Pastafarian denied religious freedom in New Jersey driver's license scandal

Aaron Williams, a devout follower of Pastafarianism, has had his religious rights trampled by the New Jersey Motor Vehicles Commission, which refused to allow him to wear his religious headgear (a pasta strainer) for his official driver's license photo.

“Had it been a turban or a headscarf, or something from a mainstream religion, then it would’ve been fine,” Williams, 24, told New Brunswick Patch. “I guess since they hadn’t heard of the religion, that’s why they opposed it. But that’s not really acceptable to me. They’re not in a position to discriminate against religions that are mainstream, or not mainstream, just because they may not have heard about it...

...Williams was told by police that he could try to get the state to recognize the colander as religious headwear, but until they did, he could not wear it for the photo.

“The people there were very polite, but I’d like to have better training for their employees, so I may be looking into some way to educate their employees on their own policies,” Williams told Patch. “I feel like after I expressed my opinions and beliefs they were definitely more accepting. I was met with hostility at first and they were asking me what my problem was.”

I think it's outrageous that New Jersey holds for itself the right to determine which solemn faiths are and are not legitimate. As a Pastafarian myself, I've often thought that tales of burning bushes, miraculous healings, and alien beings strapped to volcanoes were somewhat hard to credit at first blush, but I reserve judgment out of respect for the faith of my neighbors. Surely they owe us followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the same respect.

New Jersey ‘Pastafarian’ denied right to wear spaghetti strainer on his head for drivers’ license photo [David Knowles/New York Daily News] (via Neatorama)

(Image: FSM Treats!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from oskay's photostream)


  1. Point understood, and maybe I’m taking this too seriously, but to what effect is this to have but to give those who understand the absurdity a good laugh and those that don’t another excuse to dig in their heels?

      1. People, don’t listen to this murderous thug and think that all Pastafarians are violent. There are some splinter sects that have anger management issues. They are only allowed to have plastic pirate swords and hooks.

        1. Sorry but pastafarians need to be more vocal in condemning violent pastafarianism if you want us to take the idea that pastafarianism is anything but a fundamentally violent religion seriously. I am sick of hearing the liberals saying pastafarians isn’t really violent every time we get examples of violent pastafarianism, how many anecdotes of pastafarianism violence do we need before we accept that pastafarianism is not the peaceful luvie duvie religion the liberal elites would claim.

          1. You joke, but pastafarianism states that once you are a pastafarian you are a pastafarian for life, though I reject everthing that pastafarians believe, I choose to believe this one point and therefore, you can be a non-practicing pastafarian, but you can not stop being a pastafarian.

          2. I have heard tell that if you grow up in a country with any Pastafarianism in it at all, Pastafarian law states that you must be a Pastafarian.

            Since there is at least one Pastafarian in Indonesia, Obama must be a Pastafarian, by definition.

            Even though I disbelieve in all Pastafarian laws, and would be willing to pass a constitutional amendment banning judges from using Pastafarian laws, I see no reason why my statement of this fact should be in any way illogical.

  2.  Color me incensed! How dare they dismiss my brother Pastafarian like that. Wearing the strainer sets him apart as one of the noble elder seers or prophets of our one true religion. While most of us more common folk wear the traditional pirate’s garb, I wasn’t denied wearing my skull and cross-bone black bandanna tied around my head nor my black leather eyepiece here in uber-conservative Texas. They did, however, object to the stuffed parrot attached to the shoulder of my vest. I found that a bit petty of them but complied. It makes me wonder how women with burkas get licensed?

      1. I define a joke religion as one that is funny, and most do not meet that criteria IMO. 

        Absurd, on the other hand . . .

      2. When we collectively suspend our faculty for critical thinking and dealing with ambiguity, I guess.

        In other words, when we all become about as stupid as religious fundamentalists.

          1. All organized systems of thought, governance, or meaning-making are jokes, too, because I can likewise cherry-pick patently ridiculous (and outright evil) practices and actions attributed to (variants of) those systems and use them as the basis for blanket dismissal rather than critical engagement. I am incapable of thinking about complex social systems in a complex way and have to reduce them to rigid binaries because I am a lazy thinker.

          2. Any system that tries to base real world consequences on something that is not observable is a joke. Or more accurately, something that should receive absolutely no respect.

            Is it a complex social system? Yeah, sure. So what? If you want to give any of those systems acknowledgement, then you give any that make the same declarations acknowledgment. No exceptions.

          3.  Except that they *are* inherently more deserving of respect, because they are deeply held beliefs rather than simple sarcastic mocking of the beliefs of others (which is all that “pastafarianism” is).  I am an atheist and believe in no religion but I am not so self-centered to think that I therefore have a right to mock or attack the sincere beliefs of others under circumstances when those beliefs are doing no harm to me or to others. 

        1. Exactly. I wouldn’t go so far as your “as stupid as fundamentalists” charge, but a lot of people seem to want “the constitution” and “easily described facts” as parameters to a well-defined function that returns real-world guidance in every scenario. It’s a nice thought, because it would eliminate a lot of immoral discrimination if we could do that. But society is too complicated. A computer might not be able to make the relevant distinction between Sikh turbans and Pastafarian colanders, but people can, and we’d be foolish not to make use of that faculty.

          1. The point is that Sikh turbans are not inherently more deserving of respect than Pastafarian collanders.  This is probably the primary moral complaint against religions — that they claim respect and moral authority which they haven’t actually earned.

            People “make the relevant distinction” on the basis of logical fallacies and wishful thinking.  Some of us don’t think logical fallacies and wishful thinking are a good basis for deciding what beliefs are respectable and which aren’t.

    1. ehh, I strongly suspect you’ve been following a false prophet if you believe that our Pastafarian brethren are on anything but their own path to slack.  

        1. ORLY?  You somehow think the TSA limits its hassling to people who “look like” religion-based terrorists?  Go back and Google for “TSA searches wheelchair-bound small child,” among other spectacular offenses.

          1. Yes, the TSA harasses people who aren’t Muslims, and the cops beat people who are white. But that doesn’t mean the opposite doesn’t happen at a hugely disproportionate rate.

            Matter of fact, I’m not sure where you even got the idea that I said “only Muslim-looking people get harassed by the TSA.”

          2. @boingboing-9a2241c2015fb98771d97a9828db1d73:disqus  yes, but I didn’t say “Speak only to my hijabi friends about airports; do not speak to anyone else about it as they are the only people with this problem.” Again, it’s about prevalence vs exclusivity.
            If you would have written “talk to kids in wheelchairs about airports,” that would have been valid. I would have taken the time and reading comprehension to understand that some people having a problem rather frequently does not mean that other people can’t have the same or similar problems any more or less. I guess that’s too much to ask of other people, though.

  3. I see it as a “parody religion”, but I’m at a bit of a loss to figure out a properly constitutional set of legal criteria to actually distinguish them from “real religions” where the recognition of religious rights is concerned.

    1. OK, here’s the acid test…If the adherent of the beliefs doesn’t really believe any of it, and just copied the ideas from someone they know without applying any critical thought, and if most of the world find the beliefs to be stupid and misguided, THEN…Uhhhh OK wait, I need to work on this…

      1. Perhaps when brain scanning technology comes about, one can simply scan a person’s brain and see if their “I believe” button is being pushed. If so, then it’s a true religion. 

        1.  You know, that’s an interesting thought, but I’ve been talking the talk about Eris and the sinking of Columbus (Ohio) for decades. I rather expect those centers of my brain light up brighter than most devout Christians (etc)  half my age.

      2. Any belief system none of whose adherents are prepared to kill or die for their beliefs is a true system. All the others are not.

    2. As soon as The State can declare one religion a joke it can declare any religion a joke.

      I worship a Goddess of Chaos and Discord. I really do. Is that a joke? She doesn’t like being left out of the party. I believe (keep thinking) that even false things are true – is that a “real” religious doctrine, and what is “reality” aside from the only word we should always use in quotes?

  4. Just remember, the infidels at the DMV will spend an eternity in the afterlife where the beer is flat and the strippers are ugly.

  5.  I don’t know in philosophical / ecclesiastical terms what the definition of a real religion might be, but for recognition by authority I believe the test is that the self-nominated adherents of the religion must follow ritual behaviours that transgress civilised norms.  Such as removing limbs for minor crims, or turning a blind eye to paedophilia in your ranks, or assaulting other nations with weapons of war, or sacrificing humans in the names of name of your deity.  That kind of thing.  That way it’s visible, known to all, and recordable.

    Pastafarianism doesn’t seem to include any of that, so I’m unsurprised the test is not passed.

    1. Then surely, as Pastafarians, we must take up the sword and put those who don’t believe in durum-wheat-based-deities to the end they have inevitably brought upon themselves. Kill them all and let Tagliatelle decide who is innocent and who is guilty! The time has come for macaronihad!

  6. Oh, I see. Because Muslims and Sikhs don’t have enough bullshit to deal with in the US, without self-righteous twits attacking their right to dress at the DMV according to centuries of custom and tradition.

    Because THEY’RE irrational.

    1. Well, yes, all religions are irrational, based on the bald assertions of faith and authority rather than reason.

      If anything, the Pastafarian rights movement seeks to give us **all** the same rights to dress as we wish rather than privileging select groups. Why should Sikhs get “exemptions”? Why should they need them? If we all have the same rights then no “exemptions” are necessary. Either it should be ok to wear headgear in a DL photo or it isn’t. No special treatment for anybody.

      1.  Sikhs need an exemption because they are forbidden from removing their turbans in public.  If forced to choose between their religion and their ability to drive legally, I’d be willing to bet most would choose their religion.  Because of this, the government has decided that the usual reasons for forbidding head gear in driver’s license photos are waived.  It makes perfect sense — in the case of Sikhs, the good of the no headgear policy would be outweighed by the bad of a de facto prohibition on driving by observant Sikhs.

        You can frame it however you want, but in the end, all you’re really advocating is that people who hold certain beliefs shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

        1. No, you missed it entirely.  All he’s advocating is that nobody gets special rights or treatment because of what they believe, and everyone it treated equally in the eyes of the law.    That might mean everyone can wear religious headgear in DL photos, or it might mean nobody can, but allowing the law to make exceptions for practitioners of a particular religion is a clear violation of separation of church and state.  What’s next?  Should we say it’s okay to beat your wife if your religion says it’s okay?  Is it okay to molest kids if you’re Catholic?

          1. Well, we shouldn’t let the slippery slope argument guide us. After all, if we let slippery slope arguments take hold, what’s next? Strawmen? True Scotsmen? The list gets uglier and uglier.

          2. No, I understood his point.  In the case of headgear, everyone being treated the same is much more likely to result in no one being able to wear headgear than it is to result in everyone being able to wear headgear.

            There’s very good reason for forbidding certain kinds of headgear in driver’s license photos.  And there’s very good reason for having a blanket ban on headgear in general rather laying out a complicated set of criteria that in all likelihood won’t cover anything.  Lines in the DMV are long enough already, after all.

            This blanket ban creates a problem, however, for those who cannot remove headgear on religious grounds.  As I said, the government decided that it was more problematic to prevent Sikhs from driving than it was to make an exception for them.  And since a Sikh who is pulled over for speeding is going to be wearing his turban anyway — unlike Mr. Williams and his collander — one of the big arguments against allowing headgear in driver’s license photos doesn’t even apply.

            Making an exemption preserves the valid general ban on hats while avoiding interfering with anyone’s free exercise of religion.  It’s about as innocuous as it gets.

            All of your other hypotheticals are both crimes in which a third party is hurt; this situation is an exemption to an administrative regulation which harms absolutely no one.

          3. Your point about people getting hurt in my examples is completely right. My point is, what do we have to go on with religions beyond the person in question’s attestation that they believe this?  There’s certainly no objective yardstick of ridiculousness that would let you distinguish between this religion and pretty mush any other religion, so we have to take people’s word for it.  To put it another way, this is part of a larger issue, that being how many people, for how long have to believe something before we’re expected, on those grounds alone, to stop treating it like a mental disorder and start respecting it? I really think we, as a society, need to abandon this idea that believing something arbitrary and ridiculous makes you special.

          4. @thompsom:disqus – I don’t think the pastafarians are advocating that people who wear headgear be discriminated against, but i agree that the push to remove headgear for those photos is discriminating against certain people driving.

            @boingboing-a9f28957ce27d2618d934bb24b1546fd:disqus – I really don’t think the ability to wear a collunder on your head is a special rights treatment. I think pastafarians are just taking the piss out of Muslim culture and religion and framing it as ‘rights’ so they don’t appear racist or anti-Muslim.

            And that is really a huge leap from exceptions based on belief going to wife beating and child molestation.I’m an atheist, but it seems like pastafarians are just taking the piss and ridiculing religion, which is really not helpful. And to rant a little more, annoying atheists/pastas are always so goddam smug. As if their aren’t ANY flaws in logic in any of their beliefs in their approach to life. I bet so many of you haven’t interrogated race politics, class politics, capitalism, animal rights issues…

            Can’t we have adult discussions without the high horses?

          5. Okay, I admit that that was a huge leap, and really not relevant. (I actually admitted that a couple posts up) Another case that comes to mind, where there actually is the potential of real damage to others, is waiving vaccination requirements to get into a state university on religious grounds.   This is something we actually do, and I think it’s pretty fucked up.   Also, you seem to be assuming that I identify as an atheist or a pastafarian, which is not the case, and I’m probably a lot closer to your position than you seem to think when it comes to race and class politics and capitalism.  In other words, you seem to be making a whole lot of assumptions based on us not seeing eye to eye on this particular issue.  I just think that organized religion should be completely separated from politics and from the apparatus of the state.

          6. @boingboing-a9f28957ce27d2618d934bb24b1546fd:disqus Yeah sorry I meant ‘you’ in the collective sense of all the atheists/pastas/people who put fwd this kind of arrogant view. Really not meant to be targeting you as being a smug atheist.
            I agree that the state and religion need to be separate, and also that all belief systems should have basic liberatory principles. I just think that this often gets conflated with anti-religion views and people ridiculing others people’s beliefs.

          7.  I’m pretty sure occasionally sporting a colander and/or eyepatch and going ‘yarr’ being conflated with racism or islamophobia is a pretty fucking huge leap. I mean, yeah, it’s about taking the piss out of religion, but that doesn’t mean it’s specifically Islam. If anything, I’d be more inclined towards it’s lance being tilted at Christian Fundies, they being the larger group of wackadoodles in the states. And what’s wrong with taking the piss out of religion?
            Anyway, I hew to the Old Ways myself, this upstart Pastafarian nonsense isn’t for me, no Sir. It’s Teapots all the way down.

          8. I’m an atheist, but it seems like pastafarians are just taking the piss and ridiculing religion,


            which is really not helpful.


            Religions and religious leaders are able to accumulate worldly power and wealth by trading on unearned reputation.  Trading on unearned reputation is often called “fraud”.  It’s what confidence men do.

            The social solutions to unearned reputation since time immemorial is taking the piss and ridicule.  In this respect, Pastafarianism is helpful.

            It’s also interesting to see theists get pissed off about people talking reverently about flying spaghetti monsters.  Every time I see this happen I think to myself “Gee, because being reverent about shitty wine and a little piece of cardboard makes so much more sense.  I think Pastafarianism is a good way to let theists know how silly they seem to us.

            But it doesn’t have to be a negative thing, either.  Anyone who chooses can look as Pastafarianism as a religion of tolerance — yes, you think I’m silly and I think you’re silly but what’s the harm in agreeing that each of us is right so that we can all be silly together?

          9. (actually replying to a post of yours below) If that is really what you believe SM, then I suggest anyone be allowed to wear headwear for a driver’s license picture, but would get fined, say (an extra) $100 when stopped for a traffic offense but not wearing the headgear as in the license picture.  Fair?

          10. Totally fair.  My problem was with lack of equality in the eyes of the law, which I think is important enough to be worth protecting on principle.  Your solution eliminates that. (As long as it applies to everyone who takes the religious exception, not just him)  I think the amount of infrastructure that would have to be invested to implement your solution is enough that it would probably be better just to make an exception for anyone who seemed to think it was a big deal, but your solution would be better than the selective enforcement we’ve got now.

      2. Your understanding of equality sucks. You’re not treating everyone the same way regardless if you say that no one is allowed to wear a turban in their DL photo, or that everyone must wear a turban in their DL photo. 

        “The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.” 

    2. Governments should not be in the business of policing the legitimacy of religions, period. If that means “joke” religions get the same exemptions from ordinary law that “real” ones do, maybe that’s a sign that nobody should get that privilege.

  7. I guess Pastafarians need to add some drama to be taken seriously in their sarcasm. I mean, maybe we should add some threats. Maybe we should do a campaign against italian restaurants that do not serve al dente pasta. That is certainly a blasphemy.

      1. I’m sure if he can show where in The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster it says that as well as produce other official photos, like say his passport where he is adhering to that rule, then maybe. :)

        1. SO he need to have an official photo with it to get an official photo with it?  All I’m saying is, if we get to call someone’s stated belief into question because we find it ridiculous in this case, why not in every other case where we find someone’s stated belief to be ridiculous?

          1. I didn’t say his stated belief was ridiculous, just that it was probably inconsistent. It is reasonable for someone claiming a religious practice to demonstrate that they actually practice it.

          2.  Pastafarianism exists solely to demonstrate how ridiculous religious beliefs can be. To say Pastafarian beliefs are ridiculous is to understand and appreciate it fully. To insist one actually believe it to try and make this point misses it sorely.

          3.  What does it mean to “believe” any religion?  That’s spacedmonkey’s point I think and arguably the point of Jedi and Pastafarianism.

    1.  How about those Jews who only wear a yarmulke to services?  Should they be singled out from those that wear it daily?

        1. So if they do, they can be denied a license for refusing to remove it? Better work harder on this question than you did on the last.

          1. They can’t be denied a license for refusing to remove something they aren’t wearing in the first place. Are you positing a scenario where applying for a driver’s license is part of a Jewish service?

          2. @boingboing-06eadc83d46d0fdf2a557040f32c1fb8:disqus got it right. Jews who only wear yarmulkes to service can’t be denied a license for refusing to remove their yarmulkes at the DMV. This is because they are already, by definition, not wearing their yarmulkes in the DMV. Unless the service is at the DMV, in which case there are better questions to ask.

            Next question. Better work harder on this question than you did on the last.

  8. The USA doesn’t have any way of officially recognizing religions beyond their tax-exempt status.  So… get a bunch of so-called pastafarians together and meet the requirements of 501(3)C of the tax code (and the additional stuff in IRS publication 1828).  Once you do that and the congregation consistently wears colanders as headgear during services, it will be hard to argue that it isn’t religious headgear.

  9. This is a (really basic) Free Exercise clause issue.

    State actors (see “state action” on wikipedia) who discriminate against religions are subject to strict scrutiny (see “strict scrutiny” on wikipedia) which very generally means that intentionally discriminating against religions will be unconstitutional. Further, the government is generally not allowed to examine the merit of an actual religion, and would be required to respect whatever this guy is worshiping in the same way as the more common religions.

    However (and this is a really big however), the government may apply laws of general applicability to those with particular religious beliefs, despite any particular effect it may have in their worship. If you think about this for a moment it makes sense; otherwise someone would start a religion where they were required do something awful/illegal, and then claim that it could not be prevented by the law because it curtailed their religious freedom.

    So, I am assuming that the department of motor vehicles (or whatever they have in Jersey) has a regulation which states that no one may wear a hat/mask etc when they have their picture taken.

    Also presumably they have made special allowances for certain religious items. I think as it stands there is not a real Free Exercise claim here, but if the guy tried to get his hat added to the list of exceptions, it might raise some other issues (mostly Establishment clause issues, but that is a whole different conversation).

  10. Bicycle helmets are compulsory in my state unless you are a Sikh. Is this because the state government just didn’t want to argue with Sikhs about their head gear? If I made enough of a stink would I get an exception too? Or does Sikhs head gear constitute a functional bicycle helmet?

    One way to find out would be to troll the authorities I suppose.

    1. “If I made enough of a stink would I get an exception too?”

      Not in the US you wouldn’t, due to the inconsistencies in how the US legal system treats its constitutional duty to keep church and state separate.

      People of established religions in the US get **special treatment** not available to unaffiliated individuals, members of secular organizations or members of new religions. I think this violates the separation of church and state. Either it is necessary to see people’s hair in a photo for ID purposes or it isn’t. If it isn’t necesary for one group then there is no fair justification in requiring that others show their hair.

      1. Is there a law requiring you show your hair? 
        What if you’re wearing a wig? 
        What about a wig of a colour that is not your natural hair colour?

  11. If you wear a pasta strainer on your head at all or most times — or are commanded to when being photographed or when driving and can demonstrate that you follow that commandment — I think you’ve got a case.

    Otherwise — sorry, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand that an ID photo contain a major element which is demonstrably not within the reasonable range of expectation that this is how the individual will be garbed when identification becomes relevant.

    Respecting religious practices is one thing. But if they aren’t practiced, they aren’t practices.

    1. Otherwise — sorry, but I don’t think it’s reasonable to demand that an ID photo contain a major element which is demonstrably not within the reasonable range of expectation that this is how the individual will be garbed when identification becomes relevant.

      Go to grocery store. Scan tabloids. Purchase one with headline ACTRESSES WITHOUT THEIR MAKEUP!!!

      A significant chunk of the population goes out in disguise every day of their lives. We don’t hose them down before they get a license picture so that we can see what they really look like.

      1.  No, but most of them wear that same disguise every day — so taking the photo which includes the disguise is fine; they will look sufficiently like the photo and/or vice versa for it to perform the function it’s intended to perform.

        A better challenge would be those of us who are shot with beard and then shave, or vice versa. We seem to have made a societal decision to accept that problem. But the fact that the failure mode exists is not, by itself, sufficient justification for deliberately provoking it in a new form.

        If he really goes out in this garb on anything like a regular basis — OR is willing to make the effort to suggest that this is the case — I’d give it to him. If he just walks in with the strainer and the claim, without any attempt to be convincing and with full awareness that he’s going to get pushback, he isn’t taking it seriously enough that I feel a need to take it seriously.

        Either play the game to win, or stop teasing the bears. Pick one.

      2. But do most actresses get photographed without makeup intentionally, particularly for something by which they’ll be ID’d?  

    2.  Who decides if he generally wears the strainer?  Does DMV have field agents assigned to watch people?

      1.  If he can find witnesses willing to attest to it, and/or bring a sufficient number of other photos (not all taken at one time) which show he’s been doing this, I’d give him the benefit of the doubt.

        If he can do that, I don’t care whether he’s serious or not; he’s serious even if he isn’t solemn, and he deserves it.

        If he can’t, he isn’t trying hard enough and it’s his own darned fault if his demand is rejected.

        1. And do you require that of other religions? No? Then you’re up against the 1st amendment for letting government choose between religions.

          1. Yes, I would.

            Current practice is that anything which actively impairs the utility of an ID photo is excluded from the ID photo unless there is a remarkably good reason to rule otherwise.

            If he can wear the strainer in such a way that it doesn’t interfere, fine. But I suspect that won’t meet _his_ goals.

            (Question: How, if at all, do we currently handle the situation where someone’s religion forbids taking the photo at all? I strongly suspect that the answer is “not very well, because the photo serves a specific purpose.” .. but if there is such a provision, I would recommend that our Pastafarian explore that path. Assuming that he wants to find a solution rather than simply make trouble.

          2.  Now I’m imagining getting a portrait painted of myself to serve as my driver’s license “photo”.  So swank!

          3. Great! You’re consistent. So he can wear his strainer as long as you can see his face. That was his request in the first place. See the photos of him with it on.

  12. I think I just figured out how to make some pretty awesome little chocolate FSM dessert bite thingys, from looking at that picture. I’ll have to test the recipe first, though.

      1.  Well, potentially. Like I said, I have to TEST the recipe first. It might turn out tasting like shite, or it might be mana from heaven. I simply don’t know just yet.

        After all, as my father taught me: “Everybody has ideas. But that does not mean every idea is a GOOD idea.”

  13. Pastafarian is not a religion. It is a parody created by people who want to seem ‘edgy’ and use it to troll the authorities and other religions that are actually based on Faith. The police and DMV acted appropriately in this case. Next.

    1. Says you.  I say that’s how Jesus freaks started out, with the intent to distinguish themselves from Jews and Romans.    You really don’t get it at all, do you.

      1.  Oh you were there were you when the ‘Jesus Freaks’ started out?

        The difference between Pastafarianism and ‘Mainstream’ religions is that not even Pastafarians themselves take their own religion or its values seriously. There will never be a Pastafarian martyr because its a big joke not worth taking that seriously. Mainstream religions on the other hand have adherents who strongly believe in their dogma. Its a huge difference in mindset and attitude.

    2.  I replaced in your comment ‘Pastafarian’ with every religious creed I could think of, and every time the paragraph made sense, often, more sense.

      Except Buddhism.  I don’t believe Buddhists want to troll the authorities (I may be wrong, apologies, if I am – citation needed)

      1. Actually, trolling can be a good way to open someone’s eyes up to a different way of thinking, which is what a lot of Buddhism is, and what a lot of authorities need.

    3. Sez you.  I’m not religious, but I can’t really see any reasonable way to determine what somebody’s religious beliefs are other than what the person in question says they are.    I’m curious what your criteria are for a “real” religion, that can be applied impartially to all religions equally.   Please enlighten us.

      1. Is there any reasonable way to determine that you are not religious other than that you say you are not? As strongly as you are pushing for your opinion here I’d say you are DEFINITELY religious.

        1. I’m curious what your criteria are for a “real” religion, that can be applied impartially to all religions equally.   Please enlighten us.

    4. Not that simple.

      Multiple theological schools have used Pastafarianism to demonstrate that it is virtually impossible to prove whether a set of beliefs is or is not a religion. Yes, it was invented as a parody (we have the history in this case, unlike that of many religions) but there is no way to clearly test whether any given individual actually does or does not hold it as a tenet of faith… just as there is no way to test whether anyone does or does not believe in any other faith. (Or to prove that the longer-established religions didn’t themselves originate as hacks that got out of hand.)

      Before giving the government the power to rule — fairly arbitrarily — on what is or isn’t a religion, remember that the sword really can cut both ways. Tradition is not a by itself sufficient reason to accept; novelty is not by itself sufficient reason to reject. Better to avoid getting into situations where one has to decide.

      Hence my suggestion to bypass that question by focusing on the practical. If someone can provide some sort of evidence that they have been consistently following the practice, documenting that on an ID photo makes sense. If the evidence is that they haven’t, other priorities take precedence.

    5. Catholicism isn’t a real religion. It was created by a council who threw out half the sacred texts and spent the next 1700 years buggering children. Next.

    6. Pastafarian is not a religion.


      It is a parody created by people who want to seem ‘edgy’ and use it to troll the authorities and other religions that are actually based on Faith.


      Pastafarianism was created as a thought experiment to illustrate a point about science education. It is a very useful thought experiment and has since been employed to explore many other ideas, including (as pointed out by technogeekagain) what constitutes a religion and exemptions for religious headgear at the DMV.

    7. So what distinguishes a real religion from a fake religion?  What do you think about Scientology?

      Do you think David Miscavige sincerely believes in Xenu?

  14. Pastafarianism offers straight white men a chance to be persecuted. Imagine, if this gentleman weren’t victimized over his headgear choice, what else would he have to complain about?

    1. Yeah, obviously he would never complain about being identified by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character…

      1. Right, @knockwurst:disqus must have forgotten that we’ve achieved a post-racial society and that this white dude’s experiences as a white dude definitely DO NOT play into his perspective on laws and customs regarding others. /s

    2.  In case you haven’t noticed, political conservatism provides the same exact opportunities — but unlike Pastafarianism it does not require a sense of humor to grok.

  15. Pastafarianism is as much like a religion as Scientology except less serious until hitting up against apastates or apastaists and deserves no more respect!

    1.  Ah, it seems like you’re finally starting to get the point of Pastafarianism.  How much respect does Scientology deserve?

      And then when you’re really ready you can ask: does Catholicism really deserve any more respect than Scientology?

  16. As a pastafarian from the Garden State, all I can say is “Welcome to Chris Christie’s NJ”. Which is surprising, though, because Christie is likely a devout disciple of the sect that regularly practices consuming the body of our Lord…in copious amounts, no doubt.  

    1. “After receiving his application the Austrian authorities had required him to obtain a doctor’s certificate that he was “psychologically fit” to drive.”

  17. So has he petitioned the NJ gov’t to recognize pastafarianism? Outrage seems misplaced until they’ve taken a position against it.

    1. Of course the government has no business recognizing or not recognizing any religion. Then again, religion has no business trying to sway government, and that hasn’t stopped some folks from trying.

      1. I agree, but that’s not how our society currently operates. Changing society is rarely quick and easy. I hope that the guy keeps it up.

  18. Can we stop pretending that Pastafarianism is anything other than a group mocking of religion as a whole? It is disingenuous at best to put forth the claim that the majority of Pastafarians ACTUALLY believe that “God” is a flying Spaghetti monster.

    Poking fun at the absurdity of religion, is not religion, no matter how well intended or amusing.

    1. I have faith that in time you too, Bob, will see the folly of your ways. And it´s the Flying Spaghetti Monster, with a capital “F”.

      I am the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Thou shalt have no other monsters before Me. (Afterwards is OK; just use protection.) The only Monster who deserves capitalization is Me! Other monsters are false monsters, undeserving of capitalization.

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