Jediism is a nontheistic movement mainly based on the depiction of the Jedi in Star Wars media. Jediism attracted public attention in 2001 when a number of people recorded their religion as "Jedi" on national censuses, although most such submissions were thought to be protests or jokes.
Although inspired by elements of Star Wars, Jediism has no founder or central structure.
Early websites dedicated to drawing a belief system from the Star Wars films were "The Jedi Religion" and "Jediism". These websites cited the Jedi code, consisting of 21 maxims, as the starting point for a "real Jedi" belief system.
Although followers of Jediism acknowledge the influence of Star Wars on their religion, by following the moral and spiritual codes demonstrated by the fictional Jedi, they also insist their path is different from that of the fictional characters and that Jediism does not focus on the myth and fiction found in Star Wars. The Jedi follow the "16 teachings", which are based on the presentation of the fictional Jedi, as well as "21 maxims".
Census phenomenon and legal recognition
Jediism received press coverage following a worldwide email campaign in 2001 urging people to write "Jedi" as their answer to the religion classification question in their country's census, resulting in the Jedi census phenomenon. The majority of such respondents are assumed to have claimed the faith as a joke.
During the drafting of the UK Racial and Religious Hatred Act, an amendment was proposed that excluded Jedi Knights from any protection, along with Satanists and believers in animal sacrifice. The amendment was subsequently withdrawn, the proposer explaining that it was "a bit of a joke" to illustrate a point that defining religious belief in legislation is difficult.
In 2008, 23-year-old Daniel Jones founded the Church of Jediism with his brother Barney, believing that the 2001 UK census recognised Jediism as a religion, and that there were "more Jedi than Scientologists in Britain". In 2009, Jones was removed from a Tesco supermarket in Bangor, North Wales, for refusing to remove his hood on a religious basis. The owner justified Jones's ejection by saying, "He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods. Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood."
In 2010, a man who described himself as a "Star Wars follower" and "Jedi Knight" was thrown out of a Jobcentre in Southend, Essex, for refusing to remove his hood, and later received an apology. The man said that "The main reason is I want to wear my hood up and I have got a religion which allows me to do that."
In 2013 the Free Church of Scotland was worried that the proposed Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill 'will lead to Star Wars Jedi marrying couples'. Patrick Day-Childs, of the Church of Jediism, and Rev Michael Kitchen, of Temple of the Jedi Order, both defended the right of Jedi to perform marriage ceremonies.
In April 2015, the students of Dokuz Eylül University in Turkey started a petition on Change.org demanding a Jedi temple be built on the campus. The petition was in response to a previous petition which had demanded a mosque on campus of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ). The petition demanding the mosque reached 180,000 signatures falling short of its 200,000 target and invoked a response from Mehmet Karaca, the rector of Istanbul Technical University (İTÜ), promising “a landmark mosque”. Soon after, students from other universities started petitions demanding Jedi and Buddhist temples on their campuses.
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