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Star Wars Religion Doesn't Make Census
Part 1: May the Farce Be With You
 More of this Feature
• Part 2: Star Wars Theology
• Part 3: The (British) Empire Strikes Back
 From Other Guides
• Star Wars Fans
 Elsewhere on the Web
• The Gospel According to Luke (Skywalker)

Dateline: 04/16/01

By David Emery

"Star Wars" enthusiasts may be thrilled but government officials in Australia and England are balking at an email campaign encouraging fans to declare "Jedi" — as in "Jedi Knights," the zen-like warriors of the film series — as their religion on census forms.

"If there are enough people in the country, about 10 000, who put down the same religion," says a typical message, "it becomes a fully recognised and legal religion."

Not so, say census-takers. They warn that people who do so may be subject to prosecution for entering false information.

Blame New Zealand

It all started as a prank in New Zealand, which held its census on March 6. The anonymous email emerged a week or two before that and gathered momentum so rapidly that soon even those without Internet access had heard about it by word of mouth or news coverage. Some Kiwis reported receiving this message as many as a dozen times:

Census question 18 deals with religion. If you believe in no one specific religion or just simply object to answering that particular question, then please consider the following alternative.....

We are trying to encourage people to tick the 'other' box and then fill their religion in as "JEDI" - all Star Wars fans will understand, but the point of the exercise is two-fold...

1. if 8000 people throughout new zealand do this then JEDI will become an officially recognised religion which would be a laugh, and

2. it's a bit of an experiment in the power of email, as that has been our primary means of communication, that's not to say that you can't tell others about in other ways. but I would urge you to do the above and pass this message/idea on to as many of your friends, relatives etc. as you can so we can reach the magic number of 8000, be swift as we don't have a lot of time left!

May the Force be with you

In spite of the Statistics bureau's census eve efforts to deflate the campaign, an estimated five percent of New Zealanders wrote in "Jedi" on the form, according to the Sunday Times in London.

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