The Flying Spaghetti Monster and other gods, or taking religious freedom seriously

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster uses irony and satire to showcase the privileges that religions enjoy in our society -- an endeavor more crucial than ever.

Cinzia Sciuto
Cinzia Sciuto MicroMega, Italy
Source: MicroMega
The Flying Spaghetti Monster and other gods, or taking religious freedom seriously - NewsMavens
Touched by his noodly appendage. Wikicommons

Why this story matters:

In a secular state, freedom of religion means freedom for every religion, and also freedom from religion. Indeed, it would be enough to speak of freedom of conscience, which encompasses a much wider range of "beliefs", even those that are not strictly religious.

And yet some religions enjoy a privileged status. To give just two examples, in Italy -- but similar situations exist in most European countries -- Catholicism is part of the official school curriculum (which includes religious teaching, rather than a historical or critical approach, a vestige of times when Catholicism was the state religion). Also, Jews and Muslims are exempt from certain animal protection laws so as to allow halal slaughter.

For many years now believers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster throughout the world have demanded equal treatment with other religions.

"Why -- asks High Priestess of the Italian Pastafarian Church Emanuela Marmo -- is pastafarianism not treated like other religions? What determines the worth of a religion? Its history, the duration of its existence, the economic value of its goods, its ability to negotiate with governments, its role in the customs and rights of the citizens?"

Indeed, why? As long as the state is not completely secular, granting any sort of privilege to any religion -- whether it reflects the beliefs of the majority or not, and whether it is serious or not so serious -- will beg the question: why aren't we teaching pastafarianism in schools?

The pastafarians fight for their cause with humor, but their battle is crucial in this era and must be taken very seriously.

Details from the story:

  • Born in 2005 in the United States, pastafarianism, or the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, is a religion founded by American physicist Bobby Henderson, who -- to protest against the decision of the Kansas Ministry of Education to introduce creationism in science courses -- wrote a letter to the ministry asking that the theory of pastafarianism be included in the school curriculum.
  • Since then, the pastafarians have spread throughout the world and continue to carry out cultural and legal battles to expose the array of privileges states grant to religions.
  • Recently, a Dutch practicing Pastafarian was denied the right to wear the sacred headgear of his religion, a colander.
  • The state of Massachusetts allowed Lindsay Miller to wear a colander on her driving license picture in 2015.
  • The pastafarian Church has its rituals, its sacred symbols and its ordained priests.
  • The High Priestess of the Italian Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (CPI) Emanuela Marmo, is a critic and satire expert.
  • One of the CPI's latest campaigns, "God Overcooked" was meant to end blasphemy laws.

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