Jedi

Alternate facts: New York Times posits 'Jediism' as actual religion in credulous feature

Alternate facts: New York Times posits 'Jediism' as actual religion in credulous feature

Pardon the trite expression, but I just got sick, a little. I got my nausea through The New York Times.

The newspaper once positioned as America's "newspaper of record," the one whose slogan, "All the News That's Fit to Print" might well have been carved in stone, that newspaper has just served up a positive puff piece positioning a group of "Star Wars" movie aficionados as a religion.

In the process, they offered yet another installment -- is anyone keeping count? -- of how the fabled institution is more tone-deaf on faith than was Ludwig von Beethoven at the end of his life.

Here now, the "news," or perhaps, "alternate facts, faith division":

The makers of the “Star Wars” franchise on Monday [Jan. 23] announced the name of the films’ next installment -- “The Last Jedi” -- just as “Rogue One” hit $1 billion in global box office. Onscreen, it’s a great time to be a Jedi.
But Jedi is also a real-life religion that drew headlines last month when the Charity Commission for England and Wales ruled that it would not grant religious status to the Temple of the Jedi Order, a Jedi church. So, what is Jediism, and who is in the temple? We caught up with some practicing Jedi to find out.
What is Jediism?
Several Jedi communities exist around the world. Some call themselves religions, though others shy away from the word.
Interest in the religious potential in “Star Wars” first bubbled up online in the early 1990s, Michael Kitchen, one of several directors of the Temple of the Jedi Order, said in a recent interview.
The religion exploded into the mainstream in 2001, when fans in several countries listed Jediism as a religion on their local census. Hundreds of thousands did so. For many, it was a joke. But the phenomenon led others who were serious about Jediism to start considering the possibility of full religious status.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

I know this may be hard: But let's take the Jedi faith folks seriously for a moment

I know this may be hard: But let's take the Jedi faith folks seriously for a moment

Can't you feel the excitement building as the holy day draws near?

No, not Christmas. A am referring to the media build-up during this advent period before the arrival of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens."

I am old enough to remember the early conversations in newsrooms about whether, under the doctrines of the Associated Press Stylebook, stories about the Star Wars franchise should refer to "the force" or "the Force." Just about everyone on the religion beat back in those days wrote features about whether parents should tell their children that the Force was or was not another name for God.

If you follow discussions of Star Wars as a pop-culture religion, you surely know that fans on the other side of the pond took this discussion to a higher level about 15 years ago. Here is the background section of a new story in The Telegraph about the impact of the new film on the leaders of the Church of Jediism.

Jediism started as a joke, ahead of the 2001 census, in which respondents were asked to declare their religion for the first time. At the time, 390,000 people declared that they were Jedis, a number that fell by more than half, to 177,000, at the following census, in 2011.
Now the organisation, described by its members as “a set of philosophies based on focusing, learning and becoming one with the Force”, claims to have more than 250,000 followers. Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the church’s five-strong UK ruling council, said that more than a thousand people a day are signing up for the religion. He said: “It’s gone up substantially in the past couple of days. The real test will be in a couple of weeks when the film hype has died off. “
Daniel Jones, who founded the religion and who goes by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, said: “We’ve been rushed off our feet. People want to know more about it. It’s great for us.”

Now, the "leading figures in the Church of Jediism," as the Telegraph team identifies them, are saying that they are gaining about 1,000 new members a day as the holy release day nears for the new film.

Please respect our Commenting Policy