.….. or do they? A movement started in parts of the English-speaking world in reaction to census questions about people’s religious beliefs. Countries involved included Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain and Canada, in each of which significant numbers of people reported their religious affiliation as ‘Jedi Knight’ (from the film ‘Star Wars’).
In the 2001 census in England and Wales, 0.8% of respondents declared themselves as ‘Jedi’, which made it the fourth largest religious grouping in the country. However, the world centre for ‘Jediism’ is New Zealand, where there were some 53,000 adherents, 1.5% of respondents. The reactions of the authorities were diverse, ranging from Australia, where the authorities talked about possible fines and classified the responses as ‘not defined’, to Great Britain, where the census office thought it might even have encouraged some people to participate in the census who might otherwise not have done so. Perhaps numbers don’t lie – but people certainly do!