Jedi is not a religion, Charity Commission rules

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Star Wars characters Ben Kenobi, Darth Maul and Qui Gon YinImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Jediism stems from the mythology of the Star Wars films

Jediism, the worship of the mythology of Star Wars, is not a religion, the Charity Commission has ruled.

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.

In the 2011 census, 177,000 people declared themselves Jedi under the religion section, making it the seventh most popular religion.

The following began as a tongue-in-cheek response from some atheists on the UK's 2001 census when a question on religious belief was asked for the first time.

But others took the message from the Star Wars films further, aiming to build a belief system and religious code inspired by the franchise.

Image source, AP
Image caption,
First seen in the 1977 film Star Wars, Jedi are an order of warrior monks who serve as "the guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy" and embrace the mystical Force

In its ruling the Charity Commission said Jediism "lacked the necessary spiritual or non-secular element" it was looking for in a religion.

It said there was insufficient evidence that "moral improvement" was central to the beliefs and practices of Jediism and did not have the "cogency, cohesion, or seriousness" to truly be a belief system.

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.

What is Jediism?

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Yoda 'Jedi Master he is' in the Star Wars films was stronger than most in his connection with the Force
  • According to The Temple of the Jedi Order, Jediism is based on the observance of the Force, described as "the ubiquitous and metaphysical power" that a Jedi believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe
  • Jedi do not believe in a god, having faith instead "in the Force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it"
  • They believe in eternal life through the Force and do not become "obsessed in mourning those who pass".
  • Jedi may grieve but are content, knowing they will "forever be a part of the Force"
  • The definition of Jediism states the religion is an "inspiration and a way of life" for people who take on "the mantle of Jedi"
  • The Jedi Doctrine acknowledges there is some "scope for followers to simply view Jediism as a philosophy or way of life" and some Jedi prefer to avoid the word religion

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Daniel Jones, leader of the Church of Jediism in the UK, said Jedi would continue to do charity work without any legal status and was convinced "Jediism's status will change in the next five years".

Jediism has more adherents than Rastafarians and Jains, according to the 2011 census.

But the number of Jedi fell sharply from 2001, when 390,000 people said they were followers of The Force.

Kenneth Dibble, the chief legal adviser at the Charity Commission, said: "The law relating to what is and is not a charity evolves continuously and, as in this case, can be influenced by decisions in other areas. Our role is critical in interpreting and explaining the extent of what the law considers charitable."