Church of The Flying Spaghetti Monster

April 2, 2008 at 12:31 pm (art) (, )

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.

Feel free to learn more.

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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8 Comments

  1. amberfireinus said,

    I love this!! My friend Ammonyte first showed me the website. It is so well thought out and true. I am going to link to this… its awesome!

  2. Daisy said,

    Who gets to make the call on what is defined rightly as “religion”, and what is not?

    A good question. What’s your take on it?

  3. onlymoments said,

    Here’s my take on the whole “god” thing.

    http://onlymoments.wordpress.com/2008/03/26/why-where-who-and-whens/

    It’s all about space, time, and being. No one gets out alive.

  4. The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster…. « Amberfireinus’s Weblog said,

    […] I came upon a blog that was commenting on this today and again I had to howl with laughter.  https://ourdescent.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/church-of-the-flying-spaghetti-monster/ […]

  5. Isabel said,

    There was actually a court case where this came up, concerning the San Francisco Zen Center in the 70s-80s. Robert Bellah, a well-known religions scholar, got up on the stand and testified to the extant that Buddhism is not a cult, it has a long history of being a legitimate religion, etc etc.
    But afterwards, he said that these words are misleading, and really all religions are “cults”, that there is no difference and no way to tell. I suppose that some have just been around longer and become more legitimized through the system.

  6. amberfireinus said,

    As for the whole what gets to be a religion? In the UK census, they ask you to state your religion. A group of University students thought it would be funny to write in Jedi. It spread like wildfire. Jedi now accounts for something like 3% of the British population…. so there you go!

  7. Isabel said,

    Thank you for linking to us, amberfireinus!

    And that Jedi bit is hilarious,

  8. Daran said,

    A religion is a cult that got popular.

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