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Word of Mouth

10.21.15: Jedis, Tax Exemptions, & Back to the Future

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In a recent New Zealand census, more than 1% of the population claimed “Jedi” as their primary religion. But the force is not with them – these Jedi Kiwis were denied tax-exempt status. Today, the sticky wicket of religious tax exemptions – from New Zealand’s Jedis, to New Hampshire’s “Church of the Sword”. Plus, today Marty McFly’s future officially becomes the present. We’ll celebrate an important day in sci-fi history with a conversation about the making of Back to the Future.

Listen to the full show.

New Zealand Jedis Denied Tax Exemptions

Jedis traditionally operate in a galaxy far, far away, but a significant number can now be found much closer to home.  Nearly 54,000 New Zealanders listed “Jedi” as their religion on the country’s 2001 census.

It’s an impressive number, yet the group’s application for the tax-free status granted to other religions has been turned down by New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs. Adam Taylor reports on foreign affairs for the Washington Post, and wrote about this Jedi battle

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New Zealand Jedis Denied Tax Exemptions

What Does it Take to be a Religion in NH?

Brandon Ross is a Manchester based attorney who has been involved with several appeals for religious tax exemptions in New Hampshire. He joined us to explain more about what it takes to be considered a real religion in the state. 

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What Does it Take to be a Religion in NH?

What's Next?

Whether you’re talking about the Unitarian church, the Church of the Sword, or the Jedi Society of New Zealand, most religions have some idea about the afterlife.  But these concepts of heaven, hell, and purgatory are far from static. Producer Shuka Kalantari explored these many visions of the afterlife for Philosophy Talk – and now brings us this report.

You can listen to this story again at PRX.org

We Are Officially Living in the Future

Today is a particularly special day in the Back to the Future canon. In Back to the Future II, Marty McFly travels to October 21st, 2015 – which as of today, can no longer be considered the future.  In Marty’s version of 2015, flying cars are the norm, the Delorean time machine is powered by garbage, all the cool kids have hoverboards, and the Chicago Cubs just won the World Series. 

To celebrate this milestone in the franchise’s history, we’re replaying our previous conversation with Caseen Gaines who wrote a behind the scenes look at the back to the future trilogy called We Don’t Need Roads.

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We're Officially Living in the Future

Music of "The Martian"

The Martian held the top spot at the box office for two weeks, and as of October 19th has grossed more than $300 million worldwide.  In this episode of Song Exploder, composer Harry Gregson-Williams describes how he created a sound that represented the grandeur and mystery of the Red Planet, and the surprising optimism of the film itself. This story comes to us from producer Hrishikesh Hirway

You can listen to this story again at SongExploder.net