In the fervor leading up to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, some fans are finding new religion in droves. The Church of Jediism, which the Telegraph reports began "as a joke, ahead of the 2001 census, in which respondents were asked to declare their religion for the first time"—is reporting a formidable surge in membership, to the tune of 1,000 new adherents per day. "It’s gone up substantially in the past couple of days," says a member of the UK church's ruling council. "The real test will be in a couple of weeks when the film hype has died off." Adds Jediism founder Morda Hehol, er, Daniel Jones: "We’ve been rushed off our feet. People want to know more about it. It’s great for us."
Though numbers of the Jedi faithful—who profess to abide by "a set of philosophies based on focusing, learning, and becoming one with the Force" and phrases like "There is no emotion; there is peace"—had dwindled to some 177,000 by the time the 2011 census rolled around, the group is claiming some 250,000 current members. "I think people are shying away from traditional religion because it doesn’t reflect their views," says the council member. "We’ve got no problem with homosexuality or anything like that. We are very accepting." (The Church of Jediism isn't the only thing feeling the effects of the excitement over the coming film.)