Czech Republic Sees Rise of ‘Jedi Knights’ as Religious Movement

The Force is clearly strong with a growing number of Czech Republic residents.

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Mary Evans / Ronald Grant / Lucasfilm / Everett Collection

The Czech census, given out in March, is conducted once a decade. Czech news site Ceska Pozice explains that few findings were surprising: the population is aging, more diverse, better educated, and flocking to privately owned homes. Oh, but there is a rise of the Jedis.

Conducted once every ten years, the Czech census is much like any other nation’s. Wrapping up gender, economic and education details, it’s the easiest way to measure the nuts and bolts of a population. The official document usually strays from any cultural or preference-based details – aside from, perhaps, your choice between cat or dog.

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But data gatherers found something striking about religious beliefs. Filed under the “religion” section, 15,070 Czechs wrote the choice: Jedi Knight. The optional religion part allowed citizens to fill in their preference, meaning the more than 15,000 had no distinct selection bias. A Facebook campaign encouraged people to fill in the Star Wars spirituality on their census form. And census organizers didn’t ignore their preference. “We included this option despite a fierce debate over whether it’s serious or not. But it’s not up to statisticians to say what is or is not a religion,” Stanislav Drapal, deputy head of the statistical office, told the AFP.

While the 15,000 supposed practitioners represent a tiny fraction of the Czech population – a mere .14% – it’s a recognizable blip on the religious scale. The largest proportion of Jedis was found in the Czech capital, Prague, where 3,977 Jedis live, making up .31% of the city’s population.

The rise of the Jedi religion, whether serious or not, shows a strong turn away from organized religion. Nearly 1.1 million people declared themselves Roman Catholic on this census, making it the country’s most popular religion. But that’s a sharp decline from the 2001 numbers, where 2.8 million listed themselves as Roman Catholic, Radio Prague notes.

Also striking: nearly half the population, 4.8 million people, refused to answer the religion question.

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Jedis are the lightsaber-wielding peacemakers of the Old Republic. Using the Force, they fend off evildoers and abide by an admirable moral code.

“There is no emotion, there is peace.
There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.
There is no passion, there is serenity.
There is no chaos, there is harmony.
There is no death, there is the Force.”

While the religion was invented by the Star Wars franchise and first appeared in the original film in 1977, it wasn’t until 2000 that the Jedi faith started making waves. A viral campaign spread around New Zealand, Australia, and the UK led to the option being similarly included on their censuses. More than 390,000 Britons claimed to practice Jediism on the 2001 census, as did 70,000 in Australia.

But the question still remains: Is this religion serious? NewsFeed consulted the wisdom of “No religion is truth. It is all just a matter of faith.” Practice at will, young padawans. Just beware of the dark side.

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