Jediism

Jediism is a religion based on the philosophical and spiritual ideas of the Jedi as depicted in the science fiction film ‘Star Wars.’ It has no founder or central structure, but was the most selected ‘alternative faith’ in a census of England and Wales. Jediism became accepted as a religion following the Jedi census phenomenon in 2001 and the preceding email campaign to put ‘Jedi’ in answer to the census religion classification question.

The phenomenon attracted the attention of sociologist of religion Adam Possamai who analyzed it in the framework of what he dubs ‘hyper-real religion’ (religions inspired by popular culture). Jediism believers align themselves with the moral code demonstrated by the fictional Jedi. According to the Temple of the Jedi Order website, Jediism is a syncretistic religion, incorporating beliefs from various religious philosophies including Christianity, Sufism (Islam), Stoicism, Buddhism, Taoism, and Shintoism.

A common belief among Jedi is the ‘Jedi Code,’ sometimes referred to as the ‘Orthodox Jedi Code’: There is no emotion, there is peace. There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. There is no passion, there is serenity. There is no chaos, there is harmony. There is no death, there is the Force. Sometimes the line ‘There is no chaos, there is harmony.’ is added after serenity. Although Jediists acknowledge the influence of ‘Star Wars’ on their religion, they also insist their path is different from that of the fictional Jedi. To some, Jediism focuses more on the principles common to many religions than it does on the myth and fiction found in ‘Star Wars.’ George Lucas has cited history as his inspiration for creating the Force, observing in a ‘Wired’ interview that ‘Similar phrases have been used extensively by many different people for the last 13,000 years to describe the ‘life force.’

During the drafting of the UK ‘Racial and Religious Hatred Act,’ as a tool for debate, an amendment was proposed that excluded Jedi Knights from any protection. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn, the proposer having made his point that defining religious belief in legislation is difficult. In 2009, Daniel Jones was removed from a Tesco Supermarket for refusing to remove his hood on a religious basis; the owner justified the boot by saying, ‘He hasn’t been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.’

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