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Pastafarian Inmate Sues Prison

Published November 7th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

pirate

In FSM news — Nebraska prisoner Stephen Cavanaugh is suing over the right to pursue his faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Specifically he wants:

* to dress in religious garments — that is, full pirate regalia — and,

* to take part in weekly meetings with others who hold similar beliefs

He’s also asking for $5 Million in damages related to “deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain resulting from being allowed to practice my religion, and Mr. Bartlet [Religious Coordinator, Nebraska State Pen]’s repeated mocking and insulting of my faith.”

I’m skeptical of anyone asking for money, and my immediate thought was that this is a frivolous lawsuit. But after reading the court documents and talking with people in the know, I feel that here is a troubled guy who is legitimately trying to pursue his faith and, only after being stymied by the in-house prison channels, was forced to take the fight to the courts. Yes the dollar amount he’s asking for is exorbitant (and in my view, hurts his case), but the underlying complaint feels legitimate to me.

One thing I found alarming: in the court docs there’s a claim by prison officials that, when looking into Cavanaugh’s religion, they found “the founder of Pastafarianism stated that it was a parody of religion”, and used this as a reason to deny Cavanaugh his requests for religious garments and group prayer.

They may or may not be referring to me, I don’t know — but I don’t think I’ve ever spoken to any Nebraskan prison officials, and if I did I wouldn’t have used those words.

For the record, I don’t believe Pastafarianism is a parody.

What I say, sometimes, is that some number of Pastafarians do not believe in a literal Flying Spaghetti Monster or our Creation story. And that is perfectly fine — it’s a common thing even in mainstream religion to be skeptical of scripture. The distinction is that in FSM, the culture is more accepting of people who are skeptical-minded, while in many mainstream religions, doubt is seen as an affront to the Dogmatic Truth.

My point is that there are doubters in religion in general, simply because religious scripture can be full of nonsense. You wouldn’t say Christianity is a parody just because some members don’t buy the part about the world being created in 7 days and the talking snake, etc.

Religion is more than a collection of beliefs and rituals, it’s a way to form community and a framework to make sense of our place in the universe. And on this level, I think Prison officials did Cavanaugh a disservice in not allowing him to pursue his faith. I mean, he wasn’t asking for that much. He wanted to buy a pirate costume with his own money and hang out with some other Pastafarians once a week.

One last point I’d like to make: lets consider that maybe the prison officials are simply unenlightened about the FSM. Maybe this is just a misunderstanding, rather than outright religious persecution. I suspect that Mr. Cavanaugh may be willing to call of the fight if the prison officials would relent and allow him to pursue his faith.

Here are the best articles I’ve found, if you’d like to keep reading about Cavanaugh’s case:

[1] Great article (and spectacular title) by ThinkProgress about the Cavanaugh lawsuit — Inmate Sues Prison Claiming His Religious Liberty Entitles Him To Dress Like A Pirate

[2] The raw court documents (PDF)

[3] Here’s an article where some lawyers are discussing whether the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster may have some influence in rethinking the RLUIPA (religion in prison) laws — Can the Flying Spaghetti Monster Reshape RLUIPA?

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Stained Glass

Published September 20th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

Stephan made this beautiful stained glass window.

fsmoutside

The design was influenced by a previous contributor who had done a computer mockup of what the FSM would look like on stained glass.

I made a few modifications in order for it to be feasible, and for it to fit in an 24″x18′ frame.

You can see more of Stephan’s work here.

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Happy Talk Like a Pirate Day

Published September 19th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

fsm_girls2

I hope everyone has a great time.

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The Vancouver pride parade douche was not one of us

Published August 7th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

This guy, Bill Whatcott,

fatdouche

has nothing to do with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

We hear he crashed a Vancouver pride parade posing as a member of the Calgary Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and then passed out anti-gay leaflets.

I find it all very sad, and while I hope no one actually believed this douche represents the Church of the FSM, I wonder if there’s anything that can be done to keep him from using our name and symbols in the future.

Here’s an article talking about their antics.

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Kiva Team FSM has reached $2 Million in Loans

Published March 24th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

2million

Team FSM has reached $2 Million in loans on the micro-lending site Kiva. We’re now the top-lending religious congregation on Kiva, above the Buddhists, Catholics, Muslims, and — especially pleasing to me – above the Mormons, who we’ve been in a friendly competition with for years. Congratulations everyone!

suck it, mormons

What is Kiva? Kiva is a platform where you can make small loans to people in poor areas that need help starting small business. We make small, interest-free loans towards the projects we support, and Kiva combines them to fund the loan to the person who wants to build a small workshop, farm, restaurant, fruit stand, etc. These are interest-fee loans in places like Cambodia, Peru, Uganda — places where traditional bank lending to the poor is unavailable (or predatory). Kiva ensures that the loans are paid out and that the money is paid back. A lot of us feel this is the best way of bringing economic growth to the poorest areas.

I’ve had a good experience with Kiva and I encourage anyone interested to check it out. And please join our amazing team and help us continue to trounce the mainstream religion teams.

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Pastafarian minister sworn into office

Published January 6th, 2014 by Bobby Henderson

sworn-in

Encouraging news, reported by The Observer out of Dunkirk, New York:

A unique style of headwear was present during newly-seated Pomfret Town Council member Christopher Schaeffer’s oath of office Thursday afternoon, but it wasn’t intended to keep his head warm.

Schaeffer wore a colander (a strainer typically used to drain water from spaghetti) while Town Clerk Allison Dispense administered the oath of office to him before the board’s reorganizational meeting. When the OBSERVER asked afterward why he wore a colander on his head, Schaeffer said he was a minister with an even more unique organization – the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

This may be the first openly Pastafarian sworn into office. For sure, the first to be sworn in wearing a colander.

I imagine Council member Schaeffer is getting a lot of heat because of the news coverage. Some people will see it as obnoxious or a sign that he’s not taking the oath of office seriously. But I am completely confident that Schaeffer will distinguish himself as a Council member of the highest caliber.

Scaeffer’s statement at the end of the article says it all:

“Mostly, I’m just looking forward to making sure that the town is run smoothly and we meet the needs of all of our citizens,” he said. “If anybody ever has any concerns or questions, I hope they contact me, because I want to make sure that everyone is represented.”

You can read the article here at the Observer.

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Tampa Tribune featured the FSM Holiday display

Published December 24th, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

Tampa Tribune front page

The Tampa Tribune featured the FSM Holiday display in today’s paper, front page.

The sign says “A closed mouth catches no noodly appendages.”

And here’s the Christian nativity display that started all of this:

nativity

What do you think — next year, will the Florida Capitol allow any religious displays?

Thanks to Jay Nelson for the photos.

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FSM Server Needs Home

Published December 23rd, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

server2

I’m looking for a place to co-locate our new server. We need a spot to hold a 1U size chassis, a few IPs, on a fast un-metered connection. I’m hoping to get it settled in the next few weeks. Please contact me if you know of a good deal. Thanks !

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Florida Capital approves Pastafarian Holiday display

Published December 22nd, 2013 by Bobby Henderson

Equality

Great news! The Florida Capitol building has endorsed our religion by allowing an FSM Holiday display on its grounds.

The Florida Capitol building just made a move that Sarah Palin is likely to interpret as a hostile affront in the so-called “war on Christmas,” approving a religious statue from the Pastafarian group of their deity the Flying Spaghetti Monster to be included in the Capitol’s holiday displays.

You can read more at Death and Taxes magazine.

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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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