View Jedi Knight Religion
Ewan McGregor as the Jedi Obi-wan Kenobi As the 2001 census geared up in Britain, an e-mail began to spread declaring that if 10,000 people listed their religious affiliation on the census form as Jedi Knight, then the government would be forced to acknowledge ‘Jediism’ as an officially recognized faith.
The British government dismissed the suggestion as nonsense, but thousands of people decided to try it out anyway.
As the census got underway the Office of National Statistics found itself flooded with forms from people who solemnly declared themselves to be Jedi Knights. So many Jedi entries arrived that the ONS eventually gave the aberrant listing its own classification number: “896.” The ONS claimed that it did this merely to assist with the filing of the forms, denying that it had officially recognized Jediism as a religion. But for the thousands of self-proclaimed Jedis, the receipt of an official classification number represented victory, of a kind.
When all was said and done, there ended up being more Jedis in England than Jews (according to a source within the ONS who prefers to remain anonymous).
Since it’s doubtful that all those thousands of people actually were practicing Jedis, the massive write-in campaign may qualify as one of the largest mass pranks in history.
The prank then spread to Australia which also was conducting its census in 2001. The official grand tally of Australian Jedis: 70,000.
- May the farce be with you. Sydney Morning Herald, August 27, 2002