April 17, 2001 9:00 AM PDT

E-mail stunt empowers Jedi fans

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"Star Wars" fans in the United Kingdom have been stung by an e-mail suggesting that the forthcoming U.K. Census would recognize "Jedi" as a religion if enough people put it on the form.

The Office of National Statistics has confirmed that the stunt, which had raised hopes among "Star Wars" fanatics across the country that they would be recognized as Jedi Knights, will not work. "Star Wars" enthusiasts were asked in the e-mail to enter "Jedi" into the box asking their religion.

"If there are enough people who put down a religion that isn't mentioned on the census form, it becomes a fully recognized and legal religion," the e-mail reads. "Send this on to all your friends and tell them to put down 'Jedi' on their census form. And remember...if you are a member of the Jedi religion then you are by default a 'Jedi Knight.'"

Unfortunately, according to a representative at the Office of National Statistics, this simply isn't true.

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

However, this shouldn't discourage "Star Wars" fans from naming their religion as Jedi.

"We're encouraging people to take (the census) seriously, but we can't stop them putting Jedi," the representative said.

A similar stunt was attempted last month in New Zealand, where fans of the "Star Wars" films were told they needed 8,000 people to make Jedi a religion.

Staff writer Will Knight reported from London.


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