The hits keep coming for the Jedi Knights. First they were wiped out by clone troopers during the Emperor’s Order 66, then their revived order was butchered by an angry emo from HBO’s Girls, and NOW they’re not even a real religion. It’s almost enough to make you pack the whole force thing in and join The Empire.
The latest news comes courtesy of the UK’s Charity Commission, which has ruled that Jediism – aka the worship of the Star Wars film’s mythology by people in the real world – is not a genuine religion, despite the efforts of those who follow it.
A specific Jedi organization (there are several) called The Temple of the Jedi Order had applied to the commission to be granted charitable status, but were rejected on the grounds that they did not “promote moral or ethical improvement,” which is central to charity law in England and Wales.
“The commission considers that there is insufficient evidence that Jediism and the Jedi doctrine as promoted by TOTJO is a sufficiently structured, organised or integrated system of belief to constitute a religion,” the commission said in their decision (which you can read in full here).
“It comprises a loose framework of ideas with some common ground which individuals may interpret as they see fit. In particular, it is not obligatory to interpret and follow the Jedi doctrine as a religion.”
Prominent UK Jedi Daniel Jones (above), who runs a separate group called the Church of Jediism, said that the Jedi would continue doing charitable works without official status, adding that “Jediism’s status will change in the next five years” (via BBC).
The idea of following Jediism as a religion first sprang up in the late 80s when a role-playing game revealed more details of their doctrine, with the idea hitting the mainstream in the UK when 390,000 people (most joking) listed ‘Jedi” as their religion on the 2001 census.
Various groups around the world have since sprung up promoting different versions of the mythology (some of whom aren’t even Star Wars fans), occasionally making the headlines by refusing to remove robes in supermarkets or staging protests when their religion isn’t recognised.
You can read more about the history of Jediism and meet some of the people involved here.
Rogue One: A Star Wars story is in cinemas now