SPARE a thought for the Irish member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster whose request for a renewal of his driving licence the Road Safety Authority (RSA) recently turned down. It seems that when the RSA sought to take his picture he insisted on wearing a colander on his head (a colander is a kitchen utensil for draining spaghetti).
Demanding his rights, the disappointed motorist appealed the decision to the Workplace Relations Commission and offered to sport a smaller bowl-sized drainer for the photograph. But equality officers ruled that the use of a colander, large or small, obscured his eyes and forehead – facial areas that must be clearly seen on a driving licence photo.
Neither was the RSA impressed by his argument that a colander was an essential part of his religion. They were of the opinion that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, also known as Pastafarianism, was a ‘parody religion’; in other words, not a religion at all.
The jury is out as to whether or not the unlucky driver was a victim of religious discrimination; but to describe the man’s beliefs as a ‘parody religion’ was somewhat over the top. Because (let’s be frank) the Irish Constitution says that it’s the right of people to hold any religious beliefs they like, so long as the beliefs do not interfere with other people’s legal or civil rights.
The decision raises major conundrums. Does the wearing of a colander on one’s head amount to a disturbance that could affect the driving of other motorists, or could it transform the person in question into a roadhog?
Is the RSA decision a manifestation of a tyrannical State that tramples on motorists’ human rights in much the same way that the rights of humanists are violated when their children have to suffer ‘religious indoctrination’ in National Schools?
Because the implications are huge for struggling minorities like the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and humanists mad keen to change Irish society into their own image and likeness!
In America (Massachusetts to be precise) Pastafarians are not prohibited from wearing colanders while driving. Indeed, in Holland, Poland and New Zealand the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is an officially-recognised religion.
In New Zealand, Pastafarian ministers are licensed to perform weddings and officiate at new-baby-naming ceremonies. They also celebrate the lives of deceased Church members at funerals.
And, it’s not that Pastafarians are anti-religious. Oh no! Anything but! Nor are they trying to offend people. According to their website, they simply want to poke fun at formal religions, even if that means knocking sacred rites and ceremonies down a peg or two.
Their aim is to encourage people to ‘take a hard look at the strange business of religion’ and, of course, to give glory to the Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster, ‘the one and only True God’ who, they hope, will touch devotees with his ‘Noodly Appendage so that they may know his Loving Embrace.’
The Church was created in 2005 by a physics teacher Bobby Henderson, who objected to the teaching of ‘intelligent design’ or ‘creationism’ in Kansas’s public schools. To his astonishment, Pastafarianism became an organised cult, a sort of social-media religion for young people, and then a worldwide laugh.
But the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Sydney takes it seriously. Pointy heads studied the phenomena and concluded that Pastafarianism was a product of atheistic communities that wanted to make religion look ridiculous.
But unlike humanists – generally perceived as dour, dusty, grating, self-assertive and combative – Pastafarians prefer to employ satire, scorn and mockery to get their message across.
‘When (religious) people try to dominate public discourse and the political landscape, the humour you find in things like the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a subtle and powerful way of pushing back,’ said an Australian expert on the matter.
Pastafarian believe the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) created the entire universe and all its contents after drinking heavily for four days. The first person created was a midget to whom FSM granted a beautiful ‘wench.’ All humanity sprang from her.
Pirates also are important to the religion as they combat global warming, earthquakes and natural disasters. Pastafarians speak like pirates and believe that heaven is a place containing beer, volcanoes and a stripper factory.
To demonstrate that their religion is every bit as real as other religions, reverent Pastafarians express their devotion by wearing colanders and chanting prayers such as the ‘Our Pasta.’
It goes like this: ‘Our Pasta, who “Arghh” in heaven, Swallowed be thy shame, Thy Midget come. Thy sauce be yum. On top some grated Parmesan. Give us this day our garlic bread. And give us our cutlasses, as we swashbuckle, splice the main-brace and cuss. And lead us into temptation. But deliver us some Pizza. For thine are Meatballs, and the beer, and the strippers, forever and ever. RAmen.’
Another prayer is the Hail Marinara: ‘Hail Marinara, full of spice. Tasty are thou amongst sauces and blessed is the fruit of thy jar, tomatoes (although fools believe they are vegetables). Chief among toppings, save a plate for us now, and at about 6 o’clock when dinner is served, if you would be so kind! RAmen.’
Ethical life is guided by the Eight Condiments. Two were lost, symbolisng that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is prepared to overlook the faithful straying on the odd occasion.
They also perform a complex religious rite called ‘The Noodle Dance’. In recent years, they say, Michael Flatley has been performing a variation of said dance.
Schoolboy stuff, but if humanists can be serious about the need to rid Irish society of obscurantist beliefs that stand in the way of human welfare and progress, surely the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster also should be taken seriously?
Or, to put things another way: are human rights really universal or do they become the battered leftovers of European trendyism when the Irish Constitution fails to guarantee decent treatment for all human beings, humanists and Pastafarians? (Answers to be accompanied by a €20 note, please)
What is certain is that Pastafarians – Gawd bless ’em – give the lie to the old adage that no one with a sense of humour ever founded a religion!
A loud report!
Last week ex-Justice Minister, Alan Shatter welcomed the O’Higgins Report into alleged Garda malpractice. The report came in the wake of many other government inquiries that no one took any notice of, and which were immediately forgotten after rambling, boring discussions on the ‘Vincent Browne Show’.
George Bernard Shaw put it well when he said that a government inquiry was like a man going to the lavatory. ‘It sits, there is a silence followed by a large report, and the matter is dropped!’