Nebraska’s US District Court says Pastafarianism is not a legitimate religion.
More specifically, the court denied a prisoner’s request to practice his religion (FSM), because it is a “satirical argument”, not a legitimate religion.
Surprising to me, the prison system does recognize a wide variety of religions (20, I read), including Mormonism and Scientology — so I’m suspicious of any standard they’ve come up with to decide that our religion is not legit.
The satire argument is flimsy. Lots of people do view FSM as satire, but I’m not sure how that disqualifies it as a real religion. True Believers make up a small proportion of mainstream religions as well — the difference is that Pastafarians are more honest when they don’t hold a literal view of their religion.
And the prisoner is, I think, a True Believer of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I get the impression he’s a troubled guy, so I am nervous about his interest in our Church, but I don’t for a second doubt his sincerity. I don’t believe he’s fighting the prison system out of boredom or as some sort of stunt.
The story has been all over the news, but this article in The Oregonian is my favorite, because they include this excerpt:
“What drives the FSM’s devout followers, aka Pastafarians? Some say it’s the assuring touch from the FSM’s Noodly Appendage. There are those who love the worship service, which is conducted in Pirate-Speak and attended by congregants in dashing buccaneer garb. Still others are drawn to the Church’s flimsy moral standards, religious holidays every Friday, and the fact that Pastafarian Heaven is way cooler. Does your Heavenhave a Stripper Factory and a Beer Volcano?”
The full court decision can be read here.
How should we respond?