390,000 Jedis There Are
But did hoax campaign boost response in teens and 20s?
Seven people in every thousand in England and Wales gave their religion as 'Jedi' in the 2001 Census.
The Census form's question on religion - the only question where a response was not compulsory - offered a series of tick-boxes for the major religions in the UK (Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh); a tick-box for 'none'; and a free space to write in 'any other religion'. This was the first time a religion question was included in a Census.
A campaign on the internet claimed - wrongly - that Jedi, the belief system at the heart of the Star Wars films, would receive official government recognition as a religion if enough people quoted it on their Census forms. An email in support of the campaign, quoted by BBC News, invited people to 'do it because you love Star Wars... or just to annoy people.'
Just over 390,000 of the 52,000,000 people in England and Wales wrote in 'Jedi' on their census form.
The 'Jedi' response was most popular in Brighton and Hove, with 2.6 per cent of Census respondents quoting it, followed by Oxford (2.0 per cent), Wandsworth (1.9), Cambridge (1.9), Southampton (1.8) and Lambeth (1.8).
It 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. Sedgefield, Knowsley, Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr Tydfil and Wear Valley all show less than 0.2 per cent of respondents quoting 'Jedi'.
Director of reporting and analysis at the Office for National Statistics, John Pullinger said: 'Whatever its motive, the Jedi campaign may have worked in favour of the Census exercise. Census agencies worldwide report difficulties encouraging those in their late teens and twenties to complete their forms.
'We suspect that the Jedi response was most common in precisely this age group. The campaign may well have encouraged people to complete their forms and help us get the best possible overall response.'