Jediism is not a religion, Charity Commission says

Regulator insists it will not recognise 'everything that chooses to call itself a religion'

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 20 December 2016 07:46 GMT
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Jediism draws from the mythology of Star Wars
Jediism draws from the mythology of Star Wars

The Charity Commission has ruled that Jediism, a spiritual faith in the "Force" drawn from the mythology of the Star Wars blockbuster film series, is not a religion.

The Temple of the Jedi Order applied to be entered onto the register of charities as a "Charities Incorporated Organisation" in March this year.

However, the Charity Commission for England and Wales ruled against the request, partly because it was not satisfied that Jediism promoted "moral and ethical improvement for the benefit of the public".

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In their application, the Temple of the Jedi Order pledged to advance the religion for "the public benefit worldwide" in line with the "Jedi Doctrine".

It defined Jediism as: "A religion based on the observance of the Force, the ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a Jedi (a follower of Jediism) believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe."

But the commission, in its judgment, noted it will not recognise "everything that chooses to call itself a religion" and was unconvinced by evidence proposed to support Jediism as a legitimate faith.

In the 2011 census, 177,000 people registered themselves as Jedi, making it the seventh most popular religion. But the figure was a significant drop from 2001, when 390,000 declared themselves Jedi.

The regulator's judgement read: "The Commission is not satisfied that the observance of the Force within Jediism is characterised by a belief in one or more gods or spiritual or non-secular principles or things which is an essential requirement for a religion in charity law."

It also noted the Temple of the Jedi Order was an entirely web-based organisation and said practices cited within its online community may be adopted as "a lifestyle choice as opposed to a religion".

The release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens last year boosted the number of people joining the Church of Jediism, with more than 1,000 people joining the group each day.

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