From Jesus Christ to Jedi Knight – validity and viability of new religious movements in late modernity

McCormick, Debra (2006) From Jesus Christ to Jedi Knight – validity and viability of new religious movements in late modernity. In Social Change in the 21st Century Conference 2006, 27 October 2006, QUT Brisbane.


In 2001, a widely distributed email urged people to indicate 'Jedi' (from the movie Star Wars) as their religious affiliation on the National Census to be undertaken that year. The email, which may have originated from a prank, stated that if large enough numbers of people declared an affiliation to Jedi, the government would be forced to include it as a religion in future censuses. More than 70,000 Australians and 390,000 Britons heeded the call to action and recorded Jedi as their religion in the 2001 census. While the majority of people claiming affiliation to Jedism probably did so in a spirit of fun and/or rebellion, research suggests there are members of society who take the 'religion' quite seriously. The introduction and establishment of new religious beliefs once reliant on migration or trade is now facilitated by a global sharing of ideas through mass media and communications technology. Using Jediism and the events surrounding the 2001 National Census in Australia, Britain and New Zealand as examples, this paper explores the legality of new religious movements and; the question of whether the study of a religion based on popular culture can provide relevant discourse on late modern religious environments, attitudes, and participation or if it should simply be dismissed as a passing fad. The results of this research will contribute to the body of knowledge relating to changes in religious affiliation in Australia.

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ID Code: 6636
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Keywords: New Religious Movements, religious affiliation, popular culture, Jedi, census
ISBN: 1741071291
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Debra McCormick
Deposited On: 16 Mar 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:38

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