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Australia Oppresses Jedi 987

eberry writes "Despite over 70,000 respondents (.37% of the population) replying "Jedi" to an optional faith question on Australia's census, it will not become a recognized religion According to CNN "Australian officials say respondents could face a $1,000 fine for supplying false information. Citing, and I quote, "...people of a particular religious affiliation do not provide the correct information, certain facilities might not be built that otherwise would be." Personally I find their lack of faith disturbing." And I find the fact that this is on CNN even more so ;)
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Australia Oppresses Jedi

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  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:44PM (#4149394) Homepage
    There is no reason the state needs to know my religion.
    They should not even ask for this information. It is irrelevant to any aspect of the governments purpose.
    My tax money shouldn't be used to provide any religious services to anyone.
    • That was my response to the article, it made me (US citizen) glad for the seperation of church and state, even though it is some what un popular these days.

      Government shouldn't be allocating resources based on folks faith beliefs.
      • I'd like to see some ballsy Congressman publically call on President Bush to explain how to reconcile the White House _Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives_ with the separation doctrine. I don't see a problem with funding faith-based programs, but only if it's done on the exact same grounds as everybody else; IOW, faith-based shouldn't matter at all compared to need and expected efficacy.
        • The problem with some of these faith based programs (the ones where you are forced to live on-site) is they REQUIRE you to partake in religious activities more often then not. Say you are an athiest and you are alcoholic. Then let's say you got arrested for drunken & disorderly. The judge orders you to rehab. Wouldn't you be a little irked if a court inadvertently ordered you practice a religion you want no part of?
          • The problem with some of these faith based programs (the ones where you are forced to live on-site) is they REQUIRE you to partake in religious activities more often then not.

            Yes, but you don't have to listen. (Isn't that what everyone is always saying about the 1st Amendment? You have the right to speak, but I have the right to ignore?) And if it solves this following problem...

            Then let's say you got arrested for drunken & disorderly.

            ...then what does it matter? I thought we were supposed to fund organizations based on how effective they are. If an organization is very good at, say, alcoholic rehab, why should it be denied funding because it also happens to be faith-based? The state isn't funding a religion, it's funding a charitable organization. How is this any different from the state funding scientific research? Or art? Or hospitals? Or street-cleaners? Or even granting scholarships to people who hold a given religious belief, or any kind of belief? He/she/it does what it does well, and so they receive money so they can do it better and so that the gov't knows it isn't wasting its money. Don't corporate investors do the same thing (dot-com frenzy aside)? Who cares about anything else?

            (Of course, many argue somewhat plausibly that the constitution says nothing about denying government support even to religions, just that it would guarantee religious freedom, in contrast to what was happening in England at that time and before. But I'm not here to argue that.)

            If one who is an atheist (to use your example) is bothered by being in a "faith-based" organization, perhaps that person's own faith in atheism (contradiction?) is weak. He should be able to remain firm without trouble, I would think, as many others have in the past, even to the point of being killed over it. (Ancient Rome, anyone? Modern China, anyone?)

            Remember also that many hospitals are religiously-affiliated. In times past, especially in Catholic hospitals, a very large percentage of the staff would actually be comprised of priests and nuns. I don't think anyone was ever shocked and horrified by that, so why should this small-time stuff bother you now?

            I say this: if the gov't is to be involved in maintaining quality of life in any capacity, it should act like a corporate investor, funding charitable organizations ("companies") that give a good return on investment, not ones that are cash sinkholes and don't benefit anyone. Who should care about ideology if the job gets done?

            The only other possibilities I see are (A) the gov't doesn't concern itself with quality of life at all (unreasonable), (B) the gov't funds everybody regardless (a huge waste of money), (C) the gov't does everything itself (bloat and corruption) or (D) the gov't only funds "ideologically pure" organizations.

            Of course, since it's impossible for an organization to be ideologically pure (everyone has an ideology), "purity" becomes defined simply on the basis of whatever the regime in power says it is, which sounds to me like a much more tyrannical and arbitrary exercise of gov't power than any of the above. The gov't should be non-descriminatory, and denying funding solely because an organization is a religious one, regardless of its merits, doesn't sound like non-discriminatory behavior to me.

            So if someone opens a Jedi alchoholic rehab center, and they do have a good rehab rate, what do I even care whether "Jedi" is a real religion or not?

            • The Office of Faith Based Initiatives and Community Programs was created specifically for the purpose of getting more federal funding to faith-based organizations. I have no problem with equal funding for all organizations as long as it harms none.

              However, what we cannot have is a gov't program specifically designed to benefit faith-based organizations over non-faith based organizations. We also cannot have court-mandated participation in any faith-based organization because that amounts to a state endorsement of religion.
        • by JabberWokky ( 19442 ) <> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:44PM (#4150060) Homepage Journal
          Simple. There is a prohibition against endorsing a particular faith by the federal government (states can vary), but that does not mean that there is no such thing as religion. Acknowleding and even (in certain ways) supporting faith based charities, such as homeless shelters and free kitchens, is helping the people help themselves.

          Or are you saying that we should have a federally mandated atheistic state? That would worry me as much as dictating any particular religious faith. Religion is part of society, and society creates the government. It's chilling to think of it your way - a government that dictates the society.

          Evan (no reference)

        • The first amendment says that Congress may make no law respecting an establishment of religion. This is an executive office, not legislative, and it doesn't establish a religion past acknowledging they exist and are a part of American communities. If anyone thinks that's not okay somehow, they can bring it up with the federal courts.
      • by clary ( 141424 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:00PM (#4149573)

        Government shouldn't be allocating resources based on folks faith beliefs.

        Of course the US government acts (and allocates resources) based on faith beliefs of citizens. The US is a representative republic, and so the actions of government reflect, to some extent at least, the will of the people. For many people, their faith beliefs affect their wills more than any other single factor.

        The US is also properly a constitutional republic, and to the extent that we pay attention to the US Constitution, governmental action is limited. For example, the Constitution would obviously forbid establishing the Lutheran Church as the official church of the country, even if 90% of the citizens were Lutheran. However, it does not keep Lutherans from lobbying for laws that fit their particular views.

        (Note: I just picked Lutheran out of a hat as an example. Don't read more into it than that.)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      RTFP or RTFA.

      both clearly state that was an OPTIONAL field
    • by NanoGator ( 522640 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:52PM (#4149478) Homepage Journal
      "There is no reason the state needs to know my religion."

      It's an optional question on a census, not a tax form.

      NanoGator wins: FATALITY

    • by tswinzig ( 210999 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:58PM (#4149560) Journal
      There is no reason the state needs to know my religion.
      They should not even ask for this information. It is irrelevant to any aspect of the governments purpose.
      My tax money shouldn't be used to provide any religious services to anyone.

      Do you live in Australia?
    • How 'bout goverment funded light saber research. Looks like the people would want it... and is it not goverment's job to supply people with things they want, yet can't attain on their own? ;).
    • by GregWebb ( 26123 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:15PM (#4149741)

      UK Baptist for prior disclosure. That's rather different to a US Baptist for reference :-) Try here [] for more info.

      Let's say I decide to move to Utah, for example. Let's say that I want to build a church because I can't find anything other than Mormons for a 50 mile radius of my house.

      Let's say that the local council continually refuses building permits for bogus reasons. I'm not saying this happens, Utah has simply been picked on as an example of the area of the US least likely to like to my church by reputation.

      Let's say that the census data is able to show that 10% of the local population are Baptists, meeting in small house churches. This data would be very useful in getting the council LARTed for not letting the permit through.

      Over here, with a different attitidue to church and state separation, it has more, very real uses. Some areas are currently fighting for state supported Islamic schools on the grounds that there's lots of Muslims in the area and we already have CofE (think Episcopalian, I'm told) and RC state funded (technically voluntary aided) schools. Some areas were able to use this data to confirm that they had a high enough Muslim population that they allowed some shops to open on Christmas day last year, with safeguards for staff in place.

      Or let's say that someone's noticed that 30% of people arrested but released without charge are Hindus but they only represent 5% of the population and 7% of the jail population (for example, and the only reason the second number is higher are the general link between poverty and crime and poverty and immigration, I promise!) - in which case there's a case to be answered for discrimination.

      If the government doesn't ask for this data it can't pick up on these anomalies and so can't serve groups properly. This is GOOD - and besides, it's not like they're doing ID checks in church carparks and giving people tax breaks as a result...

      Oh, BTW, any UK politician want to do that and they've got my vote... ;-) <duck>

      • by SWroclawski ( 95770 ) <serge@wr o c l a w> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @03:13PM (#4150890) Homepage
        The flaw with this analysis is that you still require critical mass for this to be meaninful.

        In your example, you say 10% of the population of some area is of some faith, therefore they deserve special consideration.

        Instead of making consideration for this one religion though, the altenative could be to simply have the group sue the government based on discriminatation.

        Furthermore, your example showed the good side of counting, that the more of a population there is, the more they "count". But what if the census showed a lot population count, say of .5%. Does this number invalidate thier claim? Does having less people of a certain religion make thier request less valid? The real question is actually deeper than that, but it's not being brought up...

        Does the number of people in a religion mean that it's more "right" than other?

        If we cannot answer that honestly then we cannot justify making decisions based on it, and then why count it at all?

        - Serge Wroclawski
    • John the baptist (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nhtshot ( 198470 )
      I've often wondered this, and it will probably be a source for flames, but I have to make the comment. Have they ever considered that the "disciples" and the "prophets" that wrote the book christianity is based on might have been nothing more then the George Lucas' of their day? I agree with those that have made the comment that Jedi is simply a religion presented in a different medium. But this brings us back to the question of defining exactly what constitutes a religion. I don't know about the rest of you, but I don't believe it's the place of any government to decide what is a religion. I believe that one day flying monkeys are going to judge the world. If i can recruit a few hundred others who agree, why is it anyones right to question it? As a more modern example of this concept, let's examine the Mormons and the Jehova's Witnesses. I assume they are given rights to church hood by their christian origins, but they are not christian religions in the strictest sense of the term. They were both founded on recent (with the last couple hundred years) events. To accompany this, all "christian" religious texts are story type books. The bible is more like a collection of stories then a "thou shall, thou shant" collection of directives. If Jesus spending 40 days and 40 nights in the desert can be a holy story, why can't Skywalkers escapades in the force?
      • Re:John the baptist (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Rand Race ( 110288 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @02:00PM (#4150245) Homepage

        Have they ever considered that the "disciples" and the "prophets" that wrote the book christianity is based on might have been nothing more then the George Lucas' of their day?

        Let me reccomend The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity by Hyam Maccoby. It may well support such an hypothesis (been a long while since I read it).

        Funny enough, while doublechecking the title on Amazon I encountered a book called Mythmaker: The Life and Work of George Lucas. Methinks you are onto something.

        • by operagost ( 62405 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @02:40PM (#4150611) Homepage Journal
          Highly unlikely. Our earliest fragments [] of the Gospels date to early in Paul's ministry, or possibly before it. For any historian who realizes how hard it was for information to move freely in those days, that makes it really unlikely that one man could have dictated the development of Christianity.

          Several other people were martyred before Paul's conversion (and he himself died for his faith). Who would die for something they knew to be a lie?

          • Re:John the baptist (Score:3, Informative)

            by Rand Race ( 110288 )
            And where do you get these little "facts" concerning the martyrs? From Paul of Tarsus and those writing after him of course. There is no record of Paul's martyrdom outside the Bible... not to mention his conversion. I have always questioned his appeal to the Emporor; first of all it declares his Roman citizenship, an extreme rarity among levantine jews of the time. Second of all, why not just be martyred on the spot? I have this sinking suspicion he got to Rome and spent the rest of his life under house arrest there as most othe appealates did.

            The Magdelen Fragment is interesting, but please excuse me if I take the word of Dr. Carsten Thiede, a doctor of comparitive German literature, concerning its date and significance with a grain of salt. Klaus Wachtel, of the Institute for New Testament Textual Research in Münster, and Dr. Graham Stanton, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity at Cambridge, have quite thouroughly demolished Dr. Thiede's dating of Papyrus 64. Here [] is a good review of the criticisms of Dr. Theide's work.

            No one claims Paul invented the religion, he just crafted it to fit a gentile audience. And in such crafting destroyed - in my and Dr. Maccabe's view - utterly the original intent of Jesus while paving the way for it's dominance over the latinate and hellenistic world.

        • Faking miracles. (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Martin S. ( 98249 )
          I've always considered that a book explaining how to fake the miracles that appear in the Bible would be a best seller, and good for educating the stupid. Some are obvious, other less so.

          Water to wine - False bottoms.
          Feeding the 5000 - False bottoms.
          Walking on Water - Mirage Effect.
          Wine from ground - Buried wine skin.
          Faith Healing - Hypochondriacs, Placebo Effect, impersonation.

          If you know how others are faked post them below.

  • False? (Score:2, Insightful)

    How can you tell if a religion is 'false'?
    • All you have to do is look at the religion's main tenets and religious texts and use rock solid reasoning and sound science to decide whether they contradict themselves or phenomena that exist in the natural world. So, for example, if a religion holds to be truth a text that specifically states that the earth goes around the sun, when empirical observation has shown otherwise... oh, wait.

      • Re:Quite SImple (Score:3, Interesting)

        by geekoid ( 135745 )
        bad example.
        That had mpore to do with politics and a pissy pope then it had to do with religeon.

        Did you know the cathlic church built and maintian one of the planets first observatories?
    • Re:False? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Chainsaw76 ( 261937 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:50PM (#4149452)
      Apparently they will haev to prove they are, or at least were members of the Jedi Relegion. Perhaps a questionare Would be appropriate..

      1. Have you ever tried to convince someone that the driods in your possession were NOT in fact the driods they were looking for?

      2. Did you ever have a crush on Princess Leah but had a strange feeling the cosmos would never let it happen.. Not even realizing she was your sister?

      3. While drivign down the street at night have you ever turned off your headlights and driven using only the force? did you live?

      Of course if it were me and they were asking me to proove I was of the Jedi faith, Id insist they make the christians prove they were christians.. Do you love thy neighbor even when they are mowing the lawn at 5am on a sunday.. Etc..

    • Perhaps when the lone creator of the religion declared it false?
  • Whats up? Do the Aussies not have freedom of religion? I can claim to be a Jedi here in the US and I won't get fined for it (or will I?). Damn weird that the Aussie government wants to pigeon hole everyone.
    • I think they would be getting fines (but they're not) for falsifying census information. They're not REALLY Jedi, it was just part of a ploy to get the government to recognize Jedi as an official religion, so technically they did "lie" about their religion. But who cares? :)
      • Who are you to say that those people don't really define themselves as Jedi? I can think of a large number of more ridiculous religions that have followers that take it really seriously (enough so to account for quite a few mass suicides, for instance).

        Ultimately I doubt the census bureau will try to do anything, as it is next to impossible to prove anything about a religion - after all a religion is based on faith and beliefs, not proofs, and any attempt to push people on it might lead to uncomfortable decisions affecting "real" religions...

    • It's not the religion for which you're being fined, it's the fraud of the claim.

      • How is it fraud? Why CAN'T someone be a Jedi? Is it because it is a concept that appears in movies? Doesn't seem to be any differnt then claiming you are a Druid or Witch.
        • by Stonehand ( 71085 )
          What is the Jedi doctrine? Do they even /pretend/ to adhere to it other than when filling out a Census form? Does it otherwise affect their lives in a significant way?

          Their are practices and beliefs associated with Druidism and the Wiccan faith. A person can't reasonably _be_ a Druid just by calling himself one momentarily on a piece of paper, any more than it's reasonable to claim to be a Catholic while taking a page from the feminist movement and worshipping Athena as the goddess of Wisdom.
          • by jsimon12 ( 207119 ) <> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:06PM (#4149644) Homepage
            Their are practices and beliefs associated with Druidism and the Wiccan faith. A person can't reasonably _be_ a Druid just by calling himself one momentarily on a piece of paper, any more than it's reasonable to claim to be a Catholic while taking a page from the feminist movement and worshipping Athena as the goddess of Wisdom.

            People claim to be religions and do things contrary to them all the time. Does that make the Catholic who gets an abortion guilty of commiting fruad on their census by claiming to be a Catholic even though they don't strictly adhere to doctrine? Or the Mormon who drinks? Or the Druid that eats meat and hunts? etc etc etc. That is why we have freedom of religion in the US, so someones concepts for a religion don't have to apply to mine, then again the government doesn't fund/build churchs here either.

            My point is you are singleing out Jedi's becuase it offends you, and not seeing the bigger picture that this "fraud" as you state it goes on ALL the time.

          • by DarkZero ( 516460 )
            What is the Jedi doctrine? Do they even /pretend/ to adhere to it other than when filling out a Census form? Does it otherwise affect their lives in a significant way?

            I really don't see a huge difference between Star Wars geeks going to Star Wars conventions, where they dress up as Jedi Knights, listen to their chosen leaders (Star Wars actors, writers, etc.), and rant and rave about how great Star Wars is, and Christians going to church, where they dress up in "proper clothing" (formal attire), listen to their chosen leaders (priests, deacons, selected speakers, etc.), and rant and rave about how great Jesus is. The only real difference that is see is that one side is adoring a film work and the other side is adoring a written work.
    • I _think_ the aussie's issue is not whether or not you CAN be a Jedi, but rather whether or not you actually ARE a Jedi. The wording of the "warning" implies (to me) that they don't believe that everyone claiming to be a Jedi actually are. After all, even I think it'd be funny to say "I'm a Jedi Knight" in a stupid religous orientation box in a stupid survey.

      They don't want to spend resources on people who are essentially purpetrating a hoax by giving them legal status as a religion.
  • What about Lucus? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jaaron ( 551839 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:47PM (#4149424) Homepage
    So what I want to know is what is Lucus going to do about it? Since he owns the trademarks and copyrights, could a "Jedi" religion ever really be anything more that a joke?
  • by unicron ( 20286 ) < minus cat> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:48PM (#4149434) Homepage
    Make them use the force to move some shit around the room. If they can do it, let them have their religion.

    Hell, make the fatter ones do 1 sit up and I'll believe they've mastered the force.

    Nerd(robotic voice): I am a Storm-Trooper!

    Triumph the Wonder Dog(robotic voice, mockingly): You are a huge nerd!
    • by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:12PM (#4149703)
      Make them use the force to move some shit around the room. If they can do it, let them have their religion.

      If you had to prove your religious beliefs existed, say goodbye to all organized religion.

      Not that it would be a bad thing.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:48PM (#4149438)
    "certain facilities might not be built that otherwise would be"

    They need to know if they should build the Death Star or not!

  • "Despite over 70,000 respondents (.37% of the population) replying "Jedi" to an optional faith question on Australia's census, it will not become a recognized religion"

    Well duh. Who would put down 'Jedi' and not be considered sarcastic? What'd they expect?

    Frankly, I'd be insulted if they took me seriously for a stunt like that. "You believe in a force that requires motion control and wires, your idol is a puppet (muppet?), your bible is a piece of inconsistent fiction that isn't even aware of how slow the speed of light is, and you're willing to hang out with a crowd of people are understandably single."

    Yep, I'd be insulted by being accepted as a Jedi.
    • as opposed to most sensible religeons that require people to ask an invisible friend to solve all there problems?

      Religeon is a deep and personal thing, and as such, you can not say one is better or worse then another. This puts people who want to gain statistice on religeon in an inenviable place.
  • But I'm surprised that we haven't heard of George Lucas trying to sue the pants off of those Ausie's that replied using the trademarked religion.
  • False information? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bmetzler ( 12546 ) < minus punct> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:49PM (#4149443) Homepage Journal
    "If, for example, people of a particular religious affiliation do not provide the correct information, certain facilities might not be built that otherwise would be."

    I presume that people who write Jedi on their census form are most agnostics and other non-religious people who would have otherwise not answered at all on the census. So the Australian religious budget would not go to them to begin with. Why not have a little fun? It doesn't hurt anything, except for a few hours for the census department to remove the figures from there total.

    Now if a person from a legitimate religion answered Jedi, and therefore has caused less dollars to go to his religious organization, I say he gets what he deserves.

    • It doesn't hurt anything, except for a few hours for the census department to remove the figures from there total.

      Which is, I suppose, the point -- do Australians want their tax dollars being spent on having the census bureau go through and remove all the joke answers (not just religion -> Jedi) from census forms?
      • by jbolden ( 176878 )
        They shouldn't remove the answers. The data accurately reflects what it should reflect: when asked for their religious Australians answered:

        X1% Religion 1
        X2% Religion 2 .....

        They have no idea what religion people really are. They know what they claimed on the form, and that should be the number reported.

        The American census takes the same position on issues like race, you are what race you claim to be.
      • Yeah, I suppose the cost of someone looking at the summary and saying "70.000 Jedi? Surely that must be a joke. Group those 0.37% in with the 'other' category" would be horrendous when amortized over all the tax payers.
    • Why not have a little fun?

      Because in most countries, lying on your census is illegal. Hence the hubbub.

      • by Dr Caleb ( 121505 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:58PM (#4149553) Homepage Journal
        Because in most countries, lying on your census is illegal. Hence the hubbub.

        They didn't lie on their census forms.*waves hand*

    • by Quixadhal ( 45024 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#4149745) Homepage Journal
      And just who does the government think they are in deciding what is or is not "correct information"?

      As far as I'm concerned, there is no "correct" answer to religion. By definition, it's what YOU (personally) believe, and has nothing to do with any organizations that might think they somehow represent your worldview.

      I, personally, would like to see organized religion stop sucking away all my tax money (by claiming excemption, all the churches force ME to pay higher taxes and carry THEIR part of the burden). I recognize that some few of them do good work for the community, but I also see constant remodelling of perfectly good church buildings, and very nice cars the clergy drive.

      Government is not God, although perhaps the Australian government thinks it is...
  • My suspisions are correct.The Dark force has taken over earth and is trying to eliminate the JEDI. The JEDI must stand up.
    May the Force be with you ye noble soldiers

    YODa YODa we call thee
    come sooner than my credit card fee
    we will set the world free
    Let the unbelievers be
    Coz the question is to be or not to be

    I m not making any sense, aint I.. well i never ment to ;-)
  • by dr_dank ( 472072 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:53PM (#4149485) Homepage Journal
    when followers bring in doctors notes testifying to their "midichlorian count".
  • by Rahga ( 13479 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @12:59PM (#4149563) Journal
    "...people of a particular religious affiliation do not provide the correct information, certain facilities might not be built that otherwise would be."

    Can anyone tell me why the Aussies need to be involved with building "facilities" that involve religion in any way.... Maybe something having to do with the Aboriginies.... ?

    I have another theory. With a stong force of Jedi in the land down under, Dark Helmet and Colonel Sanders don't stand a chance at taking over the galaxy. By breaking the ties formed through the census among all Aussie Jedi, the Schwartz will go flacid. This is make way for the introduction of more intrusive inquiries to be lead by the census, and eventually, universal installation of virgin alarms.

    This may lead to something even more dangerous than communism.
  • I really want to know how you get official recognition of a religion in Australia...

    In the CNN article, they state:

    The bureau said that the Jedi response was categorized as "not defined" for census purposes. The criteria for recognizing a religion go "beyond the number of responses a particular answer receives in the census," it said.

    Hmmm...I wonder where the idea that 10 000 responses would make "Jedi" a recoginzed religion?
    Anyone know what the real criteria are? Or do you think the Aussie gov't is just trying to sweep this under the carpet?

    And how would you charge them with fraud? How could they prove you aren't a Jedi? Or at least an observer of the Jedi faith. I fail to see how anyone can prove anything *isn't* a religion.

    Do they call Pope Lucas and get the list of faithful from him?

    Is Scientology an official religion in Australia?

    70, 000 Jedi. Rock on down. Good Onya, mates!
  • Shame on you, Jedi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by coljac ( 154587 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:09PM (#4149671) Homepage
    Much as I love Star Wars(*) and like a good joke, I think the Jedi-respondents did the wrong thing. For one, the census is extremely important data, but I'm more worried that they're giving some respectability to the concept of religion. :)

    Funny, though, Australia has no real concept of state-church separation (we have an official religion - the world's most boring religion: Anglicanism) yet it is America, despite the first amendment, where sectarian forces are the bigger political threat.

    (*) Pre Jar-Jar
  • by cpex ( 601202 ) <jvivona@[ ] ['ucs' in gap]> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:10PM (#4149684)
    Actually the jedi faith is very similar to hinduism in it beliefs about the force being vreated by all living things. I didnt write the following excerpt but thought I would post it here. ______ It is a very little known fact that George Lucas, the creator of the Star Wars world, has strong Hindu beliefs. Just as Hinduism affects our lives, so has it affected his, which can be shown by the fact that he has incorporated Hindu themes throughout the Star Wars trilogy. This essay will touch, through various examples, the way Lucas has weaved Hinduism into his movies. Of the trilogy, The Empire Strikes Back seems to portray Hinduism in the fullest sense. Specifically, the part when Luke Skywalker goes to find Yoda. When he first arrives, Luke finds himself in a forest, looking for the old, wise Yoda to learn the ways of the Jedi. This is very like Hindu's Janoi (Gujarati), where young males run to the forest in search of the old, wise yogi, who would provide great knowledge. Just as a yogi "tests" potential students on their patience to enter into the arduous task of learning, so does Yoda "test" Luke by not telling him who he is. His purpose, of course, was seeing if Luke had patience or not. As the training progresses, Luke learns to control what is called "the Force." Yoda explains that everything is part of the Force, such as the "...the tree, the rock..." etc. This Force is very similar to the Hindu concept of the One or the Universe (in essence Om). In Hinduism it is said that we are all part of the One, just like what Yoda said about the Force. Simply put, it is concluded that Yoda was referring to "the Force" as the Force of the One. Luke also learns about illusion. In one scene, he tries to pickup his X-wing with the Force, but fails. Yoda explains that one should not judge anything by it's size (in essence, what we see is an illusion). He calls all material items "crude matter" and that these are the not the things to judge with. This scene illustrates the Hindu concept that life is an illusion (or Maya). During the same training scenes, Luke gets a vision of his friends in trouble. Luke then prepares to leave to save his friends. Yoda persuades him not to go by saying that he must finish his training because it is more important. This exemplifies the Hindu concept of duty over family. The duty over family lesson can be seen in stories like the Bhagavad-Gita, where Lord Krishna tells Arjun to fight his cousins, despite his feelings for them, because it is his duty. At then end of the training scenes, as Luke is leaving, Ben Kenobi warns Luke to never "give into anger and hate." This lesson of benevolence is also taught by Mohandas Gandhi, which he derived from Hinduism. Besides the training scenes, there are other areas of Star Wars that portray Hinduism. For example, the concept of destiny. In Star Wars, the word "destiny" is used many times in the context of fulfilling one's destiny. This is very similar to duty. Another example is the father-son relationship between Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker. This parallels with Krishna and his uncle who are both related and nemesis. Finally, one last example, Luke, being the only son, cremates Darth Vader at the end of Return of the Jedi. Though I have heard of other religions cremating, it is a predominantly Hindu ritual. In the above examples I have suggested a few connections between Hinduism and Star Wars. Of course, these are arguable, but they are a starting point in which to provoke thought. -Rajan Rajbhandari, 1994
  • by Steve B ( 42864 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:14PM (#4149730)
    "I don't need to fill out your silly forms."
    You don't need to fill out our silly forms.

    "All you need to do is count how many people live here."
    All we need to do is count how many people live here.

    "Just move along."
    I'll just move along.

  • Urban Legend (Score:3, Informative)

    by gosand ( 234100 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:15PM (#4149737)
    Snopes [] has listed this for almost a year.

  • by Tablizer ( 95088 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#4149746) Journal
    What if you just made something up for the form? What if you put "Linusian", "Openus Sourcinerous", "United Temple of The Perl", "Orthodox Geek", etc.....?
  • Urban Legend (Score:4, Informative)

    by rubinson ( 207525 ) <> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:16PM (#4149748) Homepage
    For those not reading the article (and to provide a little background), last year a hoax circulated throughout both the UK and Australia that if enough people marked "Jedi" on their census form, that it would become a nationally recognized religion. This was never true.

    What made some people believe that it was true was that, in Britain, it was eventually revealed that "Jedi" was getting a specific response code assigned to it (e.g., people who wrote in "Jedi" as their response were getting assigned a value such as "746" for their religion). The fact that the "Jedi" responses were being recorded made some people believe that the hoax was true.

    However, in many surveys, responses that pass a certain numerical threshold are often assigned a distinct numerical code. This doesn't actually mean anything; it's simply to aid in the tabulation of the results. For analysis purposes, "Jedi" was always going to be grouped into "N/A" or "Other" or "Refused to Answer" (I'm not realy sure which; depends upon how they want to deal with it).

    All the details can be found here [].
  • by lpontiac ( 173839 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:21PM (#4149797)

    A lot of people here seem to have a healthy contempt for these 70,000 Australians. I'd like to point out that it's not quite as sad as it seems. We're not talking about something that takes a lot of effort. And in particular, these people weren't trying to make any sort of serious point.

    Simply put, the census is a royal pain in the ass and if your typical Australian knows of a way to poke fun at it without criminal sanction, he'll do so.

  • by verloren ( 523497 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:29PM (#4149885)
    I don't believe in a deity. I respect people who do because I'm a respectful person, but I think their views are ludicrous. Asking my religion (optionally or not) is like asking me what type of dragons I believe in - it's not that I happen not to believe, I don't believe because there's nothing to believe in. (pauses for response from the Draco-Human Anti-Defamation League)

    So if asked a bizarre question about religion, dragons or anything else, I'd feel perfectly entitled to put a bizarre answer. Cargo cults believed that planes were linked to God, why shouldn't I think a film is?
  • by jbolden ( 176878 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:33PM (#4149923) Homepage
    I figured as a point of interest it was worth citing what is required by the IRS to be considered a religion. The IRS was picked because its the only body that would care:

    The organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational,
    scientific, or other charitable purposes,

    Net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,

    No substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,

    The organization may not intervene in political campaigns, and

    No part of the organization's purposes or activities may be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

    And that's it. So under US laws the Jedi church would qualify (if it existed in the US).

  • by Arcturax ( 454188 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @01:50PM (#4150138)
    I mean, seriously, Scientology is no more or less fiction than Star Wars is.
  • by uncoveror ( 570620 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @02:13PM (#4150362) Homepage
    Have you noticed that no subject turns us into hostile camps of "us" and "them," sniping at each other, quite like religion? If we were not separated by cyberspace we would be fighting, and perhaps even killing each other right now. Not exactly love, peace, and brotherhood of man, is it? This story was supposed to give us a laugh! So is this one. [] Maybe laughter can chase away the anger and hate, and bring us a moment of joy.
  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @02:27PM (#4150501) Homepage
    All religions are basically fictions and fictions are good for you, if they're good fictions. Societies need shared myths, and fresh myths are best - thus the shuffling of them over the ages, as new ones supplant old. It's not that the new ones are better - in fact it's much like pop music, where occassionally you get a real advance (Beatles) but more often get trash novelty (fill in current robotic boy group or rapper).

    Now, nation states themselves are in large part fictions. So which other fictions should they associate with and invest in? Should a state appropriate, even nationalize, a good fiction when one comes along? Should George II wear his Mickey Mouse hat on state occassions? Should he carry a cross? Should Saddam be let to live a few more years if he'll just play along and dress like Darth?

    Even the most "realistic" views of the world are largely fictions. It's time to take conscious control of our choices here; and more than anything it's time for some new religions which are compatible with, but broader than, science. The precise place to find these is the field known as science fiction - duh.

  • by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @03:04PM (#4150811) Journal
    From Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913):
    Religion \Re*li"gion\, n.

    Strictness of fidelity in conforming to any practice, as if it were an enjoined rule of conduct.

    Many people colloquially think of religion as a very narrowly-defined book, clergy and place of worship -- usually their own religion and those of their friends. They go to church, they listen, they recite whatever they're supposed to say and for the next several days they can tell everyone they're a good _____.

    They scoff at anything outside their narrowly-defined concept of a "genuine" religion. "That's not a real relgion, it's just an excuse to _____." "They're just thumbing their noses at us devout _____s, they're not religious." "I've never heard of anyone belonging to _____; it must be a fake."

    Religion is much broader than that. Religion is about closely-held beliefs. In the United States we have what's known as "Freedom of Religion." Many people interpret this to simply mean that the government cannot prevent you from going to church/praying/etc. The Constitutional amendment which provides "Freedom of Religion" is also focused on "Freedom of Speech." The whole idea is "Freedom of Ideas." The government cannot tell you your your beliefs are wrong without solid proof

    "Your belief that God is dead is wrong because God lives in every man," doesn't fly. "Your belief that you have a mandate from God to murder people of other religions is wrong, because you are harming another person," is valid.

    This distinction is very important. When a government can condemn ideas or mandate ideas without the burden of proof, its leaders attain totalitarian power. The power to define valid religions/beliefs translates into the power to define facts and reality, and the government will evolve into a self-serving dictatorship.

    I don't care for Star Wars, and I don't think any one of these people can levitate rocks. But I do believe there are many people who are religiously fanatical about Star Wars. I'm not going to ridicule people for claiming Jedi as their religion or accuse them of lying about their beliefs, because their beliefs are just as valid as yours and mine.

    I don't pity these "Jedi" for their beliefs. I pity them for living in Australia. In the U.S., the government doesn't have the right to suppress beliefs by calling them lies.

  • by Ironpoint ( 463916 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @03:22PM (#4150956)

    If Australian officials don't like the answer they shouldn't ask the queston in the first place.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @03:28PM (#4150980) Journal
    The 1996 .AU census specified 7 Christian groups, plus an "Other" fill-in-the-blank. The 2001 version adds Islam and Buddhism. I couldn't find any 2001 religion results on the site - I assume they're not done yet, though they've hit high-priority topics such as population and attendance at sporting events.... There weren't any reported Jedi in 1996 :-)

    Neither the religion nor the language sections explicitly mention Aboriginal religions or languages, though about 7000 people wrote that in on the 1996 form, and a number of other people wrote in "Nature Religions", which may include some aboriginals as well as neo-pagans. The Ancestry section does include "Australian", and there is also an explicit question asking if you're an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, and there are some specific instructions for Australian South Sea Islanders as well.

  • by Lenbok ( 22992 ) on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @03:57PM (#4151373)
    Here is some information from Statistics NZ about the NZ equivalent. Two obvious conclusions from this: with 1.5% of the population, the Jedi faith is much stronger in New Zealand; and statisticians have no sense of humour.

    Thanks for your enquiry. There were 53,715 people who identified
    themselves as Jedi in response to the question on religious affiliation.
    This was 1.5 % of the people who responded to the question.

    For your information, most people realise the importance of the Census
    and therefore provide meaningful and accurate answers. The religion
    question, which has been asked in the Census since 1851, asks people
    to identify what religion, if any, they affiliate with. They may elect
    not to answer this question. If people's belief system was genuinely
    Jedi, they could mark the "other" box and write Jedi in the space
    provided. These data were captured during the processing phase but have
    been coded as "Response outside Scope". Jedi is not part of the
    agreed list of religious affiliations noted in the New Zealand Standard
    classification. Hence it will not appear in the official results from
    the Census.

  • I suspect that Jedi might be closer to my choice than any of the other options. I doubt that they would have liked "Reformed Druids of North America", either, but that's been my religion for the last 30 years. I'm not very dedicated, despite being ordained, but it matches my views better than any of the competition that I've run into.

    Why do people assume that it is a joke when people claim Jedi as their religion? I'm not at all sure that it is. Religions can probably start in many ways, I have know devout members of "The Church of All Worlds". I didn't think that they understood the revealed doctrine (see Stranger in a Strange Land) very well, but they were sincerely misguided. And devout. Some of them did jail time over it.

    I'm sure that many entered the term Jedi as a joke, but I see no reason to believe that all did, and even so I would bet that many who entered it as a joke were as devout as many of those who entered Anglican (Episcopal?).
  • by robstah ( 537647 ) <robster AT debian DOT org> on Tuesday August 27, 2002 @04:27PM (#4151637) Homepage
    Although supplying misleading information on a census form in the UK is a criminal offence, interestingly there is an exemption for religion. Enough people put Jedi on the 2001 and census to have it added to the list according to the BBC []. However the information on how many will not be made publically available. However its presence on the list does not mean it is officially recognized. This article [] points out that it is all a hoax and that it wont be added to the list. Hhh, conflicting ideas from the same media source, i dont believe it =) Cheers Rob
  • by Martin S. ( 98249 ) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {remapS.nitraM}> on Wednesday August 28, 2002 @05:40AM (#4155062) Homepage Journal
    Jedi was recognised in the recent UK census as a statically significant category. /pdfs/secti on5part3.pdf (Page 18)

    However what I found really interesting was some of the other choices in the ~150 different categories including:

    Nearly 100 different versions of Christianity.
    Heathen, Atheist, Agnostic, Realist, Idealist, Rationalist, Humanist, Secularist.

In English, every word can be verbed. Would that it were so in our programming languages.