Monday, September 21, 2009

Beware The Sith Lawyers

You know, Frank Zappa once said that you can't be considered a real country:

unless you have a BEER and an airline - it helps if you have some kind of a football team or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a BEER.
Along similar lines, you can't be a real religion until you can complain that someone has discriminated against you because of your faith. But that measure, the Jedis have arrived.

I am absolutely not making this up. A Brit has established an official Jedi Knight religion, one that claims to be the fourth largest in the UK. Now, he's alleging that he was thrown out of a chain grocery store because of his religious headgear (via Volokh):
Tesco has been accused of religious discrimination after the company ordered the founder of a Jedi religion to remove his hood or leave a branch of the supermarket in north Wales.

Daniel Jones, founder of the religion inspired by the Star Wars films, says he was humiliated and victimised for his beliefs following the incident at a Tesco store in Bangor.

The 23-year-old, who founded the International Church of Jediism, which has 500,000 followers worldwide, was told the hood flouted store rules.
There actually is a great deal of law, in the United States anyway, about these kinds of religious accommodations. I don't know if the UK has something similar, but one wonders if Tesco has similar problems with other religious head coverings. Particularly if, as Jones claims, the hood didn't cover his face. Hard to see what's reasonable about demanding that he remove it in that case.

"But wait," you're saying, "this is a joke religion. It can't enjoy the same sort of protection as 'real' religions, can it?" Why not? It's "holy books" are a whole lot more entertaining that most religious tests, even if the, um, "new testament" kind of sucked. One thing governments should be exceptionally wary of doing is wading in to discussions of what faiths are "true." It doesn't appear that the Jedi faith was created as a means to evade some criminal law, after all. Unless a religion does, the government should keep its hands off the dogma.

But I'm under no such restriction, so I'll just say that maybe Jones needs to study his own holy books a little bit more:
Tesco said: 'He hasn't been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods.

'Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.
Pwned, as the kids say. Jones does deserve bonus points for being from Holyhead (no kidding) and starting his own religion, tho'.

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