Beliefs News Revelations

Court to spaghetti: You are not a god

(RNS-AUG12) The Flying Spaghetti Monster, or the chief diety of Pastafarianism, a "joke" religion popular among atheists and agnostics. For use with RNS FAKE RELIGIONS. Transmitted August 12, 2011.

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(RNS) A federal court has ruled that the Flying Spaghetti Monster, referred to as “His Flying Noodliness” by fans and followers, is not, alas, the object of a real religion.

In a 16-page decision, the U.S. District Court of Nebraska ruled on April 12 that Pastafarianism is satire, not sacred, and that anyone who thinks it is a religion has made an error “of basic reading comprehension.”

“This is not a question of theology,” the ruling reads in part. “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 Flying Spaghetti Monster was born in Kansas.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster was born in Kansas.

The Tuesday (April 12) ruling came in response to a prisoner’s request to have Pastafarianism recognized as his religion, which would entitle him to Pastafarian literature and trappings. For example, Pastafarians sometimes wear colanders on their heads.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster maintains a website, where it offers ordinations in the church for $25.

“Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment or satire,” the church’s website says. “These people are mistaken — The Church of FSM is legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”

Pastafarianism was created in 2005 as a means of protesting the Kansas State Board of Education’s decision to include “intelligent design” — the notion that the universe is so complex it must be the work of some unknown designer — in its science curriculum.

There are Pastafarian groups around the world that frequently gather for events involving pasta, meatballs and alcohol. Some have won the right to wear colanders on their heads for driver’s licenses and other government-issued identification.

(Kimberly Winston is national reporter for RNS)

About the author

Kimberly Winston

Kimberly Winston is a freelance religion reporter based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

160 Comments

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  • I’m curious, on what basis did the judge determine the FSM Gospel to be grounded in fiction, as opposed, say, to revelation?

  • Unless this judge can prove which gods are real and which aren’t, he doesn’t have any grounds to decide what religions are real and what aren’t. How does he know that the books of the bible aren’t works of satire that just got taken too seriously?

  • “To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a ‘religious exercise’ on any other work of fiction.”

    Irony isn’t the judge’s strong suit, is it?

  • “anyone who thinks it is a religion has made an error “of basic reading comprehension.””
    Sooooo, it is no different than Christianity then?

  • So, your invisible friends are more venerable and holy than ours? Prove it, your “Honor”. Show us even the tiniest evidence that your “acceptable” religions belong to, derive from, or are associated with, a divine power. Anything!

    And if you really want to see satire, read about Abraham.

  • This is a travesty. I have recently been touched by His Noodly Appendage and shown the Way. Before I found Pastafarianism, rather, Pastafarianism found me, I was what some may say a “lost soul”. The FSM has given me all of the answers I didn’t even know I was seeking!

  • I suppose the judge is correct. From what I know His Flying Noodliness has never told his followers to kill others. I’m a history fan and can’t recall a single war based on His Flying Noodliness revelations. But you never know there may be a schism between the pure Stainless Steen colander disciples and the heretical plastic colander filth.

  • Welcome to the slippery slope.

    Mormonism was founded by a conman, who was convicted of trying to make supernatural claims to make a profit.

    Scientology was founded by a sci-fi writer who was quoted as saying “You know how to make real money? Start a religion.” a few years before founding the church.

    Islam was founded by a guy who walked in a cave, and came out with a book saying that angels helped him write it.

    There are also some claims that even Christianity was created from whole cloth.

    I hope they take this one to the Supreme Court. I’d go through a case of popcorn just for the pure entertainment value.

  • honestly, the judge made a huge error in his ruling opening the field for the scrutiny of all established religions. That’s the failing of this ruling, by stating that Pastafarianism is not a religion, now anyone can challenge the legitimacy of every religion in the united states. Since no one person can physically prove the existence of their chosen deity (other than a question of “faith”) with tangible physical evidence in this day and age, it is therefore (according to this judge) not a religion. So…Pastafarianism, not a religion. Christianity, not a religion. Islam, not a religion. Buddhism, not a religion. Scientology, not a religion. Sub geniuses, not a religion (even though they are an established church under the freedom of religion act.)

    The fact this is a federal judge has me laughing. I thought they knew better than to muck about with people’s “faith”.

  • I think it’s time for the Discordians to bring the golden apple to this party…on a-peel! Then we will find out who is the “fairest”.

    “Be ye not lost amongst the precepts of order…”
    – Book of Uterus 1;5

  • To use the argument apologists like to use, ” can you prove that the Flying Spaghetti Monster, His Holy Noodleyness, doesn’t exist?”
    Just askin’.

  • I have it on the BEST authority– any given religion– that all of the rest of the religions are false. In short, they are not real religions.

    So pastafarianism is fake, but Scientology and Mormonism are real. That makes perfect sense. So religion can be a fantasy, but a parody is just too much. Or is it not a real religion because they aren’t asking for donations, nor finding people to persecute?

    I have proof that Pastafarianism is real, because I can prove that pasta exists. Angels and demons and saints? Resurrections, Virgin births, bread falling from the sky, flying magicians, talking snakes? Not so much.

    This is the reality when religion enters secular laws: the government gets to decide which set of beliefs are legitimate. And who can even begin to determine “sincerely” vs. Insincerely held religious beliefs?

  • I’m captain of the group Pastafarian Missionaries (https://www.facebook.com/groups/pastafarian.missionaries/), and I can assure you that we Pastafarians are not seeking extra rights. Instead, we want either the same rights as every other religion, or preferably for no religion to be granted special rights. It amazes me that our religion, which we truly hold sacred, is laughed off by the same people who believe in a talking snake, talking donkey, and a zombie Jew. There is little to no historical evidence that the christ in Christianity ever even existed in real history, and yet Christians are granted special privileges in America and a general view that their religion is the supreme example of morality. Unlike Christianity, Pastafarianism discourages slavery, rape, murder, war, and child abuse. We choose to focus our attention on the more enlightened pursuit of laughter, strippers, rum, and a government that doesn’t give special advantages to one invisible friend over another.

  • I think I understand why Christianity deserves society’s respect and deference, whereas Pastafarianity does not: Christianity has proved its ability to cause extreme human oppression and suffering, whereas Pastafarianity has proved useless for that important religious function.

  • I’m not sure about the strippers. Are they fellow believers?
    Actually, thinking about it, does it matter?

  • The strippers are as valid as the Muslim houri we don’t specify any particular number, they set the bar at 72. so we should maybe say an even gross (for pun) and stamina?

  • So Red Sea Pedestrians, virgin births, resurrection, unlikely feats of outdoor catering and amphibious perambulation are all more likely than His Noodliness?
    We don’t have blue elephants like Hindus, magic underwear like Mormons, or any number of just as unlikely beliefs in as many other religions as you can think of.
    As an ordained Pastafarian minister and joint founder of The Pastafarian Church of Thailand, I find it offensive that my fellow Pastafarian brothers and sisters are not afforded the rights and privileges enjoyed by followers of other religions. This is nothing more or less than religious persecution. We are a very tolerant religion, we even have a God Back offer, try Pastafarianism for 30 days and if you don’t like it, your old God will take you back.
    Believe the the Flying Spaghetti Monster or not, it’s up to you. It’s not as if we would kill you for not believing, what sort of religion would do that?

  • The court was correct. It did not rule that FSMism is not a “real religion,” that it is fake, false, etc. The courts are not concerned with such non-legal questions. Its only ruling was that FSMism does not qualify as a religion under the relevant federal statutes and rules and regulations. Contrary to popular belief, the courts can test for religiosity, and this petitioner failed to meet that burden.
    It should also be noted that this particular petitioner’s filing seemed kind of weak. Another adherent of FSMism might have a better shot, if it can be shown that FSMism is a form of humanism, for example, rather than just a parody of mainstream religions and the way society privileges them.

  • And the Bible isn’t a work of fiction? So Adam was made from dirt and Eve was made from his rib, yet both have belly buttons. All of humanity is descended from these two – talk about an incest fest! Science has disproved most of what the Bible tells us, yet Christianity is accepted. Didn’t they used to call Christians blasphemers and feed them to lions? Wasn’t the Book of Mormon really just the drug addled rantings of pubescent teenager? Complete with magic underwear to ward off evil and inheriting planets when you die. Nope, no fiction there. How long until that piece of “literature” was accepted? Many religions are not based in facts, that’s why its called a faith, and to tell someone that their faith is not real is not only wrong, it’s unconstitutional. Take it to the SCOTUS!
    P.S. Pastafarianism has been around a LOT longer than 2005, I suggest you do some research on the subject to see just how long it has been around. The results may surprise you.

  • This is just a continuation of the issue of separation of church and state. While I am neither christian nor pastafarian, I am a believer in something. I don’t make it public because my beliefs are for me. I did however donate blood and bone in defense of the constitution. I served as an officer and my oath to protect the constitution was pretty clear.

    The same issue applies as does marriage, it is either a social/religous item or a legal item. You can not adjudicate faith. Doing so violates your constitutional rights. If it is a purely legal issue then the judge has standing, if it is a relgion then they do not and they have no right to argue it. There is also a Jedi church (in NZ it is actually growing pretty big)

  • Satire or not, the fact that it got onto the radar of a federal court is a total win. Unfortunately, the message (and the irony) is pretty much lost on those who need to get it the most; you know, the ones who still can’t separate fact from fiction. I totally enjoyed the comments on this story.

  • You steelies are all the same. Your ignorant representation of a fundamentalist “metal” world view is devoid of humanity and the true spirit of Pastafarianism which would wrap its holy noodliness around you like plastic wrap. Think of the children!

  • Christian privilege again. With Christian privilege, the courts will treat your religion as real, regardless of evidence. Other religions – no so much.

  • It’s fundamental that the FSM church get the same treatment as other religions.
    Exactly the same.
    Then the work will be done. (And a new monster god will emerge, hopefully, the cycle will be repeated until people can open their eyes).

  • This Court is quite simply and obviously out of its jurisdiction! This decision flies in the face of the Constitution itself. Regardless of ANYONE’s position, including that of this Judge, on FSM, this Court has no right to rule on what is religion and what is not. The founders of this Country protect religious freedom in the First Amendment with Jefferson’s statement, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…” If appealed based on violation of the First Amendment, it will surely be overturned.

  • The judge is ignorant. I’m pretty sure that a simple curse like “introduction to officially recognized churches in USA” will suffice to make him change his mind (assuming he had one)

    http://www.edwood.org/

  • Some religions don’t have gods, and none can prove their claims. However, there are plenty of ways to test whether or not a system is a religion or not. You are missing the point.

  • “To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a ‘religious exercise’ on any other work of fiction.”” – does that mean unless one can prove the dogma is true, it is not a legit religion? That has implications.

  • Yet they consider Scientology and LDS to be real religions? If the court is going to start deciding, then they just plain need to do away with all special treatment for religions. Let people believe whatever they want, but tax the religions and keep it out of the government and all public venues.

  • Come on, be fair. Everyone knows that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a satire. The purpose is to poke fun at religion. Has anyone ever had mystical experiences about FSM, except as a joke?

    FSM is some smart people having fun, not what we usually mean when we use the word religion.

  • You sir are a genius, I busted out laughing at work just with the first lines “unlikely feats of outdoor catering.”

  • In the future, Reverend Hitchcock, please inform your readers beforehand to empty their bladders. Otherwise, the may be left with wet undies like me. Too freaking funny!

  • “Or Mormonism which is a complete sham.”
    Huh. Let’s see: Mormons are baptized; they take communion; and they declare Jesus Christ to be their lord and savior. I’d say they’re just as legit as any other Christian group.
    Which is to say, you’re right: complete sham.

  • I might know this judges email address. We pastafarians are everywhere and could branch out into SPAM.

  • Just as early Christians were persecuted for their beliefs, so the Pastiferians are going through the same phase now. They have not yet broken into sects over the perfect marinara, but that will come.

  • Now the was subtly vicious. Sir, I salute you!

    Or tip my colander. Whichever you prefer.

  • I can see why FSM says through the Psalmist: “The fool has said in his heart there is God”. Psalm 53:1. They sit around and talk about things like this. What a foolish waste of time. Their hearts and minds are truly darkened. Pasta is light. We need Pasta in our lives or we might end up talking about things like this. lol fsm neither loves us nor loves us not, because like most gods, he is actually quite indifferent to his creations, and even Moreso to their ideas about him. For those who have ears to hear and eyes to see may they receive pasta unlimited from the FSM, as The Way, the Truth and the marinara, and turn away from the foolish nonsense of god-obsessed minds.

    There. I fixed it for you, and perhaps to give you an idea of how what you had to say affects other people who don’t share your beliefs. It’s wonderful for you that you believe it, and if it makes your life better, I’m all for it. My life, and the lives of most people I know, don’t need it.

  • This judge is far off the mark, and throwing the Constitution under the bus. To cite the Supreme Court in Barnett v. West Virginia: “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.” This decision will be overturned.

  • “Opening the field for scrutiny in all religions” how is that an error? This case may well be heard again, and again. Opening scrutiny on anything… especially religion, is not in error in my opinion! It is a leap of perhaps misguided faith;) But the end result could very well be that religion loses it’s ability to be a category of protection, discrimination, or defense.
    Though most religious people probably sighed relief at this ruling, I expect some ambitious fool to tear the stronger systems of belief to shreds in the near future… or at least try!

  • This could actually be his intent. By opening the door it is now possible to make the same claim about EVERY religion being bogus, possibly leading down the road to religion itself being declared fake.

  • I don’t actually believe in the gods I worship (don’t necessarily disbelieve either–it’s a big universe). That doesn’t stop me from finding personal, and spiritual, meaning from the process. I want courage? I call on Thor. Seek wisdom and understanding. Odin’s my man. Trying to resolve problems in my marriage. I find guidance from Frigg. Getting a little frisky with my wife? Well, Freyja’s always ready.

    Perhaps these “gods” are no more than archetypes in my own subconscious. So what? They have meaning and value to me. And I don’t need any stupid judge attempting to invalidate my religious practice just because it doesn’t match his idea of what is or is not “real religion.”

    Freedom of religion protects the individuals right to worship as he or she see’s fit. It’s not just for “recognized Churches”. In fact, the whole establishment clause would seem to reject that idea from the start.

    So in this case, I stand with the Pastafarians.

  • I am disappointed by this ruling. A work colleague of mine was FSM and when he was diagnosed with cancer I was impressed with the way the FSM community rallied around him, providing meals, doing chores, and much more. I found the FSM funeral service quite moving, and it was clearly a comfort to his family. Indeed, there are parts of the world where people would not have access to medical care if it were not for a FSM hospital. There are bad apples everywhere, but I have also found FSM people to be kind, loving, and self-sacrificing. I think if most people are honest than can think of an act of kindness from a FSM member for which they are grateful.

  • “However, there are plenty of ways to test whether or not a system is a religion or not.”

    Like………..?

    Its pretty much a given that if someone calls themselves a Christian, any idea that they claim is part of their religious belief, no matter how wild gets accepted as a matter of course. All other faiths have to go through the burdens of having to prove their ideas are part of a religious belief. There are very few real instances of tests which do not demonstrate a bias in the examiner towards the faith they are most familiar with.

  • There’s a rumor that the Book of Uterus was recently expanded by the Book of Semen. This undoubtedly will be looked upon by Biblical scholars as an illicit and sinful union….

  • Does this mean that all the money I’ve given to the Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn – isn’t tax deductible ?

  • What do you mean godless ?
    I am both a Pastrafarian and a Groom of the Invisible Pink Unicorn.
    My cup runneth over – surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life – and I will live in the house of Epicurus forever and ever and ever….

  • I have missed the point. What are the ways in which a religion can be tested to see if it is a religion or not? And how does Pastafarianism fail at it?

  • Wait? All this time Inthought the bible was satire from earlier religions? Talking snakes, unicorns, man in whale,zombies and dragons? Come on now.

  • What most of the commentary here is missing is that the ruling didn’t establish that it was ‘false’ but rather that it wasn’t ‘religion.’ There’s a HUGE difference in that.

  • The judge was not deciding the orthodoxy of anyone’s doctrine, but was clearly exposing what was known for some time — that this was not a religion, but rather a satirical movement meant to critique religion. As such, it did not merit the protections of religion under the law. Think again.

  • The constitution states that we have the freedom of religion, or to worship freely as we see fit. ANY religion we so choose, satirical or otherwise. the ruling violates the constitution. if they want to pull this, then they should apply it to the “christians” who love to claim religious persecution and freedom of religion to get their own way. The FSM gospel is no different than the bible or any other religious canon. No more than a collection of moral teachings, told with some pizazz. A plague here, a battle there, maybe throw in a flood to wipe everything out early on and start over, Then end it all with a big party known as the apocalypse.

  • “It’s not as if we would kill you for not believing . . .”

    That’s one of the main reasons you will never be recognized as a real religion.

  • In the land of the free you can be any religion you want so long as it is sincere, rather than for the purpose of mocking and denigrating others or getting around laws. The comments on this thread clearly show where Pastafarianism falls.

  • Read the decision, starting at p. 7. Then read the cited cases. The judge went into great length about how courts test for religiosity (as opposed to plausibility, which the First Amendment bars examining).

  • I was thinking Scientology with their alien thitians in the volcano all created by a sifi writer… but the story of christianity is just as “creative”.

  • No disrespect or mean-spiritedness to anybody, but FSM can’t save anybody from their sins, and we’re all sinners.

    There is a day of passing away for all of us, and there is a day of judgment for all of us (Heb 9:27). “Satire” and “Social-Clubs” (even kind and friendly FSM social-clubs) won’t mean a thing when a person stands in front of God Himself with one’s own final destiny in the balance.

    I’m just hoping that the person you mentioned, prior to his passing away, made some time to abandon and repent of mocking God the Creator with that FSM stuff.

  • As opposed to the “Dead Jew on a Stick” religion or the “Kill your son to prove you love me” religion or the “Rape 9 year old girls cause Allah said its OK” religion?
    This ruling will never stand up in Federal Courts.

  • I think you just described fundelibangelist, dominionist Christianity to a T.
    For the 45 years I have been in this fight, mocking, denigrating, and trying to get around laws is exactly what these religions have been doing to gay people.

  • Well, doc, if you are truly worried about that, I would suggest you look up “reviling and slandering” in a good dictionary, and then…

    Look in a mirror.

  • A good deal of religion itself is a parody of religion. We need only look at fundelibangelist and dominionist religion for the proof. Jesus commanded that you judge not, love others, treat others as you would like to be treated.

    And for each of these commandments, the fundelibangelist S find a way around it, if not ignoring it entirely.

  • Solution: (1) no special accommodations for any religion—and (2) no special constraints. That is (1) no tax-exempt status for churches, no special conscience clauses for people who want to opt out of legal obligations, etc. But (2) no special constraints on religious symbols or ceremonies on public land. So, e.g. if it’s ok to have a bench on a court-house lawn it should be ok to have a Ten Commandments display, a statue of Mickey Mouse or of Ganesh—or that two-ton statue of Baphomet.

    Conservative evangelicals seem to have the notion that religious symbols have ex opera operato sacramental power—that Ten Commandments displays, hilltop crosses and such will promote their moral, social and political agendas. Secularists who object to this public decor seem to have the same idea.

    I suggest cutting a deal: Fundagelicals, you can have all the religious knick-knacks you want displayed on public property. You can even have prayer in schools and at public functions—after all, while its…

  • [got cut off–continuing…] You can even have prayer in schools and at public functions—after all, while its prayer to believers, to others it’s just blather, blather, yap, yap, yap. But no tax exempt status, no mythology taught as science in public schools, and accommodations for ‘conscience’. Is it a deal?

  • It is this kind of disdain by the courts that should be resisted at all costs. The courts are supposd to uphold and respect the separation of state and religion, and not to adjudge the merits or not of anyone’s belief. It is unconstitutional. These signs of prejudice towards a peaceful and non-violent religion is what stirs the fundamentalist amongst us towards the crazy fringes of ravioli and lasagna types.

  • Yes, Pastafarianism originated as a parody. But can’t one argue that a “religion” like the Church of Latter Day Saints is also a parody of Christianity and therefore not entitled to recognition as a “real” religion? Or that “Christian Science” and “Scientoly” are parodies of both science and religion?

    Another example of the kind of “special rights” traditional religionists seek and inept judges are willing to grant in what is supposed to be a secular democracy.

  • Let not your heart be troubled. People are not attending Flying Spaghetti Monster funerals, they are not receiving life-saving medical care at Flying Spaghetti hospitals, and adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are not well known for being kind and loving. Tim is simply satirizing the satirists.

  • What you’re describing, Tim, is called “being a fellow human”. This does not require a religion (satirical or otherwise), just some dedication to living by the Golden Rule. I’m going to assume that the FSM community is mostly atheist…your experience, therefore, basically describes the positive atheist/humanist response to a serious illness. This supports the assertion that religion is not a necessary ingredient of morality, contrary to the Christian claim that it is.

  • That’s right… I agree with the judge… It’s not a religion. That’s why I only believe in Son Goku and the Z warriors…

    Judge… Don’t mess with Goku…

  • Oh my pasta, you people really can’t get satire. There is no there there – I did not have any such “experience”. No lives were destroyed by cancer in the making of this satire. The point is simply that if you cannot imagine a Flying Spaghetti Monster funeral service which is a comfort to family members than that might be a little clue that FSM is not really functioning as a religion in the lives of its supporters. Organized Humanism, on other hand, certainly is and does.

  • My copy of the Constitution pretty much explicitly says that a court doesn’t get to decide which religions are legit.

  • More like the anti-discrimination laws. Your failure to identify that speaks to the correctness of his comment.

  • Honestly though, Mormonism is so much easier to refute. Scholars of ancient religious texts can explain how the religious texts of the bible evolved 1500-2000 years ago. The average person knows Joseph Smith was a con-artist 200 years ago.

  • So how does one define a god…? With evidence I presume… after all you would expect evidence within a Court of Law. Surely the OT is a work of horror with all those genocides and other mass killings and punishments bestowed upon mankind by a loving deity.

  • Zombie Jew. …fabulous. …I almost turned one myself from uncontrolled feat of laughter. ..

  • Hopefully, this will swing open the door to have Christianity declared satire as well. I’m pretty OK with that.

  • HER Flying Noodliness, not ‘his.’ Okay, either Her or his because the Great Noodliness is above any mere human gender construct!

  • Hmmm. This is beginning to sound like Pastafarianism is sexist. Does it discriminate on the basis of gender?

    I hope not, for I could no longer be a devoted follower if that is the case.

  • In reading Cavanaugh v Bartelt (see “16-page” link in the article), I was particularly disturbed by the judge’s statements on Page 10. Here are the specifics:

    (Page 10, paragraph 1, line 1) “It bears emphasizing that the Court is not engaged in—and has been careful to avoid—questioning the validity of Cavanaugh’s beliefs.”
    BUT
    (Page 10, paragraph 1, line 10) “And it is no more tenable to read the FSM Gospel as proselytizing for supernatural spaghetti than to read Jonathan Swift’s “Modest Proposal” as advocating cannibalism.

    (Page 10, paragraph 1, line 8) “It is worth noting, however, that aside from identifying the FSM Gospel, Cavanaugh has not alleged anything about what it is that he actually believes—leaving the Court to read the book.”
    AS IF
    it is insufficient to employ the convenience (to both complainant and judge) of “identifying the FSM Gospel” to “allege… what it is that he actually believes”

    (continued)…

  • …(continued)

    (Page 10, paragraph 2, line 2) “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.”
    BUT
    see above (Page 10, paragraph 1, line 1)

    (P10, p2b) “Of course, there are those who contend—and [i] Cavanaugh is probably among them—that [ii] the Bible or the Koran are just as fictional as those books. It is not always an easy line to draw. But [iii] there must be a line beyond which a practice is not “religious” simply because a plaintiff labels it as such. The Court concludes that [iv] FSMism is on the far side of that line.”
    BUT
    see above (Page 10, paragraph 1, line 1)
    AS IF
    judge’s unsubstantiated claims regarding i, ii, iii, and iv are more than judge’s personal opinion, and do not reflect judge’s personal bias against complainant or complainant’s case

  • In my immediately preceding comment, the citation “(P10, p2b)” should read “(Page 10, paragraph 2, line 9)”.

  • No doubt the general consensus on Scientology back in the 1950’s was that it wasn’t a real religion, but the fictional musings of a guy who proposed an alternative theory to traditional religion. Look how that ended up. What’s to say that FSMism won’t follow the same path and end up being a “real religion” in a couple of decades? Do adherents now deserve to be discriminated against for believing in it just because they are early adopters of the faith?

  • The purpose is obviously to establish some kind of precedent in law, which could possibly be used later on to rule that other faiths – maybe perfectly serious minority faiths – are not “real.”

  • Heh, heh…it DID seem a little far-fetched, but, hey, some people take this stuff more seriously than others. I guess I’d better brush up on the satire–time to re-read “A Modest Proposal”.

    To your point, though, it seems that I COULD imagine a FSM service that was a comfort, so does that mean that FSM IS functioning as a religion?

  • The judge implies that at least one of the revealed religions is NOT based on a work of fiction. I think he should take judicial notice and tell us which one.

    It’s not wise to mess with te Flying Spaghetti Monster.

  • I’m sorry, but the only and almighty god is the yellow unicorn; the pink one is an idol, idolater

  • It is about time that people discovered the utter hypocrisy the Ministers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster religion have been preaching and their total disregard of the gospel teachings.
    I would recommend disgruntled Flying Spaghetti Monster members consider joining the Lobsters Know the Secrets of the Deep religious sect. I am its founder and cash donations will be gleefully accepted

  • On the basis of he’s a Christian and we Pastafarians are not, I assume. Boy talk about not getting the U.S. Constitution!!!!!

  • Well yes he was, and had pulled the same thing with “special stones” that let him read revealed religious texts (which nobody else ever got to see) in other places. But then, today’s bible is made up of 66 out of thousands of available texts. Those not considered “inspired” after Nicea, were those that did not allow Constantine to easily merge his pagan church (of Rome – which he was the head of) with the hundreds of denominations of Christianity. He invented Jesus-Apollo, which we still have today.

    As for which books are valid enough, it is well proven that none of the New Testament was written buy the “proclaimed authors”. Some books were written a few centuries later (a good study bible admits this in the beginning of each book). The Old Testament started off as the mythic folk tales of the polytheist Canaanite tribes of the southern trans Jordan. El was their main god, the gods were called the Elohim, and YWVH was one of them, married to Asherah.

  • >a zombie Jew

    now now, Jesus was clearly not a Zombie (by any definition) as he was not mindless or under the control of a necromancer, Voodoo practitioner or Hoodo.

    He was not a revenant as he had no unfinished business of extreme import, and was not animated by rage (from beyond the grave) either.

    He was not a ghost, or a vampire either (though he did encourage other to drink his blood, & transmute wine into his blood – he did not drink blood).

    There are claims he was a lich, but he was not really cadaverous enough (though he still sported the unhealed wounds of death). He did do “wonders” so the *magician* part of the lich theory works ok, but he did not seems to be an animated corpse. He was alive again.

    On the other hand, having overcome death and battled in the realms of the dead for the souls of others (in the post PAUL and post Constantine version of the myths) he arose physically as victor. He overcame Pluto in his own realm, po there is a case for him being…

  • Christianity started out as Judaism. Non-legalistic (laws less important than people), pharisee school (there is a spiritual world and resurrection), straight up Judaism with all the sacrifices (see the book of Acts). Of course it was “Post Assyrian Dispersal” Judaism. About 150 years earlier they were all openly polytheistic. The old tombs end the prayer for the dead with “YWVH and his Beloved Asherah”. Asherah was the wife of YWVH if you were from the southern trans Jordan, but Asherah was the wife of Baal if you were from the north, and 1000 years earlier Asherah was the wife of El the creator god.

  • I guess it would mean that it could potentially become a religion – if such comforting funerals were actually taken place than it would be a sign it had actually become one. I could imagine it being done just because the standard has been set out, however – let someone who was pursuing a Green Card marriage just doing whatever the government listed as the standard signs of a real marriage.

  • I’m wondering why the Judge didn’t recuse himself. Obviously he believes at least one religion isn’t made up and that should disqualify him from from judging others.

  • Well, it changed a lot under the influence of Paul (who freaked out the people running the congregation in Jerusalem) and then Constantine bribed bishop Felix (a mansion, wealth and cathedrals) to merge the faith it with the pagan faith of Rome (for politics). That’s also why Constantine had already forced the hundreds of Christian denominations to settle on one theology. HOWEVER – originally (when there was no virgin birth, no rising from the dead, no trinity or son of god stuff) it was a school of Judaism under a Rabbi (and Rabbi’s HAD to be married and have at least one kid). It was non-legalistic Judaism (people more important than the law, but try to follow the law), pharisee school (there is a spirit world) Judaism – sacrifices and all. Even after James and John were left running the show they did the sacrifices. The whole “new covenant” thing was PAUL’S invention.

  • Legal accommodations for ‘conscience’ ought to be there for everyone (religion or not). If anything, NOT believing in a “pie in the sky when you die” makes your actions TODAY even more important. It is a very strong reason to NOT kill people without a VERY goo reason (reducing them to compost). Nobody ought to be forced to participate in things they find unconscionable (like wholesale murder to make a few very rich people even richer). Life is precious BECAUSE there is no “pie in the sky when you die”.

  • ran out of room….

    having overcome death and battled in the realms of the dead for the souls of others (in the post PAUL and post Constantine version of the myths which are VERY different from those that existed before) he arose physically as victor over the grave. He overcame Pluto in his own realm, ao there is a case for him being …. A DEMIGOD

  • I believe the case could be overturned. It is not the job of the courts or any other part of government to determine what is a religion and what is not.

    Your religion is whatever that you think it is and whatever you believe. Who knows, maybe he just has a passion for pasta and would like more in his diet.

  • Sorry. There is no god. God did not make man. Man made god. We made god because of our fear and loathing of death. We included heaven in the package because it gave us hope that we can cheat death. False hope of course, but why let a little fact like that get in the way of worshiping your make believe god.

  • No, like laws banning marijuana. There was a case I read of where a couple tried to start a church centered on marijuana use. The judge ruled against them on the ground that it was an obvious dodge.

  • The judge was located in Nebraska, the heart of the Bible Belt, home of people who believe in fairytales on faith, as opposed to using reason and science. So my guess is the judge is a christian and as such believes that only his religion is real, and people of all other religions are simply heathens. So I am not surprised he decided that the FSM is not a religion.

  • Willie Wonka,

    There is an Almighty God who made man, but man made false religion which does not tell the truth about Him. That same God will put an end to all fear and death so that man can live forever on earth (not in the heavens, which is not his home). That is true hope and will become a reality, not false hopes and lies from men in power on earth.

  • There has never been a trinity, there’s always been one God and one son of his, and the “new covenant” thing was instituted by Jesus at the last supper with his disciples on Nisan 14. Paul and other Christians commemorated that event yearly after Jesus’ death on said date.

  • “To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a ‘religious exercise’ on any other work of fiction.”

    Little did they realize that this statement simultaneously invalidates virtually every other religion per this District Court’s own decision. Congratulations, U.S. District Court of Nebraska!

  • “Nor, however, does FSMism advocate for humanism or atheism, which the Court acknowledges have been found to be “religious” for similar purposes.
    (Citations omitted) Those belief systems, although not theistic, still deal with issues of “ultimate concern” and take a position “on religion, the existence and importance of a supreme being, and a code of ethics.”

    The Church of the Invisible Pink Unicorn (Reformed) would qualify. Code of ethics – don’t be a dick. Existence of a Supreme Being – is irrelevant from the IPU’s viewpoint. That’s the position. Other Religions also irrelevant, except inasmuch that if they follow the code of ethics, they have some part of the truth, otherwise they’re hokum.

    The IPU(R) differs from the mainstream sect only inasmuch as we believe that both ham and pineapple as well as pepperoni and mushroom pizzas have their place, and the Purple Oyster of Doom has had bad press.

  • Nebraska is not in the Bible Belt, much less its heart. The judge was appointed to the federal bench by well-known right-wing Christian Barack Obama.

  • Actually, it is the job of the courts and legislatures to determine what a religion is, if there are to be laws that grant accommodations or exemptions for religion. Your post proves the court’s point: liking pasta is not a religion. Also, if that’s really what the inmate felt, he would have been committing perjury.

  • They could all be made up. As the court said, it’s not the judiciary’s role to judge plausibility of religious beliefs, only whether those beliefs constitute “religion.”

  • “The FSM Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement.”

    The FSM is meant to point out that mainstream gods are just as fictional.

  • Hey, pasta salad can be great, as is Her Noodliness the FSM in any form. Harrrr!

    Pasta can nourish you especially when it’s not flaccid, or overcooked like those nutritionless communion crackers that the el cheapo Christians give out as dead body pieces -yucko! And their cookbook the bible is all spin with no real salad inside. And they can’t even talk like pirates Harrr!

    Anyway it’s wonderful to see this FSM article getting so much attention and so many comments compared to the standard boring news about Stians and Slims here and their popes and dopes. Pasta be upon you all, and down with those other religions -they are all fakes!

    Ramen. Harrrr, mateys!

  • I was just about to say the same.
    I enjoy that the author can have the convenience of scribd but this is a plaintext ruling that could certainly be placed elsewhere without requiring a financial obligation (or intention) to access.

  • Looks like all the previous 177 (at last count) comments submitted to this article went the way of RNS’s previous layout this evening.

    So far, I have enjoyed and learned much from the breadth of articles and viewpoints published here, as well as the diverse opinions and generally respectful collegiality of the commenters. This is why I post here. I trust that only the look of this site has changed, not the character.

    Rather than resubmit what I posted to this article, I’ll just share my personal perspective, atheistically speaking, of how I wish the world worked, theistically speaking.

    This is my wistful wish for the existence of God: one that humanity’s inhumanity drove away long ago; one that nevertheless hopes (knows?) we will eventually decide to treat each other, our beliefs, and our personal boundaries with mutual respect; one that won’t come back until we make that decision as a global people who embrace collaboration among equals and reject competition between “haves” and “have-nots”; and one that naturally, easily, lovingly understands, and would never abandon, people who don’t believe in this God, who has been absent for ages — with perfectly good reason.

  • I read the ruling, and it appears to me that the petitioner was denied relief because he did not meet the burden of proof that his freedom of religious practice was being impeded. The Judge’s opinion of the substance, or lack thereof, of Pastafarianism, is moot. ( it does bind any future judge)

  • Religion is subjective, and any attempt by the court of a secular nation to objectify religion is an exercise in folly. Every religion other than your own is an absurd concoction of superstition, supernatural beings and unusual practices. Religions come (e.g. Scientology, Pastafarianism) and go (e.g. Paganism, Atenism), and in secular societies adherents of religions are obliged to collectively keep Pandora’s box shut by pretending that all the other religions are reasonable and respectable because failing to do so invites the obvious next question; How can you prove that your god is more real? The Flying Spaghetti Monster is precisely as real, objectively, as Ra the sun god of the ancient Egyptians, the Norse god Thor or the Abrahamic Religions’ god. The judge in this case has failed in their duty to objectively assess and the ruling will be rightly overturned.

  • Exactly, what the judge ruled on was not the substance of the supposed religion but the sincerity of the supposed worshipers.

  • I don’t think there is a limit. But if your post is too long most of it will be hidden unless the readers choose to see more, and I suspect most won’t.

  • It will not be overturned. The judge followed the law correctly. You contradict yourself by saying that it’s impossible for a secular court to define religion objectively, but that the judge failed to objectively assess whether FSMism meets that standard. The court was not seeking to determine whether the FSM is as real as Ra, Thor or YHVH (the plausibility of religious claims). The only consideration is religiosity. Why don’t you start with p. 7, where the court addresses the precedent for determining whether a belief constitutes a religion for the purposes of federal law, and tell us how he got it wrong?

  • Holy Shiite! Federal Courts have acknowledged that ‘Atheism’ is religious because it “addresses fundamental and ultimate questions having to do with deep and imponderable matters”?! How do they figure? That’s like saying that NOT collecting stamps teaches society about the positive impact Hobbies can have on cannibalistic tribes.

  • Not true. Quote from the ruling.

    “The Court finds that FSMism is not a “religion” within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence.”

    This is a very broad claim, and not specific to the one individual concerned in this case.

  • Yes, true. Here’s this from the opinion:

    “This is not a question of theology: it is a matter of basic reading comprehension. 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. A prisoner could just as easily read the works of Vonnegut or Heinlein and claim it as his holy book, and demand accommodation of Bokononism or the Church of All Worlds. Of course, there are those who contend — and Cavanaugh is probably among them — that the Bible or the Koran are just as fictional as those books. It is not always an easy line to draw. But there must be a line beyond which a practice is not “religious” simply because a plaintiff labels it as such. The Court concludes that FSMism is on the far side of that line.”

    What make a religion a religion is not the nature the teachings but the sincerity of the adherents. The judge simply refused to accept that Cavanaugh specifically and anyone else following his example generally were serious in their protestations of faith.

  • By declaring Pastafarianism to not be religion, the judge purports to
    apply his ruling to all of the followers of Pastafarianism, not just the
    one who filed the case. I don’t see how you can read that part any other way.

    However, Pastafarianism texts themselves define it as religion. IMO, this is not at all the same as somebody using another clearly non-religious book, like the Vonnegut or Heinlein texts he cites, and declaring them to be religion. I think the judge’s argument is a weak one here. IMO, just because something contains a satirical element, doesn’t mean it cannot also be religion.

  • “By declaring Pastafarianism to not be religion, the judge purports to apply his ruling to all of the followers of Pastafarianism, not just the one who filed the case.”

    True, the judge essentially declares that there are no “members” of Pastafarianism that are both sane and serious. I personally consider that to be a self-evident statement. The only way the judge could be overturned is if a higher judge was to declare that there are serious believers of Pastafarianism — good luck with that.

  • By “…any other work of fiction”, are you talking about the Bible, the Book of Mormon, or the Koran? It seems like you may be mistaken as to where religion comes from. Last time I checked religious texts were fiction by their very nature.

  • Clearly this is very old, but I am just going to make a few comments anyway. The problem with your conflation is that people do not believe in the FSM. A belief is necessary in order for something to be classified as a religion.

    If there was an honest belief associated with the cultural framework, then it could be considered a potential religion.

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