Is Religion Any More Than a Jedi Mind-Trick?


Great story circulating at the moment about one Chris Jarvis ‘the Southend Jedi knight who refused to dehood in his jobcentre and has now received an apology from the manager for the lack of respect given to his “religion or beliefs”.

Jarvis says: “I am a Star Wars follower. It means following the Way of the Jedi … The main reason is I want to wear my hood up and I have got a religion which allows me to do that.”

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has got involved too, denying Jedi-ism the status of a religion because it is not ‘heartfelt’ or ‘worthy of respect.’ They state:

A belief need not include faith or worship of a god or gods, but must affect how a person lives their life or perceives the world.

Unfortunately, Facebook appears to be caught by this definition, as it certainly affects how people live their lives, and how we perceive the world. So is that a ‘belief’ that should be given rights? What about being a Man United fan? Should I be able to where a football shirt to work because of my beliefs?

So what exactly is a religion, and to what extent should we extend rights to those whose beliefs are different to ours? If someone truly believes in public animal sacrifice, should we allow it? And if someone really does convince us that they follow the way of the Jedi – even though it was invented by a screen-writer – should we allow them their hoods?

I’ve been at the Re-Emergence conference in Belfast over the past couple of days – it’s been brilliant – and one of the things that has been discussed is the way in which we might best help people to understand changes within the long history of Christian faith. Some friends from the US last night were saying how intolerant so many churches are – burning Bibles that are not of the correct translation and ostracising people who were gay or just ‘different’.

So should we be tolerant of those who want to be Jedis, or mockingly intolerant of their idiocy? There are plenty who consider my faith to be little more than Jedi fiction too, it just happens to be that there are quite a lot of us, and we’ve got some history. So what exactly should constitute a religion that is taken seriously? Does someone have to die first? And does Obi Wan count?


One response to “Is Religion Any More Than a Jedi Mind-Trick?”

  1. Q – who is harmed by the hood? I’m doing a review for Sojourners of Tutu’s book “Made for Goodness” and he stresses how goodness is a kernel of all faiths in terms of how we respond to the evils of the world.

    I’d differ a bit re: the “lot of churches” to state ” a number of conservative and fundamentalist churches” – I am doing two books for Church Publishing on new forms of US and UK Anglican churches and can think of a number of communities both in this book and elsewhere that don’t fit that bill at all. And conversely, I can think of some communities that state their queer friendly but it’s more of a “We’re trendy hipsters who are bi-curious with tats and piercings but they’re still pretty much white and college educated.” The moment say an uneducated transgendered teen comes into their midst, welcoming isn’t a word I’d use to describe them. 🙂