Sunday, November 2, 2014

I'll See Your Freakazoid Misogynists, and Raise You a Militant Pastafarian

Now THIS is a slippery slope, motherfuckers.

Think Progress:

Stephen Cavanaugh is incarcerated by the state of Nebraska. He also identifies himself a “member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster” in a legal complaint filed against the state’s Department of Corrections. According to that complaint, Cavanaugh requested “accommodated status” for this church, a status that would allow him to “order and wear religious clothing and pendants” and to “meet for weekly worship services and classes.”

Oh, and the “religious clothing” he wants to wear is a pirate costume.

Cavanaugh’s complaint quotes The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he identifies as one of his religion’s “holy texts.” In the passage quoted by Cavanaugh, the “holy text” explains that “it is disfrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing [the Flying Spaghetti Monster's] chosen outfit” and that the Flying Spaghetti Monster “becomes angry if we don’t.” Thus, Cavanaugh writes, the prison system has forced him to “choose between angering his God by not attempting to spread His word and demonstrate his faith, or angering his God by doing so in a disrespectful manner.”
Although Cavanaugh’s complaint does not identify exactly what the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s “chosen outfit” is, the Gospel Cavanaugh quotes from is quite explicit about what the outfit consists of — “full Pirate regalia.”


In court documents attached to Cavanaugh’s complaint, Nebraska prison officials say that they talked to the “founder of Pastafarianism,” and that they were informed that “it was a parody of religion.” Thus, the officials concluded that the “Nebraska Department of Correctional Services will not dedicate administrative and facility resources to support a parody.”

Yet, while it is exceedingly likely that Cavanaugh is engaged in an elaborate joke at the corrections department’s expense, and it is much more unlikely that he actually believes that the universe was created by a giant flying mass of spaghetti and meatballs that commands its followers to dress like Long John Silver, it is not entirely clear that Cavanaugh should lose his case, at least given the current direction of American religious liberty law’s development. According to Dwight Merriam and Evan Seeman, two attorneys who defend clients sued under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA), which is the federal statute governing religious liberty cases in prisons, “[t]here has been a trend of the courts to bypass an analysis of whether an inmate’s claimed religion is actually a legitimate religion and whether their claimed belief is actually a tenet of that faith.” Often, Merriam and Seeman claim, “all an inmate has to do, for many courts, is say is that he ‘sincerely’ has a religious belief, and then the burden shifts to the prison” to overcome a difficult legal test.
Pastafarianism is just as factual, logical and legitimate as any other religion, especially the Catlick cult that prevails on the Supreme Court.  Hoist with their own petard, they are, yes.

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