Star Wars as Religion: Most Americans Say Their Spiritual Views Align with ‘the Force’

The “Force” in Star Wars may be antithetical to Christianity, but a majority of Americans nevertheless say their own views of spirituality are similar to it, according to a new poll.

The survey of 1,700 Americans by City Square Associates for Skylight found that a total of 56 percent of U.S adults say their views of spirituality either “somewhat” (36 percent) or “very much so” (20 percent) align with that of the Force.

The question read as follows: “Below is a description of ‘The Force’: ‘The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.’ How much do your own views of spirituality align with this?”

The survey was released on the National Day of Prayer, which this year fell on May 4. That date each year also is celebrated by many as Star Wars Day (“May the Fourth be with you” – a comical take on “May the Force be with you”).

Timothy Paul Jones, a professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said: “Eastern religious ideas are woven through Star Wars.” Those beliefs, he said, contrast with Christianity.

“There’s the pantheistic idea of an impersonal ‘Force’ that binds the universe together, the presence of a dark side and a light side in the spiritual realm, the emphasis on finding truth through mindfulness and concentration,” said Jones, the author of Finding God in a Galaxy Far, Far Away: A Spiritual Exploration of the Star Wars Saga. “That provides us with a good opportunity to help our children to see the contrast between the personal God of Scripture and the false gods of pantheism and do-it-yourself spirituality.”

Although the pantheism elements in Star Wars contrast with Christianity, the themes in the story have a biblical foundation, Jones said.

“Some of the most powerful aspects of the Star Wars storyline are more Judeo-Christian than Eastern: good triumphs through Luke Skywalker’s willingness to sacrifice his own life to redeem his father, and Darth Vader turns from darkness and experiences reconciliation,” Jones said.

Skylight is a non-profit organization that promotes spiritual wellness.

Photo courtesy: ©Agnieszka Kowalczyk/Unsplash

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.