First up from the God Machine this week is a look at an important achievement for a prominent “religious” institution. The nation has all kinds of elected officials who’ve walked a variety of spiritual paths, but the town council in the town of Pomfret, New York, broke new ground this week when Christopher Schaeffer, a Pastafarian minister, was sworn into office.
Schaeffer is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a group founded by an atheist in 2005 that has adopted the spaghetti strainer as its symbol.“It’s just a statement about religious freedom,” Schaeffer told the Observer. “It’s a religion without any dogma.”Bobby Henderson, founder of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, blogged about Schaeffer’s swearing-in on Monday, saying Schaeffer “may be the first openly Pastafarian sworn into office.”
In case you were curious – I certainly was – Schaeffer did, in fact, wear a colander on his head during the swearing-in ceremony. The moment was captured by Greg Fox, who took the above photo for the local paper, Dunkirk’s Observer.
For those unfamiliar with the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, its adherents tend to be atheists who hope to draw attention to what they see as the absurdities of religious fundamentalism.
This paragraph from the Wiki page captures the point nicely: “The ‘Flying Spaghetti Monster’ was first described in a satirical open letter written by Bobby Henderson in 2005 to protest the Kansas State Board of Education decision to permit teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes. In that letter, Henderson satirized creationist ideas by professing his belief that whenever a scientist carbon dates an object, a supernatural creator that closely resembles spaghetti and meatballs is there ‘changing the results with His Noodly Appendage.’ Henderson argued that his beliefs were just as valid as those of intelligent design, and called for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism to be allotted equal time in science classrooms alongside intelligent design and evolution. After Henderson published the letter on his website, the Flying Spaghetti Monster rapidly became an Internet phenomenon and a symbol of opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools.”
Just recently, after officials in Florida’s state capitol added a nativity scene to its holiday display, local Pastafarians soon added a Flying Spaghetti Monster display of its own.
And now the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has its first-ever elected official. A breakthrough moment, to be sure.
Also from the God Machine this week:
* Which countries have the highest and lowest shares of religiously unaffiliated citizens? The Pew Research Center published a report with the results this week (thanks to E.J. for the tip).
* And Rick Santorum’s efforts to break into the movie business got off to a rough start in 2013 – “The Christmas Candle” failed to recoup its modest budget – but he’s sticking with it. The former senator said this week that he intends to turn his EchoLight Studios into “the Pixar of faith movies.”