More than a thousand new members a day are signing up to join the Church of Jediism as fans prepare for the release this week of new Star Wars movie The Force Awakens, it is claimed.
Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the UK-based organisation’s five-strong council, told the Daily Telegraph that the group now boasted more than 250,000 followers.
“It’s gone up substantially in the past couple of days,” he said. “The real test will be in a couple of weeks when the film hype has died off.
“I think people are shying away from traditional religion because it doesn’t reflect their views,” he added. “We’ve got no problem with homosexuality or anything like that. We are very accepting.”
Interest in Jedi as a religion began in 2001, when the UK and a number of other Commonwealth countries, including Australia and New Zealand, held censuses in which respondents were asked to detail their religious beliefs. In England and Wales, 390,127 identified as “Jedi” in the census, equivalent to almost 0.8% of the population.
The Church of Jediism is not the only body claiming authority over the mystical energy field imagined by George Lucas in 1977’s Star Wars and its many sequels. The New Zealand-based Jedi Church and the “international” Temple of the Jedi Order are among other claimants.
The world premiere of The Force Awakens is due to take place in Los Angeles tonight, in three different cinemas, reportedly the Chinese, Dolby and El Capitan theatres , all of which are a short walk from each other in Hollywood. Preparations have been described as far more elaborate than those undertaken for the Oscars, with studio Disney setting up a huge tent – covering four blocks of Hollywood Boulevard – in an effort to maintain secrecy. Some fans have been queuing to be among the first to see the film at the Chinese theatre since early December.
Abrams’ mentor, the three-times Oscar-winning film-maker Steven Spielberg, has described the pressure his friend is under ahead of the release of The Force Awakens, which is tipped to break the all-time box-office world record of $2.78bn, held by Avatar.
“JJ is terrified,” Spielberg told CBS’s 60 Minutes . “There’s a lot of pressure on JJ to start paying Disney back for, you know, the franchise they bought from George Lucas [for $4bn].”
Added Spielberg: “You just know that there will be people, no matter what you do, that will have issues with some aspect. You just know there is some number that is being thrown out there that will not be hit. You just know.”
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2015
Swiss holding ‘funeral march’ to mark disappearance of an Alpine glacier
Dozens of people will undertake a "funeral march" up a steep Swiss mountainside on Sunday to mark the disappearance of an Alpine glacier amid growing global alarm over climate change.
The Pizol "has lost so much substance that from a scientific perspective it is no longer a glacier," Alessandra Degiacomi, of the Swiss Association for Climate Protection, told AFP.
The organisation which helped organise Sunday's march said around 100 people were due to take part in the event, set to take place as the UN gathers youth activists and world leaders in New York to mull the action needed to curb global warming.
UAW strike ‘threatens to upend the economy in Michigan’ — and could destroy Trump’s re-election: report
At the end of the first week of a major strike by the United Auto Workers, the employment standoff threatens to upend President Donald Trump's 2020 re-election map, the Chicago Times reported Saturday.
Approximately 46,000 workers have been striking against General Motors.
There are two major threats to Trump's campaign from the strike.
The first is that the strike could cause regional recessions -- threatening Trump's political standing in key Rust Belt states.
Security forces fired live rounds at protesters calling for the ouster of Egyptian president: report
Egyptian security forces clashed with hundreds of anti-government protesters in the port city of Suez on Saturday, firing tear gas and live rounds, said several residents who participated in the demonstrations.
A heavy security presence was also maintained in Cairo's Tahrir Square, the epicentre of Egypt's 2011 revolution, after protests in several cities called for the removal of general-turned-president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Such demonstrations are rare after Egypt effectively banned protests under a law passed following the 2013 military ouster of Islamist ex-president Mohamed Morsi.