Updated Jedi Knights have gained official recognition as a religion in the UK Census 2001.
Coming very near the bottom of an official list of religions put out by the Statistics Office, Jedi Knight is known by the code 896. Heathen comes in at 897. Followed by Atheist at 898 and lastly None with 899. It's not exactly a ringing endorsement though since the 800s come after every other religion, no matter how obscure, and 700 is used for all "other religions".
We reported in April about a worldwide attempt to get Jedi Knight accepted as a religion. It started out a daft idea but thanks to email and the Internet soon a whole army of budding Luke Skywalkers had joined in.
We spoke to the Home Office - which was not overly entertained especially since the Census is supposed to be deadly serious. However the Home Office would not say what constituted a religion and we subsequently discovered that while you can be heavily fined for putting down false details on a census form, it does not apply to the religion question.
With 95 per cent of census forms now received and scanning, coding and data capture due to be completed by August next year, we should know just how many official Jedi Knights there are in the UK by the end of 2002.
If you want to check out the full list of religions, download the relevant pdf file here and look on page 18. ®
An official from the National Statistics office had called us up to complain about the story. Apparently they've been getting a load of phone calls asking if Jedi Knight is officially a religion.
This is the official line: the Census does not provide recognition to any religion in the official statistics nor does it attempt to define religion. The list that you can see by checking out the pdf file above is merely a list of possible answers that people have been known to put in the box marked religion.
As such, Jedi Knight is not officially recognised as a religion.
However, looking at it another way, neither is any other religion. We imagine there are a few followers of Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism but the National Statistics office will not provide recognition of them officially. It's job is simply to identify the number of people in the UK that have given a particular answer to a particular question.
The spokeswoman that clarified the situation for us was one Ms Knight (no relation but some irony).