It all began as a silly joke more than a decade ago when some prankster started a chain email during an Australian census back in 2001. It proposed that if enough people (8,000 was originally suggested) claimed to be Jedi in response to the question about religious affiliation, ‘Jedism’ could be recognized as an actual religious faith. Another census from 2011 reported that 64,000 Australians claimed their faith as ‘Jedism’, which atheists justly claim grossly misrepresents the actual religious demographics of the region.
How does selecting Jedi as a faith affect national statistics?
According to the Australia Bureau of Statistics, this one dynamic has significantly affected and altered government statistics. Atheists fear that this Jedi phenomenon, which has taken on a life and problems all of its own, will result in those who reject any affiliation receiving less representation in government services than might otherwise be available to them based on their demographic standing.
Kyle Sturgess, president of the Atheist Foundation of Australia had this to say: “One thing that we do know about the census is that it's used to decide all sorts of things, from planning education facilities and hospitals, to allocating time slots on public radio and television. We're hoping that people who might have put down Jedi, or maybe even their favorite football team, as their religion, will think about what the future of Australia is going to be like, and whether they want to legitimately be part of that.”
Australian atheists have united in a campaign to make the census more accurate
The census took place yesterday (August 9) and a strong public service campaign encouraged atheists to utilize their powers of unity and free speech. It urged the simple demarcation on the census of “no religion” instead of “Jedi.” Placards advertised: “If old religious men in robes do not represent you…don’t mark yourself as a Jedi.”
The Jedi are admirable as guarders of peace and justice, but not as a religion
The sacred order of the Jedi created for the Universe of Star Wars may be fictional in origin, but its ethics are not as far fetched as a proper moral code for living as they may seem at first glance. The respect for all living things; the importance of education and applied knowledge and caring service to others are all commendable virtues and they symbolize certain aspects of modern religious faiths practiced in the universe in which we all currently reside. But alas, the Jedi are not real and should not be considered so, especially when such action could affect much-needed national programs and policies.