Flying Spaghetti Monster

Should freedom of religion apply to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?

Photo by Lars van den Brink

This post is based on an article I published in the Dutch Christian magazine “De Nieuwe Koers” (“The New Course”). I wrote this article in response to an op-ed, in which a theologian, a rabbi and a professor in law all three claimed that freedom of religion should not apply to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Taede Smedes is a religion philosopher, a theologian, and a publicist. He wonders whether Pastafarianism is a religion or a parody. This suggests that it’s a choice – you can be a religion or a parody, but not both. Taede Smedes himself is “a religion philosopher, a theologian, and a publicist” – all at the same time. Protestantism, for example, is a religion, that started as a protest. It went as far as to adopt Protest as part of its name. Is it a protest or a religion? If Taede Smedes and Protestantism can be many things at the same time, why can’t Pastafarianism be a religion AND a parody simultaneously?

Lody van de Kamp is a rabbi. Based on Pastafarian use of symbols to represent their deity (spaghetti and meatballs, which can be vegetarian, too), the rabbi claims that Pastafarianism is merely a parody on religion, and freedom of religion is not intended for parodies. Hinduism has millions of gods, in the weirdest shapes. Is a Flying Spaghetti Monster really stranger than a god who has the pink body of a man, four arms and the hear of an elephant? Or does the rabbi claim that freedom of religion is not meant for 1.5 billion Hindu’s? Lodi van de Kamp asks Pastafarians not to claim ‘rights that they do not grant others’. But it is he who does not grant Pastafarianism recognition as a religion. Pastafarianism has holy texts, holidays, rituals, millions of followers and world-wide recognition. What else does the rabbi need to recognize Pastafarianism as a religion?

Sophie van Bijsterveld is professor in Religion, law and society at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. She finds it absolutely just that the Dutch court did not recognize Pastafarianism as a religion or a view of life. Pastafarianism supposedly lacks sufficient ‘seriousness’. First of all, she’s got the facts wrong. The Dutch court, in fact, recognized Pastafarianism as a ‘view of life’, putting it on par with atheism, pacifism and humanism. But even if it didn’t – in Austria, New Zealand, Germany, Switzerland and other countries Pastafarianism is recognized as a religion. The Holy Colander is accepted as religious headgear in these, and other countries.  In New Zealand and Canada Pastafarian priests can conduct legally binding wedding ceremonies. Apparently, in all these countries Pastafarianism is viewed as sufficiently ‘serious’. What makes the Netherlands that much different than New Zealand or Austria? How come the seriousness of Pastafarianism stops at the Dutch border?

 

2 thoughts on “Should freedom of religion apply to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster?”

  1. Im very sorry to tell you that only New Zealand really recogizes Pastafarism as a religion.

    in Austria, Germany, Switzerland and other countries Pastafarianism is NOT recognized as a religion. The Holy Colander is accepted as religious headgear in NONE of these, and other countries. ONLY in New Zealand can Pastafarian priests conduct legally binding wedding ceremonies. Apparently, in none of these countries Pastafarianism is viewed as sufficiently ‘serious’.
    Polish Pastafarians were recognized in 2014 but seem to have never applied, and in November of 2907, a group in Taiwan was officially recognized. Thats it.

    I will have to go to court here in Germany in about 4 hours for the reason I asked to wear my pastafarian tricorne in a ID card photo, and yes of course i cant sleep ;D

    I was working on a 3d web gallery in the last hours, consisting of all the ID cards and driving licences of people wearing religious pastafarian headgear of sorts, that have been given out and also your passport btw ;D

    i read your interview with this passport collector and how you explained that in Israel, there is no law that may hinder you from wearing a headgear in your passport pic, which was new and very interesting to me.
    Well, guess what: same goes for Austria. This whole colander thing by Niko Alm was just a marketing stunt, and as we know today, it worked.

    As I also had to conduct a list of nations where Pastafarism is acknowledged as an official religion because my german judges wanted to know, believe me on the corrections I made in the beginning of my statement.

    Thats all for now I guess, but I will watch you ;D

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    1. Thank you for the comment, and let me know how did the court case go. From the legal point of view, it is very interesting to know whether the court will recognize Pastafarianism as a religion. From the moral (and legal!) point of view, it is very curious why should a court deal with whether something is a religion or not. Recently, in a interview, Adriana van Dooijeweer, a prominent judge in the Netherlands, chair of the Human Richts commission, has stated that she would not go into the content of a religion, and assumes Pastafarianism is a faith.

      Like

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