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Speak Your Mind: Pastafarianism

Earlier this month, America’s first openly Pastafarian public official was sworn into office. Wearing a colander on his head.

[Christopher] Schaeffer wore a colander (a strainer typically used to drain water from spaghetti) while Town Clerk Allison Dispense administered the oath of office to him before the board’s reorganizational meeting. When the OBSERVER asked afterward why he wore a colander on his head, Schaeffer said he was a minister with an even more unique organization – the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

 

“It’s just a statement about religious freedom,” he said. “It’s a religion without any dogma.”

Hm. I was unaware that Pastafarians considered themselves part of a “real” (whatever that means) religion. That’s news to me. I became even more confused when I read this quote:

“Our ideal is to scrutinize ideas and actions, but ignore general labels,” the website states. “Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment, satire, illustrating that Intelligent Design is not science, but rather a pseudoscience manufactured by Christians to push Creationism (the doctrine that God created the universe) into public schools. These people are mistaken. The Church of FSM is real, totally legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”

Is it, though? Is the humor or satire purely coincidental? After all, the entire endeavor is premised on a clear parody. The official Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website as a whole reads like satire to me. It even has a tab called “Propaganda.” But this is the Internet. I just don’t know anymore.

What is going on here? Is there a meta joke that I’m missing? Or is Pastafarianism a real thing that’s happening? Do you think this kind of commitment to a parody religion helps the cause of skepticism? Or hurts it? Or neither? Is this just a way to explain the skeptical mindset to people who are more familiar with dogma?

Featured image credit: Greg Fox

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Mindy

Mindy

Mindy is an attorney and Managing Editor of Teen Skepchick. She hates the law and loves stars. You can follow her on Twitter and on Google+.

1 Comment

  1. January 9, 2014 at 7:13 am —

    I’m conflicted about FSM. I think the unflinching insistence on its sincerity is a requisite part of the parody (have you ever heard a creationist call their own platform BS?), but I very much doubt that there are real believers. I think FSM can be a useful way to argue about the establishment clause in the US.

    I do think there are issues with the idea that it is, in fact, young earth creationism with the way god looks changed, and that’s about it. There are already people uninformed/deluded enough to believe that, so having some superficial trappings of a joke don’t strike me as a particularly good satire or even necessarily a good parody of the nuttiness that’s already out there. While I doubt there are real believers, I don’t know that I’d necessarily be surprised. Because it is the same junk.

    As for promoting skepticism, I can see it a couple ways. First, by making identical claims with a ridiculous and recent iteration of god, it might get the people with knee-jerk reactions that Pasrafarianism is wrong to consider why it’s wrong if its claims are identical. Having been on the internet for any length of time, though, I can also see it as a way for a lot of people to belittle others without bothering to understand skepticism at all. I have tried to cultivate my internet experience enough that I don’t get much exposure to that kind of jerkery, but I imagine that it’s pretty common.

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