Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Self-described Jedi alleges discrimination

Chris Jarvis of Southend, England, says wearing his hood up is his religious right. The subscriber to the Jedi Faith - from the Star Wars fictional universe - was asked to remove his hood in a Southend Jobcentre recently, reports the U.K.'s Daily Mail.  But instead of using the Force to convince staff they didn't really want him to comply with the dress code, Jarvis alleged he was being discriminated against.  "I am a Star Wars follower. It means following the way of the Jedi," Jarvis told the Daily Mail. "The main reason is I want to wear my hood up and I have got a religion which allows me to do that. Someone with their own religious views is allowed to wear what their religion says - the Sikhs are able to carry a great big dagger. My religion allows me to wear my hood." The father of three wrote Jobcentre Plus to complain of the incident. They sent him back an apology letter...
"We as an organization have a duty of care to both customers and staff, therefore for security reasons we ask customers to remove their hoods. I have spoken to member staff and it was not their intention to offend your beliefs," the letter says. Despite the apology, Jarvis intends to sue, the Daily Mail reports.
In a 2001 census, about 30,000 people in the U.K. listed Jedi as their religion, making it the fourth most popular belief system in the country.  In the 2001 Canadian census, 20,000 people identified as followers of the Jedi faith.   Other English-speaking countries saw similar numbers. A widespread Internet campaign helped spark the Jedi census phenomenon.

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