Following the path of a Jedi is not a religion – but the force is not with them and it’s official.
Tens of thousands of followers declared that they worshipped as Jedis in the last British census, making the cult the nation’s seventh most popular religion.
With 177,000 supporters the Temple of the Jedi Order asked for charity status in the UK, which comes with generous tax breaks for any fund raising.
But officials of the Charity Commission declined the request on the grounds the Jedi code was not a religion because to be one, Jedis need to believe in one or more gods, principles or kings.
The commission considers the act of worship is critical for a belief to become a religion, and even though the temple provided evidence of meditation, sermons and live ceremonies, the application did not go far enough to prove the case.
The Jedi Order is depicted in the Star Wars science fiction film franchise.
What do Jedis believe in?
Those practising as Jedis argue that although their beliefs were triggered by the Star Wars films, they do not believe the myths in the films, but build on the principles as a code for living their lives.
“We believe in the force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it,” say the Jedis.
These also includes a belief in:
- The sanctity of the human person, opposing 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 based on 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
Daniel Jones, leader of the Church of Jediism in the UK, said Jedi would continue to do charity work without any legal status.
The number of Jedis in the UK is on the wane – in the 2001 census, nearly 400,000 people claimed they followed the force.