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Wednesday, 11 April, 2001, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Jedi e-mail revealed as hoax
Sir Alec Guinness
Jedi knights are not recognised on UK census
An e-mail saying that Jedi - the faith in the Star Wars films - will become an official religion if enough people put it down in the forthcoming British census is a hoax.

The e-mail has been sent all over the country in the last two weeks stating that if 10,000 people put Jedi on the census form, it will become a "fully recognised and legal religion".

But the Home Office has said that no matter how many people declare that they follow it, the census counting system means it will not be recognised.

A similar thing happened in New Zealand last month when citizens were led to believe they needed 8,000 signatures to make Jedi an official religion.

Yoda, Jedi master
Yoda, Jedi master: Not as kosher as yogic flying
Millions of people worldwide are fans of the Star Wars films, and although they have become something of a cult, very few - if any - can be said to seriously follow Jedi as a faith.

But fans are urged to buck the census system in the e-mail, which has become "viral" - meaning that it is passed on to many different people very quickly.

"As some of you may know there is a census coming around on April the 10th," it reads.

"If there are enough people who put down a religion that isn't mentioned on the census form, it becomes a fully recognised and legal religion.

"It usually takes about 10,000 people to nominate the same religion. It is for this reason that it has been suggested that anyone who does not have a dominant religion to put Jedi as their religion.

Football team

"Send this on to all your friends and tell them to put down Jedi on their census form."

But a Home Office spokesman has said this will not work.

Approximately 100 religions are given as options on the form - but Jedi is not one of them.

Jedi Creed
Should Jedi work for government?
Vomiting: Disgusting, or Lesson on Life?
There is an option for "other", but all those who choose this will be counted as one group and the different 'other' responses will not be counted up individually.

"If 10, 10,000 or 50,000 people put Jedi in the 'other' section of the census, it's not going to be reflected in the output," the spokesman said.

The "other" responses will all be counted up under one code, whereas the other religions have a code each.

"In the last census, where we asked for a religion, lots of people who obviously don't have a religion put their football team," the spokesman added.

Religious canon

"But it doesn't matter whether you put Jedi, Manchester United, Chelsea, or whatever. It's completely erroneous, it's going to have no impact whatsoever."

The e-mail ended: "If this has been your dream since you were six years old... do it because you love Star Wars. If not... then just do it to annoy people."

Jedi is the religion that the heroes of the Star Wars films follow, and is supposedly a force created by all living things - hence the phrase "may the force be with you".

"It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together," Sir Alec Guinness said in 1977's Star Wars.

But some fans are not taking it as a joke, distilling it into a religious canon and taking the film scripts as their scripture.

The Jedi Creed is a website operated by fans revelling in such assumed names as Jedi Relan Volkum and Lord Scorn.

It addresses such theological questions as "Should Jedi work for government?" and "Vomiting: Disgusting, or Lesson on Life?"

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