The Not-Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster

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Omniscient, omnipresent, and… al dente ?

From Constitutional interpretation, to workplace accommodation, the courts have been cautious when determining one’s religious rights under the law. Apparently, however, they are far less cautious when it comes to the “Church” of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) – also known as Pastafarianism.

The issue just boiled over when a Nebraska State Penitentiary inmate was denied religious accommodation for his FSM beliefs.

Steven Cavanaugh, 24, was incarcerated for “assault and weapons charges” according to the Lincoln Journal Star, and is expected to be released this July. In the meantime, he had sought protections and accommodations in prison under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) – – including the right to meet for worship, communion, and to wear religious clothing. The RLUIPA provides that any substantial burden placed on an inmate’s right to exercise religion be justified by a compelling governmental purpose. So, what exactly would the exercise of these rights entail?

According to the Church’s Gospel, FSM “religious clothing” means a pirate costume and “communion” is a large portion of spaghetti and meatballs… Aside from seeking the rights to these practices, Cavanaugh also sought $5 million in damages for “deep emotional, psychological and spiritual pain” caused by being barred from religious practice and the staff’s mocking of him.

If you’re scratching your noodle over this one, you’re not alone. U.S. District Judge John Gerrard dismissed these claims, finding that FSM-ism is not a religion per federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. Rather, he wrote, it’s “a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education”.

Does this look like a parody to you?!

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Ok… so, maybe it is. Actually, it definitely is (you can read more about the belief system and its legal impacts here). But, really, what is a religion? And is he really hurting anyone?

… ok, bad example.

 

You can learn more about the Church and FSM through this instructional video, “Spaghetti, Wenches & Metaphysics,” by Matt Tillman here.

 

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