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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 15:15 GMT
Census returns of the Jedi
Sir Alec Guinness
Jedi is the faith espoused in the Star Wars films
The Force is evidently still strong with the Star Wars legacy - Jedi is the chosen "religion" for thousands of people in Britain, according to newly released census results.

The 2001 census reveals that 390,000 people across England and Wales are devoted followers of the Jedi "faith" made famous by the blockbuster films.

Yoda, Jedi master
Could Yoda appear on R4's Thought for the Day?
Census officials bowed to pressure after a massive internet campaign to include Jedi on the list of chosen religions.

In the great fictional battle against the evil of the Empire, Jedis are depicted as holy warriors, who use the powerful strength of "The Force" to overcome the baddies.

Prior to the census in April 2001, an e-mail was circulated stating that if 10,000 people put Jedi on the census form, it would become a "fully recognised and legal religion".

Brighton fanbase

"Do it because you love Star Wars... or just to annoy people," the message declared to supporters.

And although the sci-fi sect was not officially listed as a religion, collators did include a special code to register the Jedis.

Out of 52m respondents, 390,000 kept true to the Star Wars cause.

The figures suggest there are large pockets of support for Luke Skywalker and the gang.

The Jedi response was most popular in Brighton and Hove, with 2.6 per cent of census respondents quoting it.

(l-r) Luke Skywalker, Obi-Wan-Kenobi and Han So
The campaign may well have encouraged people to complete their forms and help us get the best possible overall response

John Pullinger, ONS

Student support may have helped boost figures in Oxford (2.0 per cent) and Cambridge (1.9) with more followers coming forward from Wandsworth (1.9), Southampton (1.8) and Lambeth (1.8).

The "religion" was least popular in Easington, on the north-east coast of England between Sunderland and Hartlepool, where it was quoted by only 0.16 per cent of respondents.

And in Sedgefield - Prime Minister Tony Blair's constituency - Knowsley, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Wear Valley all showed less than 0.2 per cent of respondents pledging support for the Jedi "faith".

Unconfirmed reports suggests this may due to Jedi Knights falling victim to their "dark side".

Director of reporting and analysis at the Office for National Statistics (ONS), John Pullinger said support for Jedi had unexpected plus points for the census.

He said: "Census agencies worldwide report difficulties encouraging those in their late teens and 20s to complete their forms.

Light saber sales

"We suspect that the Jedi response was most common in precisely this age group."

Darth Vader
Did Darth Vader influence the Census in Merthyr Tydfil?
"The campaign may well have encouraged people to complete their forms and help us get the best possible overall response," he added.

It remains to be seen whether the census results will give rise to planning applications for Jedi bases or open air gatherings being held.

And sales of light sabres could well give a boost the UK economy.

But the big question remains:

Could this mean an invite for Yoda, the Jedi Master, to give BBC Radio 4's Thought For The Day?


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See also:

09 Oct 01 | UK
11 Apr 01 | New Media
06 Mar 01 | Entertainment
17 May 99 | Entertainment
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