“If teaching any religion is to become compulsory in schools, then choosing only one of them may cause objection of people of all other religious denominations”. This is the conclusion of the public discussion about teaching religion in the Kansas state in the US. The thesis was put forward in 2005 by the young physicist, Bobby Henderson. This year, the Board of Education of this American state allowed the theory of intelligent design, which means religion, to be taught in schools.
Henderson has written a letter to the Board, in which he informed them that he believes in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, he described the new denomination and he demanded that it should be taught in schools as well. His main argument was that his religion should have the same rights as any other, followed around the world…
And although this theory about a creator basing on carbohydrates seems to be absurd (experts use the term “a parody of religion”), pretty quickly it has become a religion for atheists and agnostics, who started calling themselves Pastafarians. The do not hide the fact that they use their religion to fight privileges of people who believe in some gods. Wikipedia describes the case of a follower of the Flying Spaghetti Monster from Vienna. The man thought that the law, which says that only the people who are obliged to do so for religious reasons are allowed to have official photographs taken with a headgear is pointless. The man, when he was having his new driving license prepared, had a photograph taken in a colander and he stated that the vessel is the religious headgear of his denomination. The guy won a lawsuit and he uses his driving license with a photo with a colander on his head.
The adherents of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are also present in Poland. In July 2012 they organised themselves in a group and they applied for a registration of the religion as an official one.
The interesting thing is that religion experts could not unambiguously answer the question whether the belief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually is a religion or not. According to them, there are too many definitions of religion to answer this question clearly. By they had no doubts as to the fact that in the official sphere, which means formally, such a group of believers should not exist. And this is because the movement has some characteristics of a parody of the already existing religious denominations, first and foremost – of Christianity.
A few days ago the Minister of Administration and Digitization, Michał Boni, refused to register the group as a religion. Pastafarians complain that the refusal is an attempt to administratively assess the amount of “belief in a belief” and they threaten that they will go to the Supreme Administrative Court. If it does not help, they will remit their case to the European Court of Human Rights.
The refusal to register the group and following the adventures of the believers in the Flying Spaghetti Monster coincides with the proposal, made by the Electoral Action of Poles in Lithuania related to introducing compulsory religion teaching in school. It caused a severe reaction of Lithuanian journalists, who see this idea not only as a lechery but also as one more proof of the irresponsibility of the leaders of the Polish community.
The idea has not been supported by the Church, which has many problems with the public sphere anyway. All the time it has to walk on a minefield. Every case of expressing its opinion about current topics related to morality or worldviews causes a wave of aversion in the media and accusation of interfering with the public and sometimes even political life.
The archbishop of Kaunas, Sigitas Tamkevičius, is sure that such a step would cause „a wave of tension and anger in the society and a belief that the Church wants to use the force.”
The archbishop’s words confirm that he knows that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is standing at the door of Lithuania.
Tłumaczenie Katarzyna Dąbrowska w ramach praktyk w Europejskiej Fundacji Praw Człowieka, www.efhr.eu. Translated by Katarzyna Dąbrowska within the framework of a traineeship programme of the European Foundation of Human Rights, www.efhr.eu.