More people registered heavy metal than they did Satanism, with only 1,893 declaring that they follow the church of Satan.
At the last census in 2001 there was a campaign to encourage people to answer the question with Jedi — named after the fictional good guys in the "Star Wars" films. Around 390,000 people across England and Wales claimed to be devoted followers of the Jedi "faith" made famous by the blockbuster films. The number of self-described Jedi Knights has since dropped to 176,632, Tuesday's figures show.
Despite the drop in numbers, "Jedi" remains the top alternative faith and ranks seventh overall after Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism and Buddhism.
Nearly three years ago, U.K. rock magazine Metal Hammer launched a campaign urging heavy metal fans to officially register their faith as "heavy metal" while filling in the census questionnaire.
The move gained the backing of SAXON frontman Biff Byford, who the magazine said would become the proposed faith's "world metal peace ambassador" if the campaign proved successful.
Alexander Milas, editor of Metal Hammer, said at the time: "Like a lot of good ideas, this one came about in a pub and the response online has been overwhelming. It only reinforces the belief that heavy metal remains strong in its U.K. birthplace and across the globe. If the Jedi can do it, then we can too. The only requirement to join our campaign is that you listen to heavy metal, our commandment: everything louder than everyone else."
Byford told Independent.co.uk in 2010 that "heavy metal is a tribal music and everyone is a member of the tribe. The audience is very, very loyal… especially the Germans. It's not like pop music, where if the next song isn't good enough then forget about it; with our music, people will allow you to be shit sometimes, and that's one of the great things."
He added, "The music's not about love. Our songs are more about Richard The Lionheart, steel trains and thunder. But when you do click with a big audience, it can be quite an experience, a massive connection… I suppose you could say it is a religious experience in a way."
Byford stopped by the Metal Hammer office yesterday to celebrate the news that heavy metal was officially recognized as a U.K. religion and recorded a one-minute congratulatory video message, which can be seen below.