EU recognition for the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster
His Grace has long said that an inevitable consequence of equality and human rights legislation combined with religious relativism would be the state recognition of every cult, sect and frivolous faith under the sun. After all, why should a carpenter who rises from the dead be any more credible than an illiterate orphan merchant who claimed an angel dictated a book to him; a group of sword-carrying, turban-clad gentlemen who treat a book like a living guru; or a man who walks around with an elephant’s head upon his shoulders? Hitherto, in the UK, the focus has been on the Church of the Jedi, but they have systematically failed to bring their many incidences of discrimination to the courts.
In other parts of the EU, things are moving a little faster. Austria has formally recognised the colander as legitimate religious headwear for the Pastafarian. And since it concerns the EU drivers’ licence, it is effectively an EU affirmation of Pastafarian belief.
Well, why not? If hijabs, turbans and kippas are permitted, why not a colander? It is, arguably, of far greater significance to the Pastafarian as it is actually used to strain the holy pasta. As a religious accessory, it is therefore of far more importance than the symbolic hijab or kirpan.
Niko Alm belongs to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Its adherents call themselves Pastafarians, whose ‘only dogma...is the rejection of dogma’.
Unfortunately, like all postmodern, relativist creeds, it is intrinsically contradictory and ultimately self-negating, for the insistence on the wearing of a colander confutes and nullifies their only dogma.
The fact that the EU drivers’ licence in Austria permits the wearing of a colander inevitably means that UK licences must also now permit this. There may be a little persecution in the compulsory mental assessment of the fitness to drive, but, ultimately, that which the EU permits in one member state will be permitted in another. Pastafarianism has just become an officially recognised religion because, while many international and regional human rights instruments guarantee rights related to freedom of religion or belief, none attempts to define the term ‘religion’. The absence of a definition is not peculiar to international human rights conventions; most national constitutions also include clauses on freedom of religion without defining it. Thus we are presented, on the one hand, with important provisions guaranteeing fundamental rights pertaining to religion, but on the other hand the term itself is left undefined. Of course, the absence of a definition of a critical term does not differentiate religion from most other rights identified in human rights instruments and constitutions. However, because religion is much more complex than other guaranteed rights, the difficulty of understanding what is and is not protected is significantly greater.
Theologians and philosophers may have the luxury of imprecision, but lawyers and judges do not.
It would greatly assist if the judiciary would establish a little case-law clarity on what now constitutes a legitimate religion in the UK, who is judged to be a messenger of God, what doctrine may be preached, what creed followed, and what liberties may be denied.
If they cannot and do not, we run the risk of the emergence of militant Pastafarianism and the ascent of the Pastarists. They will doubtless be riddled with denominational division: Rotini, Vermicelli, Linguini, Fusilli, etc., etc.
Gnocchi help us.