In Brief

Is Pastafarianism a real religion?

Dutch court rules followers cannot wear colander on her head for official photos

A Dutch follower of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been denied the right wear a colander on her head in her passport photo, after a court ruled Pastafarianism was not a religion.

The Netherlands’ highest court ruled that Mienke de Wilde could not be exempted on religious grounds from a ban on headwear in official identity photographs, because Pastfarianism was essentially a satire and not a serious faith.

Formed in the US in 2005 in response to the teaching of creationism in schools, Pastafarians worship an invisible and undetectable god called the Flying Spaghetti Monster, wear colanders on their heads in homage, advocate the teaching of Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, vow to be nice to all sentient beings and eat a lot of pasta. They also conclude their prayers with “Ramen” rather than “Amen” and their heaven has a stripper factory and beer volcano.

Officially recognised by the New Zealand government, which approved it to conduct marriages in 2015, “the church’s status is disputed in many other countries”, says The Guardian, “although several have allowed followers to wear colanders or pirate outfits for ID photographs”.

In handing down its ruling, the Dutch court said: “It is important to be able to criticise religious dogma freely through satire but that does not make such criticism a serious religion,” adding that Pastafarianism lacked the “seriousness and coherence” required of a religion.

De Wilde is now considering taking her case to the European court of human rights.

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