Is DOCTOR WHO a religion?

Of course it is! Well, to some people.

But we’re not talking about mere slavish devotion to, and willingness to move mountains for, a TV show. To be serious for a moment, I know any number of completely devoted fans of the Doctor (me among them), but not one actually believes the Time Lord is a real lord in heaven.

Meet Mike Rugnetta of PBS’ Idea Channel, who makes a shockingly convincing case that “Whovians” might be the unrecognized congregation of a new religion dubbed “Whovianism.” Prepare to have your eyes opened:

See what I mean? He almost had me going. And while I agree with what a lot of what Mike says, Whovianism is lacking in that vital area that makes a religion different from a philosophy: belief.

With a true religion, whether the central deity of your religion is fictional or not, what matters is that the god’s followers believe it’s real. Belief is what matters to a religion, and belief doesn’t have to be rational. If you believe you’re reading this blog on a shiny plate held and animated by angels (or demons), no amount of proof will persuade you otherwise, because you’re not operating on facts and evidence; you’re taking a flier on chaps with wings.

It’s the same with the tens of thousands of folks who registered their religion as “Jedi” on census forms in the United Kingdom and elsewhere: They’d have to believe the Force is real in order for Jediism to be classified as a real religion. If you just think a TV show or movie has good ideas and a rational framework for organizing one’s life, that’s a philosophy. Which is terrific. It’s good to have a philosophy, and the Doctor’s passion for  intellect and romance over brute force and cynicism is a fine one.

I know the Doctor isn’t real. I just wish he were…