What goes around comes around
Ten Years Ago Today
Jedi Master Am I Therefore Normal Rules of Grammar I Do Not Follow
It started on the net, it spread to the funny-pages in the papers, and then suddenly the serious columnists got hold of it. There is a space on the census form for us to specify what religion we are, so wouldn't it be a wheeze if all the Star Wars geeks wrote "Jedi" in the space. If enough filled it in, then the government would have to treat "Jedi" as a legitimate religion.
I haven't actually seen my census form yet. I understand from the Daily Telegraph that there is an entry for "race"; apparently, you are allowed to be Scottish or Irish, but not English or Welsh. (The English and Welsh have to be "White British", unless their grandparents came from abroad, in which case they are allowed to be Black British or Asian British.) Given this level of sensitive objectivity, I imagine that the "religion" section will say something like
1: Church of England
2: Loony fundamentalist
4: Godless heathen
If "1", please state whether or not you believe in God.
But it seems to me that the Jedi faction's sad devotion to this ancient form is entirely misplaced. What, pray tell, does "legally recognized religion" or "legitimate religion" or "official religion" mean? The last time I looked, we had religious freedom in this country. Since the 1839 Catholic Emancipation act, anyone can believe what they like. I understand that the French have banned Scientology, but we haven't. Small sects can claim charitable status. No religion, not even the C of E can advertise on the telly. Do the Jedi-ists want to avail themselves of Blair's stupid plan for state funded religious schools? But this would require Jedi teachers, and some parents who were prepared to put their children through the sort of abuse that Luke is subjected to by Yoda in Empire Strikes Back.
Granted, the Church of England has special status in that it is the Established Church; although this has only a very small effect in practice; if Charles became a Moslem, as he obviously would like to, then he would be disbarred from being King when the Queen becomes more powerful than we can possibly imagine because the Monarch is titular head of the church. Is the idea here that Jedi would take over Anglicanism's constitutional role? This would, at any rate, make State Openings of Parliament more interesting. "Policy of fiscal prudence my government will continue. Standards in schools my government will try to raise. Parliamentary time on fatuous legislation about fox hunting my government intends to waste."
In short, I think that the Jedi Census plan is based on a misunderstanding of the English constitution; not surprising, since, as I understand it, the original internet posting was a direct crib from one written in New Zealand where the rules are, I imagine, different. Even if the required ten thousand people did claim Jedi knighthood, I think it unlikely that the Jedi would re-establish themselves as a viable religious order. Tony Blair and Mrs Thatcher would wipe them out. Always two there are, no more, no less, a master and an apprentice. Now, if anyone wants to start a campaign to allow me to give my race as "Elvish", I may be willing to join in.
(First published 8th March 2001.)