The Pen

Star Wars Mania: The “Jedi Church” is a Growing Phenomenon

Technically, it’s called “Jediism” and it’s a growing phenomenon. It sounds like it’s a joke, but it’s not. People are converting to the religion by the hundreds, if not thousands. An actual 501(c)3 organization, the Temple of the Jedi Order is recognized by the IRS and exempt from taxation (you can see their IRS exemption letter here).

Yes, we recognize that it sounds like a scam or a hoax, but these people are very, very serious. The list of their religious tenets:

We Believe

In the Force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it.

In the sanctity of the human person. We oppose the use of torture and cruel or unusual punishment, including the death penalty.

In a society governed by laws grounded in reason and compassion, not in fear or prejudice.

In a society that does not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or circumstances of birth such as gender, ethnicity and national origin.

In the ethic of reciprocity, and how moral concepts are not absolute but vary by culture, religion, and over time.

In the positive influence of spiritual growth and awareness on society.

In the importance of freedom of conscience and self-determination within religious, political and other structures.

In the separation of religion and government and the freedoms of speech, association, and expression.

They also claim:

The Jedi here are real people that live or lived their lives according to the principles of Jediism, the real Jedi religion or philosophy. Jedi followers, ministers and leaders embrace Jediism as a real living, breathing religion and sincerely believe in its teachings. Jediism does not base its focus on myth and fiction but on the real-life issues and philosophies that are at the source of myth. Whether you want to become a Jedi, are a real Jedi looking for additional training or just interested in learning about and discussing The Force, we’re here for you.

The United Kingdom’s version of the Jedi Church is substantially more developed than the American version, located in Texas. Followers of the Jedi Order have repeatedly been in the news for things like refusing to take off their hood in private establishments (they claim to have a “religious exemption” as a part of the Jedi church), officiating wedding ceremonies, and demanding that Jedi chapels be built on university campuses. Now, thousands list “Jedi” as their religious affiliation on the British census, although it is unclear how many are committed to the religion and how many are trolling the census workers. A Cambridge researcher claimed that the actual number of real adherents rests around two thousand (source link).

Sadly, pagans aren’t the only ones who have found the spirituality of Star Wars appealing. Christian churches have devoted sermon series to the movie franchise and The Social Gospel Coalition has repeatedly claimed the Gospel can be found in the films.