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Excitement For ‘The Force Awakens’ Bringing Waves Of Followers For The Church Of Jediism

Excitement For 'The Force Awakens' Bringing Waves Of Followers For The Church Of Jediism

More than 1,000 people a day are joining the official religion of Jediism as the excitement continues to build over the release of the latest film in the Star Wars series – The Force Awakens.

The Church of Jediism, a religion inspired by the fictional lightsaber-wielding Jedis in the Star Wars franchise, said around 1,000 new members were joining every day ahead of this week’s film release.

The Jedi church now has more than 250,000 followers including more than 100,000 in England, 65,000 in Australia, 15,000 in the Czech Republic and 9,000 in Canada.

The latest influx to join the religion are doing so as excitement rapidly builds over the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens – which has already smashed box office records by selling more than $50million worth of advance tickets before its release on Thursday.

The film, which will see the return of original stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford as Luke Skywalker, General Leia and Han Solo respectively, has also sold half a million tickets for its opening week at one cinema chain, the Odeon, alone.

Daniel Jones, who founded the religion of Jediism which is based off the league of knights from Star Wars, said the release of the forthcoming blockbuster had given the Jedi church a ‘real boost’.

Mr Jones, who also goes by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, told The Telegraph: ‘We’ve been rushed off our feet. People want to know more about it. It’s great for us.’

Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the church’s five-strong UK ruling council, added: ‘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.

‘I think people are shying away from traditional religion because it doesn’t reflect their views. We’ve got no problem with homosexuality or anything like that. We are very accepting.’

The religion began to form in the late 1990s as a joke ahead of the 2001 census but gained momentum and, at the time, 390,000 people declared that they were Jedis.

That number dropped by more than half, to 177,000, by the following census in 2011, but has been steadily climbing in recent years.

While the religion is barely two decades old and based off a movie franchise, it does have a lot in common with other religious groups.

Followers, who are allowed to wear robes, are said to be led by a ‘set of philosophies based on focusing, learning and becoming one with the Force’.

The group’s centre revolves around an ethical system just like any other religion and it all stems from a Jedi code laid out in a Star Wars role-playing guide from 1987, which states: ‘There is no emotion, there is peace, There is no ignorance, there is knowledge, There is no passion, there is serenity, There is no death, there is the force.’

Anthropologist Matthew Kappel who wrote ‘Finding the Force of the Star Wars Franchise: Fans, Merchandise, and the Critics’ has previously told how it was the participatory nature of the book that helped start the religion, and the code’s content that gave it a purpose.

Jediism’s core strictures

  • Joining the Church of Jediism involves signing up to the group’s online newsletter and completing a ten-part training course
  • Jedis believe in the Force, “a unifying energy, which everything exists within, around and always returns to.”
  • They do not believe the Star Wars films to be real. The church says: “Although Jediism was inspired by the beliefs of the fictional Jedi, we do not believe the Star Wars films – they are entirely fictional.”
  • Meditation is a key tenet of Jediism. The church says: “Our minds are like sponges, which soak up information daily. In order to keep our minds ‘clean’, we must ‘rinse’ them of negative Force.”
  • A belief in God is optional. The group says: “There are no strict rules in Jediism, as we believe in freedom and so joining the Church of Jediism would not pose any restrictions on your life. “

After years of waiting for the latest instalment in the Star Wars franchise, fans are braced for the world premiere of the Force Awakens in Los Angeles today.

Disney has remained tight-lipped about the premiere, but it is expected to take place at the TCL Chinese Theatre, the Dolby Theatre – home of the Oscars – and the El Capitan Theatre.

Hollywood Boulevard’s TCL Chinese Theatre hosted the premiere for the first Star Wars movie in 1977. Back then, it was known as Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

Fans are already camping outside to ensure they do not miss one of the biggest premieres ever.

The film’s British premiere will take place in London on Wednesday evening, before cinemas open their doors at 00.01 on Thursday for eager fans to watch the first showings.

 

 

 

 

By Emma Glanfield

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