A planned overhaul of Scotland’s marriage laws may have an unexpected consequence: an abundance of Star Wars–themed weddings.
The primary goal of the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Scotland) Bill, which is at the consultation stage, is to legalize same-sex marriage. But the bill would also allow groups that do not believe in a deity but “promote philosophical or humanitarian beliefs” to perform their own weddings — which the Presbyterian Free Church of Scotland has warned is too vague.
The Rev. Iver Martin, a Church spokesman, told the BBC: “There are loads of people in a diverse society like this for whom belief can mean virtually anything — the Flat Earth Society and Jedi Knight Society — who knows?”
The church’s claim does raise the prospect of Star Wars fanatics from around the world flocking to Scotland to get hitched in a Jedi wedding. What form such a ceremony would take is anyone’s guess, although the website of the Jedi Church offers some sample Jedi marriage vows.
It’s not quite (but sure, almost) as crazy as it sounds. According to the 2011 Census, more than 175,000 people in England and Wales listed “Jedi” as their religion — making it the most popular alternative faith in the form’s “other religion” category (although possibly thanks to a strong write-in campaign). In Scotland, around 14,000 people gave their religion as “Jedi” in the 2011 Census, the Scotsman reports. And in addition to the Jedi Knight Society, there are several other global Jedi groups in existence, including the Temple of the Jedi Order and the Church of Jediism.
A Scottish government spokeswoman told the BBC:
Our current consultation covers not only the introduction of same-sex marriage but also the detail of important protections in relation to religious bodies and celebrants, freedom of speech and education … As part of the consultation, we have outlined the reason for suggesting a third type of ceremony. At the moment, marriage ceremonies by bodies such as humanists have been classed as religious, even though the beliefs are nonreligious.
Patrick Day-Childs, a spokesman for the Church of Jediism who also goes by Master Chi-Pa Amshe, told the BBC there was demand for Jedi to bless marriages, adding that the Free Church of Scotland should not feel threatened in the slightest.
“We’re open to all forms of marriage and the joining of two people who love each other in any way, shape or form,” he said.