Australians Putting 'Jedi' as their Religion is Becoming a Problem

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A group called the Atheist Foundation of Australia is pleading with Austrailians not to put 'Jedi' down as their religion for this year's census, reports The Brisbane Times. In 2011, 64,390 Australians put Jedi as their religion. This was a dramatic increase from the 58,053 who put it down in 2006. The Atheist Foundation thinks this joke might actually influence Australian public policy.

The number of people marking themselves as Jedi puts the "religion" just behind the number of Sikhs and above the number of Seventh Day Adventists. The Atheist Foundation says this makes Australia look more religious than it actually is. The 'Jedi' religion gets counted as an "undefined" religion. Kylie Sturgess, president of the Atheist Foundation, says "Answering the religion question thoughtfully and honestly matters because it benefits all Australians when decisions on how to spend taxpayer dollars are made on sound data that accurately reflects modern-day Australia."

Sturgess herself is a fan of Star Wars and put herself down as a Jedi once. The prank was started in 2001 based on an email campaign that erroneously claimed if enough people put it down, the Australian government would make Jedi an official religion. But Sturgess has since decided the census is a serious matter. Her organization has started a campaign to stop the prank and are even spreading around an infographic:

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However, Melbourne Star Wars fan Chris Brennan points out that some of the people who put down Jedi genuinely believe in the creed and consider is a "serious commitment". He says there are "many genuine followers of the Jedi way and they're not all nut jobs and ferals".

What do you think of the prank? Is it all in good fun or is the Foundation right and the effect on public policy should be considered? Talk about it in the comments!

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