Jedi census phenomenon

Jedi census phenomenon

The Jedi census phenomenon is a grassroots movement that was created in 2001 for citizens in a number of English-speaking countries to record their religion as "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" (after the fictitious quasi-religious order of Force-attuned knights in the "Star Wars" universe) on the national census. The campaign was loosely organized by circulating e-mails claiming that if enough people entered "Jedi", it would be recognized as an official religion by the government. The emails also implored people to report their religion as "Jedi", "because you love "Star Wars" or "just to annoy people". Australian Star Wars Appreciation Society president Chris Brennan reported to "The New Zealand Herald" that while a minority were "true hard-core people that would believe the Jedi religion carte blanche", the majority of self-reported Jedi claimed the religion for their own amusement, or to poke fun at the government.cite web| url=| title=Jedi Order lures 53,000 disciples| publisher=New Zealand Herald| year=2002-08-31| first=Alan| last=Perrott| accessdate=2006-04-05] Other news reports also interpreted the exercise as a massive practical joke.

At least one Universal Life Church congregation and two real independent churches based on the Jedi religion exist. In 2003 Jedi Sanctuary was chartered by the Universal Life Church. [ [ The Jedi Sanctuary - Home] , The Jedi Sanctuary] In 2005 Temple Of The Jedi Order was incorporated as a Texas non-profit religious corporation. The Temple's ministers may legally conduct marriages in the United States. [ [ Become a Jedi] , Temple Of The Jedi Order] [ [ Franchise Tax Certification of Account Status] , Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts] In 2007 brothers Barney Jones and Daniel Jones set up a 30-member Jedi church in Holyhead, Anglesey, based on improving life using the Jedi principles. An attack on one of the founders on March 25, 2008, attracted coverage in the popular press. [ Video: Drunk 'Darth Vader' escapes jail for Jedi assault] ,]



In Australia more than 70,000 people declared themselves members of the Jedi order in the 2001 census. The Australian Bureau of Statistics issued an official press release [cite web| url=| title=Census of Population and Housing - The 2001 Census, Religion and the Jedi| publisher=Australian Bureau of Statistics| accessdate=2006-04-05] in response to media interest on the subject. The ABS announced that any answers that were Jedi-related in the religion question were to be classified as 'not defined' and stressed the social impact of making misleading or false statements on the census. An ABS spokesperson said that "further analysis of census responses has been undertaken since the release of census data on June 17 to separately identify the number of Jedi-related responses".cite web | | work=May the farce be with you | url= | accessdaymonth=26 March | accessyear=2006]

It is believed that there is no numerical value that determines a religion per definition of the ABS, but there would need to be a belief system or philosophy as well as some form of institutional or organisational structure in place.cite web | | work=Jedi followers need more than cyber support | url= | accessdaymonth=26 March | accessyear=2006] cite web | title=snopes | url= | accessdaymonth=7 August | accessyear=2006]

In the lead-up to the 2006 census, there were some reports of the ABS hinting (without humour) that writing Jedi on the 2006 census could lead to a fine for providing 'false or misleading' information. This is despite previous admissions that they were 'fairly relaxed' about the issue in 2001 and that nobody had been prosecuted in at least 15 years.cite web | | work=Come to your census - no kidding, they're serious | url= | accessdaymonth=29 August | accessyear=2006]

New Zealand

Over 53,000 people listed themselves as Jedi in New Zealand's 2001 census. New Zealand had the highest per capita population of reported Jedi in the world that year, with 1.5 percent marking "Jedi" as their religion. The city of Dunedin had the highest population of reported Jedi per capita. Statistics New Zealand treated Jedi responses as "Answer understood, but will not be counted". If Jedi were counted it would have been the second largest religion in New Zealand. The percentages of religious affiliations were:
* Christian: 58.9%
* No religion: 29.6%
* Object to answering: 6.9%
* Jedi: 1.5%
* Buddhism: 1.2%
* Hindu: 1.2%There was a dramatic fall in the number of New Zealand Jedi five years later, with some 20,000 people giving this as their religion in the 2006 census. [cite web| url=| title=The fate of the Jedi| publisher=No Right Turn| year=2006-12-08| accessdate=2007-09-16 |quote=A story in the Dominion-Post [,2106,3892378a11,00.html has the answer] : '... census general manager Nancy McBeth told The Dominion Post there were more than 20,200 followers of the force - down from 54,000 in 2001.']


In the Canada 2001 Census, some 20,000 people reported their religion as Jedi.cite web | | work=Some 20,000 Canadians worship at the altar of Yoda | url= | accessdaymonth=19 June | accessyear=2006]

England and Wales

In England and Wales 390,127 people (0.7 percent) stated their religion as Jedi on their 2001 Census forms, surpassing Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism, and making it the fourth largest reported religion in the country. The highest percentages of such responses were typically in cities with high student populations.cite web | | work=Ethnicity and Religion: Jedi| url= | accessdaymonth=20 November | accessyear=2006] In the 2001 Census 2.6 percent of the population of Brighton claimed to be Jedi. The percentages of religious affiliations were:
* Christian: 72.0%
* No religion: 14.8%
* Chose not to respond: 7.7%
* Muslim: 3.1%
* Hindu: 1.1%
* Jedi: 0.79%

It was confirmed prior to the census that citizens were not liable for a fine in relation to question 10 (on religion).cite web | | work=UK Jedi get green light | url= | accessdaymonth=26 March | accessyear=2006] This was based on section 1(2) of the Census (Amendment) Act 2000,cite web | | work=Census (Amendment) Act 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] which amended section 8 of the Census Act 2000 to state that "no person shall be liable to a penalty under subsection (1) for refusing or neglecting to state any particulars in respect of religion". The change in the law was implemented by The Census (Amendment) Order 2000cite web | | work=The Census (Amendment) Order 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] and The Census (Amendment) Regulations 2000.cite web | | work=The Census (Amendment) Regulations 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007]

Jedi was assigned its own code in the United Kingdom for census processing, the number 896. [cite web | title= Census of Population and Housing - The 2001 Census, Religion and the Jedi| url=] Officials from the Office for National Statistics pointed out that this merely means that it has been registered as a common answer to the "religion" question. John Pullinger, Director of Reporting and Analysis for the Census, noted that many people who would otherwise not have completed a Census form did so solely to record themselves as Jedi, so this joke helped to improve the quality of the Census. The Office of National Statistics revealed the total figure in a press release entitled "390,000 Jedis there are". [ [ National Statistics Online (2001), "390,000 Jedis There Are"] ]

Politicians continue to refer to the phenomenon. In June 2005, Jamie Reed, newly-elected Labour Member of Parliament for Copeland in Cumbria, declared himself to be the first Jedi Member of Parliament during his maiden speech.cite web | | work=House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 June 2005| url=
accessdaymonth=20 March | accessyear=2008
] The statement, made in the context of an ongoing debate regarding the Incitement to Religious Hatred Bill, was confirmed by Reed's office to be a joke instead of a serious statement of faith. Nevertheless, during a subsequent Committee debate on the Bill, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve, sought to exclude Jedi Knights explicitly from the protection of the proposed Act.cite web | | work=Racial and Religious Hatred Bill: Standing Committee Debates | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] Similarly, in April 2006, Edward Leigh, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Gainsborough, asked whether he would be allowed to set up a Jedi knights faith school during a Committee debate on the Education and Inspections Bill.cite web | | work=Education and Inspections Bill: Standing Committee Debates | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007]

On November 16, 2006, two self-proclaimed Jedi delivered a protest letter to UN officials in recognition of the International Day for Tolerance. They requested that it be renamed the "UN Interstellar Day of Tolerance" and cited the 2001 Census showing 390,000 Jedi in England and Wales. [cite web | title=Jedi Knights demand Britain's fourth largest 'religion' receives recognition | url=]


In Scotland 14,052 people stated that Jedi was their current religion (14,014 "Jedi", 24 "Jedi Other" and 14 "Sith") and 2,733 stated that it was their religion of upbringing (2,682 "Jedi", 36 "Jedi Other" and 15 "The Dark Side").cite web | | work=The Pagan Federation (Scotland): Complete data for the: Q13 'Another Religion' (Current Religion) and Q14 'Another Religion' (Religion of Upbringing) write-in boxes, Scottish Census of 2001| url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007]

The proportion of people stating their religion as Jedi in Scotland was slightly lower than that in England and Wales, at 0.277%, but this still made it the third largest reported religion in Scotland.cite web | | work=Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census: Summary Report| url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007]

This may have been influenced by the fact that in Scotland it was indicated on the 2001 Census form that answering questions 13 and 14 (on religion) was voluntary but, in contrast to the position in England, that those providing false information could still be liable to a fine.cite web | | work=2001 Census Form| url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] That difference was despite the fact that the Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2000cite web | | work=Census (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] made exactly the same amendments to the Census Act 1920 as its English counterpart. The change in the law was implemented by The Census (Scotland) Amendment Order 2000cite web | | work=The Census (Scotland) Amendment Order 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007] and The Census (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2000.cite web | | work=The Census (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2000 | url= | accessdaymonth=14 August | accessyear=2007]

Related movements

For the Australian census of 2006 there was a movement for people to list their religion as 'Pastafarian', a reference to the parody religion worshipping the Flying Spaghetti Monster. [cite web | title=FSM - You know it makes Census| publisher = noodlynation.blogspot| url=| year = 2006 | month = July 25 | accessdate=2006-07-27]


See also

* UK Census
* Joke political party
* Animals as electoral candidates

External links

* [ The 2001 Census, Religion and the Jedi] - Australian Bureau of Statistics press release
* [ Article about this phenomenon at]
* [ Church of the Jedi]
* [ Jedi Master Roar, one of the movers of the Australian Jedi Census]
* [ Jedi Sanctuary]
* [ Temple Of The Jedi Order]

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