It may have started as a joke, but thanks to the hype surrounding Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the “Church of Jediism” now has a legitimate number of members.

According to Patrick Day-Childs, a member of the church’s ruling council in the United Kingdom, the “religion” has been gaining over 1,000 new followers per day in the run up to the film’s release, and now boasts over 250,000 adherents.

“It’s gone up substantially in the past couple of days,“ Day-Childs told the Telegraph. "The real test will be in a couple of weeks when the film hype has died off.”

The organization began in 2001 as an elaborate joke which encouraged people to declare their religion as “Jedi” for the British census. According to the Telegraph, over 390,000 took part in the gag, but that number that fell to 177,000 in 2011.

But thanks to the imminent release of the latest Star Wars film, the ranks of the Jedi church are once again swelling.

“We’ve been rushed off our feet,” Daniel Jones, the church’s founder, told the Telegraph. “People want to know more about it. It’s great for us.”

(Source: The Telegraph)