Some 177,000 UK citizens declared themselves "Jedi" on the 2011 census
The Church of Jediism says it is attracting more than a thousand new followers a day as anticipation for Star Wars: The Force Awakens continues to build.
J.J. Abrams’ film premiered in Los Angeles last night and though full reviews are currently under embargo, the initial response from fans in attendance has been overwhelmingly response. The seventh instalment in the iconic sci-fi franchise created by George Lucas will open in cinemas across the UK on Thursday (December 17) and in the US a day later.
The idea of Jediism as a real-life religious movement first came to prominence in 2001 when just over 390,000 UK citizens declared it as their religion on that year’s census. In 2008 brothers Daniel and Barney Jones of South Wales officially founded the Church of Jediism, but the number of UK citizens declaring their religion as “Jedi” fell to 177,000 on the 2011 census.
However, Daniel has now said that the Church of Jediism’s following has swelled to more than 250,000 people, telling the Daily Telegraph: “We’ve been rushed off our feet. People want to know more about it. It’s great for us.”
“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,” added Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the church’s five-member ruling council.
Seeking to explain the appeal of Jediism as a real-life religion, Day-Childs suggested: “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.”