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Jedi Knight Now (Not) Officially a Religion 643

osiris writes: "The Register is reporting that being a Jedi Knight is now an official religion in the UK after the 2001 census conducted earlier this year. The final number of 'Jedi Knights' has not been confirmed yet as only about 95% of the census forms have been returned. As you could probably imagine, the Home Office is none too pleased. Apparently though, you can't get fined for lying about your religion in the census." Actually, according to the story, this gives the Jedi way no more official status than Plumbing would have if everyone put that down.
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Jedi Knight Now (Not) Officially a Religion

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  • Cool (Score:2, Funny)

    by YT ( 79213 )
    So when are the lightsabers coming out?
    • If you remember your pseudo-lore, Jedi's in training have to make their own! Truly the hacker's spirit at work here!
      • ... and every current or potential programmer ought to learn to implement CipherSaber [] from memory, for much the same reasons--especially now that recent events have made governments and citizens more hostile to privacy.
  • by BiggestPOS ( 139071 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:14AM (#2409334) Homepage
    None of the people who check it are actually Jedi, whether they say they are or not :(. I don't remember the last time I saw anyone build a real working lightsaber....
    • by Spootnik ( 518145 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:29AM (#2409395)
      I've checked out the UK Statistics Office list of religions and it is indeed coded as 896.

      Satanism is 331.

      They even allow you to have your "Own Belief System" (code 344).
    • > None of the people who check it are actually Jedi,
      > whether they say they are or not :

      True, however many people profess to be christians/moslems/whateverists without showing any
      real evidence of actually *believing*.

      I find religious belief options on census reports to
      be a good way of measuring the overall mental health of a country. :)

      - MugginsM
    • I put a clear plastic tube onto a torch. Doesn't that count?

      A religion is just a system of belief, so there's no reason not to believe that all life flows from the force. I guess the correct religion would be Force Worshiper or something though. Putting "Jedi" would be like a catholic putting down "monk"

    • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @07:22AM (#2410105) Homepage
      • None of the people who check it are actually Jedi, whether they say they are or not

      Prove that anybody who puts down Buddhist has been reencarnated.

      Prove that anyone who puts down Catholic suffers the consequences of original sin.

      Kind of missing the point of belief, aren't you?

  • by banky ( 9941 ) <gregg.neurobashing@com> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:15AM (#2409342) Homepage Journal
    contains the complete info on this BORING (IMHO) urban legend.
    • "As such, Jedi Knight is not officially recognised as a religion."

      For whatever reason, the article starts off with the complete opposite statement. The point is that a lot of people are putting down Jedi for their religion because they want to mess with the British government. I can't believe this got posted on slashdot.

      • by Rogerborg ( 306625 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @06:56AM (#2410072) Homepage
        • point is that a lot of people are putting down Jedi for their religion because they want to mess with the British government. I can't believe this got posted on slashdot.

        It's highly relevant under YRO (as this data is held on puters and used by a whole raft of government and quasi-government bodies). Britain leads the US in invasions of privacy and fucked up tech laws (we've had a DMCA since 1988). Anything that happens regarding privacy/censorship/state control in the UK is a good indicator of future behaviour in the US.

        Sure, this time around the religion question is voluntary. But by not answering it, all you demonstrate is apathy. By giving a bullshit answer, you send a clear signal that you actively object to it.

        The UK census start with the bold statement that (approximate quote) "This data is anonymous, will be used for statistical purposes only, and will not be used to identify you." Then the first question demands to know your name. Do they need to know the statistic of how many people have my name? I don't think so. The presumption is that I will lie on the census, and they need to know who I am so that they can prove this and punish me.

        Go ahead and trot out the usual response of "it won't be used against you, stop bitching". If it's not going to be used, then why demand to know it? What purpose does knowing my name serve, other than to identify and punish? I'm not saying that it will be used, but if that's the case, then don't ask.

        Similarly, I had to disclose who I work for and where I work. Exactly, not approximately. If this is being used only for traffic planning, why demand to know exactly this? Again, it's probably benign, but it's more information than is needed for the stated purposes.

        For these reasons and more, I thoroughly enjoyed fucking with my census. The questions asked do not tally with the reasons given for asking them. I don't enjoy being fed bullshit or treated like an idiot, and so will take every possible opportunity to protest these censii by whatever means I have available. (Yes, I write to my representative regularly, politely and constructively, and just as regularly fail to get any response).

        • by brigmar ( 315810 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @10:21AM (#2410369)
          Of course, once you've put your religion down as Jedi, all other questions can be answered with:

          "This is not the information you are looking for"
        • Sure, this time around the religion question is voluntary. But by not answering it, all you demonstrate is apathy. By giving a bullshit answer, you send a clear signal that you actively object to it.

          Fine. Answer in a way that does demonstrate your active objection to the query. Some suggestions, to get you started:
          • I actively object to this question
          • noyb
          • Seperate church and state

          I know, this doctorine may not be as ingrained in UK as it is here. But it isn't as ingrained here as some might like either. That's why you (theoretically) are objecting in the first place.

          Get one of THOSE listed on the census form, and see who "votes" for it or accepts it as their religiouis view, then you've made a statement.
        • Actually the statistics of how many people have a given name is rather interesting and can actually be somewhat useful in a historical sense. Anyone in the SCA [] knows the usefulness of census data that incorporates names as it gives you the ability to ascertain when a particular name came into common usage. While the government might not exactly have this in mind, it is a valid piece of data.
    • Indeed. The article you link says:

      "There won't be any coding for Jedi," a representative of the ONS said. "So it won't be called a religion even if 10,000 people do it."

      But there *is* a coding for Jedi, so I'd say they were somewhat wrong, yes?
  • None v. Atheist (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dmarcov ( 461598 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:16AM (#2409346) Homepage
    Ok - so someone's really decided there needs to be separate categories for "Atheist" and "None". I want to see the discussion here the delineates the differences between someone who says there's no God (which seems to me to be saying that religion would necessarily be a fabrication), and "None" ... which means. I dunno -- pretty much the same thing? That there is a god and they choose not to believe -- it seems that you start to get into one of those Douglas Adams'-ish loops about proof denying faith, and without faith god being nothing -- with of course proof, proving god doesn't exist because god exists.
    • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Jubedgy ( 319420 )
      None is really agnostic...

      As far as I understand it, atheism is a belief in itself that there is no god or whatever.

      Agnosticism is saying sure there might or might not be a god, I don't care either way, let's just get on w/ our lives.

      So I'd equate 'None' meaning 'no religion' with agnosticism rather than atheism (which could, itself, be considered a form of religion).

      • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:4, Informative)

        by dopplex ( 242543 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:13AM (#2409542)
        None is not agnostic. An agnostic is not someone who can't make up his or her mind. What an agnostic actually believes in (Yes, real agnostics do believe in something...) is that the human race cannot know the form of a supreme being/beings or whether any in fact exist. In essence, agnosticism is the belief that there are some things that we as humans cannot know.
        Agnosticism is a belief system in itself, and it most certainly doesn't fall under the category of "no religion".

    • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:2, Insightful)

      by catbutt ( 469582 )
      "None" means you don't have a religion or belief system or whatever. Like if you just don't think about it or give a shit.

      Atheist means you are convinced there is no god.

      (and agnostic means you've thought about, and haven't drawn any conclusions)
    • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:24AM (#2409382) Homepage Journal

      Atheist: You take a definite position that there is no God (which ironically is actually a position of faith, but that's another debate).

      Agnostic: You take the position that the existence of God is not knowable. This IMO is the most intellectually honest position.

      None: I guess this means that you take absolutely no position at all on the subject.

      • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:4, Informative)

        by The Good Reverend ( 84440 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:41AM (#2409445) Journal
        "Atheist" is no more a position of faith than saying "I don't believe in 1000 foot tall purple gorrilas" is a statement of faith. Based on available evidence and the self-controdictions of most Gods (I'm using a Christian definition here), being an atheist is accepting the evidence for what it's worth.

        Here come the flames...
        • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Reality Master 101 ( 179095 ) <RealityMaster101 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @10:35AM (#2410433) Homepage Journal

          "Atheist" is no more a position of faith than saying "I don't believe in 1000 foot tall purple gorrilas" is a statement of faith.

          Actually, that's not true. We have no evidence for purple gorrilas, but we do have (supposedly) eyewitness accounts of Jesus being resurrected. I don't believe that evidence is very strong, but it is evidence.

          I know you're next argument: Santa Claus. Let's hit that one. :)

          We can actively disprove Santa Claus, because we can trace the origins of the legend, and see that it is clearly made up. With the Judeo-Christian God, it's not easy to see, because he's pretty much been around since the dawn of writing (8000 years?).

          So to actively say that there is absolutely no God presupposes evidence that you don't have, and in fact, ignores that there really is some (admittedly weak) evidence for the existence of God.

      • It's one thing to be religously agnostic. This means that you have your beliefs but you don't associate them with a particular religion. I disagree with your definition being the most honest - rather, I believe that it's intellectually lazy. Although I'm not a fundamentalist (I don't believe that I KNOW all moral truth, for example), God has made himself known through many ways, and it behooves us to seek Him. However, if you are Atheist (great point on the faith issue), then you have nothing to pursue, because there is no god. If you are a "none", then you must the most intellectually lazy of all. They should add an option like "undecided but actively pursuing the Truth", for those who are not lazy, but are also unsure.
        • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Dwonis ( 52652 )
          How is it lazy to say "insufficient data", rather than sitting in an infinite loop because you don't have anything concrete, just circular dependencies. I'd say that's smart, not lazy.
        • "However, if you are Atheist (great point on the faith issue), then you have nothing to pursue, "

          I disagree completely. If you believe in god then you know the answer. It's right there in the bible. There is no further need to pursue anything. you have been handed down your answer in a neatly bound volume and anybody who disagrees with you is an agent fo satan.

          If you an atheists you have answer and have to seek one on your own.
        • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:5, Insightful)

          by efuseekay ( 138418 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @02:10AM (#2409653)
          *sigh*, another statement of faith masquerading as an argument.

          God has made himself known through many ways, and it behooves us to seek Him.

          Please show scientifically testable/repeatable proof.

          As for agnostics being lazy, you are accusing people who have spent a lot of time thinking about the issue and evaluating the evidence but came up with the an intellectually honest answer : "We don't have sufficient evidence to decide on whether God exists" of being lazy. I think that's a strawman argument.

          I am an agnostic. I spend all my time seeking the Truth as a physicist. That's my job. And if I get lazy, my advisor will kick my butt. Perhaps you should widen your views about what constitutes "Truth" and what constitutes "Faith."

          Feynman once said, "It's hard to sit on the Fence." Agnostics sit on the fence all the time, and Feynman's is right : it's not easy.

        • I disagree with the statement that atheists have nothing to pursue -- they have everything to pursue, the entire world is a source of spiritual conundrums and inspiration. We just don't tend to personalize it in a god. Buddhists are atheist (except maybe not the dumb ones that worship The Buddha, despite how that contradicts his teachings) -- it's not an unspiritual or even necessarily unreligious philosophical stand.

          However, I agree that agnostics are rather lazy. Generally agnostics act on the belief that god does not exist, yet they will not say that they believe that god does not exist. Whether they know whether god exists or not isn't a very interesting question -- for a sufficiently demanding definition of "know" nothing is known. Arguments based on that are not insightful -- they are tedious and distracting.

          The real question is how you live your life. Do you think about god in a concrete way, like "how could he let this happen", or "how would he judge me"? Do you speak to him? If you're looking the other way, then suddenly look inward, do you find an assumption that god exists?

          If so, but you don't really "believe" that god exists, then I suppose you are agnostic. Perhaps a decent transitional phase, but it's a rather conflicted place to leave yourself.

          If not, then you are an atheist. Trying to be all accepting by claiming you don't know god exists is just laziness. Say what you really believe. Say the truth about how you live your life. Don't be afraid to say you think other people are wrong -- that's not such a big deal, since at least you don't think they'll go to hell for being wrong :)

        • Posts like yours are the reason why I identify myself as a weak atheist rather than an agnostic. To me they mean the same thing.

          You think an agnostic is someone with nebulous wishy washy beliefs but not associated with any religion.

          Just to be clear, agnostics do NOT believe in gods of any kind. They don't have any beliefs about them whatsoever, because there is no evidence to cause them to even hypothesize such a thing.

          I think the term weak atheist is more clear about that, so I use it to mean the same thing as agnostic. An agnostic or a weak atheist can certainly take the step to say that no way, no how, can the Xtian god or the Muslim god, or any other humanly conceived god exists, because things that physically exist must be logically possible. No human conceived gods fit that criteria.

      • Atheist: There is no God.

        Agnostic: God cannot be proved nor disproved.

        None: God who?

        Seriously though, it seems perfectly reasonable that a person who has a belief in a God (not necessarily any particular God) could be non religious, in that they practice no specific religion. It doesn't help that 'religion' has five definitions.
      • by lemox ( 126382 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:03AM (#2409514)

        None: I guess this means that you take absolutely no position at all on the subject.

        I believe a friend of mine said it best when he called himself an 'apatheist'. ; )

      • Strong/Weak/Agnostic (Score:2, Informative)

        by Bugmaster ( 227959 )
        Actually, the more correct division (according to and my long-forgotten philosophy classes) is as follows:
        • Strong Atheist: You take a definite position that there is no God, thus maiking a statement of faith.
        • Weak Atheist: you acknowledge the possibility that God exist, but believe that the likelihood of this is too low to be taken seriously
        • Agnostic - Unlike the Weak Atheist, you believe that the existance or nonexistance of God cannot even be estimated, but that's ok, since it doesn't matter anyway.
        Oh the three positions, Weak Atheism is probably the most intellectually honest one. Strong Atheism is hypocritical, and Agnosticism seems more of a cop-out than a philosophical standpoint.
        • Disagree. You are assuming that agnostics is making the "inability to prove god's existence" as a statement of faith. That's not true.

          Agnostics have decided that it is not worth pursuing the idea of God after evaluating current evidence for it. If new evidence turns up, then agnostics are more than happy to reevaluate the situation.

          And to agnostics, it does matter whether God exists or not. Basically, agnostics are people who "haven't figure it out yet". Maybe they are lazy, but there are some who have put a lot of thought into it but come up empty because there is not enough evidence.

          That's not a cop-out by any means. And in my opinion (which everybody is allowed to disagree with of course), that's the most intellectually honest since it considers the evidence.

      • by Chagrin ( 128939 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @02:27AM (#2409680) Homepage
        Dyslexic, Agnostic Insomniac: Lies awake at night wondering if there is a Dog.
      • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:4, Informative)

        by nathanh ( 1214 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @02:50AM (#2409724) Homepage

        Too simplistic. You can break down Atheist into Strong and Weak positions. The definition you wrote is arguably one form of Strong Atheism but even that is stretching it.

        Try and think of it like this: the Weak Atheist does not believe in the existence of God whereas the Strong Atheist position believes in the non-existence of God.

        To further understand the problem: Atheism is about belief, not knowledge. Agnosticism is about knowledge, not belief. In practise you can be Gnostic and Atheist, Agnostic and Theist, or any other ridiculous combination.

        Back to your definitions. Atheism isn't a position of faith, it's a statement of belief. The Strong Atheist could arguably be accused of having "faith" in their assertion of God's non-existence, but to do this would trivialise the meaning of "faith". Suddenly you have "faith" that you are hungry and "faith" that it is cold. Clearly this isn't the same meaning of "faith" that a Christian uses when they claim to have "faith in God".

        I don't have much of a problem with your definition of Agnostic, although it's nothing like Huxley's original definition. But I hope you now understand that your definition of Atheist is the one popularised by the United States of Christianity, and is not a reasonable definition of Atheism.

      • Reality Master 101 Agnostic: You take the position that the existence of God is not knowable. This IMO is the most intellectually honest position.

        No, an Agnostic is someone who takes the position that the existence of god(s) is irrelevent. I'm a millitant agnostic evangelist myself (although I put down Jedi Knight on the census to make a point- that asking a non-provable question on a census is a waste of time).

        Think about it. All the useful bits of religion are actually morality and philosophy- "stealing is bad, being nice is good". All the useless bits are the theology and myths- "god is a bull with wings, god created Earth out of nothing" etc.

        Agnostics know that you can keep the morals and the philosophy whilst ditching all the fluff about magical beings and supernatural forces.

        For instance, I think that stealing (as in beer) is wrong because it is detrimental to individuals and to society as a whole. I don't need fear or love of a magical being to re-inforce that understanding.

        Suppose the existence or non-existence of god(s) were finally, definitively proven.

        If a god was known to exist, would that mean you would suddenly stop stealing? Of course not, because you didn't steal anyway because you already knew it was bad, for other reasons.

        If gods were known not to exist, would that mean you would suddenlty start stealing? Again, of course not. You don't steal because you know it's wrong for other reasons, not because you have some fear or love of a god.

        Therefore we have proven that the existence of gods is irrelevent.

      • most sense to me. I was an atheist until I found out about agnosticism and then switched because logically being an agnostic makes more sense than being an atheist. After all, as an agnostic you do take the position that you do not know whether there is or is not a god. This leaves you the opportunity to believe in a god if such evidence where to present itself.

        Btw, there are atheists that are almost as fanatical about Atheism as there are muslims who are fanatical about Islam except that the Atheists are against religion.

        • Atheist: You take a definite position that there is no God (which ironically is actually a position of faith, but that's another debate).

        You're inflating the importance of "god" with respect to any other proposition. Let's generalise atheist without taking the god squad line that debates about god are somehow special:

        Scientist: You take a definite position that there exists nothing but that which you can observe.

      • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:3, Insightful)

        by magi ( 91730 )
        Atheist: You take a definite position that there is no God (which ironically is actually a position of faith, but that's another debate).

        This is unfortunately common view of atheism, and is mostly just a strawman usually used only by non-atheists. Atheism simply means that an atheist does not have a belief in any (supernatural or personal) god.

        That doesn't imply that an atheist believes that there is no god. That view is called "dogmatic apriori atheism", which though probably exists, is not very common. The distinction in not, however, always so clear, depending on what viewpoint you take.

        Atheism definitely is not a religion, as religion is much more that belief in something. Am I a Seventh Day Slashdottist, just because I believe that Slashdot exists? Atheism is just a non-belief, it doesn't have rituals, holy texts, or other institutions of religions. Not that religion is easy to define (there is no perfect definition for it).

        Agnosticism means, as you said, that existence of gods is not knowable. This is a more general and epistemological issue, while atheism deals with a more specific and ontological issue. Therefore, most atheists are agnostics, and vice versa.
    • Re:None v. Atheist (Score:2, Insightful)

      by bps300 ( 260675 )
      A lot of people confuse faith and religion. Religion is the organized practice of one's faith. An athiest is of the faith that there is no god, and belongs to the 'religion of atheism'. Some one who selects none believes that there is a god(s), but does not belong to any particular religion.
    • This particular debate is hilarious!

      It demonstrates with great clarity, (provided one is able to pull back from their damned tunnel vision first of all), just how bloody Christ-centric most of the world is. -By this, I mean, everybody wants to put everybody else in one of those three stupid little boxes; Atheist, Agnostic, or None; people, I find, tend to stutter like the brain damaged when you tell them that their little score card is a conceited piece of shit.

      For instance:

      What if you happen to be Native American Indian? That is, you believe in the spirits of the Earth, Water and Air, believe in magic and spiritualism and such, but have absolutely no use for a foul-tempered bearded man in the sky with a 'good' book.

      "Atheist", while etymologically accurate in describing you, is too strong because while it means one doesn't believe in God, in a colloquial sense it firmly suggests that one also has no belief whatsoever in the spiritual realm, which would be a total misrepresentation.

      "Agnostic"; The wait and seer's wonder-word, doesn't apply either, because the Native American isn't waiting to see anything; s/he is actively pursuing another religious system altogether, one which doesn't have a God, (graven or otherwise), and thus doesn't give a hoot one way or another about the self-important Christian Million Dollar Question.

      And "None" is just, well. . , nice life. Hope Hollywood and Sony Entertainment are able to fill all the gaps in your heart; the things of man get pretty dry after a while. --The new season of Buffy certainly doesn't have the zing it used to. . . (Pardon my Soap Box here, but living a 'None' life appears to take a lot of medication (drugs, alcohol,), and mis-direction, (Hollywood, Games, War, going to work, kayaking like those guys in the cigarette ads, hunting for sex and love, and generally doing all the average-life things to distract yourself from the over-arching back ground noise of gnawing emptiness), and my favorite, over-rationalization, (Shit! Did I just see a unicorn? Why the hell does Asian Astrology work? How can this place be haunted? Why can a 60 year old Chinese guy punch through inch-thick steel plate that I can't even dent with a freaking sledge hammer? Why can I see auras? And Who is this Castaneda guy anyway? -Oh wait. . . That's right. I keep forgetting; It's that pesky swamp gas again! Ho ho!)

      Gotta love that swamp gas!

      -Fantastic Lad

      • Excellent post.

        These are after all semantics. But one have to rely on them once in a while : especially when describing oneself to somebody who is impatient and only understand two possibilities "Are you or are you Not?"

        I generally call myself an agnostic (which usually means I have to end up defining to most people what that means).

        But the Truth is more than just that Million Dollar Question. And a lot more interesting.

        If you are a patient one, then I am :

        (a) unable to decide on the existence of Judeo-Christeo-type God due to lack of evidence
        (b) unable to decide on viability of Buddhism as a world-view until the buddhists agree among themselves what it constitute to be one
        (c) think New Age Religion is crap
        (d) hunt for sex and love (mostly the former)
        (e) think Buffy is hot, but the show is blah
        (f) agree that Unicorn horns are good items to have, but don't kill the white ones
        (g) think Bruce Lee rocks, Jackie Chan rolls
        (h) agree that Native Americans have a intresting world view : especially their funny dilineation of what it means to be "nearest kin" but mostly think that their Element worship is misguided superstition
        (i) which also means that I think superstition, magicks, seances, spiritualism, etc is all baloney (unless shown repeatable/testable proof of course)
        (j) loves swamp gas too

  • Mmmm. Jedi. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Kreeblah ( 95092 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:17AM (#2409351)
    Does this "religion" at all involve paying for the same "holy text" over and over again, in varying "special release" formats?
    • by Tim Macinta ( 1052 ) <> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:02AM (#2409502) Homepage

      Does this "religion" at all involve paying for the same "holy text" over and over again, in varying "special release" formats?

      No, that would be Scientology.

  • by suso ( 153703 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:20AM (#2409361) Homepage Journal

    2000 years ago a group of people believed in a man called Jesus Christ. And now an enormous amount of our society is based around his sacrifice.

    2000 years from now, perhaps the world will pray to a man named Luke Skywalker???

  • by kypper ( 446750 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:21AM (#2409368)
    Is our bible written as such: "Saul begot Jim... yes... mmmm-hmm.... Help him he could... yes..."
  • by heretic108 ( 454817 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:26AM (#2409387)
    Thinking along the lines of the Rastafarians who (in some places) have gained the ability to smoke pot legally as a 'religious sacrament'....

    How about forming a new religion, dedicated to interpreting the holy scripture as given by the Great Kernel to humankind through /dev/random, and concealed in the Mysteries of the Digits of PI.

    Amongst the religious edicts would be:
    1) Any and all binary data may contain manifestations of the Lord Kernel. Therefore, followers are instructed to decode any and all binary data they get their hands on, and apply technical skills to defeat all encryption inherent in such data/code (including copy-protection barriers).
    2) All followers must celebrate the Lord Kernel's holy abundance by freely sharing any data and code which they feel personally moved to make available.
    3) The Lord Kernel's abundance takes precedence over any human notions of intellectual property
    4) Members of the Church of the Great Kernel may transform their data in any way before transmission to other Members.

    This way, the DMCA, SSSCA, ATA etc can be ruled unconstitutional as they interfere with religious practice.

    • by DaSyonic ( 238637 ) <DaSyonic@y[ ] ['aho' in gap]> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @02:19AM (#2409669) Homepage
      Things like this don't work. A while back, some woman decided to start a church for her bordello ('whore house') in which the 'followers' would enter the 'temple' and perform 'religous services' and upon leaving, would leave 'a charitable religous donation'. Obviously, it got shot down, and they spent some time in jail if I recall.

      You can not create a religion that violates the law without a lot of precedent. For example, a group of Indians, I dont recall the tribe, but they are the only group who may use peyote legally. Why? It's their religion, and they've been doing it for hundreds of years. If you had been doing this for many years before the DMCA, and all these laws, you might stand a chance. Otherwise, better just spend your time writing your local representatives.

    • I would think that if I could give strong evidence that my great grandparents believed in a 'religion' which had been consistently expressed during the past 100ish years I could swing 'official' status even without an ethnicity / old god / holy weed to wave around.
      That the key practices of the religion had been suppressed by the government during that 100 years shouldn't prevent them being applicable once official status has been gained.
      The question is - what do we call this religion? And what are its core beliefs?
      How about slashdot and freedom. Simple. The key practices of the followers is to share what they have with other followers - slashdotters are as one!
      Lets do it people - in 2121 they'll make documentaries about us and our insightfulness! interestingness! and funnyness! and thank us for eliminating redundant comments from the world! ;-)
  • I guess after the very sexy 70's those in the UK needed a reason to stop getting laid...
  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:29AM (#2409396) Journal
    I had to say it. The sad thing is that it probably is for many people reading this post.

    I bet after a few years of linux being declared an official religion, RMS will form the bGNULinux protestant movement agaisn't the mainstream linux church. :-)

    You know Linus would cool with those pope hats. Especially at trade shows.

  • by Jace of Fuse! ( 72042 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:31AM (#2409401) Homepage
    The Jedi religion does in fact have many stated ideas that aren't too far from "real" religions, so who is to say that one can not actually proclaim themselves Jedi followers?

    The question is a whole lot like asking "Is Discordianism Real?"

    Any Discordian will tell you with absolute uncertainty that it probably isn't unreal. But just because the Discordian religion probably appeared first in a fictional novel doesn't mean that the beliefs are not valid, even if a bit loony.

    I say if someone wants to be a Jedi, so be it. They have every bit as much a right to create miracles as any Christian, Jew, or Muslim. In fact, they're probably just as good at it!

    Hail Eris! fnord
    • But just because the Discordian religion probably appeared first in a fictional novel doesn't mean that the beliefs are not valid, even if a bit loony.

      Discordia was actually worshipped in Rome. This was the source of a lot of angst in the Empire, since they were uptight about a lot of things, and especially people religiously inclined to buck the system.

      The Greeks were much more laid back about the whole deal, so Eris herself enjoyed little to no known worshippers. Well, at least not that anyone would admit to seeing.

    • But just because the Discordian religion probably appeared first in a fictional novel...
      Discordianism probably appeared first in the Principia Discordia [], which is too disorganized to be called a novel.
    • Discordianism might have been a joke, but it has a lot in common (and perhaps was even based on) real religions.

      Ever hear of Coyote?

      Or Raven?

      Or Erdu?

      Or Loki?

      Or Lucifer, in his early days?

      I don't think it's an exaggeration to say that all polytheistic religions contain a Trickster. Despite a few thousand years of Christian propaganda, they aren't "evil" or "destructive," just embracing of the unpredictable, of the wild. This is only a problem if you're a control freak (*cough* Leviticus *cough*).

      I believe this is also why Discordianism before, and Trickster religions today (e.g., "Coyote Zen") are so popular among techies, even if we can't agree on definitions. Our working lives have to be extraordinarily controlled, so it's only natural that we're attracted to something that introduces some healthy unpredictability into our lives. Contrawise, people who have extremely chaotic lives are attracted to the highly regimented "everything has a rule" religions and cults.

      On the larger issue, in the US there's the concept of the "Jeffersonian Cult of One." A religion does not require recognition from the government, does not require a minimum number of followers, etc., all it takes is ONE person who honestly believes in its tenets. Historically, like the "free exercise of religion" clause the religion still had to based on Christianity, but recently pretty much anything goes, provided you don't break (most) civil laws. But some civil laws can be broken, e.g., a recent case involved a local city that restricted the number of cars that could be parked on a city street for any household. A small church gathered in a private home, and routinely violated this law and was ticketed. The church sued, claiming the law had the de facto effect of unduely restricting First Amendment rights of assembly and religion since they did not block the street or other residences, only briefly took up most parking spaces once a week. They won, the law was thrown out as unconstitutional.

      So in the US Wicca and pagan groups can get full First Amendment protection (although, in practice, there are still plenty of bigoted judges who feel no shame in proclaiming that a woman is unfit as a child's custodian because she's a Wiccan), and a "Jedi religion" would almost certainly qualify as well.

      In the UK, the situation is much murkier since there's an official state religion.
  • In theory, governments need to know where you live and what you do (and a couple of other things) to adjust the taxation system and to distribute aids more fairly, amongst other things. However, I bet many people fail to understand why the government needs to know their faith (unless some major Churches are subsidized by the state, but I don't know if that's the case in the UK). They can even be offended by some questions in the census form, like the racist piece of work [] the 2000 US census was.

    So frankly I'm not too surprised that people answer bullshit when they see such questions : many of the people who answered "Jedi Knight" at the religious affiliation question probably felt the government had no business knowing it, and maybe the answer was in fact a way for these people to express their disapproval.

    • unless some major Churches are subsidized by the state, but I don't know if that's the case in the UK

      Given that the monarch of England is also the head of the Anglican Church, aka the Church of England, it's a fairly good bet that some major churches in the UK enjoy very strong government ties, to put it mildly.
      • Yup. The Anglican bishops sit in the House of Lords (the unelected upper house we have here). They are the "Lords Spiritual" rather than the "Lords Temporal". ISTR that there is also an allocation for Catholics and Jews, and the Muslims are demanding parity.

        The idea of Yoda sitting on the Front Bench is a little startling though. "Hmmm. Make my maiden speech I will".


  • by Alpha State ( 89105 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:36AM (#2409426) Homepage

    Wouldn't the religion be just "Jedi"?

    Does this cover the dark side of the force as well?

    Can you be of the Jedi religion without being a knight?

    What's the official Jedi position on abortion, contraception and religious killing?

    How do you make those lightsabers anyway?

  • Sith lords (Score:2, Funny)

    by Rebelli0n ( 248379 )
    I wonder how many clever people put down Sith instead, and if the ppl at the home office understood it (or just ticked the seikh box).

  • Great! (Score:2, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 )

    Does that mean we can buy the Sacred Action Figures tax-free now?
  • by Nathdot ( 465087 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @12:44AM (#2409460)
    Looking at the census list of religions [] it would seem just about every permutation of praise gets a mention...

    So where is Time Cube []? It's a perfectly valid religious choice?

    I thought four corner truth was ineffable. Could it be that Census is just another Evil Word Institution trying to suppress Gene Ray's beautious vision...

    Let's all pull together and make time cube number 900 on the list come the next census
  • ... the Immaculate Misconception: Believing that Jar-Jar Binks was a good idea. Ever.
  • The census earlier this year in NZ [], had a similar story.

    And the Gobernment was making alot of big noises bout arresting the people, etc. I wonder what happened there?

    This is the link for the earlier story in the UK: .html []

    But they haven't finished discussing what sort of reports to print out from the data. Which is a typical problem.

  • by mrbkap ( 517255 ) <mrbkap&gmail,com> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:01AM (#2409501) Homepage
    It occurs to me that purist Star Wars fans might object to other humans calling themselves Jedi Knights. A Jedi Knight implies that the person has mastery of The Force, an as-of-yet non-existant force-field around (and through) everything and everybody. Nobody has been able to even sense this on Earth, much less control it. Therefore, by Star Wars standards, nobody can be one.

    On the other hand, it is also an interesting concept in the fact that a Jedi is also completely calm, and in tune with his/her environment. By this definition, it might do some people good to attempt to be calm and in tune; they might be able to think their way more clearly, and act on less rash thoughts. If they define themselves this way, then it might not offend as many people. I believe that some people will still be irked by someone calling themself a Jedi Knight.

    Just my $0.02 worth

  • by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:02AM (#2409507) Homepage Journal
    And I find that the most interresting aspect of the whole thing is that it says something about culture, when something totally made up from a 23 year old movie shows up in a national census.

    Exactly what it says is up to debate, but the statement is the real message. I doupt that the people who awnsered Jedi when asked aout their religion actually meant that they believe in an invisible force created by life that can be used to do magic.

    I wonder how it feels to know you're the one that started all of this in the first place.

  • They would have to apply for and get tax-exempt status... which is really, really easy to do.

    So, let's assume that this has been done in the UK... again, I don't know the laws there, so I am most likely talking out my buttocks, but.... This brings up two issues.

    1) What is RELIGION? If enough people believe (or at least say they do on a form) is it a religion? It has to be, since all the "major" ones have the same burden of proof... "our book says we are the right one, therefore we are." Honestly, the Hindi, Christian, Asartu, whatever "creation" mythos and scriptures, and "otherworldly" places, people, etc. and so on all have the same logical proof (you can't prove OR disprove any of them) and so how do you define religion as a "belief system"? You can't, as none of them are "provable".

    2) Who cares what religion you are? The "official" religion of England was created because one man wanted a divorce, yes? Does filling the form out "wrong" (claiming to be a Jedi) get you free stuff, a tax break, or a chicken in every pot? If not, who the hell cares?

    • "Who cares what religion you are? The "official" religion of England was created because one man wanted a divorce, yes? Does filling the form out "wrong" (claiming to be a Jedi) get you free stuff, a tax break, or a chicken in every pot? If not, who the hell cares?"

      It could get very interesting in the next few weeks as the government plans to bring in laws against religious hatred. Don't ask me why, but I thought arson and assault were already illegal.

      The government is going to have a fun time implementing such a law, especially when the first cases come to court and questions about what a religion is are asked. The census data demonstrates that religious belief (and even lack thereof) is remarkably diverse. While inclusion on the list of 'religions' doesn't indicate anything other than enough people wrote it in to be worth allocating it a number (to help the data entry people), it could be considered descriptive--this is what people in the UK think religion is.

  • by Arkoth ( 228492 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:09AM (#2409531)
    An offical religion. Now we can see different churches of Lucas start popping up all over the UK. Imperial Church of Lucas, Rebel Church of Lucas, and a mercenary Church of Lucas etc.

    I could see it now...George's body is created out of stone and displayed infront of the large church in shape of the imperial palace. The church bells sing the opening sequence to the movies at each mass. The large wooden church doors have the Lucasarts logo set in stone, inside the church is a large hall filled with flags fitting for the type of Church Lucas, people dressed up as the crimson guard protect the doors and keep order. Each chair holds a Holy book of Lucas praising Star Wars, and answers to Star Wars questions. After each mass a CCG and Star Wars convention breaks out allowing eachother to trade and share Holy Lucas items with one another.

    Schedule for Church of Lucas:
    Mondays: 12pm-12am Episode I-II-III worship.
    Tuesdays: 5pm-10pm Episode IV worship.
    Wednesdays:10am-3pm Episode V worship
    Thursdays: 2pm-7pm Episode VI worship.
    Fridays: 7pm-12am Lucas Worship, Star Wars Paintbattles (re-enacting the battles)
    Saturdays: 8am-1pm Lucas Trivia, and book discussion.
    Sundays: 6am-8am, 8:15am-10:15am, 10:30am-12:30pm Holy Lord of Lucas (Mace Windu type) delievers mass to it's worshippers.

    Each church has several rooms dedicated to:

    1.Playing the Star Wars Games (Jedi Knight, X-wing vs. Tie fighter, Rebellion, Star Wars Galaxies, and Galactic Battlegrounds)with state of the art Computer machines along with a T3 bandwith line with multiple redunancies with large internet providers in the UK. To guarntee you the follower isn't interrupted in your practices.

    2.Mos Eisley look alike cantina for relaxation.

    3.Dueling room to practice those lightsaber skills, and grow your knowledge with the force.

    4. Hotel skyrise for followers to remain on the grounds of the Church.

    Oh yes..I could see this as a possibility of becoming reality now that the UK Recognizes Jedi Knights as a religion.
  • Didn't Al Bundy do a similar thing when he started the "church of No, Ma'am"?

    All kidding aside, these people don't seriously think they can start a religion based on science fiction, can they? Oh, wait a minute []...
  • I don't think it really qualifies as a religion at all. It's simply a collection of people who study and practice a particular set of skills.

    What is the "faith" of the religion? It all seems pretty self-evident to me, requiring no faith at all. The force is (in the context of the movies) an entirely real, scientifically provable phenomena, right down to the disappointingly biological midichlorians introduced in Episode One.

    I don't recall the question of God ever being brought up in the movies. Is "Jedi" ever referred to in the movies explicitly as a religion?

    • I don't recall the question of God ever being brought up in the movies. Is "Jedi" ever referred to in the movies explicitly as a religion?


      In the first released film (A New Hope), Han Solo goes on a bit of rant about it, giving a line about "Ancient weapons and spooky religions are no match for a good blaster at your side" or something very close to that.

  • What would be the consequences of, with regard to the seperation of church and state, of this if you wrote in 'politics' as your religion?
  • by motherhead ( 344331 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:32AM (#2409578)

    Why not just scrawl in samuri [], since kurosawa [] ( Kurosawa's historical spectacle The Hidden Fortress was credited
    by Lucas as an important source for Star Wars
    ) influanced to much of lucas's stuff.

    I don't believe george ever said he was building a religion, just some good entertainment.

  • by pschmied ( 5648 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @01:48AM (#2409608) Homepage
    I think that Kurt Vonnegut spelled out religion at its finest in his novel Cat's Cradle.

    The beginning of the book of Bokonon states, "All of the true things I am about to tell you are shameless lies."

    Seemingly a barb at the falsity of religion there is more than a little wisdom in his caution to not write off religion entirely. "Anyone unable to understand how a useful religion can be founded on lies will not understand this book either," writes Bokonon.

    So, go my children and practice a religion, so long as it does good. Don't sweat the minor details (like the religion's veracity).

    Ofcourse, I'll always hold a special place in my heart for Slak [].


  • I've seen the Star Wars movies, and read a great number of the "expanded universe" books. Although there are some inconsistencies in the details as presented by different authors, the best I can make out is that using the Force and being a Jedi Knight is not a religion; it is more like a philosophy or a profession. The Force is simply there to be used--it is not some sort of God to be worshipped. So you could be a Jedi Knight, use the Force, and be a devout .

    Of course, I could be entirely wrong.
  • by Ukab the Great ( 87152 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @03:29AM (#2409780)
    When a Jedi comes knocking door at my at 11AM to give me a pamphlet and ask me if I've ever used the force, I think I'm going to take them a lot more seriously. That lightsaber really stings!
  • Prosecution (Score:2, Interesting)

    by riggwelter ( 84180 )
    Noone's going to get prosecuted, the census form makes it clear that the religion question is exempt from the requirement to be truthful.
  • by gill ( 206589 ) <`gill' `at' `'> on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @07:49AM (#2410146) Homepage

    This could be the start of something else terrible...

    From a followup article about a month later in the same magazine []:

    "Neither have the Obi-wan Kenobi wannabes thought through the possible
    downsides to their plan. What happens if 10,000 Darth Vaders declare themselves
    for the 'Dark Side'? Would it be possible for the two churches to live together in
    harmony? No chance. It's only a matter of time before some unrepentent Luke
    Skywalker ends up tied to a stake on the village green with Darth Maul lighting a
    bunch of faggots under him."

    Please, use the force carefully regardless of your luminescent or sexual preference.

  • by thejake316 ( 308289 ) on Wednesday October 10, 2001 @08:05AM (#2410164) Homepage Journal
    Census Officer: What's all this then? You've put down bleedin' "Jedi Knight" as religion, you bloody well can't do that. I could give you a whopping big fine for that. Let's see some flippin' identification, mate, or it's off to clink for you faster than you can say "Bob's your uncle."
    Jedi: You don't need to see my identification.
    Officer: I don't need to see your identification.
    Jedi: You can't fine me for anything.
    Officer: I can't fine you for anything.
    Jedi: I can go about my business.
    Officer: You can go about your business.
    Jedi: Move along.
    Officer: Move along. Move along now.

A bug in the code is worth two in the documentation.