What Religious Movement Began On The Silver Screen?
In George Lucas’s wildly popular Star Wars series the Jedi serve as the peacekeepers of the Republic and are bound by a moral code that guides and tempers their formidable martial skill. While many a movie goer over the years has been impressed by the Jedi and their way of life–not to mention their awesome sword skills–some fans of the series were so impressed they began to adopt the way of the Jedi order as a personal religion.
The resulting religious movement, known as Jediism, has no formal founder or any organized central structure–both common components of main stream religions. Instead, Jediism grew incrementally as individuals across the globe who had adopted the principles of the Jedi order as personal tenents began communicating via bulletin boards, Usenet groups, and then web sites.
Adherents of Jediism completely acknowledge that Star Wars is fictional and that the Jedi order does not actually exist but instead maintain that the Jedi code, as envisioned by George Lucas and others that have contributed to the Star Wars universe, is essentially an amalgam of the best Earth’s religions have to offer. Jediism then, it would seem, serves as a sort of modernized and Sci-Fi enhanced version of the principles of patience, peacefulness, and belief in a force that unifies humanity and the universe.
Jediism was thrust into the media spotlight in 2001 when Jediists and supporters of religious freedom wrote in “Jedi” as their religion on census forms in England and other nations. Hundreds of thousands of people in England, Australia, Canada, and other countries claimed Jediism as their religion. The percentage of census respondents was so high in New Zealand that Jediism is, by the numbers, the second most popular religion in the country behind Christianity.