Jedi census phenomenon

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Jedi census phenomenon, 2001

The Jedi census phenomenon is a grassroots movement that was initiated in 2001 for residents of a number of English-speaking countries, urging them to record their religion as "Jedi" or "Jedi Knight" (after the quasi-religious order of Jedi Knights in the fictional Star Wars universe) on the national census.

It is believed the majority of self-reported Jedi claimed the religion for their own amusement, to poke fun at the government,[1] or as a protest against the inclusion of the religion question on the census form.

Impact[edit]

Australia[edit]

In Australia more than 70,000 people (0.37%) declared themselves members of the Jedi order in the 2001 census.[2] The Australian Bureau of Statistics issued an official press release[3] 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".[2] 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.[4]

The push for Australians to declare themselves as members of the Jedi order was one of the first examples of a concept going "viral" on the internet in Australia. The website which was set up to promote the concept was visited over 100,000 times in a five week period and was first archived by the Wayback Machine on the 21st of October, 2001[5]

The 2006 census recorded 58,053 Jedi.[6][7] In the 2011 census, the numbers listing their faith as Jedi had picked up from the 2006 census to 65,000[8][9]

The Jedi Census phenomenon attracted the attention of sociologist of religion Adam Possamai who discusses it in his book Religion and Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament.[10] Possamai’s study placed Jediism in the context of a specific methodological classification (‘hyper-real religions’) and attempted to demonstrate that hostility existed towards new religions in Australia.[11]

In the lead-up to the 2006 census, there were reports that writing Jedi on the 2006 census could lead to a fine for providing 'false or misleading' information. This is despite previous admissions by the ABS that they were 'fairly relaxed' about the issue in 2001 and that nobody had been prosecuted in at least 15 years.[12]

The Census form is strictly confidential, and as the first page containing the details of the citizen is removed from their given answers it is impossible for the Australian government to prosecute for false or misleading answers to the census questions, as they would have to break the privacy act in doing so.

Canada[edit]

In the 2001 census, 21,000 Canadians put down their religion as Jedi Knight. This fact has been referenced by the prime minister's office as a rationale for making the 40-page long census form voluntary.[13] In the 2011 National Household Survey the number has fallen to 9000.[14] The phenomenon is rumoured to have started in Vancouver, BC. Two radio DJ's formerly of Jack FM discovered the rule and announced it on air. They further stated that if one puts Jedi down on the census it then makes one a Jedi Knight.

Croatia[edit]

In the 2012 census 303 Croats put Jedi as their religion.[15]

Czech Republic[edit]

The 2011 census preliminarily recorded 15,070 people answering the voluntary question on religion as belonging to the Jedi religion, described by the Czech Statistics Office as "the moral values of the Jedi knights". The office noted that this is an international phenomenon. As the 2011 census form did not list religions, these having to be filled out, the total number of Jedi is not artificially boosted by those who were not aware of the phenomenon prior to filling out the census form. On the other hand many people encouraged others in discussions and then media to fill the Jedi religion prior 2011 census (as a form of protest against range, overall cost and obligatory filling of the census), which is probably the cause.[16] The highest number of Jedis were recorded to live in Prague.[17]

Ireland[edit]

In a May 2012 review of the 2011 census, the Dáil Public Accounts Committee asked the Central Statistics Office about the reliability of self-reported answers, instancing people listing Jedi as their religion. The response was "We could probably tell you the number of people who have declared themselves as such, but we don't publish it".[18][19][20]

Montenegro[edit]

In the 2011 census in Montenegro, a group of young men declared themselves as "Jedi" on the ethnicity question, as they believe that ethnicity should not be an issue today.[21]

New Zealand[edit]

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% marking "Jedi" as their religion. The city of Dunedin had the highest population of reported Jedi per capita.[1] 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:

There was a 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. It is unknown whether the numbers have continued to fall as the 2011 census was not completed due to an earthquake in Christchurch.[22]

Serbia[edit]

640 Serbians identified as Jedi.[23]

United Kingdom[edit]

England and Wales[edit]

In England and Wales 390,127 people (almost 0.8%) 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.[24] In the 2001 Census, 2.6% of the population of Brighton claimed to be Jedi. The percentages of religious affiliations were:

It was confirmed prior to the census that citizens were not liable for a fine in relation to question 10 (on religion).[25] This was based on section 1(2) of the Census (Amendment) Act 2000,[26] 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 2000[27] and The Census (Amendment) Regulations 2000.[28]

Jedi was assigned its own code in the United Kingdom for census processing, the number 896.[29] 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 and that this does not confer on it the status of official recognition. 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 for National Statistics revealed the total figure in a press release entitled "390,000 Jedis there are".[30]

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.[31] 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. During a subsequent committee debate on the bill, the Conservative Member of Parliament for Beaconsfield, Dominic Grieve, proposed as "a bit of a joke" to exclude Jedi Knights from the protection of the proposed act, along with Satanists and proponents of animal sacrifice, illustrating the difficulty of defining religious belief in legislation.[32] 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.[33]

On 16 November 2006, two 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.[34]

According to 2011 census figures, the number of Jedi had fallen to 176,632, placing it in seventh place, having been overtaken by Judaism and Buddhism, but still comfortably outnumbering any other alternative or mock religions.[35] The magazine Metal Hammer also encouraged readers to mark "Heavy Metal" as their religion, leading to over 6,000 responses.[36]

Scotland[edit]

In Scotland, 14,052 people stated that Jedi was their current religion (14,014 "Jedi", 24 "Jedi Order" and 14 "Sith") and 2,733 stated that it was their religion of upbringing (2,682 "Jedi", 36 "Jedi Order" and 15 "The Dark Side") in the 2001 census.[37] The proportion of people stating their religion as Jedi in Scotland was lower than that in England and Wales, at 0.277%.[38]

In April 2009, it became known that eight police officers serving with Scotland's largest police force, Strathclyde, listed their official religion as Jedi in voluntary diversity forms. The details were obtained in a Freedom of Information request by Jane's Police Review.[39]

Criticism[edit]

Some atheist groups object to non-religious individuals answering with any joke answer, because this would lead to a census undercount of non-religious people, and lessen their political influence.[40]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Perrott, Alan (2002-08-31). "Jedi Order lures 53,000 disciples". New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 2006-04-05. 
  2. ^ a b "May the farce be with you". The Sydney Morning Herald. 27 August 2002. Retrieved 26 March 2006. 
  3. ^ "Census of Population and Housing — The 2001 Census, Religion and the Jedi". Australian Bureau of Statistics. Retrieved 2006-04-05. 
  4. ^ "snopes". Retrieved 7 August 2006. [dead link]
  5. ^ http://web.archive.org/web/20010415000000*/http://geocities.com/ausjedi
  6. ^ "Portrait of a nation, squid jiggers and all". The Sydney Morning Herald. 
  7. ^ Be counted to fulfil your destiny | Herald Sun
  8. ^ "Lachlan Murdoch With Rupert on Scientology Being Weird Cult"
  9. ^ "Scientology membership in drastic decline"
  10. ^ Religion and Popular Culture: A Hyper-Real Testament - Adam Possamai
  11. ^ Invented Religions: Imagination, Fiction and Faith - Carol Cusack (2010)
  12. ^ "Come to your census - no kidding, they're serious". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 August 2006. Retrieved 29 August 2006. 
  13. ^ "The Shotgun: Does Canada lead the world in Jedi knights?". Westernstandard.blogs.com. 2010-07-18. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  14. ^ Ben Makuch and Steve Rennie (May 8, 2013). "National Household Survey: Number of ‘Jedi Knights’ in Canada dwindling". Toronto Star. The Canadian Press. Retrieved 8 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Dnevnik.hr - U RH živi 20 Klingonaca i 24 Marsovca!
  16. ^ "Při sčítání uveďme víru z Hvězdných válek, vyzývají se lidé na internetu" [In addition let us faith in Star Wars call people on the Internet] (in Czech). 2011-01-27. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  17. ^ "Předběžné výsledky Sčítání lidů, domů a bytů 2011" [Preliminary results of the Census and Housing 2011] (in Czech). Retrieved 2011-12-15. 
  18. ^ "Dáil committee ponders existence of Jedi knights". BreakingNews. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  19. ^ Reilly, Gavan (3 May 2012). "A TD wants to know: How many Jedi Knights are there in Ireland?". The Daily Edge (thejournal.ie). Retrieved 4 May 2012. 
  20. ^ "Vote 4 - Central Statistics Office". Committee of Public Accounts proceedings. Oireachtas. 3 May 2012. Retrieved 10 May 2012. 
  21. ^ "News - Montenegro's Jedi minority attracts attention". B92. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 
  22. ^ "The fate of the Jedi". No Right Turn. 2006-12-08. Retrieved 2007-09-16. "A story in the Dominion-Post 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.'" 
  23. ^ "Popis: Sve manje Srba, sve više vanzemaljaca, teletabisa, Štrumpfova" [List: Fewer Serbs, more aliens, Teletubbies, Smurfs]. Vesti nadlanu (in (Serbian)). 30 November 2012. "Jedi is a 640, while the Martians from Mars and feels 268 Serbian citizens. Several of them were identified as donkeys, vampires, Teletubbies, princes and princesses, dragons. Gives also the Red Star and Partizan fan." 
  24. ^ "Ethnicity and Religion: 'Jedi'". Census 2001. Retrieved 20 November 2006. 
  25. ^ "UK Jedi get green light". theregister.co.uk. Retrieved 26 March 2006. 
  26. ^ "Census (Amendment) Act 2000". opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  27. ^ "The Census (Amendment) Order 2000". opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  28. ^ "The Census (Amendment) Regulations 2000". opsi.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  29. ^ "Census of Population and Housing — The 2001 Census, Religion and the Jedi" (PDF). 
  30. ^ National Statistics Online (2001), "390,000 Jedis There Are"
  31. ^ "House of Commons Hansard Debates for 21 June 2005". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 20 March 2008. 
  32. ^ "Racial and Religious Hatred Bill: Standing Committee Debates". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  33. ^ "Education and Inspections Bill: Standing Committee Debates". publications.parliament.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  34. ^ "Jedi demand Britain's fourth largest 'religion' receives recognition". Daily Mail (London). 16 November 2006. 
  35. ^ http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/rel/census/2011-census/key-statistics-for-local-authorities-in-england-and-wales/rft-table-qs210ew.xls
  36. ^ Taylor, Henry (2012-12-11). "'Jedi' religion most popular alternative faith". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-12-13. 
  37. ^ "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". scottishpf.org. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  38. ^ "Analysis of Religion in the 2001 Census: Summary Report". scotland.gov.uk. Retrieved 14 August 2007. 
  39. ^ "Force is strong for Jedi police". BBC News. 16 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-18. 
  40. ^ "Atheist Foundation of Australia - Mark NO Religion". Censusnoreligion.org. Retrieved 2011-06-29. 

External links[edit]