The Dutch Council of State has ruled that Pastafarians are not allowed to wear a colander on their passport photograph. The main reason for this is that it’s not a ‘real’ religion. The Council deemed wearing a colander to lack seriousness. Sure. Because covering your head with a cloth or putting a quarter of a soccerball on it makes perfect sense. Apparently raping kids for hundreds of years and/or suppress women are key ingredients for a ‘real’ religion then?
The ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In the letter, Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for “Flying Spaghetti Monsterism”, alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.
National branches of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have been striving in many countries to have FSMism become an officially (legally) recognized religion, with varying degrees of success. Pastafarianism/FSMism is recognized as a religion in the Netherlands. In New Zealand, Pastafarian representatives have been authorized as marriage celebrants, however members of other movements considered to be “alternative philosophies” rather than religions are also recognized as celebrants under New Zealand law. (Source: Wikipedia)
A no go
Mienke de Wilde, a Pastafarian from Nijmegen wanted a new ID and drivers licence two years ago. She was denied her photograph with a colander on her head by the municipality. One of the rules for a picture on official documents are that the head must be bare. But there are exceptions. Religious headwear like a turban or a headscarf are allowed. According to De Wilde this was the case for her, so she turned to a judge. Her claim was denied. Now her appeal to the Court of State has been denied as well. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is not a recognized religion, they said, so the regular rules should apply to De Wilde.
A real religion
What counts as a real religion anyway? A deity to whom you can pray? A book of fiction? Followers? Guidelines? In those cases the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster ticks all the boxes. So far we have seen other things in the current recognized religions though. Murder in the name of the deity. Suppression of women and minorities. Wars in the name of the religion. We can carry on for a while. We don’t think those parts are making the world a better place. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be recognized for being a more peaceful religion alone. Wearing a colander makes as much sense as a yarmulke. It’s a thing on your head because you believe in something fictional. What is the difference? Why should some people get preferential treatment for their fiction, while others are denied it?