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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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:


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


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.

229 Responses to “Pastafarianism in the military”

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  1. nunya biz says:

    my spouse just said something regarding missionaries & cannibals?,..yikes.

  2. nunya biz says:

    Well, being lied about…THAT’S real…my health being compromised, being blamed 4 things not my fault…that is real…
    people telling me- people in the health field- telling me 2 pray 4 pain relief. PHYSICAL PAIN as the result of physical injury & having that vlamed on the non physical- THATS real. Maybe G-d is real 2. . .but he is really just the original asshole.

  3. nunya biz says:

    blamed. Not vlamed…

  4. nunya biz says:

    Was not interested 2 bash guys per se…just its been noted 2 me about numerous holy scripts having male dominant directives.

    i can c how stem cell grafting couldve been premiered there, in eden…a utopia type place. This was before any other politic beyond male female & the idea of a greater authority, @ least in that set of stories. Actually tho, I do not really care so, not sure y I bother…was there not some movement back a few decades involving a turtle & the universe? No 1 is any less or more credible, than another- tho was unfamiliar with the underwear theory of mormons until it was pointed out 2 me…what if some1 has laundry pile up & has gone commando, r they vulnerable, is that really fair, 2 lay on some1? There r many things people come 2 believe. Religion takes the biggest beating 4 being considered irrational. A goat, turtle, genderless or gender specific is no less believable than anything else. My spouse, male, pointed out 2 me about all the hims…

    I do believ if these r attempts @ historic documentation, if something akin 2 a rape wouldve occurred, way back when, any1 in charge couldve stricken it from the records. As it is, all hell broke lose because of entrapment. Appetites r in place because of survival, dietary requirements. If we lacked smell & taste would not know what is spoiled & could kill us vs what is nutritionally dense & life sustaining. Some1s appetite was whetted & that was the end of things. Maybe she ought have starved…better she have an eating disorder than set a bad example. The way things have shaped up, id not b surprised 2 learn the snake & adam placed some sort of bet & it was adams gambling that really got every1 in hot water. Eve certainly was not the book keeper.

    I do not believe the site as displayed on this end is true/ accurate…just because of th # of times our accounts/ devices have been hacked including by relative of spouses whom bragged about capably doing so,controlling display on this end.

  5. nunya biz says:

    tho being tracked online is not beyond scope, either. That 2, has gone on…including being repeatedly contacted by siblings spouse during their divorce proceedings. Between he & the nice family on our street whom happened 2 b Mormon, contact was preferred with them, over him…. It just seems odd 2 me how there r persons interested in denying my experiences offline, then articles turn up sugesting women ‘fake’ being raped…on a site about fsm.

  6. nunya biz says:

    If my name were posted, it would merely make the level of privacy invasion experienced here official- & it is not imagined, the breeches in privacy & security. Prior 2 this, private entries from our computer were released 2 the internet, altered & persons including family members of my spouse bragged about the ability 2 place spyware & hack accounts for sport…after another relative questioned me, repeatedly about Judaism…in not a nice way. I was also threatened numerous points with being identified offline & if anything happens here, @ least certain things will stand. Ive been targeted my whole life by ‘respected’ members of other religions trying 2 convert me, then had head games played by area rabbi more recently…over our not attending temple & which r intended by design 2 b unsubstantiated…members of own family have implied Ive been led astray by what is seen as departure from ‘norm’ & the state school which forced the concept of church also sent a rabbi to visit me without there being any request on my part. I was assaulted @ the school & have attempted & failed 2 get legal help after suffering injuries in various accidents…one atty i was referred 2 went 2 temple with a guy whom had asked me out, i said no thanks…got 2 attorneys office & had his pal, the attorney, close the door in my face…I attempted 2 speak with area rabbi about events & had him make smartass remarks essentially amounting to, nobody will ever believe, me. ..& can c, he is correct.

  7. nunya biz says:

    so it was no doubt pointless 2 bother here, either.

  8. nunya biz says:

    i know this, i wont b the last person 2 die being lied about.

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