Jedi fails to be recognised as a religion

Jediism has failed to 'force' its way through the legal hurdles of the British bureaucracy system in order to be recognised as a religion.

The Temple of the Jedi Order (TOTJO), whose followers worship the mythology of Star Wars films had its charitable status application rejected.

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An online community, not a religion.

The Charity Commission wrote that Jediism "lacks the necessary spiritual or non-secular element" to be registered as a religion and "does not promote moral or ethical improvement".

The Temple of the Jedi Order was an "an entirely web-based organisation and the Jedi are predominantly, if not exclusively, an online community".

The Jedi master himself
The Jedi master himself

The Jedi master himself

Image: Getty Images

"Although Jediism and the Jedi Doctrine as promoted by TOTJO includes the promotion of spirituality, there is insufficient evidence that moral improvement is central to the beliefs and practices of TOTJO. Particularly, as the Jedi Doctrine can be accepted, rejected and interpreted by individuals as they see fit," it said.

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The numbers identifying as Jedi

In 2001 a national campaign led to more than 390,000 people describing themselves as Jedi Knights. However, since then numbers have dropped significantly.

In 2011 almost 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section of the census — making it the seventh most popular religion ahead of Rastafarianism and Jainism.

A metaphysical entity

TOTJO is based in Beaumont, Texas and is recognised as a charitable group by the US Internal Revenue Service. On its website, it says Jedi "observe a metaphysical entity called the Force and often practise meditation".

"We are a group of individuals coming together in a community to promote goodwill, understanding, compassion and serenity," it says. "We pursue a spiritual and human awareness so we may serve the world."

Stormtroopers on the Millennium Bridge in London.
Stormtroopers on the Millennium Bridge in London.

Stormtroopers on the Millennium Bridge in London.

Image: Getty Images

The evolving meaning of 'religion'

"The meaning of 'religion' in charity law has developed over many years and now encompasses a wide range of belief systems,"Kenneth Dibble, the Charity Commission's chief legal adviser, said.

"The decisions which the commission makes on the extent of this meaning can be difficult and complex, but are important in maintaining clarity on what is and is not charitable."

Not a fan site

"We're not a role-playing site, we do not teach mystical powers or how to build lightsabers, we are not a dedicated Star Wars fan site, we are not affiliated with George Lucas or Disney and we are not for people who just want to wear a badge reading "I'm a Jedi"."

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