Census 2011 - the religion question
No option for the Jedi.
Appalling discrimination, considering the 2001 census established that they were 390,127 practising Jedi in the UK - a number surpassing both Jews (267,000) and Sikhs (336,000).
Perhaps HM Government is subscribing to EU directives/conventions on the matter, by which we are bound and shackled through the Human Rights Act 1998. It was Tony Blair who incorporated the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, and, despite his pre-election protestations, David Cameron now shows no sign of repealing it.
According to Article 9 of the Convention, 'everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion'.
As His Grace's loyal and erudite communicant Mr D. Singh has previously elucidated:
1. Article 9 includes the freedom of belief and the freedom to manifest belief
2. A belief does not have to be a religious conviction
3. A belief can be an absence of belief
4. A belief (i) must not be trivial (ii) must be consistent with basic standards of human dignity or integrity and (iii) must be coherent, in the sense of being intelligible and capable of being understood
5. It is hard to predict whether an act is a manifestation of belief or not
6. A religious obligation is likely to be a manifestation of belief
7. A religious motivation is not likely to be a manifestation of belief
8. An interference with an Article 9 right can be justified
Those criteria are a far cry from the 16th century when Elizabeth I refused to 'make windows into men's souls' and thereby signalled the end of State interference into religious belief in England.
Perhaps the ruling élite consider Jedi to be too 'trivial' for a census designation. Yet who determines religious triviliality? Who judges a religion's coherence and intelligibility?
Why is the belief in a carpenter who gets resurrected from the dead not frivolous?
What is coherent about human infallibility or intelligible about angels dictating books to illiterate warlords? What is capable of being understood about a man with an elephant's head, or a book which is revered as a living guru?
Is there any inconsistency between human dignity, Yoda and the Force?
And this Census question evidences further inconsistencies:
Why is it that only Christianity has qualifying denominational clarification (note how 'Church of England' is distinct from 'Protestant')?
Why are (for example) Jews and Muslims not equally treated in this regard, with reference to Sunni, Suffi and Shi'a Islam, or, for the Jews, clarification for inter alia Hasidic, Haredi, Liberal or Reform adherents?
What qualifies as a 'Christian denomination'? Do they all need to subscribe to trinitarian belief? Are Jehovah's Witnesses a Christian denomination? Is Unitarianism? Are you a Christian because you tick this box?
What makes Buddhism a religion and not a philosophy of life?
Does 'Other' now possibly include Environmentalism? According to a recent judgement, the belief in man-made climate change is capable, if genuinely held, of being a philosophical belief for the purpose of the 2003 Religion and Belief Regulations.
In 2001 the religion question was voluntary, and 4,011,000 people chose not answer it (7.7 per cent of the population).
It remains voluntary for 2011.
But for how long thereafter?