Census statistics published today revealed the fictional “Jedi” creed as the most popular alternative faith in Britain after traditional, legally recognized religions.
The extraordinary findings were released as part of the UK’s 2011 National Census — a statistical snapshot of England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (Scotland excluded itself), which breaks down the numbers for everything from consumer trends to racial patterns.
Current census figures showed that 176,632 people in Britain identify themselves as “Jedi Knights.”
Percentage-wise, that number amounts to 0.31 percent of everyone in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland who stated a religious preference.
Phasing in as the most popular faith in the “Other Religions” category on the census form and the seventh most popular faith overall, Jedi-ism tops the list after the big six — Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, and Sikhism.
Put in perspective, in 2001, over 390,127 people answered “Jedi” in the 2001 census for England and Wales and 14,000 in Scotland (who still considered themselves part of United Kingdom then).
Fast forward to 2011 — the census runs a year in lieu — although that number has dropped by more than 50 percent, “Jedi” is still the most selected “Alternative” faith on the census.
So, does this really mean that thousands of Brits really think Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda, and Luke Skywalker aren’t just figments of George Lucas’ imagination — now Disney’s — but deities worthy of following?
Skepticism aside, it cannot be denied that thousands took the time to look at all the other “Faith” boxes on the form and preferred to pick a fictional religion in a cult science-fiction movie series.
The statistics don’t include the 13.8 million who ticked the “No Religion” box on the census form, so for all anyone knows (or cares), millions more secret Jedi’s may not have realized they can stand up and be counted.
The Telegraphreports other non-mainstream religions polling significant numbers included “56,620 Paganists, 39,061 Spiritualists, 2,418 Scientologists and 20,288 Jainists.”
Interestingly, Norwich, a relatively unremarkable area in the east of England, contributed the highest proportion of people who said “Heavy Metal” was their stated religion (the census total came to 6, 242 people), and the third highest proportion of “Jedi Knights.”
Make of that what you will.