October 3, 2022

Jediism: how Star Wars created a brand new religion?

Last year in lockdown when I watched “Star Wars” whole movie series first time, I didn’t think that the Jedi philosophy in star war could be convert in religion but it had been changed that time. Actually, Jedi religion came in lime light when, in the UK’s 2001 census 390,127 people – or 0.7% of the population – described themselves as Jedi.[1] From that time, it become viral and people started to talk about this religion. In the 2011 census, 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section, making it the seventh most popular religion.[2]

WHAT IS JEDIISM?

According to “Temple of Jedi Order”, Jediism is a religion based on the observance of the Force, a ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a Jedi (a follower of Jediism) believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe. Jediism finds its roots in philosophies similar to those presented in an epic space opera called “Star Wars”.[3]

“Temple of Jedi Order” further explain that the Jedi religion is an inspiration and a way of life for many people throughout the world who take on the mantle of Jedi. Jedi apply the principles, ideals, philosophies and teachings of Jediism in a practical manner within their lives. Real Jedi do not worship George Lucas (Creator of Star Wars movie series) or Star Wars or anything of the sort. Jediism is not based in fiction, but we accept myth as a sometimes more practical mean of conveying philosophies applicable to real life.[4] 

WHAT IS STAR WARS JEDI FAITH?

Star Wars is actually a movie series, consist of 12 movies, first movie “Star Wars: A new hope” was released in 1977, which followed by three trilogies and 3 Anthology films. The concept of Star Wars is that there is a galaxy with too many planets and every planet have life and people live there. These planets connected to other planets in the same way as countries are connected with one another in Earth in respect of trade, political dialogue etc. It should be noted that in this galaxy there is not earth planet. To maintain the order and peace in this galaxy, there is council of Jedi masters who prepare and train the Jedi knights to protect the galaxy and take decision in order to remove any problem in galaxy. The weapons of these Jedi knights are “Lightsaber” (laser sword), and the chief of the Jedi council is “Yoda”. The Jedi faith as shown in later movies of Star Wars, is somewhat related to “Buddhism”, as their temple are similar to Buddhism and their way of life like meditation also similar to Buddhism.

Master Yoda

TEMPLE OF JEDIISM (TotJO)

There are no physical Jedi temples. But in UK, an online community of Jedi was established in 2005, on the name of Jedi church of The Force and international ministry of the Jedi religion, Jediism, and the Jedi way of life, this was recognised by International Ministry and Public Charity as non-profit organization and exempted form tax.

TotJO claims that they are not a role-playing site, they do not teach mystical powers or how to build lightsabers, they are not a dedicated Star Wars fan site, they are not affiliated with George Lucas or Disney and they are also not for those people who just want to wear a badge reading “I’m a Jedi“.[5]

The symbol of TotJO is a star in a black circle. This symbol is owned by TotJO. The symbol stands for-

Symbol of US temple of jedi order
  1. The Jedi Code (5 star)
  2. The 16 Teachings (inner 16 star)
  3. The interdependence of Light and Dark.[6]

May 25 is celebrated as the “International Jediism Day” to honour jediism and path. TotJO also trains person as a Jedi and prescribes criteria for the qualification. The Jedi order also have Associate, Bachelor and Doctorate Degree in Jediism and also have an apprentice program guided by seniors Training Masters. (you can apply for the degrees by visiting the site of TotJO)

People getting training of lightsabre

WHAT IS JEDISM TEXT

As per the information of “Temple of Jedi Order” (International Church of jedism), The 21 Jedi Maxims, or Maxims of Jediism is one of the first Jediist texts, created for the Jediism / Jedi religion community around 2002.[7] (you can read the maxims by following the link of 4th fotoonote)

JEDI BELIEVE

Jedi beliefs are modern and targets the present problems of the world, following are the beliefs of Jedism-

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.

It ends with Star Wars’ famous line which Jedi says to one another-

“MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU”[8]

HOW MANY FOLLOWERS OF JEDI FAITH IN THE WORLD?

As per the 2011 census data, the number of followers can be counted as follows-

  • Australia – 65,000
  • Canada – 9,000
  • Czech Republic – 15,070
  • England and Wales – 176,632[9]

Britain has the large number of Jedi followers. Jedi also becoming popular in Turkey where a number of student protested to make a Jedi temple in universities and thousands of students signed a petition for it at change.org.[10]

Sign of Jedi Church of England

CRITISM: IS JEDIISM ACTUALLY A RELIGION?

In US, TotJO got success to register itself with tax exemption but, in UK, which has the highest number of Jedi followers, the commission of charity refused to accept “jediism” as a religion in 2016. The commission rejected an application to grant charitable status to The Temple of the Jedi Order. It said Jediism did not “promote moral or ethical improvement” for charity law purposes in England and Wales.[11]

The commission said to be classed as a religion it must also have a positive beneficial impact on society in general and raised concerns that Jediism may, in part, have an “inward focus” on its members.[12]

The hood of the Jedi which Jedi followers wears also got trouble when the founder of the Jedi religion in UK, Daniel Jones, was thrown out of a Tesco supermarket for wearing his distinctive brown hood. He was told that the hood flouted store rules and was ordered to remove it or leave the supermarket. As a result, Jones, who also goes by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, claimed he has been ‘victimised over his beliefs’ and left ’emotionally humiliated’ by the supermarket.

But Store responded back and said  that 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.[13]

Jedi Followers in their brown hood

 “Akkarin” aka Michael Kitchen, a spokesperson of the temple of Jedi order in the US said tha Star Wars was based on the mythological ideas put forward by the writer Joseph Campbell, who in turn was influenced by thinkers such as Carl Jung, Alan Watts, and Jiddu Krishnamurti. “None of them is given any sort of reverential treatment as saints,” Kitchen further said that we study only their ideas, not the person themselves.”[14]

In the world of traditional religions which tired the youth due to their orthodox beliefs and strict doctrines, postmodern youth attracting toward a new faith which presenting them new beliefs and becoming the most popular online religion. However, it can’t be put in the same line of traditional religions the literature of this religion is not proper yet and after all it is deriving its concept not from the teaching of any book or person but from a movie series. Actually, it was started by atheist as a joke when their religion was asked in census but consequently people took it seriously. Every major religion has been divided in sects and it looks like atheism also dividing in sects and one of the sect is “JEDIISM”.

Once thing is also worthy to note that if jediism is different from Christianity then why Jedi followers referring their temple as a church of the force, and also, what is the point of lightsaber training for Jedi follower? They are not going to the war and also the lightsaber is not actually laser sword. Belief in Jedi philosophy can be understood but using another tactics is out of logic.

It can’t be denied that Star Wars Jedi philosophy didn’t affect people who watched it. I was also influenced by the philosophy of Jediism and my favorite line is “I’m all the sith and I’m all the jedi”. But, to consider this as a religion is extreme.


[1] https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29753530

[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38368526

[3] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/doctrine-of-the-order

[4] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/doctrine-of-the-order

[5] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/faq#WhatisJediism

[6] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/faq#TotJOSymbol

[7] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/40-information/38-21-maxims-of-jediism

[8] https://www.templeofthejediorder.org/

[9] [9]https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29753530

[10] https://edition.cnn.com/2015/04/08/europe/jedi-temple-turkey/index.html

[11] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38368526

[12] https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-38368526

[13] https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1214367/Jedi-church-founder-thrown-Tesco-refusing-remove-hood-left-emotionally-humiliated.html#ixzz3H3cQXxtC

[14] https://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-29753530

This article was originally Published at AbabeelFolks.