“Pastafarianism”, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yes, it’s real. At least, in the sense that it’s a real thing… But now, thanks to Ms. Lindsay Miller of Massachusetts and her Flying Spaghetti Driver’s License, this “religious movement” just gained a noodle more traction with religious accommodation.
It began in 2005 when the Kansas State Board of Education was arguing to promote ‘intelligent design’ in Biology class as a parallel to education on evolution. Mr. Henderson, as any good concerned citizen would do, sent in an open letter satirizing creationism with his own account of existence. Basically, he postured that any discrepancies in carbon dating (you know, like how the dinosaurs could possibly exist with the Bible’s account of time), can be attributed to a supernatural creator – which just so happens to closely resemble spaghetti and meatballs – there “changing the results with His Noodly Appendage”.
According to the “faith’s” central creation myth, an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) created the universe “after drinking heavily” (which intoxication is the cause for all of the flaws in Earth). Evidence in favor of evolution was actually just planted in an effort to test the faith of Pastafarians.
Whether you believe this or not is your right (hooray 1st Amendment!). But whether the government chooses to accommodate you for that choice has, until now, been ‘under sauce’ … er… scrutiny.
Just this month, Ms. Miller was approved to wear a colander on her head in the MA State-issued driver’s license:
Why? Because the 1st Amendment, in addition to letting you believe what you want, also extends to religious accommodation by others – such as wearing a religious “garment” in government identification.
I’ve previously argued that, despite the inherent subjectivity of religious morality, extending protections to all deeply held convictions without close scrutiny actually opens the door to weakening and undermining policies behind religious freedom. So, let’s save that kind of depth for the law reviews. But the question here remains: at what point does satire or parody cross the line with 1st Amendment freedom? Do Atheists really, actually believe in the FSM? Should they have to prove it before something like this happens again?
Maybe the changes in New York have something to say about this…
Beginning in 2016, New York residents might need more than just a driver’s license in order to fly. Why? Because the “REAL ID Act of 2005” imposes requirements on state driver’s licenses and ID cards to be accepted by the federal government for “official purposes”, as defined by the Secretary of Homeland Security. In short, driver’s licenses are state issued – not federal – and therefore have become the de facto identification. Prior to the this Act, each state set out its own rules and criteria, including the look of the card (hint hint), what data is on the card, what documents must be provided to obtain one, and what information is stored in each state’s database.
So, while MA may have made statewide advances for Pastafarianism, perhaps the federal government will ‘spill the sauce’ on the movement. Only time will tell (unless, in a drunken fit, His Noodly Appendages change that, too).