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Sunday 16 June 2019

Census finds 2,000 devotees to Star Wars 'Jedi' religion

Obi Wan
Obi Wan
‘The Last Jedi’ filming location Skellig Michael in Co Kerry Photo: PA

Allison Bray

The Force is strong with more than 2,000 devotees who listed Jedi as their religion in the most recent census.

People who worship Satan, spaghetti and 'Star Wars' are among the faithful living here today, according to the latest figures.

Among more than 50 official religions listed in the 2016 census - including those who don't believe in any deity - is an assortment of unconventional religions.

Inspired by the Star Wars movie franchise, as "guardians of peace and justice in the universe", 1,722 men and 328 women apparently believe the 'Force is with them'.

These so-called "Jedists" - who have appeared out of nowhere since the 2011 Census - may have been inspired in part by the filming of the latest Star Wars instalment 'The Last Jedi' on Skellig Michael in Co Kerry and parts of the Wild Atlantic Way last year.

Officials from the CSO couldn't say whether their designation is meant to be taken seriously. However, any belief with more than 30 adherents is officially listed as a religion.

Among the more unorthodox are the 78 Satanists - including eight women - who have materialised since the 2011 C ensus when no devil-worshippers were listed.

There are also 74 male and 18 female 'Pastafarians' living here who claim to be members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The religion has been dismissed as a playful hoax in some countries - including here where The Equality Authority last year rejected a man's claim of religious discrimination on the basis that Pastafarianism isn't a religion. He claimed that being forbidden from wearing a pasta strainer as religious head gear for his driving licence photo was discriminatory.

The census also revealed that the Victorian-era Spiritualist movement is still alive here among 972 men and 1,950 women who believe in a spiritual afterlife and the ability to commune with the dead.

There are also 1,436 pagan women and 1,209 pagan men.

Other religions listed include Hare Krishna, which includes 53 men and 34 women; and Rastafarians, which include 91 male and 23 female.

There were also 59 male and 28 female members of the controversial Church of Scientology living here in 2016.

The Roman Catholic Church, however, is still the leading religion in Ireland with 3.7 million worshippers among the 4.7 million population, albeit 8,084 described as lapsed Catholics.

Irish Independent

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