Pastafarianism is not a religion, court decides

Dutch judge issues ruling in case over the right to wear a collander in a passport photo

 Mienke de Wilde poses with a pasta strainer on her head in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Photograph: Piroschka  Van De Wouw/EPA

Mienke de Wilde poses with a pasta strainer on her head in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. Photograph: Piroschka Van De Wouw/EPA

 

The Dutch council of state has ruled that Pastafarianism is not a religion, denying a follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the right to wear a colander on her head in her passport and driving licence photo.

Mienke de Wilde is now considering taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

The Netherlands’ highest court said de Wilde, a law student from Nijmegen, could not be exempted on religious grounds from a ban on headwear in official identity photographs, because Pastafarianism was essentially a satire and not a serious faith.

The church was founded in the US in 2005 by Bobby Henderson as a response to Christian fundamentalists advocating the teaching of creationism in schools. In an open letter, Henderson demanded equal time in science classrooms for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism.

Believers worship an invisible and undetectable god called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, wear colanders on their heads in homage to their deity, revere pirates as the original Pastafarians and vow to reject “crazy nonsense”, be nice to all sentient beings and eat a lot of pasta.

Officially recognised by the New Zealand government, which approved it to conduct marriages in 2015, the church’s status is disputed in many other countries, although several have allowed followers to wear colanders or pirate outfits for ID photographs.

Among its tenets, laid down by Henderson in a 2006 parody of organised religion called The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, are eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts” (according to the gospel, two of the original 10 got lost).

If followed, the pseudo-commandments allow Pastafarians, who conclude their prayers with “ramen”, rather than “amen”, to ascend to heaven – which features a stripper factory and a beer volcano.

‘Serious point’

De Wilde said the church was humorous but that did not mean it was not “very serious in what it stands for”. She was disappointed by the decision, which backed Nijmegen authorities’ rejection of her ID photos.

“I can imagine that it all looks very odd if you don’t believe,” she told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. “But that’s the case with many faiths if you don’t believe in them – people who walk on water or divide themselves in two, for example. I find other religions unbelievable.”

The Dutch council of state was not impressed, however. “It may be the case that the colander is considered a holy object for Pastafarians, worn in honour of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but there is no obligation to do so,” it said in its ruling.

“In fact, Pastafarianism has no obligations or restrictions. De Wilde has said she wears her colander because she sees it as duty but it is an individual choice.”

Dutch law permits the head to be partially covered for identity photos, but only for genuine religious reasons.

“It is important to be able to criticise religious dogma freely through satire but that does not make such criticism a serious religion,” the council said, adding that Pastafarianism lacked the “seriousness and coherence” required of a religion. – Guardian