Pastafarian denied rights

(inserting tongue firmly in cheek)

So I just saw news that the high court of the Netherlands denied a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster the right to wear a sacred collander for her ID photo. The court declared that pastafarianism is a satire and not a real religion.

Now this feels like blatant discrimination to me, other believers are apparently allowed to wear religious head gear in their pictures. The Monster does not appear to be any more of a satire than any of the others, so I think this is really unfair.

What do you think?

(Removes tongue to have more coffee)

Dear moderator, it occurred to me after I posted this that it probably belongs in IMHO so please move it as you see fit. Sorry about that Thanks.

Court and government rulings are all over the place on this one; some countries and US states have allowed colander headgear in official photos such as driver’s licenses; others have not.

IANAL and so am not sure to what extent this sets a precedent on formal recognition of new religions, but the problem with this particular faith is that for some people professing it it will be satire, for some (strangely enough) it will be an actual religion, and for some it will be a little of Column A, a little of column B. That said, Pastafarianism is no more ridiculous than Scientology and arguably a lot more benign - but then the consensus on Scientology isn’t entirely settled either.

If by satire you mean insincere, then I’d say it’s factually true that Pastafarians beliefs are not sincerely held. I’m not sure if that’s a valid reason for dismissing them. The 1st Amendment says Congress cannot prohibit the free exercise of religion. There’s nothing in there about that only applying to sincere religions.

This reminds me of holidays. I used to criticize Kwanza because it was a made-up holiday. Then I realized that all holidays are made-up. It’s just a question of the time scale.

Moderator Action

Moving thread from GQ to IMHO.

In the U.S. at least, religious accommodations, like wearing a colander in an ID photo, are generally granted only if the religious belief is sincerely held. I don’t know how the Dutch do it so I can’t comment. The sincerity test thus should mean that it’s effectively impossible for a U.S. court to declare any particular religion a “real religion” or a “satire” because the court has to evaluate each individual’s beliefs. There can’t be any categorical determination for a particular religion.

Let’s say a parent participates in Pastafarianism rituals and trappings insincerely to protest against organized religion. His professed beliefs are insincere and he is not entitled to a religious accommodation. But, if he raises his child in the Pastafarian faith and his child never catches on to the joke, his child might wind up with a sincerely-held belief that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is real and that he must wear a colander on his head at all times. For that son, the belief is sincere, and the son may be entitled to a religious accommodation. Thus, two people in the same family ostensibly practicing the same religion have different entitlements to religious accommodation. Teach your children well.

Sincerity has been long upheld as the linchpin of religious accommodation law in the U.S. The gist is that if you don’t sincerely hold a belief, it’s not really a religious belief to you, and thus, you aren’t entitled to a religious accommodation. It doesn’t matter that all holidays are made up to some degree; the issue is whether the people celebrating those holidays sincerely believe their religion requires, or perhaps at least encourages, them to celebrate those holidays.

AI is a wonderful thing. Thanks for correcting the error. :joy:

But how is it possible to definitively determine a sincerely held belief and satire?

Is the claim that Pastafarians are required to wear a colander at all times? That would be easily refuted by documenting all of the times that the person did not wear one. Or is it only the claim that Pastafarians are required to wear a colander when sitting for ID photos? That would, to be sure, be a peculiar religious belief, but that could be explained by the fact that photography is much younger than most religions. And I’m not sure how one would refute it.

Missed the edit time limit.

I meant from not and

Sincere belief has its issues though.

My daughter has anxiety, and one of her comfort things is a hat. So we had her doctor write her a hat note and she had a hat exception to the dress code policy - which also allows religious exceptions for headgear.

Her youth minister was rather disappointed to discover the doctor got to write the note, because I told her she was my backup plan. UUs have no headgear requirement, but we do have a sincere belief that people should be treated with respect, and that everyone is entitled to their own voice, and therefore, if she wants to wear a damn hat she should wear a damn hat.

It is a sincerely held belief among Pastafarians that religious practices are a the very least a little ridiculous. One way to reinforce that belief is v wearing a colander on your head in an ID picture.

The person claiming the religious accommodation has to prove their sincerity with whatever evidence they choose. Evidence generally includes things like readings from scripture, the testimony of their religious leaders, and evidence of consistent religious practice. The finder of fact (judge or jury) will determine if they succeeded in proving their sincerity.

I don’t really know anything about Pastafarianism, so I might have mischaracterized their colander practices. Please forgive me.

Note that religious beliefs don’t necessarily have to be perfectly practiced to be sincerely held. Otherwise, Catholics wouldn’t need confession. Evidence that one is not consistently practicing their professed beliefs is evidence that the belief is not sincerely held but it’s not dispositive.

Finally, even iconoclastic sincerely-held religious beliefs should theoretically receive accommodations in appropriate circumstances. If I were the only Pastafarian who sincerely believed that I should wear a toilet seat around my neck in ID photos, in theory, I should be entitled to a similar accommodation given to colander wearers. In practice, it’s hard to prove that your particularly unique belief is sincerely held.

How the heck do you test for sincerity? And in particular, how would you tell the difference between someone who insincerely holds a belief, vs someone else who holds it sincerely, but caves in the test because they feel very intimidated to have their sincerity tested?



Seems to me that this question is valid phrased another way: “What do you, the applicant, do to demonstrate that this is a sincerely held belief of yours?”

If someone can’t present a credible case that Pastafarianism is a sincerely held belief; it would seem to invalidate the question of having the government disprove that it is a sincerely held belief.

I’m going with this. IRL I have not come across any Pastafarians of any intent so I don’t have first-hand knowledge; just what I get from places like this. But considering some of the crazy things I know of that people do in “official photos” from lucky shirts to having the same hair-band they wore for their college ID I don’t have much of a problem with it.

Typically it’s based on the longevity of the belief and usually there is pretty wide latitude given. Insincere belief is typically invoked for things that seem to obviously be skirting the law. For instance, a bar that calls itself a ‘church’ to get around alcohol sales restrictions. Or a business that calls itself a ‘church’ to get around zoning laws.

In the US, we’re usually pretty forgiving of outre beliefs and our Freedom of Speech and Religion laws are so broad that it’s rare to actually see much individual behavior clash with the state. Pastafarianism is a bit strange though because it almost has more features in common with hate groups than with religious groups, so it starts to blur the line. I think that’s typically why we see more of these types lawsuits with the Church of Satan which has a formalized belief system and somewhat of a consistent history that gives it more standing to say their beliefs are sincerely held.

From Wikipedia

“Because of its popularity and exposure, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is often used as a contemporary version of Russell’s teapot—an argument that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon those who make unfalsifiable claims, not on those who reject them. Pastafarianism has received praise from the scientific community and criticism from proponents of intelligent design. Pastafarians have engaged in disputes with creationists, including in Polk County, Florida, where they played a role in dissuading the local school board from adopting new rules on teaching evolution.[13]”

Hard to see how this is comparable to a hate group, unless you are a creationist of course.

When I was hanging out in an Orthodox Jewish community, there was talk about a lawsuit that supposedly had recently happened (it could have been a FOAF story, but bear with me): the sincerity of a woman’s beliefs had come into question in regard to her wearing a hat in a courtroom (she was a recorder), when other people were expected to remove headgear. Supposedly, she usually wore a sheitl (wig), but once in a while, showed up in some other kind of hair covering.

Anyway, she had become frum as an adult, and married a man who was from an Orthodox family, and they were raising their children Orthodox, etc., etc., but someone had evidence that she sometimes spoke on the phone to her mother on Shabbes. That supposedly conflicted with Orthodox standards, and the plaintiff tried to use it as an example of her not being consistent in her beliefs, and therefore, not sincere in them when she was “being Orthodox,” or however you want to term it.

Now, family harmony is a Jewish value, and it’s generally allowed that people who are ba’al t’shuvah (people raised in liberal or non-observant homes, who become Orthodox) can adopt slightly lax standards when dealing with their family of origin: no one is supposed to cut ties with their original family in order to become ba’al t’shuvah.

This woman’s father was ill, and her mother was calling her when she needed to discuss his care with her, and it happened that the time that was convenient for the mother was Saturday. I don’t remember why, it just was. I don’t think it was the only time they talked, but sometimes the mother needed to speak to her on Saturday-- maybe he was in a facility that had offices open on Saturday, but not Sunday. I don’t remember.

But the defendant prevailed.

However, that would be the kind of thing that could be offered as an example of insincerity of beliefs.

I imagine another would be trying to observe more than one religion. If you tell your boss you need Yom Kippur off, then later you say you need time off for Diwali, they are probably going to look at you askance, and don’t be surprised if you get denied.

I have no comment on whether those are either right or wrong. I’m not offering the story because I want to debate it. It’s just an example I happen to know of regarding someone trying to demonstrate to a court that religious beliefs weren’t sincere.

This might be reasonable if it were applied when a Christian came in and said s/he had a sincerely held belief that s/he should do or not do x. You shouldn’t be able to demonstrate sincerity by saying in effect, “Look this is a common religion; lots of people believe this.” How does that prove your sincerity? And if it does do so, how does that not effectively “establish” the given religion and not establish the other.