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Founder of Jedi Religion Claims to be Victim of Religious Discrimination:

The new "Jedi" religion, based on the Star Wars movies, has grown rapidly to the point where it may be the fourth largest religion in Britain. However, no religion has really arrived until its adherents can claim to be victims of religious discrimination. And it seems that the Dark Side of the Force has finally gotten around to discriminating against the Jedi:

Tesco [a British supermarket chain] 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...

Jones, from Holyhead, who is known by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, said his religion dictated that he should wear the hood in public places and is considering legal action against the chain.

"It states in our Jedi doctrination that I can wear headwear. It just covers the back of my head," he said.

"You have a choice of wearing headwear in your home or at work but you have to wear a cover for your head when you are in public."

He said he'd gone to the store to buy something to eat during his lunch break when staff approached him and ordered him to the checkout where they explained he would have to remove the offending hood or leave the store.

"They said: 'Take it off', and I said: 'No, its part of my religion. It's part of my religious right.' I gave them a Jedi church business card....

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."

I don't know if Jones has a serious case under British antidiscrimination law. It's unlikely that a suit like this could succeed in the US. Title II of the Civil Rights of 1964 forbids discrimination on the grounds of religion in "places of public accommodation" (including stores). However, a general store rule like the ban on hoods that happens to constrain a particular religion without deliberately targeting them is usually considered legal under Title II. Otherwise, stores would be unable to to adopt any customer dress restrictions at all. Any such code would violate the rules of at least some religions. Things might be different if the Jedi could prove that the ban on hoods was a deliberate effort to target their religious group. But that seems unlikely, though it may be that I just don't understand the true extent of the Dark Side's power.

martinned (mail) (www):
I'm not sure, either. I guess the best way to find out is to consider what the verdict would be if this case were about a Sikh's turban. I suspect the outcome may well turn on whether the store has an acceptable reason for banning hoods, i.e. whether the measure is proportionate in respect to the religious "inconvenience" caused. Are they worried about being robbed?
9.20.2009 7:02pm
Downfall:
Don't be too proud of this legal argument you've constructed. The ability to litigate is insignificant next to the power of the Force
9.20.2009 7:03pm
martinned (mail) (www):
The legal criterion is in section 45(3) of the Equality Act (2006):


(3) A person (“A”) discriminates against another (“B”) for the purposes of this Part if A applies to B a provision, criterion or practice—
(a) which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of B’s religion or belief,
(b) which puts persons of B’s religion or belief at a disadvantage compared to some or all others (where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances),
(c) which puts B at a disadvantage compared to some or all persons who are not of his religion or belief (where there is no material difference in the relevant circumstances), and
(d) which A cannot reasonably justify by reference to matters other than B’s religion or belief.

So the question is - under subsection d - whether this rule can be "reasonably justified".
9.20.2009 7:10pm
dearieme:
The usual point of these rules is to stop you hiding your face - so that, for example, motorcycle helmets must be removed but cycle helmets needn't be. Whether they have the testicular fortitude to demand the same of women hidden in burkas (spelling?) I don't know. Turbans would be fine, though.
9.20.2009 7:16pm
Cornellian (mail):
Hard to see the reasonable justification if the hood doesn't cover his face or in some way prevent him from being identified.
9.20.2009 7:22pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
I'm interested in the use of the movies themselves to verify or refute claims of religious belief. It's true that jedis in the movies (especially in the original 3) do not wear hoods. Can that be used as evidence in a religious discrimination claim that the hood is not a firmly held religious belief that deserves protection?

Are fanfics "canon?"
9.20.2009 7:23pm
Daniel Chapman (mail):
... do not ALWAYS wear hoods.
9.20.2009 7:24pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Daniel Chapman: Like in the US, British judges don't like digging into the details of people's religious beliefs. By way of contrast to prof. Anderson's attempt to distinguishing mormonism from the belief that the moon is made of cheese, all that matters here is that the belief is sincerely held. Whether there are any other people who believe the same thing doesn't matter, at least not in theory.
9.20.2009 7:29pm
Fub:
martinned wrote at 9.20.2009 7:02pm:
... Are they worried about being robbed?
dearieme wrote at 9.20.2009 7:16pm:
The usual point of these rules is to stop you hiding your face - so that, for example, motorcycle helmets must be removed but cycle helmets needn't be. ...
I think dearieme nailed it. It happened to me about 25 years ago wearing a full brain bucket with visor. It was a chilly night and I was struggling with cold fingers to undo the uncooperative chin strap as I walked through the front door, and very obviously struggling with both hands under my chin. The clerks went berserk as if I'd walked in waving a gun.

I thought they were idiots at the time. But they insisted they thought I might be about to rob them. Actually, I still think they were idiots. But there are more idiots than reasonable people, and some of them are armed. So, ever since then I've always totally removed full head gear before walking into stores.

"If he'd known they had a gat, he would have tipped his hat" would make a lousy epitaph.
9.20.2009 8:29pm
NorthernDave (mail):
I'm just wondering what Tesco's legal team's first thoughts were.......

Does this make the "Chad Vader" series discriminatory?

More seriously given that the wearing of turbans is accepted in Britain ubiquitously, as long as the hood is being worn fully on the back with the face clearly visible I would think it would be like those old Nun's habit hat/hoods.

Hats have been banned in many Canadian school situations for the simple reason they were being used to conceal (usually bladed) weapons. These bans don't apply to regularly accepted religious gear as I recall.

Why didn't Mr. Jones just use his Jedi mind powers on the store clerk?
9.20.2009 9:10pm
klw (mail):
Why didn't Mr. Jones just use his Jedi mind powers on the store clerk?
Because Jedi´s tricks only work with weak minds
9.20.2009 9:41pm
jccamp (mail):
Some comments from the original story in the Guardian:

"What can you say?.....

Sith happens"


"I wonder if he was in Tesco's to buy a wookie burger. They aren't bad, just a bit chewie."

"May the farce be with him."

"Good. He deserves to be vicimized and humiliated.

People like him bring the rest of us sci-fi fans into disrepute."

"Apparently he was actually there to buy an Energy Saving Lightsabre."


".. or is it that Daniel Jones is the best religious commentator, ever."

"You don't need to see his identification.
- We don't need to see his identification.
These aren't the droids you're looking for
- these aren't the droids we're looking for
He can go about his business.
- You can go about your business.
Move along.
- move along.

There, easy! Perhaps he wasn't a real jedi though."
9.20.2009 10:02pm
http://volokh.com/?exclude=davidb :

Jones, from Holyhead, who is known by the Jedi name Morda Hehol, said his religion dictated that he should wear the hood in public places and is considering legal action against the chain.

You just can't make stuff like this up. A religion *expressly* based on fiction, as opposed to religions obviously, but not admittedly, based on fiction. Simply awesome.
9.20.2009 10:03pm
martinned (mail) (www):

You just can't make stuff like this up. A religion *expressly* based on fiction, as opposed to religions obviously, but not admittedly, based on fiction. Simply awesome.

Why are you talking about scientology all of a sudden?
9.20.2009 10:07pm
DG:
This is not the Conspiracy you are looking for. Their posts are in order. You should move along.
9.20.2009 10:15pm
jccamp (mail):
A few more...

"Irked Aislewalker."

"Tesco's. You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy."

"They'll be laughing on the other side of their faces when their Tesco Metros are boycotted on the Ice Planet of Hoth"


and the last....

"This guy might not be all that stupid

The 23-year-old...founded the International Church of Jediism, which has 500,000 followers worldwide

Anyone who invents a religion with 500k members by the age of 23 is hardly a thicko.

Besides, I'd say it helps him get Leia-d. Wokka wokka."
9.20.2009 10:17pm
RJO (www):
First they came for the Jedis...
9.20.2009 10:58pm
one of many:
Everytime I see Jedi in print I wonder how it is pronounced, is it pronounced Hedi as in Hedy Lamarr?
9.20.2009 11:12pm
jccamp (mail):
No, more like deadeye...as in Deadeye Dick
9.20.2009 11:33pm
jccamp (mail):
And why has no one said "This is a great piece. Very thought provoking. I like the sort of ending that leaves it open to personal input. Makes it work for just about everyone I think. Nicely done! I’ll subscribe."
9.20.2009 11:38pm
Gonzer Maven (mail):
I don't understand why Mr. Jones did not just whip out his light saber and cleaved Tesco's cash register in two to demonstrate his sincerity, and the fact that the force was with him. Oh, wait. Are light sabers subject to British gun laws? Perhaps David Kopel can give us a brief analysis of that important issue.
9.21.2009 12:27am
geokstr (mail):

one of many:
Everytime I see Jedi in print I wonder how it is pronounced, is it pronounced Hedi as in Hedy Lamarr?

No, no, how many times do I have to tell you, you idiot, that's Hedley Lamarr, not Hedy?

:-)
9.21.2009 1:24am
fishbane (mail):
Are light sabers subject to British gun laws? Perhaps David Kopel can give us a brief analysis of that important issue.

No, but there's a push to require new light sabers be safer.
9.21.2009 7:42am
Porkchop:
NorthernDave:


More seriously given that the wearing of turbans is accepted in Britain ubiquitously, as long as the hood is being worn fully on the back with the face clearly visible I would think it would be like those old Nun's habit hat/hoods.


This is probably more related to the general distaste for "hoodies" in the UK. They are apparently seen as gang regalia, and it is apparently legally acceptable to prohibit or limit their wear. For example, here ( http://www.metro.co.uk /news/article.html?Judge_right_to_issue_hoo die_ban&in_article_id =394671&in_page_id=34 ) is a news item about an ASBO ("Anti-Social Behaviour Order) that prohibited the subject from wearing one.



Mr Justice Mitting, giving the ruling, said the original Asbos were directed at the Cherry Boyz gang who were gathering in the Greenwich and Bexley areas, abusing the public, their hooded tops helping to conceal their identities.

He said the district judge had found that the hoodies were often worn during disturbances and members of the public felt menaced and intimidated by them.

It was a condition imposed to reduce the fear caused by the intimidating activity and therefore satisfied the tests of an Asbo, said Mr Justice Mitting.

Lord Justice Latham said the district judge had found that Barnes was wearing a hoodie with the intention of causing fear and reducing the risk of being recognised.


PS. I don't know why I can never get the links function to work on this site, so you'll have to cut and paste to read the article. You'll have to remove spaces (but not underscores) from the link in order to use it, since it is otherwise too long to post.
9.21.2009 7:43am
martinned (mail) (www):
@Porkchop: In the English context, "legally acceptable" isn't really the problem. ASBOs, like Acts of Parliament, can do almost anything. The ruling your article discusses is available on BAILII here.
9.21.2009 8:42am
Just Dropping By (mail):
Don't be too proud of this legal argument you've constructed. The ability to litigate is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Downfall wins the thread!
9.21.2009 8:56am
wfjag:

Why didn't Mr. Jones just use his Jedi mind powers on the store clerk?
Because Jedi´s [mind] tricks only work with weak minds

Which is why he'll wait until he is in court and facing a judge and lawyers.
9.21.2009 9:18am
Prof. S. (mail):

The usual point of these rules is to stop you hiding your face - so that, for example, motorcycle helmets must be removed but cycle helmets needn't be.

If so, then how does The Stig go anywhere in England?
9.21.2009 10:08am
visiting texas lawyer (mail):
Many places adopted anti-hood rules as part of the ongoing backlash against the KKK.

Which makes me sympathetic to them.

Though obviously a Jedi hood and a KKK hood are a little different.

However, if they are believers, then "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." would more than justify an anti-hood rule.
9.21.2009 11:02am
ibn Abu (mail):
I travel to and in Britain quite a bit and have been in a number of Tescos across the country. I have seen dozens of Muslim women wearing head coverings and even full niqab/burqa numbers. So it would seem, apropos of the Title II analysis, that the store's policy is not enforced uniformly.
9.21.2009 12:37pm
Aeon J. Skoble (mail):
visiting texas lawyer nails it. You can't argue that "my religion requires me to do x" as a rationale if your religion doesn't actually do that. Seriously, if your argument is "as a Christian, I am spiritually obligated to rob banks," I don't see your religious-discrimination case going very far. So if this guy fancies himself a Jedi, he needs to, you know, watch Star Wars a few more times.

Reminded me of:
"I think Watley has converted to Judaism just for the jokes!"
"And this offends you as a Jewish person?"
"No, it offends me as a comedian!"
9.21.2009 2:16pm
martinned (mail) (www):
@Aeon J. Skoble: Actually, no. You're confusing two things. Your first step is correct:


You can't argue that "my religion requires me to do x" as a rationale if your religion doesn't actually do that.

But that does not mean that the religious beliefs of others qualify as evidence for yours. The reason why you can't plead your religious beliefs to get out of a robbery charge is that a) you'd have a hard time convincing the court that that belief is sincerely held, and b) outlawing robbery is a common sense/reasonable limitation on your religious freedom.
9.21.2009 2:20pm
Brian G (mail) (www):

Don't be too proud of this legal argument you've constructed. The ability to litigate is insignificant next to the power of the Force.

Downfall wins the thread!


+1
9.21.2009 7:25pm
ArthurKirkland:

You can't argue that "my religion requires me to do x" as a rationale if your religion doesn't actually do that.

That's the beauty of being one of the truthgivers in a religion. You can interpret the sacred text (be it a Bible, a Koran, a Torah scroll, an Oscar-worthy film, a screenplay) as you see fit.

For the average adherent, there is still plenty of wiggle room. Bible believers pick and choose seemingly at whim, and I assume other religious texts have the same fate.

By the way, 500,000 followers at age 23 is impressive. Plus, he's in on the ground floor.
9.21.2009 9:59pm

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