jedi Order. Bishop Walker said Jeddism will likely have to be around for quiet a few decades before its officially recognized as a legitimate religious organization.
Having his religion of choice officially recognized as a legitimate faith isn’t holding back Alex Bird and other Jedis like him. “This is the way I’ve chosen to deal with the things in life that I hold sacred,” said Bird. “I’m not embarrassed of a thing.”