Garden variety news of the weird:

The Relevant Church in Tampa’s Ybor City has issued a 30-day sex challenge… single men and women can’t have sex for 30 days, and married couples are urged to have it every day.

[Pastor Paul] Wirth is a former Baptist. He founded his non-denominational ministry three years ago. And he markets his church by tackling unusual or controversial topics.

Ok, fine, controversial topics. But wouldn’t you think a church where the married people are ordered to have sex every day qualifies as a denomination? If it hasn’t yet, the married men will see to it. If there’s a Jedi Church there can be a Fellowship of Daily Conjugal Visits, or whatever.

I admit I’m pulling for the Jedi Church to be recognized, not because making a philosophy built by puppets and Mark Hamill line-reads into a world religion would be my generation’s greatest accomplishment (though it clearly would be) but because I like the idea of Jedi Church private schools popping up in our neighborhoods. If I had kids I’d send them there, and so would you. And our younglings would grow to listen to the midichlorians in their cells (stupid as it sounds) and live out fulfilling lives until they get blown up on Alderaan, betrayed by Clone Troopers or filleted by Darth Hayden Christensen.

That said, the Jedi have a long way to go before any of those happy occasions can take place:

The NZ Census beureau (sic) believe that the Jedi answer means “Answer understood, but will not be counted”, whereas “satanism”, “wican” etc are valid answers. The sheer number of people who entered “Jedi” ( or something similar “Rugby” or “Pokemon”) was a significant in the last census. In order for the Jedi church to grow, we need access to these statistics just like any other church/order.

They’re talking about New Zealand, so I can believe reports that people say rugby is their religion, but… Pokemon?

Pastor Pikachu
The Vicar of Disturbed School Age Children Land

Granted, Jedi has its drawbacks, but if you watch the films about 70,000 times each, and buy the annotated screenplays, study the Extended Universe guidebooks, collect the bios that come with the little figurines, write notes in the margins of your limited edition metal-cover novelizations, pore through the comics, subscribe to the online roleplaying game and set up your mom’s basement as a realistic working model of a moisture farm, complete with droids working on the South Ridge, you can discern a slight quasi-spiritual ascetic Buddhist side to the Jedi Code, a side which George Lucas has played up to great effect when selling exhibits of sci-fi film props to natural history museums. Pokemon appears to have none of this, though I can’t be sure, as all I can tell after a six-film Poke-marathon is that it has something to do with little furry creatures training for some vague toughman contest which only ends when an audience member has a seizure. That’s a lot of things, but probably not a religion.

Now perhaps all this talk about Pokemon Churches is all for naught. It could be that New Zealanders are just screwing with the census takers as part of some big national joke. Sort of a senior prank on a countrywide level. Perhaps it’s a wry commentary on the Jedi Church, or maybe there are a good number of Kiwis who like to make asses of themselves in front of government officials. My point is, while you didn’t wake up wondering if there was a Church of Pokemon, assuming it came to be, would it really so different from the Jedi Church? According to the Jedi Church’s website, no. But now I’m repeating myself.