The UK’s Charity Commission has refused to grant the “Temple of the Jedi” charitable status as a religion, owing to the fact that it doesn’t actually do anything charitable.
The group applied for charitable status in order ‘to advance the religion of Jediism, for the public benefit worldwide, in accordance with the Jedi Doctrine.’ The religion was originally a joke — part of a 2001 campaign to get people to put “Jedi” as their religion on census forms — but has since, for some, evolved into something of an actual religion, with maxims and tenets and so forth.
There are a number of things the Charity Commission considers when an organization applies to be a religious charity. For example, would the advancement of their religion “promote moral or ethical improvement”? They also consider things like whether or not they have meeting space for their religion and perform marriages. Since adherents of Jediism do not conduct wedding ceremonies or attend Jedi Church, the commission decided it wasn’t worthy of the charitable status designation.
The Charities Act 2006 said that the advancement of a religion in and of itself is not enough to gain charitable status, and any group wishing to gain this status must demonstrate a “public benefit” of their work.
In case you’re wondering, the Charity Commission in the UK does not consider a belief system the same thing as a religion — which is why Scientology has been refused charitable status as well. The Exclusive Brethren (a Christian sect), though considered a religion, had its charity status revoked in 2009 on account of the fact that their “exclusiveness” kept them from having any kind of public benefit, with that status later returned to some congregations after satisfying Charity Commission requirements.
The Temple of the Jedi can probably reapply, but will likely have to actually start doing actual charity work first — and getting people to watch Rogue One likely doesn’t count.
(via the BBC. Thanks to Andrew for the link)