The Australian census is rarely notable outside of Australia, but, like clockwork, those cheeky Aussies get worldwide attention for finding it hilarious to check off “Jedi” as their religion. What started as a worldwide prank back at the beginning of the century has gotten to the point, though, where it’s actually messing up government paperwork.
Jedi is the religion of choice for protesters and pranksters when it comes to government and religion. Turkish students protested mosques being built in their campuses by demanding a Jedi temple be built as well, and the Czechs — the only people cheekier than Australians — used it to protest their census forms. But the joke is particularly popular on census forms in countries like Australia, to the point where now atheist groups are counter-protesting.
The atheists object because those who list themselves as Jedi aren’t listed as “No Religion,” but rather that their religion is “not defined,” which they claim makes Australia seem more religious than it actually is and may influence public policy. Granted, Australia has a law fairly similar to the First Amendment in regards to religion, so it’s not really clear just why this would happen. To the extent Australia has a public policy and religion issue, it seems to be more with public expressions of religious belief. Then again, the number of Jedi seems to have held steady, so one has to assume at least a few of those people are serious, or at least still find it funny.