Federal court makes decision: Can worship of flying spaghetti monster be a religion under law?

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The worship of a flying spaghetti monster is not a religion.

It took a federal court to make that decision.

The case began two years ago when Stephen Cavanaugh, a prisoner in a Nebraska state penitentiary and a practicing “pastafarian,” sued the state over the right to practice his faith.

Newsweek reported:

Cavanaugh argued that his religion requires him to wear special religious clothing in the form of “full pirate regalia,” but that prison officials refused to allow him to do so, despite allowing members of other, recognized religions to purchase and wear special clothing and other items. Cavanaugh also argued that prison officials kept him from meeting and holding religious services with other members of his faith. He also demanded $5 million in damages for “deep emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain.”


“The Court finds that FSMism is not a ‘religion’ within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence,” Gerrard said in a 16-page decision. “It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education.”

The Flying Spaghetti Monster was the 2005 brainchild of then-physics graduate student Bobby Henderson in response to the Kansas State Board of Education’s proposal to teach intelligent design in public schools. The theory of Intelligent design is that the universe is so complex that it must have been the work of a supreme being.

Because the theory falls short of actually naming the supreme being or god, Henderson decided to name it himself.

“I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them, Henderson wrote at the time. “I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster.”

The “religion” since took off, and has become a world-wide phenomenon. The court’s decision is sure to disappoint pastafarians everywhere.

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