Note: this article was also published on Project Quinn (website no longer active).
It all started because of the Kansas Board of Education. Back in 2005, Bobby Henderson wrote a letter to them with regards to their decision to teach intelligent design and creationism along with evolution in science classes. But rather than outright decrying the inclusion of religious dogma into a publicly funded educational outlet, Henderson decided to be creative.
“Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him,” wrote Henderson in his letter to the Board. He goes on, using the same basic arguments the supporters of these alternate theories to show that there is just as much reason to teach the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) – including the ‘proof’ that natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of pirates (a revered figure in Pastafarianism) since the 1800s.
Henderson published this letter on his website in May of 2005, and the Internet took notice. Henderson’s website devoted to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has a section devoted to the various ‘sightings’ of the FSM, which include a reference in the animated TV show Futurama. In August of 2005, the technology blog Boing Boing created a contest – offering up $250,000 to anyone who could come up with empirical evidence to prove Jesus was not the son of the FSM. The Wikipedia page has links to several articles that mention the FSM in legitimate religious debates. And now, not only can you purchase The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and join the FSM’s Kiva team (as of September 15, 2013, they’ve loaned $1,726,375 – ranking them #1 in amount loaned in religious organizations), but you can also become ordained in the Church for only $20.
Henderson is quick to explain in the FAQ section of his website that the FSM is not anti-religion or even necessarily pro-atheist. Rather, it’s against people who seem to forget that the separation of church of state is implied in the First Amendment’s charge that Congress can make no law establishing religion. “We are not anti-religion, we are anti-crazy nonsense done in the name of religion. There is a big difference. Our ideal is to scrutinize ideas and actions but ignore general labels.” And yet, despite acknowledging this, there is a whole section on the FSM website detailing the hate mail “(and concerned criticism)” he receives. Some obviously don’t get the joke – worried that followers of Pastafarianism truly believe in the religious appeal of strippers and beer. Most, however, are from religious people who seem to think that it’s about mocking Christianity. In actuality, many of the people who support the FSM do consider themselves followers of a mainstream religion.
When all is said and done, the FSM is mostly about showing the preferential treatment religion gets. Whether it’s the inclusion of the FSM in public places during Christmas or the wearing of a pasta strainer on a Pastafarianist’s head in ID photos, most references to the FSM can be construed as political statements. In fact, on August 18, there was a ‘pasta procession’ in Russia that had eight people detained.
“By design, the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma,” the FAQ states as the main tenet of the religion. Henderson continues to support the idea that the FSM exists to open dialogue about the place religion holds in politics and in our lives. What better gospel according to education than to open people’s minds?
All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you be touched by his noodly appendage. R’amen.