The Vancouver Sun has a nice article about Pastafarian Gary Smith’s fight to have his driver’s license photo taken while wearing a Colander. He also dresses in Pirate Regalia for formal occasions, as do many serious Pastafarians.
His headgear, a colander, is part of his religion: Smith is a Pastafarian, a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
ICBC has informed him it doesn’t qualify as religious headgear, have refused to accept a photo of him wearing it for his licence, and Smith has now filed a complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal.
“My religious head covering is an expression of my beliefs,” he said. “I am being denied the right to express myself in a manner afforded to members of other beliefs and other faiths . There is no test of faith that any government agency, including ICBC, can apply to judge whether or not a person earnestly believes what they profess when they ask to be photographed with a religious head covering.”
Canada is, surprisingly, not always tolerant of Pastafarian rights. British Columbia, especially. Besides not allowing us to wear religious headgear in government photos, they sometimes make it difficult for our Ministers to register as wedding officiants.
Vancouver is such a multi-cultural place, I find it difficult to understand the intolerance to religions outside of the mainstream. I’d love to hear if other “fringe” religious groups run into these problems with the BC government.
Big thanks to Mr. Smith for pushing back against religious intolerance. My feeling is that, even when we lose these fights from time to time, it helps in the long run to point out the inequality.
We heard a rumor that the Chinese Communist Party asked schools to report Pastafarian students. That’s very disturbing if true … If anyone has more information about this could you let us now? Thank you
It sounds like it may have been a misunderstanding. We’re hearing that schools are aware of the Pastafarian students but the students don’t feel too alarmed. Let’s hope it stays that way. Thanks for all of the messages.
“The question, however, is whether the courts — including a Supreme Court that has sometimes been very unsympathetic to minority religions — will allow these tactics to continue. Eventually, it is likely that a state or local government that’s targeted by Pastafarians or Satanists will bring a case all the way to the justices. And the Court’s current majority could be sympathetic to such a government.”
Have the courts had enough of our antics, and will they try to stop us by declaring us a definitely-not-legitimate religion? I don’t know. But in light of recent news (below), I’d like to share a few thoughts on the Church of FSM’s ongoing struggle for Official recognition and how that sometimes clashes with authority.
The Austrian courts rejected us :(
We’ve just heard that the Austrian courts ruled Pastafarianism will not be included in their list of Official state religions. This has been in the courts for years and, to be clear, the fight is not over — Pastafarians will appeal this decision with the European Court of Human Rights. But it was a disappointing result for Pastafarians everywhere. From the Austrian Pastafarian’s press release (translated from it’s original German):
The Federal Administrative Court has unequivocally established the existence of a religion, but withdrew in its dismissive recognition to the view that there was no sufficiently ” organized community ” of the more than 300 accredited members. Also “The essentially daily consumption of pasta and the ‘transcending’ of beer – due to the lack of specific religious references – did not constitute a rite. ”
Essentially the court said the Church of FSM is not legit because our community is too small, we meet online rather than in person, and when we do get together we’re drinking beer and eating Pasta. The Austrian Pastafarians in their press release point out the hypocrisy in that statment, considering Christians get together to ingest wine and wafers.
The fact that the consumption of dough flakes and alcoholic beverages in other religions is assessed as a rite without any problems, but that no “religious reference points” could be identified in the Pastafarian Transubstantiation, can be classified as authority arbitrariness in addition to several criticisms of the judgment of the Federal Administrative Court.
But I wonder … if we had more in-person meetups, and if our communion looked (more) like what is recognized as a rite by the Christians – would the Austrian courts have viewed us as a legitimate religious group? I doubt it — it always feels the reasoning comes after the decision to exclude us.
Does winning matter?
As long as we don’t get discouraged, I’m not sure the losses matter much in the long run. This is public news, and each time an authority decrees that we’re not part of the Legit Religion Club, because of Reasons, there are a whole bunch of people who see that and think, wait, that’s bullshit, and our membership grows.
It’s true we’re not all True-Believers here. But as a group, I feel we are uncommonly sensitive to hypocrisy and injustice, and when we get discriminated against for what feels like arbitrary and capricious reasons, a lot of otherwise-casual Pastafarians are compelled to care more about our “fake” religion. That is, the very act of discrimination pushes our organization towards what can only be seen as legitimacy, in the long run.
The truth is, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, in it’s most recent form, would not have lasted long without the continued insistence by authorities that ours is not a legitimate religion, that other groups can believe supernatural nonsense and sometimes be allowed extra privileges by government and institutions, but not our group — because 1, our supernatural nonsense sounds too out-there and 2, that maybe we don’t believe in that out-there supernatural nonsense enough for them to consider ours a legitimate religion.
Now, ten-plus years on, we have members – and practicing ministers – all over the world. We’re getting more organized and in every way more of a substantive real-world organization.
Where do we go from here?
My hope is that as we grow and become more organized, we don’t lose what made our group special. My favorite thing is to see a Pastafarian in the news doing something obnoxious and clever. If I had no idea it was coming beforehand, so much the better. I hope we never lose that spirit.
So far we’ve been able to avoid a lot of the problems of mainstream religion, I’d guess a lot of that is because we don’t fundraise, and don’t collect dues. I would like for us to find a way to build more physical churches, and put on more real-world activies and especially outreach to our communities. And, it would be nice to one day get the Pirate Ship and float around converting heathens and so forth. Maybe we’ll find a rich benefactor or someone will include the church in their will. F the relatives, put it all towards a pirate ship.
I would love to hear thoughts on the future of the church and thoughts about official recognition.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster has existed for thousands of years in secrecy, only recently coming back into the mainstream.