Civil Rights

Imprisoned Pastafarian loses lawsuit; federal judge says 'religion' is in fact a parody

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Arguments by Pastafarians that they are entitled by their religion to wear an upside-down spaghetti strainer on their heads for driver’s license photos have succeeded in several states and a number of foreign countries.

But prison officials in Nebraska and a local federal judge are made of sterner stuff.

In a Tuesday ruling, U.S. District Judge John Gerrard agreed with the approach taken by state prison officials and dismissed a religious discrimination suit filed by Stephen Cavanaugh. That was both because the 24-year-old did not adequately explain how his free exercise of religion had allegedly been blocked and because the judge said the religion Cavanaugh cited—Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster—is not a religion but a parody.

“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 wrote. “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.’ “

Hat tip: KETV

Related coverage: “‘Pastafarian’ wears colander for driver’s license photo after state OKs exception to headgear rule”

Independent: “‘Pastafarian’ man wins right to wear colander on his head in driving licence photo”

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