“Jedi Knight” may be a new, though unofficial, religion in the United Kingdom given the number of entries it received on the UK’s 2001 census form, according to news reports.
The UK Office of National Statistics (ONS) gave “Jedi Knight” its own code after “a large group of people” entered it as their religion in the “other” category, according to Ananova, a British news service.
“Jedi Knight,” a term from the “Star Wars” movies, has gained global popularity as a quasi-religion. Its fictional practitioners, like Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan-Kenobi, relied on “The Force” to control self and overcome evil.
Filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola once urged “Star Wars” creator George Lucas to create a “Jedi Knight” religion. Lucas rejected the idea, but many people have apparently viewed “Jedi Knight” as a religion.
ONS spokeswoman Alison Wright told Ananova, “Jedi Knight was given a code purely as an administrative measure.” That does not mean “Jedi Knight” is an official religion.
The code merely helps the ONS process census results. It does not mean “Jedi Knight” will appear on the next census form as a printed option alongside roughly 100 officially recognized religions.
The high number of “Jedi Knight” write-ins likely stemmed from an e-mail hoax earlier in the year, which urged citizens to write “Jedi Knight” as their religion.
“If there are enough people in the U.K., who put down a religion that isn’t mentioned on the census form it becomes a fully recognised and legal religion,” read the e-mail hoax. “It usually takes about 10,000 people to nominate the same religion.”
But a UK “Home Office” spokesman said this strategy does not work.
“If 10, 10,000 or 50,000 people put Jedi in the ‘other’ section of the census, it’s not going to be reflected in the output,” the spokesman told the BBC.
However, the BBC also reported in April that “the ‘other’ responses will all be counted up under one code, whereas the other religions have a code each.” But, the ONS does have a new code, 896–Jedi Knight.
The BBC reported that the ONS is still tabulating census results, so it is unclear how many people entered “Jedi Knight” as their religion.
Nevertheless, the battle for official recognition won’t be easy.
An unnamed ONS official told Ananova, “As far as I’m aware nobody within the Government will make this an official religion no matter how many people sign up to it. It is a really useless piece of information.”
Cliff Vaughn is BCE’s associate director.