Tuesday, 9 September 2008

WRONG: “Jedi” became officially recognised as a religion after the 2001 Census

People start religions all the time – some even manage it accidentally. During the Second World War, the natives of the Melanesian island of Tanna encountered black Westerners for the first time, and, more importantly, saw them enjoying large quantities of airlifted goods. Their only previous Western contact had been with white missionaries and planters and they came to believe, somewhat paradoxically, that if they rejected the white way of life, returning instead to their traditional ways, they too would be granted access to all the miraculous wealth of the West. To this day, the cultists believe that a god called John Frum (Possibly a pidgin abbreviation of “John From America”) will one day come to make them rich. His personality appears to be a combination of the local deity Kerapenmun and recent import John The Baptist. If you think that’s odd, Tanna is also home to a cult of Prince Philip worshippers.

In the UK, however, religions don’t really have any special status outside of very specific legal contexts (employment discrimination law and religiously-motiviated violence), so there’s little advantage in seeking official sanction. The government doesn’t particularly care what you believe.

390,000 Britons
did indeed enter their religion as “Jedi” on the 2001 Census, believing they were mischievously forcing the government to acknowledge The Force as an official religion. But in the tradition of young Padawans since a Long Time Ago, they were reckless. All the Office Of National Statistics was forced to acknowledge was that 0.7 per cent of the British population got a kick out of writing “Jedi” on an offical piece of paper.

25 of the Jedi adherents were from the tiny Isles of Scilly, 28 miles off the coast of Cornwall – go, Scilly!

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