LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A federal judge is declaring Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is not a real religion.
Stephen Cavanaugh, an inmate at the Nebraska State Penitentiary, sued the Nebraska Department of Corrections, maintaining he isn't being allowed to practice his religion freely — claiming to be a "Pastafarian," a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He was suing for court costs and $5 million for pain, suffering and punitive damages.
Cavanaugh wanted to be able to "order and wear religious clothing and pendants, the right to meet for weekly worship services and classes and the right to receive communion." In this case religious clothing is a pirate costume.
Unite States District Judge John Gerrard commented, "The FSM Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement. To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a 'religious exercise' on any other work of fiction."
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster began in 2005 as a reaction to the Kansas Board of Education deciding to allow the teaching of Intelligent Design as an alternative to evolution in state schools. A physics major, Bobby Henderson, wrote an open letter to the board, arguing that Intelligent Design is just as valid as saying the universe was created by a flying spaghetti monster. It received heavy exposure on the Internet and a phenomenon was born.
In 2006 Henderson published "The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster," a satirical work against Intelligent Design. Another book was published as an obvious parody and mockery of the Bible, called "The Loose Canon."
Since then some atheists and agnostics have declared themselves followers of FSMism. They maintain their religious garb is a pirate costume and have fought in several states to wear a colander as religious headgear in driver's license photos. Henderson has previously declared that "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma." It has officially been declared a religion in Poland, the Netherlands and New Zealand.
FSMism is one of several atheist or agnostic groups masquerading as a religion in order to mock Christianity. The Church of the SubGenius was founded in the 1970s, and its members profess to believe in an absurd mixture of gods, aliens and mutants. The Satanic Temple of Detroit is another group using religion as a cloak for political activism and social commentary — especially at the expense of Christianity.
Henderson commented about Cavanaugh's suit, "I get the impression he's a troubled guy, so I am nervous about his interest in our Church, but I don't for a second doubt his sincerity. I don't believe he's fighting the prison system out of boredom or as some sort of stunt."