The UK census recently made a splash in the international media, but it was largely sensationalistic, focusing on the identification of many with the religion of Jedi Knight. In a guest post at Timothy Dairymple's blog at the Evangelical Channel of Patheos, I argue that Evangelicals should put this phenomenon in its broader cultural and religious context, and then offer several points for consideration.
An excerpt from the essay:
According to the Office for National Statistics in the UK, 59 percent of the population in England and Wales identified themselves as Christian, 25 percent as “No religion,’ followed by very small percentages representing Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism. Those identified as “Jedi Knight” ranked fifth on the survey, and Spiritualist, Pagan, Atheist, and various Pagan spiritualities are represented as well. Significant shifts are present in this data, with Christianity dropping from 71 percent of the population in 2001 to 59 percent in 2011. In addition, there has been a rise in those reporting no religious affiliation, moving from almost 15 percent to 25 percent. The number of Muslims also saw an increase, as did the number of those identifying as Pagans.
Given this data, it is curious as to why the media chose to focus on those identifying with Jediism, particularly since this self-identification has decreased, and there are critical questions about whether this represents a spiritual self-identification for many, or an attempt at toying with the census results. The emphasis on the exotic spirituality of Jediism to the neglect of other elements of the survey and its broader context obscures the significance of the changing religious landscape, not only in the UK, but in the West as well.