Magazine article Church & State

Federal Court Rules That 'Pastafarianism' Is Not a Real Religion

Magazine article Church & State

Federal Court Rules That 'Pastafarianism' Is Not a Real Religion

Article excerpt

A federal court recently decided that "Pastafarianism," also known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), is satire rather than a real religion that must be accorded First Amendment protections.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska in an April decision asserted that no one would seriously believe that the church was real. To believe such a thing, the court ruled, a person would have to have failed in "basic reading comprehension."

The court weighed in on this matter after Stephen Cavanaugh, a Nebraska prisoner who claimed to be a Pastafarian, sued to get access to the group's literature and the right to wear its "traditional" headgear while incarcerated. (Pastafarians sometimes wear colanders on their heads). He also requested the right to dress like a pirate, an outfit commonly worn by church supporters.

"This is not a question of theology," the Cavanaugh v. Bartelt decision read. "The FSM Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement. To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a 'religious exercise' on any other work of fiction."

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in Kansas in 2005 as a way to protest the state Board of Education's decision to incorporate "intelligent de sign" into public school science curricula. The activists who created the church wrote to the board and requested that their god--a huge mass of spaghetti that flies through the sky--also be included in science classes. …

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