The followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the globally popular satirical deity, are now seeking their rights before Germany's Constitutional Court. The dispute focuses on street signs advertising a "noodle mass."
The highest court in Germany may soon have to consider whether the mock church should be treated as an "ideological community," which could allow them to claim rights similar to traditional religious groups.
"We believe that a satirical religion should have the same rights as other religions," chairman of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Rüdiger Weida, on Monday. Weida also goes by his church name, Brother Spaghettus.
The so-called Pastafarians seek to satirize the concept of religion by ironically worshiping a deity made of spaghetti and meatballs, promoting their vision of heaven which involves strippers and a beer volcano, and gathering for a weekly "noodle mass" to share pasta and beer. They argue that this FSM's heavenly existence is no less likely, and just as impossible to disprove, as that of more traditional deities.
No dogma, no church?
For several years, the followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have been clashing with authorities in the northeast town of Templin over the right to display street signs with the times of their church service. Similar signs are commonplace for Christian churches in Germany.
However, Templin officials removed the signs posted by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti monster. In the ensuing legal battle, German local and regional courts sided with the authorities. Last month, the judges in Brandenburg ruled that the church was not a true religious group, partly because they have "no dogmas." The higher regional court also ruled that the group's criticism of religion is not enough to form an "ideological community."
In a paragraph from the verdict cited at the church's website, the judges say that church members were willing to alter "their perspective and claims based on the changes in reality."
"So it seems German law stipulates that only worldviews with dogmatic, fixed lines and beliefs can really be counted as such," the carbohydrate-rich church said on Monday. "Those [ideologies] that can develop apparently aren't worldviews."
It was not immediately clear if or when Germany's Constitutional Court would decide on the case. After the August verdict, Weida said that he was ready to take the case all the way to the European Court of Justice - which would be the last legal option if an appeal in Karlsruhe failed.
In 2011, an Austrian Pastafarian won a right to wear a pasta strainer on his head for his drivers' license photo, claiming that it was required by his religion.
Since its inception in the US in 2005, the church has spread to various parts of the world. The German branch estimates that at least 20,000 people practice Pastafarianism.
dj/msh (epd, KNA, dpa, AFP)