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The Netherlands recognizes Pastafarianism as an official religion

Published February 1st, 2016 by Bobby Henderson

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Great news, The Netherlands has recognized Pastafarianism as an official religion. There are efforts for recognition in a bunch of places — I find it interesting (and telling) the reactions from the various governments. Clearly The Netherlands is a great place.

The Metro has a nice article about the successful Netherlands effort here.

Nice work guys.

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Georgia Drivers License Discrimination

Published January 4th, 2016 by Bobby Henderson

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Christopher Avino wearing a colander in his temporary license photo

More news about Pastafarians wearing colanders in their drivers license photos, this time in Georgia.

The Dept. of Driver Services refused to issue a permanent license to Christopher Avino (after issuing a temporary with colander headwear) and asked him to come back and re-take the photo. More surprising is that their legal department wrote a letter laying out their reasoning, which includes this line, “Pastafarian is not actually a religion. Rather it is a philosophy that mocks religion”.

Here’s the whole letter:

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Obviously most of us disagree with their view that Pastafarianism exists only to mock religion (I could not disagree more), but I find it particularly surprising to read such a statement in a letter written by the DDS General Counsel. I did not realize the legal departments of small government offices were empowered to declare what is and what is not a legitimate religion.

And it shouldn’t matter, but I wonder: would this General Counsel happen to be Christian, and did that have anything to do with the DDS decision to deny the permanent license?

Christopher wrote a smart and entertaining letter in response to the DDS. The whole thing can be read here, but in case you do not read it, let me paste here my favorite part:

“You mayfind our beliefs to be strange, but as strange as you may feel they are, they are still our beliefs. Some may find it strange that Christians believe that Jonah spent “3 days in a whale’s belly” according to some texts. Some may find it strange that Muslims believe that Muhammad was carried to the seven heavens on the back of a winged horse. Some may find it strange that Scientologists believe that Xenu, the dictator of the Galactic Confederacy brought billions of people to earth in a DC-8-like spacecraft, stacked them around volcanoes, and killed them with hydrogen bombs. Maybe you, the reader of this letter, do not personally believe that Muhammad flew to heaven on a winged horse, but do you question the validity of Islam as a religion? “

As frustrating as I find these bureaucratic hurdles, I think overall they end up helping the Cause, because they bring so much attention to the issues. There are already volunteers willing to help take up the legal fight, and I’ve read many messages of support, many from people who are not Pastafarians but who support us.

Huge thanks to Christopher for spending the time and energy to get into these issues.

RawStory has a good overview of all that’s happened here.

UPDATE —

Christopher moved to Nevada, and has applied for and received his Nevada driver license, wearing a Colander:

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I could not be more pleased — I take this as implicit approval by the Nevada licensing authority, clearly they support Pastafarianism headwear. Thanks!

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New Zealand government approves Pastafarian marriage ceremonies

Published December 15th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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Good news — New Zealand has approved the Church of FSM to perform marriage ceremonies.

The application was approved under a sub-section of the Marriages Act, satisfying the registrar-general that the principal object of the organisation was to uphold or promote religious beliefs, philosophical or humanitarian convictions.

Posted by Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – New Zealand.

Montgomery said the purposes set out by the church were educating and training people, particularly atheists and superstitious people, about Flying Spaghetti principles and practices.

Those principles covered human rights, cultural and spiritual diversity, ethics, relieving poverty and advancing education.

“In considering the matter I have referred to the Objects of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, reviewed material available online about this organisation and considered other organisations already able to nominate marriage celebrants.

“A review of media and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s international website show a consistent presentation of their philosophies. While some claim this is a ‘parody organisation’, members have rebutted this on a number of occasions.”

You can read more about it here at stuff.co.nz.

I lived in New Zealand for a year in college and it does not surprise me that the NZ government has publicly acknowledged our legitimacy, both because they are a progressive open-minded people, and also because of the amount of drinking that goes on over there.

Unrelated, they have birds that eat cars:

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The war on Holiday

Published December 14th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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This has become my favorite Holiday[1] tradition: a government institution hosts a Christian-themed display, then non-Christian groups demand a display as well, then the Christians who thought a government building was an appropriate place for a religious display get worked up by the “war on Christmas”.

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The one in the news this year is a DMV in Florida with a baby Jesus display. Here’s an article in RawStory talking about it.

And a great quote by a Christian activist:

“My hope is that the Christ in Christmas is louder than a wood display and some figurines,” Pam Olsen, president of the Florida Prayer Network, explained to the Miami Herald.

“I have been pondering this for a while,” Olsen said. “The racial tensions and mass murders, the shootings at the Planned Parenthood and in California – something is very wrong in our country. We need to step back and say we need to stop. Let the sound of the Christ Child bring hope, joy and peace instead of dissension.”

I will admit that I have a small (very small) amount of sympathy for the Christians who get upset that they can’t just put a baby Jesus in the DMV and keep the “wrong” groups out. I recognize that they are more comfortable in a world where everyone shares their religious views (or keeps quiet about their own). I think this is less about promoting Christianity and more like a nostalgic yearning for simpler times. And I’ve always liked Christmas displays – even if they’re a little Jesusy – I’ve never found them too bothersome.

That said, once these Christian vs non-Christian display stories hit the news, I think it does become a highly charged issue, and the Christian warriors come out speaking loudly about the war on Christmas. This I find ridiculous, and I am very thankful that we have so many Pastafarians who stand up for our rights. I can not wait to see the FSM Holiday display this year.

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[1] A note on Holiday: years ago we noticed there was a shift in the way people expressed winter greetings — fewer “Merry Christmas’s” and more “happy holidays”. We concluded that these people were most likely Pastafarians (albeit many of them in secret) wishing people a happy Holiday – referring to our winter celebration also known as ChriFSMas.

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Send a festive Holiday propaganda card

Published December 9th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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Good news — I’ve brought back the Holiday e-card machine this year. Some may remember this — it’s a page where you can send Holiday messages to your friends and family (it’s free). The cards are delivered by email.

There’s a couple designs and I’ll add some more if people want.

One small request: please use this card machine in good spirits, not as a way to antagonize people.

Please check it out and let me know what you think. Here’s the link: Holiday Card Machine.

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Psychology Today says we’re not completely nuts

Published November 16th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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There’s an interesting article about us at Psychology Today.

Some of this may have been due to timing — first there was the news about Lindsay Miller’s successful efforts in wearing a Colander in her Massachusetts license photo, and then shortly after, the terrible news of the Paris terrorist attacks.

Mr. Noise in his article is looking at our light-hearted activities and thinking about what, if any, relevance our antics have in more serious matters, in particular the secular world’s struggle against religious extremism.

Which brings us back to Miller and her colander. Talking to a television reporter with her spaghetti strainer proudly placed upon her head, she may not come across to casual observers as reason personified. But first impressions can be deceiving. Pastafarianism is indeed a weapon in the arsenal of reason, a rebuke of religions that rationalize violence, treat women as property, and promise eternal rewards to those who take innocent lives. The FSM apparently disapproves of such things.

Of course, fundamentalist religion would disapprove of Miller and Pastafarianism as well, and the most extreme of fundamentalists would treat Pastafarians pretty much as they treated the staff of Charlie Hedbo in January and other residents of Paris on Friday night.

[The full article can be found here. It’s a good read.]

Interesting analysis, but I’m not sure that any Pastafarian activities have such clear (and noble) motivations, and it is alarming to think what extreme fundamentalists may like to do to us for any perceived mockery.

I feel it is a basic human right to poke at any institution/ideology, and any institution/ideology that holds itself above criticism is one at odds with the modern world.

That said, I think Pastafarianism is at its best when it’s good-humored, and at its worst when it becomes hateful. (This will not be a venue for inflammatory anti-Islam sentiment).

I’m not sure anyone has a great idea of what is the solution to violent extremism. It may need more than “weapons of Reason” to defeat it.

What do you think?

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The Boston Globe has a nice story about a Pastafarian lady’s successful efforts in wearing a colander in her driver’s license photo, helped by the American Humanist Association.

In August, the Lowell resident was denied a renewed license by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, she said, for wearing the metal cookware.

“They were kind of laughing at me,” Miller said. “I thought of other religions and women and thought that this was not fair. I thought, ‘Just because you haven’t heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license.’ ”
According to the RMV’s website, drivers are barred from wearing hats or head covers in their photos, unless the clothing items are “for medical or religious reasons.”

Miller filed for an appeal immediately after the August incident. Through a friend, she enlisted the help of Patty DeJuneas, a member of the Secular Legal Society, a network of lawyers that assist the American Humanist Association.

You can read more about it at the Boston Globe here.

I feel like our efforts to wear Religious Headwear in Offical Identification may be misunderstood occasionally (this Boston Globe article caused more than few upset emails). I wish that it was more clear that the Church of FSM is not a mean-spirited group and that we’re not out to mock anyone’s particular religion or their religious hats. It is just that it’s weird to find these places where bureaucratic regulation and religion are entangled — and I hope that we’re doing more good than bad when we fight for equal right to use these rules. I realize that we may inadvertently offend a few religious people (and maybe annoy a few bureaucrats) and for that I’m sorry.

We can all look forward to the day when Pastafarians feel it’s socially acceptable to wear religious headwear in our daily lives.

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Pastafarian headgear is allowed in UK licenses.

Published October 25th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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So I checked back in on one of my fave sites and amongst other wonderful things, I notice that poor ‘Ian Harris from Wales’ failed to get his drivers license approved due to him respectfully wearing a (similarly aged as himself) colander.

I have been sporting a rather dandy Pirate headpiece for some time now, (originally inspired by Niko Alm) so thought I’d share.

I must admit, the DVLA did send my application back, stating that I was ‘wearing a hat’ and so I returned it asking for them to respect my religious beliefs/headwear. And that was that!

My passport expires in 2019, where I will be pushing for the ‘eye-patch’ combo.

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Interesting that some places are cool with Pastafarian headgear on Official documents, and some are not. Probably it comes down to the opinion (and mood) of the person behind the desk, and maybe that’s ok.

I think the more instances of approval by government bureaucrats we get, the stronger our case for recognized legitimacy. It’s getting harder and harder for anyone to say this is all a joke, when we can point to dozens or hundreds of examples where government officials have looked over our documents and said OK. I feel like we’re making progress getting in the back door.

Thanks very much to Colin and all the others who have been fighting for our rights.

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Religious Headgear Discrimination In Wales

Published April 17th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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Wearing Official Pastafarian headgear and standing up for his rights, Ian Harris.

In Wales, UK, Ian Harris wants to wear a Colander – our religious headgear – in his driver’s license photo. The licensing authority said no because they don’t view ours as a serious religion. They do allow Yarmulkes and Hijabs, though. It would appear that our headgear meets all of the agency’s guidelines, and yet they turned Mr. Harris away.

I find it odd that an licensing agency would allow themselves to get into the messy business of qualifying the relative legitimacy of religious fashion accessories. Our Colander is no more obtrusive than many allowed headgear items and yet all over the world, our members have often found themselves turned away.

Mr Harris is organizing a Pastafarian rally in protest of this injustice this upcoming weekend in Brighton (UK).

Thank you, Mr. Harris, for having the courage to stand up for your right to religious expression.

From the Wales Online article:

Mr Harris plans to take to the streets of Brighton this Sunday to battle for his “right” to wear the metal bowl on his photo-licence, and he has called on Pastafarians across the UK to hold protests in their home areas.

Mr Harris, whose four-year-old daughter Astri is a Pastafarian, maintains that wearing a colander is the equivalent to Muslim women wearing hijabs, or Jewish men wearing skullcaps.

He said: “They (the DVLA) are not backing down about my religious exemption. No matter how much my religion is a minority religion I have a deeply held belief and I should have an exemption or otherwise there should be no exemption at all.

“They wrote to me saying my religion wasn’t serious enough but if Christians talk of speaking snakes and a virgin birth in this era of modern medicine, then why isn’t mine?

You can read more about it in the article here.

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In response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks

Published January 16th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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The P.A.S.T.A Foundation wrote this article in response to the Charlie Hebdo attacks titled In Defense of Religious Satire. I like it, a lot of great points in here:

As the world continues to reel from the vicious terrorist attack that left 12 dead at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, for some in the West the inevitable finger pointing and blame game has already begun. In one corner, right-wing blowhards attempt to smear the entire Muslim faith of over 1 billion people with the heinous acts of two fanatics. While in another corner, politically-correct ninnies minimize the horrible killing of these writers and cartoonists by referencing the paper’s history of “xenophobia, racism, sexism, and homophobia” and claiming the publication somehow “provoked” the violence from Islamic extremists.

Both of these reactions are an affront to civil society. We cannot blame the whole of the followers of Islam for the actions of a group of marginalized individuals. Painting with this broad-brush point of view is a major contributor to the ease with which an entire society can label Muslims as “the other”. It’s this mentality that helps support military imperialism and the wholesale torture and killing of people in far off countries. The second mind-set, one that would explain away the barbaric nature of these killings by limiting freedom of speech, takes away one of our most potent defenses against fanaticism on all sides of the spectrum: Humor and Satire.

[read the rest here on J.T. Eberhard’s1 Patheos blog.]

What do I think about the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks and the aftermath?

I’ve been trying to stay out of it until the noise dies down. I hear a lot of voices saying what’s obvious and true: this was a sad, terrible act done by some extremists; this is a predictable outcome of blind, extreme faith; the few extreme members don’t represent the whole of any group.

One thing I believe: it is the groups who feel their beliefs are above criticism who are in need of being deflated a bit with humorous satire. This idea that some beliefs can’t be questioned is a cancer. But let’s please try to confront it in a positive way.

There was a great interview on NPR this week with a man who has reversed his radical views and is now fighting against the underlying causes of extremism. He makes the point that in Islam there is a core belief, even amongst many moderate members, that the prophet Muhhammad can not be criticized or joked about, and that this is at odds with modern democratic society where we demand the right to poke at our institutions/leaders/beliefs. Definitely worth listening to if you’ve got 30mins. Here’s the link: How Orwell’s Animal Farm Led A Radical Muslim to Moderation.

1. Side note — Early FSM people may remember J.T. Eberhard from the Missouri Pastafarians group. I was always a fan of his — one of my favorite things he did was building a box-fort in the middle of campus as a statement about religious discrimination.

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An elaborate spoof on Intelligent Design, The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is neither too elaborate nor too spoofy to succeed in nailing the fallacies of ID. It's even wackier than Jonathan Swift's suggestion that the Irish eat their children as a way to keep them from being a burden, and it may offend just as many people, but Henderson puts satire to the same serious use that Swift did. Oh, yes, it is very funny. -- Scientific American.


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