The Jedi Religion

Before the 2001 census was taken in Great Britain and several Commonwealth countries, someone suggested that the “Religious Affiliation” question be answered by professing belief in The Force and claiming to be a Jedi Knight. In Britain, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, significant numbers of people did just this.

If you have ever attended a Star Trek Convention, you will not be surprised to learn there are people who actually profess belief in what they call Jedi religion. They have gotten together and formed The Church of Jediism. Their beliefs sound vaguely familiar:

In Jediism, we believe in the Force. The Force is a unifying energy which exists around us, in us, and is always present. It is the catalyst for life – it is the power that keeps the universe together. The Force is not something Jedi worship, rather it is something we concentrate on, and can relate to. The Force exists in many forms, but it is not something which can be seen. It flows through everything in existence as neutral energy, and according to the way we see, treat and act in life, can change it from neutral to positive or negative Force.

We believe the mind is like a sponge. As sponges, they soak up information daily – we are constantly learning new things. But not all of this information is stored as positive thoughts. There are always negative thoughts and information which can contaminate the mind, whether that is for a short time or a life time. We believe the practice of self enlightenment helps clear the mind, rinsing the sponge of all negative thoughts. This therefore makes more room for positive thoughts, and also changes one’s thought process and ability to take in and learn more information.

Our aim is to bring all of the world’s believers in the Force together for the power of good. We will form a community that does not have bias or any type of prejudice. A community that does not reject other religions, but in fact encourages their positive teachings. It is through positivity that we shall thrive, for that is the Light side of the Force.

The Force sounds suspiciously like something that theoretical physicists study and Jedi doctrine reminds me of westernized Buddhism. The master Jedi encourages everyone to study the Star Wars movies for additional insights.

This religion will not get very far without sacred texts and I am not sure that George Lucas’ original 13 page script will work. On the other hand, Scientologists have done far more with considerably less.

Copyright Illustration by John Perlock

If you are wondering whether this is all in jest, so is a Danish scholar whose study of Jediism will appear in a forthcoming issue of the International Journal for the Study of New Religions.

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12 thoughts on “The Jedi Religion

  1. Marika

    There was a brilliant story about an incident in a Tesco in Wales, where hoods were banned, and the ‘founder’ of the Jedi religion was asked to put his hood down and accused the company of religious discrimination (http://t.co/QfrDGY8). Tesco responded: “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.

    “If Jedi walk around our stores with their hoods on, they’ll miss lots of special offers.”

    Bizarre.

  2. admin Post author

    That is too funny! I saw those newspaper articles while “researching” this not so heavy hitting post so was vaguely aware of these events. I suspect there is much money to be made by espousing the Jedi religion, whether one sues for discrimination or writes Force-theology tracts.

  3. Maya

    As I’ve written several Star Wars novels (under the auspices of Del Rey and LucasBooks), I greatly appreciated the post and the comments.

    I did a series of blogs about the experience of writing in the GFFA and did a couple that touched on the way Star Wars fans use the framework of George Lucas’s universe to think through and debate very real issues regarding the nature of good and evil and what it means to be “human.” I think many religious people these days, like Star Wars fans, don’t think of humanity as being a class of physical beings limited to an existence on this one planet. That is, there is the conception that a “rational soul” or “rational faculty” is not the exclusive property of people born on Earth.

    My own faith (which is not Jedism) which arose in the 19th century, rather makes a point of the existence of life on other worlds.

  4. Cris Post author

    Quite fascinating. After doing a bit of digging, I see you are a Nebraska (or Husker) fellow traveler. I grew up there and will be moving back in a few years — to an isolated (writer’s) cabin in the western panhandle (Pine Ridge escarpment). I have done very little research into your faith, primarily because I’m doing a deep history of religion, and modern religions tend to get short shrift.

    Where can I find your series of blogs and what is “GFFA”?

    The Lucas view of the universe doesn’t seem much different from Joseph Campbell’s notion of universal myth or Jung’s study of mythical archetypes. I don’t think that Campbell or Jung sufficiently considered pre-Neolithic myths, which are not at all dichotomous and don’t traffic in Manichean dualisms.

    Please keep in touch!

  5. Baral Fobre

    The church of Jediism is not a joke – many people do not realise that there are many of different Jediism organisations and communities out there. The Jedi religion is growing on a scale like never before; a new jedi church was opened in the UK in October of this year and already has an international following and many people studying the courses on Jediism they offer. The new church is called the New Jediism Order, and the URL is http://www.newjediismorder.org if you wanted to do some more research.

    There’s no holy book in Jediism, however there are many members of the Jedi faith who have written courses, books and essays on the subject which people use to better their understanding of the Force.

    May the Force be with you and hope this helps!

  6. Cris Post author

    When I wrote this post last year, it wasn’t entirely clear whether it was a joke or satire or half serious though it did seem clear that at least some people might take it seriously. New religious movements often get started this way: they begin in a not entirely serious or perhaps even fraudulent way but then they take on a life of their own over time and people become committed to them. Scientology may provide an example of this, as does Mormonism.

    Thank you for the information, link, and well wishes.

  7. Baral Fobre

    With regard to Daniel Jones & the Tesco hood incident, Jones was *not* the founder of the Jedi Religion or Faith, rather he started his own “church” in the UK almost 5 years AFTER major Jediism communities began to appear on the web.

    MTFBWY

  8. Cris Post author

    Thanks for the clarification. For religion scholars, watching Jediism develop from seeming joke to sincere belief is fascinating.

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