Jedi is a religion, say Star Wars fans
Many Star Wars fans believe in a religion centered around the Jedi — the fictional protectors of a galaxy far, far away — going so far as to organize churches and influence census results.
People like Daniel M. Jones, founder of the International Church of Jediism, follow the Jedi Code, a set of principles by which Jedi Knights live. The tenants eschew emotion, ignorance and wanton desire in exchange for peace, knowledge and serenity, all while drawing empowerment from The Force, a unifying energy present in all living things.
Grassroots movements all over the world have encouraged like-minded fans to report their religion as "Jedi" in their nation's census questionnaires. A recent survey in the Czech Republic yielded 15,000 Jedi Knight respondents, and past surveys in New Zealand and Australia found as many as 120,000.
Parents are even involving their children in their love of Jedi beliefs. The American town of Shrewsbury, Massachusetts is offering a Jedi class for children, or "younglings" in Star Wars lingo, on Saturday. The cost is $50 and students are encouraged to "bring a nut-free snack and drink."
The ways of the Jedi were introduced in the first installment of George Lucas' Star Wars saga, released in 1977. In it, Obi-Wan Kenobi, an exiled Jedi master, starts young Luke Skywalker on his destiny to learn the ways of The Force and confront his father, the good-turned-evil Darth Vader.
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