herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Jedi Knights are new 'force' in Census as 50 religions are listed

Luke Skywalker is a Jedi in film
Luke Skywalker is a Jedi in film

People who worship Satan, spaghetti and Star Wars are among the faithful living here today, according to the latest census 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, including the new category of Jedi Knight.

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 suddenly appeared 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 census.

Pastafarians

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 Spirtitualist movement is still alive here among 972 men and 1,950 women, who believe in a spiritual after-life and the ability to commune with the dead.

There are also 1,436 Pagan women and 1,209 Pagan men who do not adhere to any conventional religion but follow the ancient pre-Christian beliefs that originated in the Stone Age.

Other unconventional religions listed include Hare Krishna, which includes 53 men and 34 women, and Rastafarians, which include 91 males and 23 females. 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 3.7m worshippers among the 4.7m population, albeit 8,084 described as "lapsed" Catholics.

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