This flash fiction / Wikipedia page of the future was written in response to a sign I misread. I thought I’d share it with you as ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ is released this week.
A Nation of Lightsabres.
The UK was described as “a nation of lightsabres” by the current president of the United States after Jediism was reported to be Britain’s largest religion according to its 2021 census.
The popularity of this faith, based on the quasi-religious order of the Jedi Knights in the Star Wars films, has increased exponentially in the UK since the release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ in December of 2015. Many of those who have become members of the Church of Jediism previously classed themselves as atheists, and may have been drawn to the religion due to its focus on ‘the Force’ rather than an all-powerful being.
Critics of Jediism claim that it is only so popular because its followers “enjoy dressing up and waving plastic lightsabres around.” Such comments are hotly disputed by followers of the Church, who complain that those outside the religion are often ignorant of its belief system. For example, Jedi do not believe that the Star Wars films are ‘real’, but often practise meditation as a way to cleanse their minds of negativity.1
Not that long ago, in a galaxy not that far away…
In 2001 390,127 people in the UK listed ‘Jedi’ as their religion in the national census.1 Partly in response to this, Daniel M Jones founded the Church of Jediism in Anglesea, North Wales, in September of 2007.2 By April of 2010 UK membership of the Church of Jediism had reached 3,000.3
This was followed by a dip in public awareness of the faith and in the 2011 national census only 176,632 people in the UK listed ‘Jedi’ as their religion. 4
A disturbance in the Force.
When ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ was released in the UK in December of 2015, there was a surge of interest in the older Star Wars films and in Jediism itself, with thousands of Jedi-themed blogs, Facebook accounts, YouTube videos and memes flooding the internet. Retailers failed to keep up with the demand for Jedi costumes and the most popular hairstyle of 2016 was ‘the Princess Leia’.
By June of 2016 UK membership of the Church of Jediism had reached 2,000,000. Prominent figures from other religious groups appeared on news and current affairs programmes, worrying that the growth of Jediism would lead to “a fall in moral standards in the UK that would be detrimental to traditional British values.”
In February 2017 work began on Jedi temples in all major UK cities. Protesters disrupted construction by camping out at each site, claiming that the temples were eyesores and carrying placards that said: “We’re not leaving and you can’t Force us!”. A spokesman for the British Anti-Jediism Board stated that: “Anyone who wants to worship this religion should get out of this country. We don’t want their nonsense here.”
The Force is strong with this one.
In September 2017 UK membership of the Church of Jediism reached 5,948,000. Jediism was officially recognised as a UK religion, and afforded protection under the updated UK Racial and Religious Hatred Act. Ordained Jedi Knights were now able to perform legally binding marriages as well as ceremonies to balance the Force in infants.
By April of 2018, the UK Church of Jediism had 12,173,000 members. Jedi’s were now permitted to wear robes on all occasions but could be asked to lower their hoods at the request of police or security staff.
Not everyone was happy about the continuing growth of Jediism. In October 2018 a man was arrested in Woking for allegedly using a Jedi mind trick to rob a petrol station. CCTV footage released at the time showed the man wearing a hooded robe and pressing two fingers to his forehead. The Church of Jediism released a statement insisting that Jedi mind tricks “were not real”. It was later revealed that the man had also been pointing a fully loaded 9mm at the cashier but this had been cut out of the images. Jedi followers labelled the incident as “a blatant attempt by the police to bring disrepute to the religion.”
By March 2019 the Church of Jediism had 19,526,000 members in the UK. A female accountant filed a lawsuit against her employers when they sacked her for carrying a plastic lightsabre on her belt at work. The accountant claimed that she wore the lightsabre for religious reasons and only used it for ceremonial purposes. She won her case and the court decreed that the plastic toy was only symbolic of a weapon and could not actually endanger anyone’s life.
May the Force be with you.
In January 2020 the UK Church of Jediism reached 27,369,000 members. May the 4th was re-named ‘The Festival of the Force’ and celebrated as a national holiday. Queen Elizabeth II oversaw the first ever Festival of the Force garden party, which was headlined by the best selling band of that year, Not The Droids.
The UK census of 2021 recorded Jediism as being the largest religious group in the UK.
This page was last modified on December 17th 2021 at 9:15 p.m.