Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hype Leads to Surge in Followers for Real-Life Jedi Church

Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - 2:56PM
Star Wars
Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Tuesday, 15 December 2015 - 2:56PM
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Hype Leads to Surge in Followers for Real-Life Jedi Church
In case you didn't know, there's a real-life religion based on Jediism from Star Wars, primarily based in the UK. It started as a joke to stick it to the government, but now it seems to be an honest-to-goodness religion, and it's seeing a huge surge of followers in the hype leading up to The Force Awakens. The leaders of the council claim to have 250,000 followers at this point, with approximately 1,000 people signing up each day this week.

Opening quote
"It's gone up substantially in the past couple of days," Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the church's ruling council, told The Telegraph. "The real test will be in a couple of weeks when the film hype has died off."
Closing quote

The Church of Jediism began as a campaign to protest the inclusion of religion on the 2001 census. That year, approximately 390,000 people declared Jediism as their religion. Ten years later, for the next census, the numbers were less but still substantial, at 177,000. Now, people are re-discovering the church, which has become an actual doctrine in the interim.

Opening quote
"We've been rushed off our feet. People want to know more about it. It's great for us."
Closing quote

The Church of Jediism is a religion based on Jedi beliefs, but they emphasize that they don't believe the Jedi are real. "Although Jediism was inspired by the beliefs of the fictional Jedi, we do not believe the Star Wars films – they are entirely fictional." (That said, "The Force" is still a huge part of their doctrine, so make of that what you will.) 

If you're thinking of joining, it's only a "religion" in the loosest sense, but is more of a philosophy. There are very general precepts that include 16 teachings and 21 maxims, all of which are based on Jedi beliefs in the movies, such as "There is no emotion; there is peace," and "There is no ignorance; there is knowledge." But belief in God (and The Force, presumably), is optional, and it's completely non-restrictive. "There are no strict rules in Jediism, as we believe in freedom and so joining the Church of Jediism would not pose any restrictions on your life."

Opening quote
"I think people are shying away from traditional religion because it doesn't reflect their views," said Day-Childs. "We've got no problem with homosexuality or anything like that. We are very accepting."
Closing quote

And in case you were wondering, followers do wear Jedi robes, but they're not required to.

Opening quote
"We encourage people to wear them for events, but if I'm brutally honest, they're not really very practical," said Day-Childs.
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