A Gospel According to Yoda The Stars Wars saga began long ago, in a world far, far away, but Daniel and Barney Jones are bringing its outlook to a church down the block. They've founded the U.K. Church of the Jedi, which has no deity but follows the teachings of Yoda.
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Daniel Jones describes the new UK Church of the Jedi

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A Gospel According to Yoda

Daniel Jones describes the new UK Church of the Jedi

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TOURE, host:

When we heard there was a Jedi Church, it seemed a little funny. But, you know, we keep an open mind here at the BPP. We try.

(Soundbite of movie, "Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back")

Mr. FRANK OZ (Actor) (As Yoda): No. Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.

TOURE: You know, when you go back and listen to Yoda, it does have a totally fiery sermon quality to it.

(Soundbite of movie, "Star Wars: Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back")

Mr. OZ (As Yoda): A Jedi's strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side: anger, fear, aggression, the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you, it will.

TOURE: Oh, he could get a lot of money preaching in Harlem, nice Baptist church down in the South. He's bringing it. But Yoda and all of them was a far - was a long time ago, in a galaxy, Alison, say it with me...

STEWART: Far, far away.

TOURE: …far, far away.

Back here in the Milky Way a short time ago, 2001 in England and Wales, 390,000 people claimed Jedi as their religion in the census. The Office of National Statistics has questioned the validity of the results saying, a tongue-in-cheek Internet campaign drove up the numbers. But for some, Jediism is very real.

And one of them is Daniel Jones who founded the U.K. Church of the Jedi with his brother Barney. The two of them are heads of the main chapter.

Daniel, tell us what is your name in the Jedi religion?

Mr. DANIEL JONES: My Jedi name is Master Morda Hehol.

TOURE: Say that again?

Mr. JONES: Master Morda Hehol.

(Soundbite of laughter)

TOURE: Tell us, what are services like in the Jedi church?

Mr. JONES: Very fun, actually. There are - we do a piece of - the first part of the sermons, we do Theory of the Force where we read our essays on the Force which the ministers have prepared. And then, for the next part, we do different classes on different things, you know, in rotation. So it may be light saber training one month, and then, the next month maybe like, technology and mind control. So, different things every - in rotation, it changes.

TOURE: I mean, the whole concept of the Force as explained by the movie is actually really brilliant and interesting sort of thing.

Mr. JONES: Yes.

TOURE: Give me an example of a sermon of your theory-of-the-force sermon.

Mr. JONES: I can read out a passage from one of our essays.

TOURE: yeah.

Mr. JONES: Sure. Okay. This is theory of the Force by master Ajak(ph), he is one of our ministers from Surrey in England. It starts, the Force is everywhere. It controls all living organisms and can be used as a powerful tool. Jedi master Obi-Wan Kenobi from "Episode Four: A New Hope" describes the Force as an energy field created by - creating all living things and that surrounds us and penetrates us and binds the galaxy together. I believe this quote is perfect description of the Force. It can be harnessed by a minority of beings described as Force sensitive. One can only be Force sensitive if they have Midi-chlorians. The more Midi-chlorians one has, the stronger they are with the Force. A Jedi should be strong enough to be able to use the Force to advantage. That's as much as I'll read for now, because it goes on and on.

TOURE: So, this is your main religion?

Mr. JONES: Yeah.

TOURE: Or is this your only religion?

Mr. JONES: It's my only religion.

TOURE: Were you Christian before, Jewish before?

Mr. JONES: No. Nothing at all.

TOURE: So you - okay, so you went from, what, agnostic or atheist to this?

Mr. JONES: Yeah. Well, just being myself, I suppose. It is the best way to describe it.

TOURE: So is there a central worship figure in this religion? I mean, everybody else has...

Mr. JONES: A deity.

TOURE: ...Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, somebody.

Mr. JONES: No. We don't have a deity. We have the Force. And we believe in ourselves. There you go, that's the best way to describe it. We're kind of an interesting religion in the fact, really. We believe in the Force, which surrounds us, and we believe that's an energy. And like, we said, if you can harness that, you can achieve really good goals in life. So we don't really have a deity. It's more like self-belief, if you believe in yourself and use the mythic Force then you can achieve great things.

TOURE: Do you guys get into Jedi mind tricks?

Mr. JONES: Yeah, we do use Jedi mind tricks. It's not telepathy. We use neuro-linguistic programming, NLP, which is a form of suggestive manipulation.

TOURE: Wow. You are definitely the deepest "Star Wars" fan I've ever encountered. So I got to ask you, which is the best movie of the bunch?

Mr. JONES: The best movie? Easy. "Return of the Jedi."

(Soundbite of laughter)

TOURE: I should have predicted that. Now, come on, the prequels are kind of bad beside the first three, right?

Mr. JONES: Well, they're not - the stories are there, and the very - the stories are very powerful. But then, again, they went more - instead of being more of a passion for the film, I think Lucas went more on the commercial side - how much money you could make out of them, more than how much, you know, following he could get from the films because remember the first three, they very - the films were very passionate as in the way they were made. But this new ones are more of like a fashion statement to be honest with you.

TOURE: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, the last three don't - or the first three don't really have the same level of religious appeal for you, do they?

Mr. JONES: Yes and no, really. They do - from the Jedi point of view, yes, because there's a lot of interesting knowledge and facts about the Jedi in the films. But the first three - they are not spiritual, may I say, but more for ancient ideas and good quotes. The first, you know, the last three are the best ones.

TOURE: Have you guys connected with George Lucas, tried to connect with George Lucas?

Mr. JONES: No, not at all. And it's - a lot of people ask us, you know, what does George Lucas think? And I was like, well, I have no idea, to be honest with you. And we haven't tried contacting him yet and he hasn't contacted us. So I'm not sure if he knows about it, to be honest with you.

TOURE: Well, maybe he will today. Daniel Jones aka Master Morda Hehol...

Mr. JONES: Yeah.

TOURE: ...co-founder of the U.K. church of the Jedi. Thank you.

Mr. JONES: Thank you very much.

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