Showing all posts for #Secular Vs. Religious
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Remember to vote and…

Published November 8th, 2016 by Bobby Henderson

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Add this to the reasons religious organizations should not be exempt from taxes:

Dallas News reports this appalling story out of Texas:

A priest in the Diocese of Amarillo took an aborted fetus, laid it upon an altar Sunday and posted a live video to Facebook and Instagram to warn viewers about Hillary Clinton and urge them to vote for Donald Trump.

Tax exempt religious organizations are not allowed to get involved in politics. I find it disturbing that so many church groups flout this rule, and that there are seemingly no consequences for doing so. The IRS makes it clear that this sort of behavior is not allowed.

The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations
Under the Internal Revenue Code, all section 501(c)(3) organizations are absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in, or intervening in, any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for elective public office. Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity. Violating this prohibition may result in denial or revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.

The Church of the FSM won’t endorse any candidate, as we don’t believe that is acceptable for a religious organization — but please do vote and vote your conscience.

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Struggle for Religious Expression in Illinois

Published July 25th, 2016 by Bobby Henderson

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The struggle for Pastafarian acceptance continues, in Illinois. From the Chicago Tribue:

College student Rachel Hoover, of Arlington Heights, went to get her license renewed at the Illinois Secretary of State facility in Schaumburg. She told employees that she wanted to wear a metal colander on her head for the photo in honor of her religious beliefs. Employees balked, but Hoover insisted.

But when the central office discovered that employees had relented and allowed Hoover to be photographed with the strainer on her head, administrators drew the line, even though her face was clearly visible.

They told Hoover her license will be revoked July 29 unless she gets a new, strainer-free photo taken.

State officials are “just trying to use a little common sense,” secretary of state spokesman Dave Druker told Tribune freelance reporter Lee V. Gaines. “It almost looks like Pastafarians are a mockery of religion.”

During a time when people are doing reprehensible things in the Name of Religion, I wonder why officials are hassling us, out of all religious groups. Do these officials prevent people from wearing Yamulkes or Hijabs or Turbans — and if not, is it because they appear to have such earnest beliefs, and Pastafarians do not take themselves so seriously?

If Pastafarians had more scary dogmatic True-Believers, would we encounter less resistance to the privileges other religious groups are granted?

While I don’t agree with the Chicago Tribune’s stance that FSM is a “broad spoof”, I found the article well written and clever — it’s worth the read and can be found here.

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The Lansing capitol display looks great

Published December 26th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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Excellent — the Lansing State Journal made an article about the Flying Spaghetti Monster Holiday display at the Michigan capitol grounds.

The tongue-in-cheek church — its pamphlet advertises “flimsy moral standards” and a “WAY better” heaven that includes a stripper factory and beer volcano — brought its monument to its creator to the statehouse on Friday. The monument shows a sort of blob of spaghetti with eyeballs on top and giant meatball orbs on either side.

You can read more of the Journal article here. There’s a video and some more photos as well.

The backstory is that Michigan lawmakers decided to open up the capitol lawn to everyone (as not to appear to promote Christian displays), and a number of religious groups (including us) jumped on the opportunity for outreach.

Huge thanks to Chris Beckstrom and the local Pastafarians for organizing the display and their evangelism efforts (not to mention Chris’s impressive accordion playing). No doubt passers-by were enchanted, maybe already considering converting to Pastafarianism.

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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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license

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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zerocommandments

Good news everybody, the Oklahoma Supreme Court ordered the Ten Commandments monument must be removed from the state Capitol, saying it violates the Constitution, which bans using public property for the benefit of religion.

This Politico article goes into it in more detail:

Before the statue was installed in 2012 as a gift from Republican state lawmaker Mike Ritze and his family, legislators argued that it was not religious, but historic. Additionally, the U.S. Supreme Court found that a similar monument in Texas did not violate the establishment clause because it was intended to convey a historic and social meaning and did not constitute a religious endorsement.

The 6-foot-tall monument’s installation prompted other groups, from the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to Satanists, to try to get permission to build their own monuments on the grounds of the state Capitol to mark what they also characterize as historical events.

Big thanks to all the Pastafarians in Oklahoma pushing for equality and the ACLU for doing the tedious work of fighting this case in court.

And the Satanists did a tremendous job of bringing attention to this issue, not to mention that their monument was a work of art:

Capture

The statue features the seven-foot tall, horned figure of Baphomet fawned upon by two exultant children. The statue is a symbol to “celebrate our progress as a pluralistic nation founded on secular law.”

I’m sure it won’t be long before this stuff is in the courts again:

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt vowed to file a petition for a rehearing, saying that “the court completely ignored the profound historical impact of the Ten Commandments on the foundation of Western law,” according to local reports.

It’s too bad that these guys are so bent on pushing religion. I feel like there must be something more beneficial to the public they could be spending their time on.

But for today, I feel like we are making progress.

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Pastafarian ministers are coming to teach at Australian schools

Published March 27th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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Good news in the fight for religious equality in Australia —

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has applied to the Victorian Department of Education and Training for approval to “spread the word” in schools through the Special Religious Instruction program.

Department spokesman Stuart Teather confirmed correspondence had been received and it “will be considered”.

Read the full article at the Herald Sun here

I think this is great. The Victorian Department of Education deserves a lot of credit for taking the request seriously.

Cynics might see this all as a way to make a point that religion has no place in schools, that having Pastafarians Spread the Word while dressed in Pirate Regalia to a bunch of kids will be such a ridiculous sight as to make administrators re-think the policy of allowing religious teaching in schools … but I am confident that the kids are going to get some quality information from us. At the very least we’ll be able to counter some misinformation in the secular curriculum. Such as:

* that pirates were unruly criminals
* that the world is older than 10k years despite the “evidence” to the contrary

What should we cover on our lessons? I feel like maybe we should tone down any teaching about Beer Volcano and Stripper Factory, as these are impressionable youths we’re educating.

Now I’m curious what has been allowed previously in this Special Religious Instruction program.

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Bruder Spaghettus and the Pastafarian struggle in Germany

Published February 24th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

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PRI has a story about Pastafarian minister Bruder Spaghettus and his struggle for the recognition of Pastafarianism in Germany.

He [Bruder] is convinced that religion holds a privileged place in German society and that non-believers lack the same civil rights.

Weida is a 63-year-old retiree who lives in the town of Templin. It’s about an hour’s drive outside of Berlin and happens to be Angela Merkel’s hometown. Templin is also where Weida founded the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” in September last year. As one of the leading “Pastafarians” at the church, or non-church more accurately, Weida goes by the alias of “Bruder Spaghettus.”

Weekly “Noodle Worship” begins at 10 a.m. Fridays in a small building on Weida’s farmstead on the outskirts of town. It looks and feels somewhat like weekly worship services at mainstream Christian churches. There is an altar, time for prayers, scripture readings, hymns, and even a version of Holy Communion. But the similarities end pretty quickly.

Read the full article here

It’s a good article, but I find it a bit slanted in terms of calling us Atheists, not Believers in the FSM, and referring to Pastafarianism as a non-religion. When I see these tactics, I wonder if the writer does it purposely, as a means to get the article published. Still an interesting read.

Bruder is great, I am sure the FSM is very pleased to see his work.

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In response to the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks

Published January 16th, 2015 by Bobby Henderson

hebdo

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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Secular message not well received as House of Reps daily prayer

Published June 6th, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

juan-mendez

I like this — Arizona Rep. Juan Mendez offered the daily prayer at a floor session, and instead of God talk, he spoke about tolerance and the values we share as humans, and the duty of government to look past religious divisions:

Most prayers in this room begin with a request to bow your heads. I would like to ask that you not bow your heads. I would like to ask that you take a moment to look around the room at all of the men and women here, in this moment, sharing together this extraordinary experience of being alive and of dedicating ourselves to working toward improving the lives of the people in our state.

This is a room in which there are many challenging debates, many moments of tension, of ideological division, of frustration. But this is also a room where, as my secular humanist tradition stresses, by the very fact of being human, we have much more in common than we have differences. We share the same spectrum of potential for care, for compassion, for fear, for joy, for love.

What a great sentiment, and surely the members of the House, even if religious, appreciated such a positive message.

Except for Rep. Steve Smith, who felt it necessary to re-do the prayer the next day in repentance. What a douche.

Some articles:

About Rep. Mendez’s secular daily prayer

About Rep. Smith, butt-hurt, re-doing the prayer

I look forward to the day when Pastafarian members of the House can speak openly about their one True faith.

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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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