Jediism is a new religious movement based on the spiritual and philosophical ideas of the fictional Jedi as featured in the six Star Wars movies and other works of fiction derived from them. Jediism has received media attention because of the number of people in certain English-speaking countries who listed Jediism as their religion in censuses, sometimes in the mistaken belief that if enough people listed it Jediism would receive governmemt recognition as an authentic religion.
The Jedi interpret and use the philosophic teachings found in the Jedi Code, as well as other inspirational sources, including Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and Taoism. Jediism also shares basic ideals with many other religions, the Code of Chivalry, and spiritual aspects of some martial arts. In spite of holding different views and having different interpretations of the abundant material, the Jedi share a set of core values essential to their path; the Force. However, as there is no set path in Jediism, the nature of the force is open to interpretation.
The Force is what most Jedi believe everything comes from and is what everything returns to. It is the energy behind the existence of everything known or unknown to humanity, a "unified field theory", a theory in philosophy and theoretical physics. The Force does not require prayer, worship, or other such actions as some other religions might, though most Jedi practice some forms of meditation.
Jedi also believe in the Force as an expression of the "zero point field," a controversial idea in quantum physics which allows for the expression of living things where conventional quantum physics tends to try to avoid the topic of life altogether. As a result of this belief, many Jedi hold to the idea of psychic powers such as ESP being real.
Most Jedi choose to focus on the Force through one or more of the three widely accepted spiritual aspects: the Personal Force, the Living Force and the Unifying Force. Some Jedi also have adapted to all three.
Jedi Census Phenomenon
In the Australian census of 2001, 70,000 people listed their religion as Jedi. It was selected by 53,000 people in the 2001 census in New Zealand and by 55,000 people in the 2006 census in Canada. In the 2001 census in Scotland, 14,052 people, 0.277% of the population said that they were followers of Jediism. Jediism was the stated religion of 390,127 people, 0.8% of the population, in the 2001 census in England and Wales, making it the fourth largest religion by number of followers in England and Wales, ahead of Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism. However, it is very unlikely that many of those respondents are genuine followers of Jediism, many more having written it as a joke or as a protest against the category of religion being included in the census.
There was a positive outcome in that it reduced the usually-cumbersome turnaround time by a significant amount: census workers said that the response was usually near 30% and that the Jedi response increased that number in many areas to upwards of 90%. However, with high response rates such as these, the result is that accuracy tends to drop. Legitimate Jedi groups tend to shy away from use of the census statistics as a method of bolstering their claim to popularity.
- Wikipedia article on "Jediism".
- Wikipedia article on "Jedi census phenomenon".
- "Census Knight" article from Snopes.com about the Jedi census phenomenon.