Is Jediism a recognized religion in Canada?

Jediism garnered attention when about 21,000 Canadians put down their religion as “Jedi Knight” in the 2001 census.
Jediism garnered attention when about 21,000 Canadians put down their religion as “Jedi Knight” in the 2001 census. (Photo:REUTERS/Jose Cabezas)

In the Force, and in the inherent worth of all life within it.” So goes one of the Jedi fundamental beliefs from the Temple of Jedi Order.

Jediism is a an actual religion and though some of its philosophies are similar to those in the Star Wars movies, the order claims not to believe in Star Wars, nor do they worship George Lucas.

Rather, those who follow the Jedi religion believe that “the Force” is the “underlying, fundamental nature of the universe.”

Jediism garnered attention in Canada when about 21,000 Canadians put down their religion as “Jedi Knight” in the 2001 census. That number had dwindled to 9,000 people by the 2011 census. The census is a program that is run by the Government of Canada and collects and provides statistical information about Canadians.

Does that mean that Jediism is a recognized religion in Canada since it managed to make its way onto the census? Not necessarily.

In order for a religion to be recognized, it’s usual to get some kind of government recognition and not just through the census. For example, in Ontario, in order for clergy of a certain religion to be able to perform a legal marriage, they have to be registered under the marriage act as a person authorized to solemnize marriage. Though a clergy can become registered for this purpose, they have to fulfill certain conditions including proving their religion is real and permanent.

So far, it doesn’t look like Jedi marriages have been legally performed in Canada, so the question of whether Jediism is a recognized religion in Canada is still open.

It also helps greatly for a religion to have a bit of longevity, which Jediism might not yet have but might gain if the religion survives at least another 50 to 100 years.

Before you go thinking that any religion could get some kind of legitimacy in Canada if Jediism could, that is also not necessarily so.

For example, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism, is likely not to be recognized as a legitimate religion in Canada, because not only is the religion very young but it seems to have been created as a “parody religion.” According to an article the Ontario Human Rights Commission posted to its website about how religions can become recognized, “legitimacy must be earned.” It seems unlikely that a religion created as a joke will gain recognition in Canada.

Regardless, whether recognized religion or not, may the force be with you!

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