Open Letter to the NZ Census
We believe the Jedi Church conforms to the definition of religious affiliation as you have described to below.
We are a group of significant number (as you say, 20000 approximately)
Our particular set of beliefs and practices are outlined on our website, www.jedichurch.com, however, this only defines our Church, and there are many other Jedi faith organisations around the world. Our belief is in a "living force", and that "morality is innate". The name Jedi is merely a useful term which everyone around the world is familiar with which describes the very same belief. The use of that term in any fictional movie does not in any way negate the legitimacy of our belief structure.
I also note the list of religions cannot be a finite list.
- 2050 years ago there was no christian religion
- 1500 years ago there was no muslim religion
- 60 years ago there was no church of scientology
In the 1950s L Ron Hubbard wrote a piece of fiction, and within 60 years, they have churches throughout the world, major celebrities acknowledging their membership publicly, controversial documentarys on primetime television, and with a mere 357 people in NZ claiming that faith, they are doing very well to have established a base in Panmure. I note that dispite such low numbers, the Church of scientology is counted in your statistics.
Our faith is widespread
- in google there are 4460 results for "Jedi Faith"
- in google there are 36800 results for "Jedi Religion"
- in google there are 157000 results for "Jedi Church"
- our church website alone receives around 20000 visitors every month
If approximately 20000 people, for 2 census in a row, have given a legible answer to the religious affiliation question, then it is not the right of the Census to make a "personal discrimination" over the validity of our religion. In fact it is not the job of the Census to make any judgment of religious validity. There should be no classification called "response outside of scope". If an answer is legible and answered by 20000 people, this should not be ignored.
I include a list of religions which your department considered fit to count, which are less significant than your indicated result for Jedi Church.
Zen Buddhist 78
Buddhist nec 156
Adventist nfd 288
Worldwide Church of God 255
Adventist nec 51
Chinese Christian 135
Korean Christian 60
Bible Baptist 129
Independent Baptist 291
Reformed Baptist 255
Baptist nec 69
Brethren nfd 6,666
Exclusive Brethren 2,316
Open Brethren 10,134
Plymouth Brethren 324
Brethren nec 189
Roman Catholic 858
Catholic nec 183
Church of Christ nfd 2,154
Associated Churches of Christ 624
Other Church of Christ and Churches of Christ nec 213
Born Again 8,217
Independent Evangelical Churches 1,158
Jehovah's Witnesses 17,910
Tongan Methodist 4,272
Methodist nec 1,182
Orthodox nfd 8,121
Assyrian Orthodox 258
Coptic Orthodox 381
Greek Orthodox 2,586
Russian Orthodox 1,110
Serbian Orthodox 228
Orthodox nec 573
Apostolic Church of New Zealand 8,328
Assemblies of God 15,300
Christian Fellowship -
Christian Outreach 123
Christian Revival Crusade 99
Full Gospel 1,092
Independent Pentecostal 237
New Life Centres 7,941
Revival Centres 243
United Pentecostal 369
Vineyard Christian Fellowship 1,605
Pentecostal nec 5,694
Cook Island Congregational 1,443
Samoan Congregational 3,777
Protestant nfd 3,954
Salvation Army 11,490
Uniting/Union Church 1,308
Christian and Missionary Alliance 300
Christian Science 234
Church of God 384
Commonwealth Covenant Church 18
Liberal Catholic 111
Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) 1,146
Christian nec 648
Hare Krishna 372
Hindu nec 351
Islam/Muslim nec 120
Mäori Christian nfd 219
Mäori Christian nec 360
New Age nfd 666
Church of Scientology 357
Nature and Earth Based Religions nfd 774
Nature and Earth Based Religions nec 3,756
Other New Age Religions nec 1,491
Other Religion nfd 4,830
Chinese Religions nfd 99
Chinese Religions nec 12
Japanese Religion nfd 30
Japanese Religion nec 12
Mäori Religion nfd 1,689
Mäori Religion nec 129
Unification Church (Moonist) 105
I note having grown up in Hamilton, that the Assembly of God had a significant following there. Based on the numbers above, I can only assume the religion is not widespread throughout the country. Like the Assembly of God, having about 33% more followers, our religion would like access to the census statistics at a regional level, so that we can ascertain where we should dedicate our resources or build our first church. I also note that the Jedi Faith has more followers than the Jehovah's Witnesses.
In general, we believe that there should be no classification called "Response outside of scope". We strongly believe it is not the job of the Census department alone to "validate religions". In fact, any such action we believe to be discriminatory and against our human rights to have freedom in our religious beliefs and to be free from prejudice.
I note that the Internal Affairs department has no issue whatsoever with listing Jedi Celebrants in their wedding celebrant directory.
In addition, as someone who has placed a request for a quote into your system, I wish to be a consumer of your statistics. As a consumer of your statistics, someone who is willing to pay for that data, you cannot claim that 20000 people answering a question in a particular way is "outside of scope". Because it is not outside of our scope for wanting that data.
Your failure to include our religion in the reported statistics skews the overall results. Like the UK, where our religion is counted, eventually NZ will need to count our religion. The sooner the better, as history will show the results of both "response outside of scope" and "Jedi" as being skewed over time, which would indicate clear prejudice. There is just no need to have a "response outside of scope" category. It is completely unneccessary and discriminatory.
Our church has the same needs of statistics as any other church in NZ.
We would like a breakdown of those who answered "Jedi" by both region and age and sex, and any finer detail that you can provide.
I note that refusing to provide this data to any level of detail than that which is available for Jehovah's Witnesses or Assembly of God, or charging differently, that what would have been charged to any other church, would be seen as act of discrimination.
IN RESPONSE TO THIS EMAIL
You will have had a response from Census 2011 yesterday regarding the
classification review. The criteria for classification of a religious
affiliation are as follows:
- Religious affiliation is the self-identified association of a person with
a religion, denomination or sub-denominational religious group.
- A religion is a set of beliefs and practices, usually involving
acknowledgement of a divine or higher being or power, by which people order
the conduct of their lives both practically and in a moral sense. Entities
that do not meet these criteria but are universally or widely regarded as
religions, are also included.
- A denomination is the church or religious sect that forms a sub-group of
a religion. Denominations of a particular religion share the same
principles but differ from each other in aspects such as the form of
worship used and the way in which they are governed.
You have also requested data at the lowest level for those who responded
'Jedi' to the religious affiliation question in the 2006 Census. The count
of the number of people who wrote 'Jedi' is not currently a standard output
from the census. However, approximately 20,000 people wrote 'Jedi' (or
similar) in response to the religious affiliation question in 2006. Please
note that this figure has been produced at a level below the finest level
of the classification. Any data produced below the finest level will be
subject to unknown error and cannot be guaranteed to be of the same quality
as data published according to the classification. No other information is
available for responses at this level
[Personal contact details removed]
Posted: Wed 23 Jul 2008