Australia

Begun the War Between Jedis and Atheists Has, in Australia

"Jedis" are rapidly increasing in Oz, which pisses off non-believers for some good and bad reasons.

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Atheist Foundation of Australia

"Australia," a country in a galaxy far, far away from America, has been experiencing a remarkable growth in the number of residents who say they adhere to the "Jedi" religion of Star Wars.

In the 2006 census, 58,000 people claimed to practice it, and that number jumped to more than 64,000 five years later, or just slightly below the number of Sikhs living downunder. On the eve of the next census (Aussies do one every five years), atheists are worried that Jedis will move even further up the charts, as "as a harmless way to declare their Star Wars fandom and give the government the middle finger at the same time."

And that's a problem why, exactly?

The folks at the Atheist Foundation of Australia argue, according to Gizmodo,

When officially counted, Jedi gets classified as a "Not Defined" religion instead of "No Religion." When that happens, they believe "it makes Australia seem more religious than it really is." Which, again, doesn't sound like a problem, but "data on religious affiliation is used for public policy, city planning, community support facilities and more."

In fact, the religious-affiliation question does end up shaping policy and how up to AUS $31 billion in taxes and credits get spent. As in many countries, Australian tax dollars directly go to a wide variety of religious organizations and activities, from education to church-based welfare programs. That's one of the reasons why the Australian Christian League (ACL) is pushing believers to make sure they classify themselves both as religious and Christian:

The ACL has previously reminded members about the importance of ticking the right box on the census form. Governments use [Bureau of Statistics] data to "plan for services and infrastructure" and "we need to prove the size of the constituency who hold these values," the ACL told members in August 2011.

If popular movies about Australia and its near-future are any indication, this will almost certainly end with some sort of apocalyptic showdown in which scattered remanants of a once-near-great country roam the Outback siphoning small amounts of petrol from abandonend cars while attending performances of a suprisingly good draq-queen show and the occasional Midnight Oil reunion tour and sonic-torture session.

So let the coming Jedi-Atheist War be a reminder to the United States of America that we should not only be free from state religion but also state-assisted religion. As Roger Williams, the great religious dissenter who founded Providence, Rhode Island and co-founded the first Baptist congregation in the Britain's New England colonies, used to say, forced worship "stinks in God's nostrils." More on that here.

HT: Mike Hewlett's Twitter feed.

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  1. The first is strong with this one.

  2. So Atheism is officially a “religious affiliation” down under?

    Seems right.

  3. “data on religious affiliation is used for public policy, city planning, community support facilities and more.”

    Well, *there’s* your problem!

    1. That is rather…ominous.

  4. Nice try but it should read:

    In Australia, begun the war between Jedis and Atheists has.

    Yoda-speak always ends with a verb.

    1. Actually, he just topicalizes a lot. Often results in the verb being last, but not always. But you’re definitely right on this particular instance; he would never put a prepositional phrase last like that.

    2. Am sorry, I is?

      1. Is or is not, but try not.

        Or something. I gave up on Star Wars after the three prequels.

  5. The possibility of successfully navigating a subject atheism’s priests won’t find a way to sermonize against is approximately 3,720 to 1.

    1. Never tell me the odds!

      1. You’re not the emperor of me.

  6. “data on religious affiliation is used for public policy, city planning, community support facilities and more.”

    Fucking atheists man. Always looking out for the best interests of the state. Got to make sure the ‘Top Men’ have the best data possible to plan our lives.

    FUCK

    THAT

    NOISE

    More people should be doing stuff like this to screw up government data collection attempts. Resist requests to provide any, lest they be used as ammunition by those who want more government intervention.

    1. It’s a valid concern. It would be better in my opinion if that money were not spent at all, of course. But if that money is going to be spent, it would be better to spend it more effectively than less effectively. I mean, if you have a choice between spending government money on cancer research or buying up a bunch of obsolete Furbies as a bailout for a particular toy company, for example, I’d go with cancer research.

      1. I mean, if you have a choice between spending government money on cancer research or buying up a bunch of obsolete Furbies as a bailout for a particular toy company, for example, I’d go with cancer research.

        Once it enters the FedGov till, it’s a wash IMO. It wouldn’t surprise me one iota if significant amounts of cancer research grant money were directly or indirectly involved in the publishing of works on vaccine associated autism and non-Celiac gluten sensitivity. Unless the breakthrough is pretty much in sight and guaranteed, you’re just talking about a jobs program either way.

        1. Perhaps “usefully” is better than “effectively”. Is spending $250 million on buying up obsolete Furbies just as useful as spending $250 million on cancer research.

      2. I think the fallacy here is that the money *can be spent effectively*. It can’t. The government simply can’t collect detailed enough data fast enough to make decisions affecting 10s to 100’s of thousands of people in each region.

        If they could then Communism would work.

        As for cancer – I refute that with . . . pretty much every government research and business subsidy ever. Solyndra, Tesla, hydrogen powered cars. You name it and there is no technology that the government has ever ‘chosen’ to win that has won without the government seriously tilting the playing field in that industry’s favor.

        If the government spent 500 billion a year on cancer research all you’d have to show for it after 20 years is a massive cancer research industry, 50 bajillion studies that contradict each other, a massive number of PhD’s living the high life, and no cure. It would have been cheaper to buy the Furbies.

        Keep feeding them fake information, worst that happens is shit keeps on as it has been, best case – they get tired of being fucked with and walk away.

        1. I didn’t say that the government would spend something effectively or not. I said the government could spend more effectively or less effectively (maybe better terms would be “more usefully” or “less usefully”). Are you saying there’s absolutely no difference between the government spending $250 million on cancer research or spending $250 million on buying up obsolete Furbies?

          1. Basically.

            In both cases it ends up in the pockets a few well-connected individual while the public doesn’t get anything it wants.

            1. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I value cancer research more than buying up obsolete Furbies. Although it would probably be better if the government didn’t spend money on either, I would prefer it be spent on cancer research.

              1. I also value cancer research more than Furbies (obsolete or otherwise).

                I just have no confidence that government spending on cancer research would produce anything of value any more than government spending on climate change research has. Or government spending to promote electric cars or a hydrogen distribution system.

                1. This is sort of like the reverse image of the New Keynesians.

                  The New Keynesians believe that all spending is good, regardless of whether it is cancer research or obsolete Furbies. If anything, they would prefer spending on obsolete Furbies first because then the lack of spending on cancer research will justify still more spending, which is even better. (Why use up your spending excuses? just spend it on the most wasteful stuff first so you can spend more later on stuff that’s actually useful)

                  The reverse image is that all government spending is equally bad, regardless of whether it is on cancer research or Furbies.

                  Personally, I would go with “if you must spend money at least spend it on something useful”, if only to deprive you of an excuse to tax me more because you don’t have enough money to pay for cancer research later.

    2. I wonder what noted atheist Ayn Rand would think of this?

      A) Fuck with the state by telling them there are more religious people than their actually are, or
      B) Proudly announce one’s atheism so that the pre-existing policies of the state aren’t tilted in favor of the religious.

      1. I’d have to go with A. It’s all about the lulz and fucking with the state as much as possible without getting my door kicked in at 3 am by government thugs with guns.

  7. So, how about you use your resources to campaign against government allocating public funds based on religious bean-counting instead of bullying other citizens for not bean-counting the way you want them to?

    1. They might do that if they were anything more than an organization of people with a particular metaphysical belief system pushing the agenda of their fellow believers. But only in their smug minds do they shit candy because they are sophisticated enough to not believe in a “sky god.” This is why they shamelessly talk about their own superiority and crucial moral role in the public sphere with an obnoxiousness that few, say, Evangelical Christians have dared display with such open brazenness for a generation.

      1. They might do that (Glide’s comment) if they were libertarians, but like the majority of people they are not just like the Christian group that urges correct classification in the census.

        1. Yes, but the “Jedis” are likely registering a “protest vote” in order to mock the entire system. This is the strategy they mean to follow, not to add more beans to the “atheist” column. (If indeed they all are atheists at all; I myself have drifted in and out of theism over my life, for example, but would probably equally contemplate writing “Jedi” if my country’s government asked my religious affiliation–thank the Force mine does not except when making your dogtags–regardless of my belief state.)

          What I have always objected to is the sense among some atheists that their belief system has some privileged role in a free country’s “secularism” properly conceived. It does not. And I see a whiff of that attitude among these atheist Aussies–and perhaps a much better understanding of what secularism means among the men of the Order.

          1. Those may be justified reactions to atheist activist groups, but this particular case doesn’t seem to fall in that category. The ultimate result is that the data collected about religious affiliation is possibly being skewed, which affects how the government spends taxpayer money. This is precisely why the Australian Christian League has also encouraged people to fill out the census in a particular way.

        2. This is a big part of it. Most atheists are not libertarians. They’re *Secular Humanists*. And that carries a lot of pro-state, pro-‘Top Men’ baggage.

          1. Most everyone are not libertarians. But atheists are disproportionately represented among libertarians (and vice versa), because of both superior intelligence and the influence of Ayn Rand on the movement.

          2. Also, if I had to choose between a secular humanist and a Trump voter, I would pick the secular humanist by a fucking mile.

        3. Yes – and just so I’m not misconstrued, I am Christian and I would give identical advice/criticism to the Christian group.

      2. If it weren’t for the fact that more people say they would rather vote for a Muslim for President than an atheist, in a country where 35% of the population is voting for a guy that wants to ban Muslims from entering the country, you might have a point.

        Reality is that most atheists generally keep their mouths shut around religious people, and most religious people either don’t even know that there are closeted atheists everywhere, or know it and spend plenty of energy making public shows of faith to make sure that all the atheists know they aren’t welcome in society.

        We aren’t in a society where religious people have to keep quiet because the atheists everywhere make them afraid to express their beliefs. We’re still in one where , probably 90% of the scientific establishment is made up of atheists, but everyone claims to be “agnostic” so as not to incur the ire of religious freaks everywhere.

    2. instead of bullying other citizens for not bean-counting the way you want them to

      Because bullying their fellow citizens is the only thing that gets these asswipes hard?

  8. It seems to me that not only is this sort of a protest vote, but also Jedi is a proxy for agnostic. They do not practice any particular faith but believe a higher power exists. If this is the case, then the atheists are wrong. But anyway, public funds should not be allocated based on religion at all.

    1. That is not really what agnostic means. Agnostic means that you “do not know,” literally, or that you reserve judgment on a question, in this case the existence of God. Those who “believe a higher power exists” are, strictly speaking, theists–although their “higher power” may lack some or most of the characteristics that most meaningfully characterize the belief systems of most theists.

      1. Addendum: But I do agree with you, more importantly!

        1. Further addendum: Not on the status of the self-styled Jedi, perhaps, mind you. There may be a handful of true-blue believers who, while aware that “the Force” is merely a fiction invented by Lucas, are somehow inspired by the ethical perspective or whatever of Star Wars. But that property doesn’t really lend itself to that kind of thing even as well as, say, Star Trek; and those people are surely dwarfed by those who simply wanted to make an absurdist gesture, perhaps while expressing their fandom.

      2. I was thinking the same.

  9. It seems presumptive of Australia’s atheists to believe that everyone who is putting ‘Jedi’ down as their religion would otherwise put ‘atheist’. There might be quite a few folks who, lacking the ‘Jedi’ option, would put Christian or whatever instead.

    1. Indeed. This was what I was saying just above as well.

  10. These are the kind of assholes who give atheists a bad name.

    Honestly, I don’t know if there’s a god. I personally believe that knowing the answer to that particular question is completely impossible. And honestly, I can’t imagine a god who I’d be particularly interested in worshiping would particularly care.

    But, I really can’t say I’d much mind if whatever god did exist chose to smite these jerks.

    1. How do you know he’s not already doing so?

      I mean, they live in Australia. Ancestors transported to a land with no water and all the flora and fauna are poisonous and highly aggressive.

      God knew what was going to happen – that’s why he prepared Australia beforehand.

  11. “Jedis” are rapidly increasing in Oz, which pisses off non-believers for some good and bad reasons.

    Being a self-righteous asshole who is pissed by other peoples’ silly beliefs is never and can never be a “good reason”. Self-righteous assholes who are pissed because of other peoples’ silly beliefs are pissed because they’re sad little creatures.

  12. Remember always, you must–that ‘atheist’ you cannot spell without S-I-T-H.

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