UK census smackdown: atheists decry Jedi!

The 10-year UK census came out today, and Britons are required to fill it in after March 27th. The census includes a voluntary question on religion, with a blank for writing in your faith if it's not listed. When I joked on Twitter that my family were going to list ourselves as Jedi, I was deluged with outraged responses from atheists asking me to tick the "no religion" box; this is part of a larger campaign to get people who tick "Christian" out of habit (though they have no faith) to switch to "no religion" as well, as some atheists believe that the number of religious people in the UK is misreported through a combination of habitual box-ticking and smart-alecky "Jedi" like me.

I'm convinced; we're atheists and we will list ourselves as such.

If your religion is of low enough importance to you to that you are willing to put in a religion from 3 good sci-fi films from years ago, and 3 more recent rubbish ones,please consider ticking "No Religion" instead.

The data gathered is used to inform government policy, and was used by the last government to justify funding of religious community bodies over secular ones. For example, 2001 census data has been used repeatedly to justify an increase in the number of state maintained faith schools and the increasing level of government money spent on faith organisations.

By ticking 'No Religion', you will ensure that the Government receives an unambiguous message about the number of non-religious people in the UK. Any other response may be manipulated into a response in favour of religion and publically funded religious organisations.

For more information and further reasons to tick 'No Religion', visit The Census Campaign website.

If you don't have an active faith, please make sure the government knows, You are our only hope.

You're Not a Jedi

Census 2011 Campaign

(Thanks, horde of angry, chiding tweeps!)


  1. Good! Good! You want this community center funding, don’t you? The atheism is swelling in you now.

  2. But what if you fall somewhere in that grey zone between agnosticism and atheism, and you sometimes attend church for weddings, funerals and baptisms, and you still put up a tree at Xmas, and you recently prayed when you thought you locked your keys in the car during a heavy snow? What then?

    1. That would probably depend on who you prayed to, for starters.

      If you prayed to Jesus the Christ, attend Christian church for baptisms, and celebrate the birth of Jesus on Dec. 25th, you’re a Christian, like it or not. Better look virtuous in case of rapture!

      If you prayed to any member of the Greek or Roman pantheon, and celebrate the Saturnalia with a tree on Dec 25th, you are some sort of pagan, probably of a Roman flavor. Observe the appropriate rituals and your gods will be propitiated, and they don’t really care what else you do.

      But remember you can have a god and not have a religion, and there are plenty of atheist religions. The various theisms and atheisms are belief systems, but a religion is a community.

    2. You enter “agnostic”. I’ve attended weddings and funerals at churches, too. It doesn’t make me a Christian. Neither does dipping my infant head in some purportedly magical water.

      As butcherknife says, you either believe in the Jesus or you don’t.

    3. Generally you’re going to weddings, funerals and baptisms for other peoples’ benefit, not your own. Ditto for Christmas.

      No more being polite!

      Go atheists, we rock!!

      1. No, atheists are yelling at other atheists to identify as atheist so as not to falsely swell the number of religious. If you are not an atheist, then we’re not talking to you at all.

        Regardless of its name, if you put down any religion, you are counted together with the followers of all other religions to justify spending tax dollars to subsidize religious activities.

      2. @Oskar – the wording is everything and it is poorly worded. The title of this article might be: “Semantics of Religion Choices Misappropriate Tax Dollars”

        My suggestions:

        No Religion
        Not Religious
        Send my Religious Support Tax Dollars to ________ (insert favorite)
        Waiting for Physical Proof Prior to Commitment
        Close to Spaghetti Meatball Monster but Allergic to Tomato

    4. An evergreen tree decorated with coloured flotsam has about as much to do with Christianity as Easter eggs; which is to say, none at all. You’re just enjoying a festive, secular solstice like every other atheist/agnostic does

    5. that old canard, agnosticism and atheism are not in opposition to each other.

      everybody is an agnostic, even Christians. nobody actually “knows” the existence of god, or this would all be a moot point (they could prove it). it’s a matter of faith, not knowledge.

      most religious people are atheists too… just atheists for 1 fewer god than actual atheists.

    6. I think it was Dawkins who talked about being ‘culturally Christian’ without subscribing to the notion of Christianity. I don’t think the census needs a box that says, “I don’t believe in God, but I do like Christmas presents and easter eggs”. Presents and chocolate are the sort of things I can get onboard with.

      1. I think it was Dawkins who talked about being ‘culturally Christian’ without subscribing to the notion of Christianity.

        Well, perhaps he did, but Ethan Allen and Thomas Jefferson did it quite a few years prior.

    7. There’s no problem with not believing that there is a god, but taking part in rituals which are about more than just the religion.
      A wedding is about two people promising each other respect and faithfulness.
      A funeral is about saying goodbye to a departed friend.
      A namegiving is just about giving a child a name, the baptism part (with water and all that) is added for religious reasons, but it’s about showing the new loved one, and giving him/her a name (naming ceremonies exist in multiple religions and even exist in non-religious terms).

      Atheist does not mean “hates the church, hate priests, hate everything done near those things”, nor does it mean that you are the antichrist and that the building will sink into the ground if you enter a church.

      Take part in the joys and sorrows of your friends and family, and ignore the silly little woohoo ceremony parts if you don’t like them. Focus on the core of what is going on. I do, and I’m only a little more tolerant of silly “amen” stuff than Richard Dawkins. In fact, I am pretty certain that Dawkins goes to weddings and funerals even though they are in churches. Churches don’t frighten atheists or agnostics.

    8. If you don’t attend church every week or don’t pray, it doesn’t matter much if you believe in something — you’re not religious. At best, you’re a freethinker.

    9. …that grey zone between agnosticism and atheism…

      What you believe, and how strongly you believe in it (i.e. how reasonable you think it is for other people to believe something else) are two separate parameters. Theists and atheists can all be agnostic; most of them are. Every atheist I have ever met (including myself) is also technically agnostic at least when it comes to a deist-type creator god (but we may then talk about unicorns and orbital teapots to show that it’s not that meaningful/useful to point out that they’re technically agnostic). Some theists “know” that God exists, while some others – the ones that actually understand what “faith” means – are comfortable managing some doubt.

      Very few believers think that the existence of God is self-evident, that non-believers are ignorant and would believe if only they made certain observations. In other words, most believers think that it is reasonable to not believe. Most atheists, on the other hand, think that theistic belief comes from ignorance, and that you can’t believe in God after you learn enough science. (This is as non-agnostic as atheists get). I disagree with such atheists. Why do I disagree with them? I will explain why in my next comment.

  3. I’m not really sure I agree with the rationale that it’s better to keep the numbers accurate, Cory. It seems to me that listing one’s religion as “Jedi” is meant to point out that government shouldn’t be making decisions based on religious majorities, not that religions are unimportant, malevolent, or indefensible.

    But given that I’m a US citizen far removed from the issue, you really shouldn’t listen to me.

    1. Actually, I’d say religion actually IS “unimportant, malevolent, [and] indefensible” It’s not the point. The point is because decisions are made based on this information, the government should be aware that there are more non-religious people than they think. Recording ANY religion, whether it’s Jediism or pastafarianism or christianity, and you get put in the “religious” column.

  4. Having seen a Census document up close by the time you get to the Religion question you are already exhausted.

    They have no option for lapsed catholic so I will be staying neutral on this subject

  5. Faith schools? Is this why?

    Surely monies can only be allocated to a true source,
    so stating ‘Jedi’ will NOT then allocate monies to Catholic
    or Jewish schools.

    Regardless of faith, we are still forced to pay for church upkeep
    in our council tax and more if we purchase a home that is near one.
    Money that I’d rather put in my own churches pocket, or for those who do not want/need a faith, they’d rather keep for more practical use.

    The gov can’t ignore ‘Jedi’ either, given some have taken upon themselves to initiate such a church (Acc to above links.)

  6. I don’t care what the Anti-theist say. I think it is a good idea, if they are getting their panties in a wad maybe they should look closer to home. If you don’t want funding for religion based services then they should start providing them.

    1. As I said to the Pope, last time we had dinner, when he posited that I ought to tick ‘xtian’ on my census:

      ‘Ratzi, you piece of slime ridden filth- you’ll get no such pleasure from us’. He took it well. But who’s to say what he asked God to do to me later that night?

      (Cue creepy laugh, screen fades to black)

    2. Her Majesty doesn’t like it when you talk about British topics using the phrase ‘panties in a bunch’.

  7. @freshacconci
    Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God, and that Jesus is God in human form and is the savior of humanity? If yes, you are a Christian…If no, then you are not a Christian.

    1. Exactly. Bertrand Russell gave a wonderful essay (later a short book) entitled Why I am not a Christian” which covers this exact point. The religion is quite precise on what is all about; either you buy into its assumptions about a superhero Messiah who died and rose again, or you don’t. The problem is that many people think being an atheist/agnostic is an active choice that you have to be committed to, when in fact it is just admitting to oneself that the mythology of Christianity is absurd. Being roped into going to Church at Christmas or doesn’t change this; atheists don’t burst into flames at entering a church.

      1. butcherknife forgot the “and rose from the dead” part. If you don’t believe it (not just “well, the jury’s still out”), then you’re not a christian.

        /started ticking Atheist years ago.

  8. Jedi IS a religion..(5 films about it!) Atheists are just envious coz they have committed themselves to nothing. #UKCensus

  9. If we had a church tax (as in Germany), people would be a bit less inclined to declare themselves Jedis, lest 8% of their wages goes to funding religious training centres in swamps and ewok sanctuaries.

    1. bazzargh, you’re making a very interesting mistake: You’re assuming that the German government does collect taxes for all kinds of religions. That’s way too egalitarian. They only collect for Christian and Jewish organizations (and not even all of them).

  10. @butcherknife there are many other forms of Christianity. I believe there are still Arians around, for a start.

      1. quori – the campaign is aimed at making people realise that their answers have consequences in terms of where public money is spent. If, as a Christian, you would want to see more Christian schools then maybe you’d decide to switch from Jedi to Christian in the census.

  11. “You are our only hope.”
    Bit much, don’t you think? Britain has long been a fairly secular society, and much of the funding now being directed to faith-related groups has to do with newer immigrant communities, especially from India and Bangladesh, for whom religion continues to be an important part of their community life. It’s hardly some government conspiracy to create a Christan theocracy or deprive secular organizations of their funding (as might be the case in some parts of the US).

    1. “You are our only hope.” Is a quote/reference to a line in the first film and puts the writer in the same inside group as those most likely to check “Jedi”. Basically saying you and I are of a kind, even if I disagree with your behavior.

    2. Vidya108 – out of around 21000 schools, nearly 7000 are faith schools receiving government funding. 99% of those 7000 are Christian schools. Clearly almost all the funding related to faith schools is going to Christian schools.

    3. uhm, I took it as a riff on star wars, you know—a shout out to SF fans which also kept the Jedi joke running.

  12. so, let me get this straight…

    On my right is the evangelical Christian screaming at me to check off CHRISTIAN because I attend church maybe a few times a year, or said a prayer for a sick friend.

    On my left I have the devout Atheist – can a person be devout in their belief of nothing?…anywho – said Atheist is screaming at me to check Atheist because only sheep and lemmings believe in a higher being, and I’m not one of those…AMIRIGHT?!?

    I find both sides annoying as hell. I am a Christian. I believe in God, and yes, I believe Jesus is my savior through forgiveness. But I don’t need a lecture from one side or the other on what I should or should not believe or in this case, what I should check off on a census form.

    I look at it this way, philosophically speaking…If God exists, then He Himself saw fit to give me free will. Free will to denounce Him or have faith in Him. He is leaving the choice up to me. If God doesn’t exist, well, then I was born with free will and have every right to choose what I want to do.

    Either way, if I want to check JEDI…I’m doing it. And I plan on defending my decision to the death with my dual bladed lightsaber dammit!!!

    1. This article is not asking *everyone* to check the no-religion box. It isn’t even making a case for atheism. It’s making a case for those who are non-religious to check the non-religious box, instead of jokingly checking the Jedi box, nothing more.

      Sounds like you are a Christian, in which case, check the Christian box if you want your religion represented accurately in government. Or don’t. It’s up to you.

      Any undertones about what you should or should not believe are not present in this article.

    2. If you believe in the divinity of Jesus, then you’re Christian. If you don’t, then you’re not. I don’t see anything wrong with either Christians or Atheists encouraging you to check what you actually are so that the government can govern with information that accurately represents the population.

      1. Since government and religion or supposed to be separate in my country, my religion shouldn’t matter. The decisions my government makes are not supposed to be based on any religious bias. Do whats right for ALL, not what is right for the Jedi only.

        Maybe I am mis-interpreting the 1st amendment.

    3. @quori “can a person be devout in their belief of nothing?” No.

      @k88dad “Faith that there is no God is still faith.” No.

      Being atheist doesn’t mean you have a belief system in no belief system. That’s like saying an empty glass is still full – full of nothing. It’s an oxymoron.

      Then again, atheists always lie and I am an atheist…

      1. xkcd does have its moments. Just to clarify, i do not feel superior to those who feel they must proclaim their belief/non-belief. The comic is funny.

    4. Nobody is lecturing you.

      The message is aimed at non religious people that have protested about this issue by jokingly declaring themselves Jedis.

      The problem with this is that this reduces the numbers of people that are non religious in the census, and gives credence to the religious nuts in government (like Tony Blair none less) to promote the religious agenda regardless.

      This is an important issue, the UK is perhaps the most secular country in the Western World, and this should be reflected in the kind of policies that governments follow.

  13. Hear hear! Too many people follow a religion, or claim to, out of habit or out of shame.*

    *No, no hard facts backing that statement.

    1. There habe been polls and studies to back this up.

      In a program by the BBC a few years ago the UK polled as the 2nd most secular country in the world, only behind South Korea.

  14. In reply to Vidya108

    “You are our only hope.” Bit much don’t you think?

    I don’t think the author of the page was trying for “a bit much”, but instead to tie into Star Wars fans mythology. I think you might notice a resemblance to the script for the scene in Star Wars Episode 4 where R2D2 plays the holographic movie of Princess Leia saying “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi; you’re my only hope.”

  15. Why are atheists fixated on hope? hope for what?

    If you don’t believe in a higher power, then don’t believe in a higher power already.

    1. @mdh
      We have hope that we can work together to make human communities better for all…now and in the future. We don’t have any hope that a higher power will be helping with this.

      1. I get that. You and I are likely on the same page there. When I see people working together on a common purpose though, or I work with others that way, that’s a higher power that I believe in, and hope for. is that a possible definition of God? is that a sort of theism? I gotta say I don’t care much, but it does occur to me occasionally.

        It’s sure not an old white dude sort of god, but – the greater community does interfere with your free will and is collectively nearly omniscient and omnipresent, and we are made in their image, it can smite you, etc… so.

  16. Faith that there is no God is still faith. Check agnostic, or move to a country where there is no governmental support of religion.

    1. Actually, the very concept of faith is a Christian philosophy. Faith is a refusal to admit the possibility of not believing in something.

      See, for instance How did God Get Started

    2. “Faith that there is no God is still faith.”

      That’s like saying “Off” is a TV channel

      No, that’s not quite right. There are limitless things that the creative human mind can imagine. You can’t argue that to not believe in the multitude of impossible things that the human mind can dream up requires walking some kind of tremulous faith tightrope. Unicorns, Spaghetti Monsters, Ogres, mischievous sprites, angels, care bears, a doctor who travels through time in a police box; We might find them interesting or compelling in some way, but we know they aren’t real. It’s not a faith position that Doctor Who is a fictional character or there’s no pooka who will help you mill your wheat.

      So it is with gods. They serve a certain literary and cultural purpose, but they’re just make-believe.

    3. No, you misunderstand atheism. Not having faith that something exists is not the same as having faith that it doesn’t.

  17. It might be relevant to list the results of the ’01 UK census:

    Christian: 70.0%
    No religion: 14.7%
    Chose not to respond: 7.8%
    Muslim: 3.1%
    Hindu: 2.1%
    Jedi: 0.7%

    So if any of you “Jedis” want to help petulant atheists boost their numbers by less than 1%, then by all means list yourself as “no religion.”

    I am an American, so what the hell do I know, but the Anglophile streak in me likes to think of the the English as having a dry sense of humor, not being whiny bitches (a trait sadly popular amongst my compatriots as of late). For my 2 cents, please keep marking Jedi.

    1. careful what you hate, you just may become a whiny yank…

      i think you have missed the point.
      the point of the outreach is to encourage citizens to think about what box they are checking instead of automatically selecting christian out of habit or tradition. it is posited that many of the 70% number from the last census were just that, “i was raised in a christian home, therefore i must be christian.”

      it is hoped that encouraging people to be thoughtful and mindful of their true values and identify will lead to reliable results.

    2. Wow. I’m impressed with the .07% Jedi population statistic. I mean, it takes a lot of practice and training what with the lifting rocks and picking up boxes while standing on ones head et al.

      Out of a population of around 62 million souls. . .that’s like, more than 40,000 Jedi in the UK alone!

      I hope the majority are nice: another Pax Britannica with light sabers we don’t need.

  18. I have already filled mine in, and I have declared my self as a ‘pastafarian’ as I am a follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.


    1. It didn’t go over my head, I was using the word hope, from the joke, to make a point about atheism.

  19. This has nothing to do with recruiting, it has to do with getting the numbers right.

    First, the government will have figures upon which to base decisions regarding provision of many services, (which languages for books in the libraries we have left, for instance).

    Second, we get definitive figures, important so we don’t keep having to listen to wingnuts insisting we are a xtian country and that we should have the 10 commandments on every courthouse building.

    Sounding familiar?

  20. Really? I’m just going to put down Pastafarianism. I put down what I think I should put down.

  21. Okay, let’s attest that both unicorns and God are make-believe. I feel no need to proclaim that unicorns are fake. Likewise, I feel no need to proclaim that God is made up.

    I just don’t care whether someone is a believer or a disbeliever. When I meet someone, learning that they are an atheist or a Catholic means little to me. I don’t presume that the atheist is amoral or moral. I don’t assume that the Catholic is a hypocrite or a “true” Christian. I let the person’s actions speak for them.

    When the web was in its infancy, I read someone saying that the US (my home) was a religious country. I was surprised. I had always thought of Italy and Mexico as religious countries. I guess that Catholicism equals religious to me. It had never occurred to me how Christian my country was. A lot of this has to do with not growing up in the bible belt. A lot of this has to do with the US constitution and its explicit separation of church and state. I never felt a need to advocate for no religion.

    1. Mexico has no state religious schools. Not a single one.

      All public schools are forbiden of promoting any religion and of showing any religious symbols, and although religous topics are thought as part of history or citizenship classes in secondary school, there is no “religion” lecture as such as it is so common in the UK.

      Mexico is 90% Catholic (although there are many people that just go along with all the religious rites as part of the social fabric in the country, but without ever making a serious commitment of any kind to the religion they were born into) nevertheless separation between church and state has been fiercely protected and enforced for almost 150 years.

  22. There’s also the problem of imperfect questionnaires. There is ALWAYS a trade-off problem of keeping the questionnaire clean and simple on one hand (i.e. which few options can you default to) and aggregating and reading the results on the other (i.e. what does the state fund and talk about).

    For an anecdotal example, i would like to see the default option pantheist (God is the universe?) in hope of funding for a cluster of large telescopes in L2 to research the beginning of the universe. The Gods belong to the other side of The Singularity where they, freed of the burden of time, can design complicating schemes of how to make the universe better.

  23. I separate theists, atheists and antitheists.

    It’s one thing to say you don’t like the Rolling Stones but respect their fans’ choice; it’s another to say the Rolling Stones suck and the Beatles are the best band of all time hands down and how could anyone possibly not like the Beatles. It’s another to say you don’t like rock music.

    Religion and faith are choices. Having no faith nor religion is a choice as well.

    Don’t knock someone for having a faith and don’t knock someone for not having your faith (whatever that may be).

    Though I don’t agree with it, I will never tell someone that they shouldn’t be a Scientologist, just as I don’t want anyone to judge my choice in whatever it may be.

    1. …Religion and faith are choices. Having no faith nor religion is a choice as well…

      I don’t think that’s true. Religion is a choice like sexual orientation is a choice (which is to say: it isn’t, not really). Some people are believers, some people aren’t. What traits cause believers to be believers? I can think of three.

      The main one is craving teleology. Some people really feel that things must happen for a reason. If the universe exists, it must be as part of a plan, someone must have made it with some intent. These people think that, for every event and phenomenon, there is not only a “How” explanation but also a “Why” explanation, not only a “What mechanisms caused this state to result from a previous state” but also a “What itelligent being’s desires are advanced by this event”. I’m not sure why that is. Maybe it’s because, like Daniel Dennett wrote, we evolved Hypersensitive Agency Detection Devices that imagined a will and a malicious intent behind the rustling of every bush (because it’s safer – and better for survival and procreation – to err on the side of caution and to assume that predators and competitors are out to get you even when they’re not, rather than to err on the other side and get eaten/beat). Maybe it’s because, when kids ask why things are a certain way, parents often answer “So as to cause this benefit to this creature” rather than “For no real purpose, just because when you have X you often get this effect Y that causes things to move towards Z”. For some reason parents like to present the universe to kids as intentional rather than mechanical, and I think that this causes some people to be unable to grow out of that teleological expectation.

      The second trait that causes believers to be believers is that they have a really really hard time thinking about death, to the extent that a truly final mortality is unacceptable to them at some level. Lots of people have written about this so I won’t go into it too much.

      A third one has to do with how we want approval, we want to be led, we want a father figure, we want all these things that our relationships provide us with but God does too. God is an imaginary friend, and if people don’t realise that he’s imaginary and that the relationship is pretty much made up, they will value the relationship!

      I’m sure there are others. Bottom line: Believers have a psychology that leads them to believe, while non-believers have a psychology that lead them to prefer a mechanical, causal, quasi-deterministic, understandable universe that is not at the whims of some lord. (And deists get to have both!). So it’s not a choice, not really. Not any more than being depressed is a choice, or liking the Beatles is a choice.

      …Though I don’t agree with it, I will never tell someone that they shouldn’t be a Scientologist, just as I don’t want anyone to judge my choice in whatever it may be…

      While I am agnostic, and while I recognise that the theological worldviews that people embrace have more to do with each person’s psychology than with “truth”… I think that your statement there shows a little too much relativism. Believing in a creator god and an immortal soul? Sure, why not. Believing literally in factual claims from ancient (or not-so-ancient) texts that have been demonstrated to be false by archeology and geology and astrophysics? That is simply not reasonable. I’m sorry. I draw a line. Myself, most atheists, and liberal Christians are on one side of the line: They don’t reject science and they understand that morality has to do with optimizing human flourishing / happiness / justice rather than trying to match what some ancient text says. Fundamentalists and violent jihadists are on the other side of the line. I’m not sure on which side of the line most Scientologists fall, but I would not quickly and easily give them the benefit of the doubt.

      1. And when I said “Religion is a choice like sexual orientation is a choice”, I don’t mean “Religion” like whether you’re Christian or Jewish or Muslim or etc, I meant “Religion” like whether you believe in God or not, whether you’re a theist or a naturalist. I should have been more precise.

        1. Ah, now I see you already made that distinction when I was commenting to your previous post. Never mind.

      2. I don’t think that’s true. Religion is a choice like sexual orientation is a choice (which is to say: it isn’t, not really). Some people are believers, some people aren’t.

        Belief and religion are not the same thing. For example, someone may believe that Christ died for their sins, but they still choose which faith (if any) to practice.

  24. Why is government involved in acquiring this data at all? Wouldn’t the appropriate atheist response be to refuse to answer?

  25. Personally, I’m not much religious (confident in my agnosticism), but I’d certainly check “Jedi”. It’s clear that you don’t take religion seriously, and/or are an enormous science fiction geek. These are two things that I’m okay with saying on my census form.

  26. Religion and faith are choices. Having no faith nor religion is a choice as well.

    If you are honest with yourself, you don’t choose what you find convincing.

  27. A lot of decent common sense is being written here, but there are a few worring signs. It’s been suggested that this campaign is “recruiting atheists”. What a bizzarre notion! As if someone who was religious would be persuaded to give up their faith (and presumably risk burning for all eternity) because the choices on a census form were explained to them!
    Let’s be blunt, whilst the question is optional, the answer, where given, should – nay, must – be accurate. The Office of National Statistics have agreed that the question is leading and other studies clearly show it results in a gross overstatement of religious affiliation. Let’s have the real stats!
    What this is about is simply accuracy and honesty.

  28. Having to produce personal data on yourself or face prosecution is orwellian bullcrap. The British public are already the most spied upon people in the Western world. Putting Jedi down in 2001 was basically a massive f*ck you to the UK government for a lot of people. Many also hoped the government would be forced to embarrassingly accept it as a new religion. They simply ignored the statistic of course.

    On the British Humanist Association census campaign – it just smacks of self-promotion. The “danger” of people voting Christian is vastly over-stated in my view. I think the government are going to be aware of the figures on church attendance. If you look at the annual report and financial statement from the British Humanist Association, this is a charity that is low on cash. This census campaign is more about getting a bang for their buck and raising awareness of themselves in my view.

    When I look at how much they pay themselves*, it reminds me… I must start a charity one day.

    *2009: 12 employees – payroll costs: £427,795

      1. “That is a whooping £35000. They are not becoming rich.”

        Personally, I don’t socially know anybody that earns £35,000 a year. Anyway, being on the British Humanist Association board of trustees is not what they refer to as their day job. Moralising, and trying to subvert public opinion is what they do for sh*t’s and giggles in their free time.

        As an agnostic who self-regulates my own brand morality, I find this organisation far from laudable. My definition of charity doesn’t stretch to organisation that in 2009 spent £511,000 on staffing costs including a sweet £80,000 “retirement package” for the former Chief Executive. An organisation that in 2009 only took in £885,000. So they blew 58% of their incoming on staffing, and actually helped whom exactly? The poor, the needy, the socially variable, kids with autism perhaps? Nope, nobody really. They married a few hippies* – whoopie freakin-do.

        In conclusion: Not a charity! A collective of sanctimonious opinionated middle class whites who believe their Humanist message REALLY needs to shared. Preaching virtue without religion while quite happily pocketing half a million in donation money. Just, wow…

        (* sorry, I couldn’t resist the generalisation).

        1. I’m unsure where you’re getting your numbers from. Your first post quoted “*2009: 12 employees – payroll costs: £427,795”, and your second post says “2009 […] £511,000 on staffing costs”, while the published accounts actually give a salary bill of £364,462 for 2009, meaning the average wage for the 12 employees was around £30,000. I doubt you’ll find many organisations based in London that salary costs that low.

          Note that this is the cost for the staff (ie these people, not the trustees (directors) who appear to receive no remuneration apart from travel costs.

    1. How can a baby that is taken to a church and baptised before it even knows what it is be a christian it is just a child of christian parents it is only when this child itself becomes an adult that they can decide if they are a christian or a chair or a jedi

  29. My opinion is that Jedi is clearly not a religion and people recording this on their census form are being stupid. I s’pose that makes me a bit of a spoilsport, right?

    But, according to this Wikipedia entry Census officials believes some people only filled in the form so that they could record themselves as Jedi, so they got more response which improves the overall data (except of course for the religion question).

  30. This is such a shame. The Jedi percentage has always been a nice bit of humour, and clearly doesn’t contribute to the Christian percentage anyway.

  31. ‘If theist, then atheist? That’s as ‘open-minded’ as 21st century Heads can get? GAHHH those theists, a- or otherwise, always pronouncing absolute claims without a shred of evidence…
    — Charles Fort and other Gnarly Multi-Model Agnostics Association.

  32. I was deluged with outraged responses from atheists

    I’ll remember this the next time an atheist argues that atheism and atheists don’t, or are less likely to, suffer from the tribalism of religion and religious people.

    Snark aside, this tribalism would seem to be in the service of a good cause, so . . . tribalism, yay!

  33. Actually Jedi is very much a religion. Those who practice it take it very seriously.

    You can learn more at:

    And since those who practice it technically DO believe in the Force and since it also a religion which embraces and encompasses other faiths as well then it very much NOT anywhere near the same thing as Atheism.

    I have no problem with Atheists but if you think people trying to shove their religions down your throat is stupid then these pompous asses that always get themselves in the news trying to shove their belief in NOTHING down your throat is even dumber and hypocritical.

    And idiots like this are making you level-headed Atheists all look bad.

  34. There’s no greater humor than another theist trotting out the old “Atheism is as much of a belief as (whatever I believe)”. All you do is show you haven’t got a clue what the argument is even about. Atheism isn’t a “your god is wrong” belief, it’s an absence of belief.

    A while back on Pharyngula a theist said “We’re not all ignorant desert dwellers – we believe in science, the big-bang, etc.” This is funny because I don’t believe in the big bang. It’s an interesting theory and fits better than anything I could come up with but it’s not proven, nor pretty much, could it ever be. If you believe in it you’re just replacing one myth with another.

    ‘Science’ could basically be summed up as ‘Test your assumptions’. Faith is ultimately incompatible with this because at some point you come to something that does NOT test out, yet you believe it anyways. This is fundamentally incompatible with reality.

    Remember this, you shrill theists. A-theism is Not-Theist. All you have to do to be an atheist is simply not have adopted a theism. Your new baby, it’s an atheist. It’ll look around its world and try to figure it out by testing (ie, tasting). Your new baby is a scientist. You will then pack it off to the indoctrination centre where it’ll be programmed to believe whatever it is that you do. It’ll be told to ignore its senses, and reason, and to have faith – not just willing suspension of disbelief, but actual outright belief.

    Frankly, it’s sick. You’d be hard-pressed to do anything that would screw up a kid more than convince them reality is less important than your book of fairy tales.

    It’s funny. If you actually described religion (and raising someone in one) as a psych experiment you’d be severely censured by your school for even proposing raising a kid religiously as a test. To go and do it would warrant jail-time. We’d all agree teaching a kid that they were immune to AIDS, or could fly, because of faith would be despicable, but to teach them they’re immune to true death because of religion, suddenly it’s beautiful… Sick!

    1. “…You’re new baby is not a theist… it is a scientist”
      Man, you’re so gonna have throw down evidence on that assertion or sit back down with the rest of the religious cats. Why does it seem as people actually avoid claiming “I don’t know?” It seems easy to do, and allows for easier reception of (new) information.
      — Love, multi-model agnosticism.

      1. Evidence that 1) “your baby is not a theist” and 2) “it is a scientist” is easy.

        A theism is not trivial. You can’t believe in something you’ve never heard, for instance. Your baby can’t possibly believe in god until it’s old enough to be indoctrinated. (Understands speech, remembers details, etc.)

        As for it being a scientist, it’s trying things and seeing what works. Testing its assumptions. That’s science in a nutshell. If it just made up answers and took things on faith (not looking to see if there was something to step onto) it could never learn.

        Unfortunately most of that ability goes away once the indoctrination sets in.

  35. Right on Cory!

    Religion. If it wasn’t so common it’d be grouped with schizophrenia.
    A strange bunch of monkeys we are.

    Anyhow, my god created your god. Pfff

  36. Interesting that your atheist complainers are assuming that EVERYONE who said “jedi” last time were just “having a lark”.

    No doubt a lot of them were. But I really doubt it was everyone. I suspect the reasons were more complex than that. I *know* that *people* are more complex than that.

  37. Cory makes a point I’d’ve never considered and now will never
    myself consider voting a “joke” religion if that box is offered.

    If you vote “Jedi” you’re allowing your vote to be marginalized
    and discarded. Politicians can very easily discount those votes
    as fringe elements and wackos, people whose interests should not
    be taken seriously, since they themselves are unintelligible and
    do not take themselves seriously.

    To put it another way:
    If you vote “Jedi”, you’re saying “Let the wookie win.”

  38. I get why people put Jedi on their census form (though I wouldn’t personally – I’d mark “No Religion” – full-on atheist here) but I never saw the Jedi as really having a religious aspect, even before the “explanation” in Episode 1, and even though Han Solo refers to it as a religion. Solo at that point doesn’t know anything about it, and externally it’d be easy to mistake it for a religion.

    The original films treated it as how Obi-Wan described it: “The Force is what gives a Jedi his power. It’s an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us and penetrates us. It binds the galaxy together.”

    Basically, the force is just molecular physics!

    Being genetically inclined to be able to manipulate physics has nothing to do with religion. It’s kind of like X-Men actually (disclaimer: I don’t know anything about X-Men). It’s one of the deviations from reality that “binds” the Star Wars “universe” together, and which doesn’t require a logical explanation (all fantasy/sci-fi stories have these aspects: it’s how they work).

    Actually, I don’t find the midichlorian explanation from Ep. 1 that abhorrent, as many do. It fits perfectly with what was explained in the original films, and makes sense from a genetics standpoint. If it really had anything to do with religion or faith, then anyone could become a jedi or sith master if they trained hard enough, and that’s simply not the case.

    Of course, the genetics explanation doesn’t fully hold up, because of evolution – clearly being able to utilize the force is an incredible evolutionary advantage. One would imagine that eventually everyone would have at least some ability to use the force. I suppose this can be explained by the occasional purges where the jedi are killed off because everyone else becomes afraid of them. Perhaps most jedi don’t end up mating, either – apparently they turn into whiny bitches when that happens, so maybe most avoid it :)

  39. Light relief – last month the was an exchange of press releases in New Zealand involving the Jedi Church, the local libertarians, and other interested parties (passing reference to our census, which ended up being cancelled due to the earthquake).

    There’s a sumary here or, in order:

    Libertarianz Party – Libertarianz Request Audience With Jedi Religious Leaders [Context: Political leaders in NZ turn out annually for the Maori-Christian Ratana church; libertarianz are complaining about this]
    “Jedi High Council” – Jedi Council rejects Libertarianz overtures
    Libertarianz Party – Jedi High Council Statement Challenged
    “Sith Conclave” – Sith laugh evilly at Libertarianz
    [Actual] Jedi Church – Official Jedi Church of NZ – Response to Libertarianz Party

    Last census the Jedi apparently had quite some trouble getting the exact number that wrote in “jedi” from the authorities.

  40. For God’s sake, tick no religion.
    And for Christ’s sake, don’t be a Pagan. You’re not more “special” if you say you believe in an out of the ordinary pretend man in the sky.

  41. So Atheists are the new fanatical regime…How amusingly disgusting.

    I urge everyone to write Jedi, screw the new tyrants.

  42. As I understand it if you tick other (and then write in Jedi) you are counted as No-Religion in the headline results anyway. How can the Church of England get more funding for church schools for example by mining the number of Jedis from the underlying census data. Why are these guys trying to spoil the fun. Tick other write in Jedi – kill two birds with one stone. Be registered as no religion and make a mockery of organised religion at the same time.

  43. I ticked “no religion” because I have none.
    It’s all very fun to have a mess about with the Government and profess to be Jedi, but really they have no right to probe into your personal life in such a way and so the question should really be taken more seriously.
    I didn’t think this 10 years ago when my parents got their last census, at 13 I thought it a right hoot. But since then they have continued to encroach on out personal lives in an almost indomitable way and I find this pretty frightening.

    More worrying however… Question Number 17

  44. The thing is that the last couple of governments haven’t been remotely interested in evidence anyway. Sure they may have mentioned that the majority of people in Britain were religious, but even if the numbers on the census data were different they’d still say that, and they’d certainly still produce the same policies.

    Ideally the census should provide accurate statistics, but don’t feel bad for saying that you’re a jedi rather than an atheist.

  45. I remember writing in “Jedi” in the 2001 census and for those that decried you on twitter etc, the UK Government actually DID count those as “no religion”. Which angered those that wanted Jedi officially recognized especially as it was more than sikhism and judaism. I may be an atheist but I’m one with a sense of humour and a sense of fun.

  46. I see that the disturbing lack of faith joke has already been made, so I’ll simply show that the force is strong in Brighton:

    Most importantly, the government counted ‘jedi’ as a sub-set of ‘no religion’ for some reason, so it makes no difference to the religious/secular balance. Presumably the government realised that counting Jedi as ‘other’ would unrealistically distort the ‘other’ category, which was intended to provide useful info on how many people followed uncommon religions.

    Besides, the Jedi result did more for secular activism than the humanist association ever have. The Jedi census result is far more important than a fraction of one percent that was actually already included in ‘non-believers’.

    Whenever people argue for special funding or special protection of religion, it is now easy to show how absurd it is to use the census as an argument. Based on census results, there should be a dozen or so state-funded Jedi academies to go alongside the several thousand (Christian) church schools, and anyone who calls for Jar-Jar Binks to die should be prosecuted under the religious hatred act.

    Having said that, I’m now a Jedi apostate and will be putting ‘no religion’. There’s just no excuse for the travesty of the prequel trilogy. It’s got more plot holes than the Old Testament.

  47. It’s truly a missed opportunity to not call anyone out that counts “Jedi” in the “faith” column. It seems a wonderfully sputter-inducing interview question.

  48. This is why Atheists weird me out (myself being an agnostic). The Atheists care wayyy tooo much when they shouldn’t care at all.

    Atheism is also of course the ignorant choice. It is just as much a leap of faith as relgion is.
    I guess it’s an ego things atheists will always consider themselves intelligent and won’t just admit the truth which is they don’t know.

    Atheists do yourselves and science a favor reconsider in the name of knowledge and education. Atheism is close minded and when we have for the most part intelligent people saying “nope impossible” that means they have given up the possibility with no facts whatsoever, no reason to do so and it is the end of learning.

  49. Proud to live in a country with freedom of choice and expression – so I will be marking my religion as Jedi in the UK census because I can and will… May the force be with you….

  50. Isn’t Jedi an official religion over there? I remember there being a big news todo about a Jedi who was upset because he was forced to remove his hood in convenience stores, while other religions were allowed to wear their sacred hats, veils and cowls.

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