The Religiosity of the Force in Rogue One
In all the Star Wars films preceding Rogue One the Force is described as a spiritual concept, an “energy field” connecting all living beings, mainly through midichlorians. In Rogue One, the Force as a concept isn’t explored spiritually/scientifically but more religiously. The main reason for its unique exploration is due to the Empire and their oppression. They have largely wiped out the Jedi causing, because of the lack of Force users, the naturalism of the Force to decrease, and the Force to be ostracized; not many people studied it and those who did probably did in secret, away from Imperial eyes. This article will only look at the Force in the context of Rogue One. To start, a look into the Guardians of the Whills, a Force religious organization.
The Guardians of the Whills were a religious order of monks active in the city of Jedha towards the end of the Imperial Era. In terms of the Force as a religion, they preached to the citizens of Jedha by saying “May the Force of others be with you,” an obvious prayer in the name of the Force. This was one of multiple Force prayers and dialogues about the Force. Jedha City was, in many ways, a symbol of the Force and the Jedi during a time where there were little to no Jedi. Jedha and Jedi are very similar. Furthermore, there was a Temple of the Kyber located within the city, where Kyber crystals were kept and people who followed the religious teachings of the Force would pray, although the latter part is currently scholastic conjecture. The city was filled with priests, pilgrims, and other holy people, all who considered the city a holy site for those who followed and studied the Force. While Jedha City and the Guardians of the Whills were both representations of how the Force was viewed religiously, mantras also reinforced the view of the Force as a religion in Rogue One.
Dialogue about the Force in Rogue One suggests a religiosity surrounding it. For instance, Cassian Andor says to Chirrut on the Force that, “I’m beginning to think The Force and I have different priorities,” where Cassian is aware of the Force as a higher power, but doesn't believe in its spiritual form. Another instance of belief is Chirrut’s dying words to Baze Malbus, which were, “Look for the Force, and you will always find me.” In addition to dialogues, there were also mantras regarding the Force.
Many mantras/saying existed in Rogue One which heavily imply the exploration of the Force as a religion, the most notable being, “I am one with the Force, the Force is with me.” This mantra was constantly chanted by Chirrut Imwe and is religious in nature, showing the Force as this sort of higher power in the universe and not just a naturalistic being that interacts with the galaxy around it. Other sayings include, “Trust the Force,” and, “All is as the Force wills it,” both reinforcing the concept of the religiosity of the Force.
Another instance that helps explain this unique exploration is the Kyber crystal. Correctly pointed out by Jyn Erso, the Kyber crystal “powered the Jedi’s lightsabers.” She also wore an unaltered one around her neck like how one wears a necklace/religious pendant. There is a moment where she grasps the necklace for luck, but one could interpret it as her grasping it to unknowingly channel the will of the Force to help them in that situation.
Rogue One provided a different perception on the Force that was able to work within the context of where the film was placed in a post-Sith resurgence and rise of the Empire.