When I was aged 12, my Dad put his head round my bedroom door and asked me what religion I thought I was. He was filling out the census form for our house and for the first time that year it included a question about religion. I replied that I wanted him to put down Jedi. There was a rumour going round at the time that if enough people said they were Jedis then it would be officially recognised as a religion. My Dad refused to put me down as a Jedi on the grounds that I didn’t actually believe in the force or anything else Jedi related.*
Rather a lot of people weren’t thwarted by spoil sport parents and did indeed go ahead and put their religion down as Jedi. 390,000 people in England and Wales in fact. This would have made it the 4th largest religion in the UK, ahead of established religions like Judaism and Buddhism. By the time of the following census in 2011 that number dropped significantly but was still a rather substantial 176,632.
Despite this the ONS takes the view that Jediism doesn’t have any adherents in the UK. Their attitude is rather similar to my Dad’s and they classified all the people who wrote down Jedi to the religion question as a subcategory of ‘no religion.’ And TBH that seems fair enough: while there IS a Jedi Church, I strongly doubt that more than a few of those almost 400,000 identify with it as a faith rather than as a prank.
This story is given something of a satirical edge by the fact that the same census replies which indicate that there are hundreds of thousands of Jedis in the UK are also used by the Church of England to argue that it is still a genuinely national church in which the majority of people are Christians.
Anyway, May the Fourth be with you!