A post at Boing Boing has drawn my attention to a courthouse in Cumberland County, Tennessee, where awhile ago a statue of Moses had been placed on the lawn. As it is illegal to mix church and state, the lawn became designated a “free speech” zone, and many other statues of various faiths and practices were likewise portrayed.
The most recent of which is the addition of a huge 3D statue depicting the Flying Spaghetti Monster, created by local artist Ariel Safdie.
Image via the Crossville Chronicle
The Flying Spaghetti Monster was originally one man (Bobby Henderson)’s belief in/parody of Intelligent Design. More specifically, it was a protest against the decision by the Kansas State Board of Education to instate the teaching of Intelligent Design as mandatory. It has since then become an internet phenomenon, and is sometimes held up as an example of atheism or empiricism. It’s system of beliefs are called “Pastafarianism”, some outlines of which include:
- pirates as the ultimate ideal
- monotheism in regard to the Flying Spaghetti Monster (the creator of the world)
- the notion that Bobby Henderson is a prophet.
For me, this opens the debate between cult and religion, heterodoxy v. orthodoxy. Is this really a valid system of beliefs? Is it less or more outrageous than certain fringe interpretations of organized religion? For example, in Islam there is Wahabism, which even the Saudi family do not practice as stringently as they might claim. And in Christianity we have Fred Phelps and his Church‘s take, which states that homosexuality is leading the way to damnation. Who gets to make the call on what is defined rightly as “religion”, and what is not?
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