U.S. court disallows inmate's practice of 'parody religion' that worships a 'Flying Spaghetti Monster'

A Flying Spaghetti Monster contingent prepares for the 2009 Summer Solstice Parade and Pageant in Fremont, Seattle, Washington.(Wikipedia)

Believe it or not, certain individuals believe more in the existence of a divine "Flying Spaghetti Monster" than of God.

A federal judge in the United States has rejected the demand of an inmate at the Nebraska State Penitentiary to practice his faith called "Pastafarianism," which equates a "Flying Spaghetti Monster" to God.

Stephen Cavanaugh, who is serving a four- to eight-year term on assault and weapons charges, demanded from the state $5 million, and the freedom to practice his faith, conduct weekly Pastafarianism worship services and receive communion while in prison.

In his petition before the federal court, Cavanaugh also claimed that he has "several tattoos proclaiming his faith" and asserted that he must be given the opportunity to order and wear religious clothing and pendants while serving his sentence.

U.S. District Judge John Gerrard, however, ruled that Pastafarianism could not be given the same level of protection given by the Constitution to other religions such as Christianity.

"The Court finds that FSMism is not a 'religion' within the meaning of the relevant federal statutes and constitutional jurisprudence. It is, rather, a parody, intended to advance an argument about science, the evolution of life, and the place of religion in public education," Gerrard stated in the court ruling, as quoted by Arstechnica.com.

"Those are important issues, and FSMism contains a serious argument—but that does not mean that the trappings of the satire used to make that argument are entitled to protection as a 'religion,'" he added.

Gerrard further said the argument for or against Pastafarianism is "not a question of theology," but "a matter of basic reading comprehension."

"The FSM Gospel is plainly a work of satire, meant to entertain while making a pointed political statement. To read it as religious doctrine would be little different from grounding a 'religious exercise' on any other work of fiction," the judge declared.

"A prisoner could just as easily read the works of Vonnegut or Heinlein and claim it as his holy book, and demand accommodation of Bokononism or the Church of All Worlds," he further argued.

The federal court also did not give weight to Cavanaugh's argument that the Holy Bible and the Quran "are just as fictional" as the beliefs under Pastafarianism.

"It is not always an easy line to draw. But there must be a line beyond which a practice is not 'religious' simply because a plaintiff labels it as such. The Court concludes that FSMism is on the far side of that line," Gerrard stated in the court decision.