Back in college, I took an ancient religion course. We studied Samaritans, the Babylonians, and more. By looking at these practices that we no longer practiced we were able to look objectively at what makes a religion, what practices and beliefs hold these systems together. Were their gods benevolent and malevolent? What did worshippers celebrate? This look at religion surfaced again when more and more people from multiple countries claimed “Jedi” as their faith in national census forms. With all this notoriety, the Sith religion, or the religion of the Dark Side seems to be ignored here on Earth.
Rise of Jedi on Earth
Okay so back in 1999, Episode 1 The Phantom Menace comes into theaters. Whether you liked Episode 1 or not, Anakin Skywalker renewed interested in the franchise. Again huge chunks of the population delved deep into Star Wars lore and backstories of characters. People rekindled their love of The Force.
This ends up happening before the 2001 census. Apparently, many countries around the world take a census every ten years. (Don’t ask me why I didn’t know that. That fact never lodged itself in my brain.) Suddenly, the world is seized by a “Jedi census phenomenon.”
- England – 390,127 counted themselves as Jedi
- Australia – 70,000 claim to be members of the Jedi order
- New Zealand – 53,000 marked themselves as Jedi
- Canada – 21,000 respond Jedi Knight
Zeroing in on England’s high number of Jedi, it’s important to note according to the never wrong source, Wikipedia. In 2001, Jedi was the UK’s fourth-largest affiliation, outnumbering Judaism and Buddhism.
Without any surprise to anyone, I cannot locate a Jedi temple on Earth, despite all the self-reported acolytes. Googling this, however, did pull up protests in 2015 by Turkish students lobbying for the Istanbul Technical University to build a Jedi temple on campus.
Cursory research indicates students as a whole appreciated the nation’s stance as a secular body. When a Turkish university builds a mosque on campus to support Islamic students, members of the student body responded by protesting for a Buddhist temple. Their ultimate desire points to wanting to keep religion and education separate. Not wanting to be overlooked, students of ITU created a petition for a Jedi house of worship. While their request is likely tongue-in-cheek, we don’t see any calls to join the Dark Side.
Jedi Code of Conduct
So why Jedi? The code of conduct seems like a vague ideology:
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.
There is a more robust code with a litany of rules and regulations, however. This simple paragraph doesn’t get into the fact Jedi knights took a vow of celibacy. Looking through fandom forums it appears Jedi weren’t sworn to celibacy. To avoid creating attachments, or creating dynasties within the Force they didn’t marry with notable exceptions. The Jedi order appears to have forbidden marriage just in time for Anakin to come along and spiral out of control.
As an avid binger of period dramas, I can’t help compare the Jedi code of conduct to the Knights Templar code of conduct. The Templars, however, did swear an oath of chastity. Also, their code is so long even dictating the fact they were required to eat two to a bowl to encourage communal living and prohibited them from wearing pointy shoes.
So, perhaps the Jedi code of conduct was (very) loosely inspired by the Templars. This loose code seems like something most can meditate on.
Sith Code of Conduct
With all this Jedi love, it is interesting that few appreciate the Dark Side. When I vocalized this in Orange Nebula Head Quarters, I was informed that members of the Sith Order are fiercely under-reported for fear of discrimination… which was albeit, a more passionate response than I ever thought to receive, and more than likely true.
Studying the Sith’s code of conduct it is interesting that it’s the mirrored version of the Jedi. It’s not completely different in the way monotheistic or polytheistic religions on Earth appear.
Peace is a lie. There is only Passion.
Through Passion, I gain Strength.
Through Strength, I gain Power.
Through Power, I gain Victory.
Through Victory my chains are Broken.
The Force shall free me.
Admittedly, the Sith creed feels more in line with my passionate nature, even though this quiz aligns my nature with the Jedi order.
When you look through both creeds and suspend the notion that the Sith are “the baddies,” which would you subscribe to? Are we all Jedi because we identify as wanting to train under Yoda? Do we believe we have innate powers flowing within us, but were relegated to the sidelines helping our aunt and uncle in a desolate corner of the galaxy?
If Sith devotees are under-reported, living in the shadows, apparently there is a sub-Reddit for you. Who knows. Maybe seeing others talk about the Sith faith so freely will encourage you to announce your religion on the census. It is, after all, coming up next year for the United States, and the year after for the other countries referenced.