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Pastafarianism in the military

Published July 26th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Here’s a guest post by Justin Griffith.  Justin is well known for his fight against the idea that “there are no Atheists in Foxholes”.  He was recently profiled in the New York Times for his activism.

FSM_dogtags

A little while ago, news broke about a Pastafarian winning the right to wearing a pasta strainer on his head for his official driver’s license photograph *edit: it seems that there was no legal battle*. Coincidentally, around the same time, I got a few emails from the contributors to a Wikipedia article on Religious Symbols in the US Military asking if I would contribute a photograph of my Atheist dog tags.

Shortly after I donated the photograph to Wikipedia, the photo was added to the Flying Spaghetti Monster entry as well. Awesome.

I actually have a few funny stories about FSM and the Army. *warning: quoting a Drill Sergeant is NSFW*

Why the Flying Spaghetti Monster was bigger than Jesus in boot camp.

Holy_Book

There are strict rules about what non-military texts you can posses during boot camp. They only allow one book, and it must be a holy book from your religion. As you’d expect from this rule, there were a few Bibles, a Koran, and even a Book of Mormon in various wall-lockers in my company. Most people just didn’t have a book at all.

I, however, brought my copy of The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

My book was incredibly popular, and people kept talking about it during the few short breaks you get during the typical boot camp day. Then other people would hear about it and ask me if they could borrow it. Everyone laughed like a bastard, and really enjoyed it.

Many people told me that the book really made some sense to them. I must have accidentally converted dozens of people, as the humorous parody religion’s messages actually sank in.

Drill Sergeant VS Flying Spaghetti Monster

At one point my Drill Sergeant tried to take it away from me. He thought it was just some book that I smuggled in. Keep in mind that Drill Sergeants are professionally trained in the art of not laughing at anything (yelling and freaking out are more appropriate responses to most situations.)

Anyway, this is the gist of the conversation:

Drill Sergeant: “Private Griffith – is that some contraband?”

Me: “No, Drill Sergeant. It’s my holy book.

Drill_Sargeant

Drill Sergeant: “Give that to me…” *Yoink!* “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? What the fuck?”

Me: ”I’m a Pastafarian, Drill Sergeant.”

[he shot me a look like he was t minus 5 seconds from throwing me into the Sun]

Drill Sergeant: “Are you fucking with me? Are you fucking with me at 0600, Private Griffith? Before I even get some goddamned breakfast?”

[I did my best to return the intensely humorless stone face.]

Me: “No, Drill Sergeant.”

Drill Sergeant: “Flying Spaghetti Monster!? I don’t fucking believe it!!!”

Me:I believe it, Drill Sergeant.”

Drill Sergeant: “What the hell is wrong with you, warrior?”

[I went for broke]

Me: “Drill Sergeant, I’m afraid I can’t really talk to you about this any further unless I’m in my religious clothing. I need to be in full pirate regalia, or at the very least wearing an eye patch.”

….Then he just looked at me for about 30 seconds. Crickets. Time stopped… The other soldiers that were around were extremely scared of the coming mass punishment they imagined that I had surely just earned them.

Then he flipped through the book. He read a few sentences out loud. And then it happened.

He smiled.

Then he handed me my book and told me to do some push ups – a slap on the wrist. And my punishment was really only for making him smile, not for anything else. He just couldn’t bring himself to treat this situation like every other situation.

My recruiter put his own religion on my forms, instead of Atheist.

First off, I actually had quite an ordeal simply getting my ID tags to accurately reflect my atheism. When I was speaking to Army recruiters, the first one that I worked with was a very religious person. Normally, this isn’t relevant. However, when asked what my religion was, I answered “Atheist”. He entered a “Baptist” variation.

At one point he asked me to look over his computer screen for any errors, and I hastily fixed this. I only had a few seconds, so I scrolled through the list and found “NO-REL-PREF”. A few days later, I had more issues with this recruiter and asked to be assigned to another one. He was great, but I guess he forgot to fix my religious preference on my forms as I requested. A similar set of circumstances prevented the mistake from being corrected when they were being issued at Basic Training.

YES-REL-PREF

Religious Preference – that’s the Army’s term. It’s a little garish and awkward, but it does the job. I was pissed off that I was stuck with dog tags that said “NO-REL-PREF”. I do have a religious preference – “none for me please… Atheist!” That’s not the same as “I don’t have a religious preference”.

I’ve thought about religion quite seriously, and I most certainly have a preference. Atheist has been on the military’s approved list of responses to this question for quite some time, so I was not breaking any barriers. I was finally told that I could (and did) change my religious preference to Atheist on my paperwork, but that I couldn’t receive updated dog tags. I was told that soldiers change their last names and religious preferences frequently enough, but must get their updated dog tags made off post at their own expense.

I was a little bit angered that I now had to buy my own set of ID tags to fix this, but at least I had an answer and a way forward.

FLY-SPA-MON

Being a former creationist, I really identified with Flying Spaghetti Monster meme. Leaving creationist indoctrination was a long and painful journey for me. Absurd as FSM might be, it’s as culturally significant to me as religion is to many others. I truly identify with it, appreciating both the humor and the reality underpinning the parody religion.

Obviously, a strictly serious answer to the question about my religious preference is “Atheist”. But given the amount of hassle I went through to get my dog tags corrected – I decided it was time for some levity. Unfortunately, the limited writing space is a factor. I considered these:

FLY-SPA-MON
PASTAFARIAN

But I wanted to include ATHEIST too, so in the end I settled with

ATHEIST / FSM

And I’m happy with that. Yes, these are legitimate ‘officially accepted’ dog tags by the way. Interestingly, there are more than a few that legitimate sets that say “Jedi Knight”.

You can check out Justin’s excellent website Rock Beyond Belief here.

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FSM Forever–Arizona license plate

Published July 26th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

FSM4Evr

Toni sent in this superb example of license plate evangelism.  Excellent! 

On the plate, is it just me or does it look like there’s a smoke trail coming off the Saguaro cactus, up behind where the ‘4’ is printed.  It’s as if the cactus has caught fire from the desert heat. 

I lived there a few years ago and on one particularly scorching day the interior plastics in my car deformed from the heat. The rear view mirror became unaffixed to the window.  I left it dangling by the wire for spite.  I don’t live there anymore.

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Watch this uplifting FSM propaganda video

Published July 25th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

I love this video so much.  Years ago I had the experience of watching an authentic over-the-top propaganda show and this video is spot on.  Who can resist accepting information as Truth when it’s set against delightful music and animation?  I think all good propaganda straddles the boundary between happy and creepy.   My question to you is: what emotions did this invoke?

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Jesus was a Pastafarian

Published July 14th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Jesus-FSM-Color_sm

Here is our friend Stephen Klinger’s newest creation.  What I like most about this piece, besides the FSM pouring beer on a stripper, is the prominent display of Jesus – an unexpected element in Pastafarian art.  I can imagine both Christians and Atheists might be offended over this, if they try.  I think that’s what I like about it.

What do you guys think? 

Update – A concerned stripper writes:

I am a devoted and practicing member of the Church of the FSM. I am also a stripper. Sure, laugh it up. I take my job seriously, and I love my job. It just so happens that I’m quite capable of reasoning and critical thinking, though, and when introduced to the Church and its teachings, I immediately declared myself a member. It seemed like the perfect fit for me, the one I’ve been looking for all of these years.

There’s a post of Jesus with FSM in the background, pouring beer on a stripper. Does the FSM really do this? I’m having a crisis of faith over here. If the FSM really does pour beer on strippers, I don’t think I can be a part of the Church anymore.

It doesn’t seem like it fits the general theme of peace that is going on. I don’t think pirates would have doused strippers in beer without their explicit request to do so. And although strippers tend to love beer (And I certainly do! I celebrate on Fridays, as recommended.), I wonder whether the stripper in the picture is actually consenting and requesting that she be doused in beer.

In order for strippers to do their jobs properly, they can’t be sticky from beer, and most guys tend to want their strippers dry and clean. It also seems like it is a hazard to a stripper’s safety, and could cause serious injury or death by slipping on the pools of beer that would form. I am sure that the FSM would not want a death attributed to him, even a stripper’s. And I am absolutely positive that strippers find beer being poured on them to be too messy and too much trouble to be worth it.

All of this said, I’m having a crisis of faith. Is this what the FSM wants from me? To be dangerously doused in beer while in my 7" stilettos? I can’t risk my safety or my financial well-being.

Now what? Do I leave the Church of the FSM? How do I reconcile the feelings I have about the FSM? Can anyone offer me some advice?

Love and Peace to the FSM Community,

–Piper

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Rebecca’s FSM Inspired Valedictorian Speech

Published July 2nd, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

valedictorian_artwork

Seniors in my high school are allowed to paint a mural on the walls of the art room at the end of the year, and I chose the flying spaghetti monster. I also mentioned the flying spaghetti monster in my valedictorian speech. I’ll include it in the email. I hope the mural lives up to the image of his noodly appendages. 

Valedictorian Speech Below

Hi, everyone. Before we get our diplomas, I want to tell you all a short story. The story of an art project I did. At the end of the year, each senior in art is allowed the opportunity to preserve themselves in a mural on the walls of the art room. I decided I wanted to paint one. The only question was what would I paint? I considered pop culture references and inspirational flowery messages of hope, but ultimately, I decided on something I thought was strange enough to inspire interest and maybe a few people could look at it and see something uniquely for themselves. I chose the flying spaghetti monster. For those of you who don’t know, the flying spaghetti monster is the emblem of the “pastafarian” movement, which is a rather silly group that questions the validity of blind acceptance, instead promoting logic. I did not choose the flying spaghetti monster to make a political or religious statement. To me, the flying spaghetti monster represents an ideal I think is being undervalued in our society—the ability to laugh at things that are ridiculous, and more importantly, the value of being ridiculous and silly. A thing does not have to be serious in life to be important. I think that that’s something I never really understood before. The importance of being unapologetically ridiculous, the joy that humor can bring, the profundity of absurdity; it’s all so clear to me now. The outlandish can instill wonder and happiness. What better reason is there for art? And so I painted the flying spaghetti monster, hoping that someday, someone would find in it a muse of silliness for their own life, something to tell them to be novel and unafraid to take chances.

If I could offer you all one bit of guidance from my life to your own, whether you are going to work, college, or the military, it would be that when life gives you the chance to go on an adventure, always take it. It doesn’t have to be the literal road trip, or journey-through-the-jungle-kind of adventure. It just has to be something new. And it doesn’t always have to be a place. An adventure can be a job, or a class, or a person. Always remember to push yourselves out of your comfort zones. Most of my regrets from high school have been not going on an adventure because I was too afraid of failing. And I don’t think I’ve ever regretted an adventure either, even if it rains, which usually does happen. It’s taken me a long time to understand this, but living in the moment doesn’t have to be a bad thing. The realization that absolutely everyone dies and that this single day will mean very little in the larger scope of my life has allowed me to let go a bit. Relinquishing those fears that we bear as shields over our hearts is never easy, but well worth it, however uncomfortable it may be.

So, as we walk into a different stage in our lives, I encourage you all to improvise, to sample everything, to search until you find a dream, and fight until that dream is realized. Remember to search for wonder, and every now and again, let curiosity get the best of you, for it’s the only way to continue to grow, and always keep your heart and mind light. In the words of a great playwright and my favorite author, “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” Stay gold, everyone."

-Rebecca

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PZ Myers responds to Pastafarian

Published June 14th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

I thought I’d share my latest battle with science.  PZ Meyers is an outspoken atheist and Biologist.  I went along to his talk in proper garb and questioned him on obvious discrepancies in his arguments against ID theory.

-Reverend Malin

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Is it time for an FSM billboard?

Published June 7th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

billboard2Can you picture it?  It could be amazing, if we do it right.  I’ve mentioned it before and had mixed responses.  Here are my thoughts:

It can’t be negative.  As an example, I was not a fan of the You Know It’s A Myth banners put up by the American Atheists.  

image

I am in favor of the AA’s substantive causes but I found this billboard campaign smug and petty (I feel the same about campaigns to remove Christmas trees from public venues). 

The high road.  If we put up a billboard, it must be a positive message – it must promote us and our ideals, not attack another group.  Satire and nonsense are great, attacking Christianity is boring and counter-productive.  I have no problem slamming Cthulhu and/or the IPU (She is in my drawing, also btw).

Send me your ideas/drawings. I’ll post them here. What would make a good billboard?  A pirate ship “full of beer and strippers”?  That might be interesting.  It’s been a while since I’ve seen a drawing of the Beer Volcano.  Send your submissions to me and we can decide what would look best.  We’ll worry about paying for the billboard space next.

Submissions (so far):

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#1.  See the World, by Doug.

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#1(b). Have you been touched, by Doug.

 

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#2. Try Pasta, by Jo (Cardinal Fang)

 

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#3. Touching, by Dan.

 

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#4.  Teaching our children the truth, by Wayne.

 

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#5.  Try FSM, by Kelly.

 

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#6.  Main course for the soul, by Younger.

 

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#7.  Two designs, by Doug.

 

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#8.  I’d really rather you didn’t, by Jeffrey.

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On The Eve Of The Rapture

Published May 21st, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

. . . as i gazed upon the octopodes
consorting in the waves
i saw between their writhing toes
the one who us has saved.

-Alexis

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24 Comments

Tasmania Rally Evangelism

Published May 20th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

fsmpulp

2500 people at a rally to oppose a new pulp mill here in Tasmania, Australia. 3 people approached me to tell me how awesome FSM is (his noodles be praised!), and 2497 people looked at me like I was a nut-job. The things we do to get the good word out…
-Nat

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169 Comments

Certificates of Ordination

Published May 9th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

Update — The ordination certificates have been redesigned

Ordination certificates are just $20 and include domestic shipping. $30 for international. Check out more photos on the order page here.

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