- By Suzanne MerkelsonSuzanne Merkelson is an editorial assistant at Foreign Policy.
Niko Alm, an Austrian member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, won the right to wear a pasta strainer on his head in his driver’s license photo. He originally applied for the license three years ago, but first had to get approval from a doctor that he was "psychologically fit" to drive.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a parody religion whose adherents are known as pastafarians. Pastafarians, whose website stipulates that "the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma," celebrate the amorphous "Holiday" in December and believe that pirates are "absolute divine beings."
Fun as it sounds, the original impetus behind pastafarianism was political — its founder, Bobby Henderson, then a 25-year-old — wrote an open letter to the Kansas Board of Education in July, 2005, in protest of the teaching of the Christian theory of intelligent design in schools:
I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism (Pastafarianism), and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster’s theory of intelligent design was subsequently invoked by pastafarian protesters in a similar situation in Polk County, Florida in 2007.
Alm’s request to wear a strainer on his head was a response to Austria’s "recognition of confessional headgear in official photographs," according to the BBC.
Alm received his license and is currently working on getting pastafarianism designated as an officially recognized faith.
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.| Passport |