Charity Commission refuses to register jedi organisation

The regulator has rejected an application from the Temple of the Jedi Order on the grounds that it is not a religion under charity law

Star Wars fans wearing jedi costumes
Star Wars fans wearing jedi costumes

The Charity Commission has rejected an application from the Temple of the Jedi Order to register for charitable status.

In a decision published today, the commission said it had rejected the application to become a charitable incorporated organisation on the grounds that jediism is not a religion under charitable law because it does not have a coherently structured system of belief.

Jediism is a belief system featured in the Star Wars series of films, first released in 1977, and is based on the observance of The Force, described on the TOTJO website as "the ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a jedi (a follower of jediism) believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe".

Jediism also draws on the beliefs and practices of a number of mainstream religions, including meditation.

The TOTJO applied for charitable status in March with the purposes of advancing the religion of jediism and for the public benefit worldwide, in accordance with the jedi doctrine.

But the decision, published today, said: "The commission is not satisfied that TOTJO is established for exclusively charitable purposes for the advancement of religion and/or the promotion of moral and ethical improvement for the benefit of the public."

In a statement accompanying the ruling, the commission said the decision was significant because the commission had to consider the definition of religion in charity law.

The decision said: "The commission considers that there is insufficient evidence that jediism and the jedi doctrine as promoted by TOTJO is a sufficiently structured, organised or integrated system of belief to constitute a religion.

"There is insufficient evidence of an objective understanding of jediism as opposed to a self-defining system which may be pursued outside the confines of a religion and in a secular manner.

"It comprises a loose framework of ideas with some common ground which individuals may interpret as they see fit. In particular, it is not obligatory to interpret and follow the jedi doctrine as a religion."

Kenneth Dibble, the chief legal adviser at the Charity Commission, said: "The law relating to what is and is not a charity evolves continuously and, as in this case, can be influenced by decisions in other areas. Our role is critical in interpreting and explaining the extent of what the law considers charitable.

"The meaning of ‘religion’ in charity law has developed over many years and now encompasses a wide range of belief systems.

"The decisions which the commission makes on the extent of this meaning can be difficult and complex, but are important in maintaining clarity on what is and is not charitable."

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