Pastafarians, adherents of a quasi-mock religion that worships a deity figure known as the Flying Spaghetti Monster, have failed to win official recognition of their faith in Austria.
AFP reports Kultusamt, Austria’s religious authority, ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster isn’t actually a church because it is not a Christian sect. Austrian religious authorities also noted that Pastafarians have defined themselves as an ironic movement largely dedicated to mocking and criticizing better-established faiths, especially Christianity.
There are about 450 declared Pastafarians in Austria, the most famous of whom is Niko Alm, a young man who successfully fought for the right to wear a colander– a symbol of Pastafarianism– on his head in his driver’s license photo in 2011. In that case, Austrian transport authorities cited religious freedom as the reason why Alm was permitted to wear the spaghetti strainer in his official photo.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded in the United States in 2005 in opposition to the teaching of the pseudoscientific theory of intelligent design and biblical creation mythology in public schools. The deity figure Flying Spaghetti Monster first appeared in a satirical open letter penned by Bobby Henderson after the Kansas State Board of Education voted to allow the teaching of intelligent design as an alternative to the scientific theory of evolution in schools.
According to their website, Pastafarians believe “the only dogma allowed in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is the rejection of dogma.” Many of the church’s members are atheists, and many approach their faith in a tongue-in-cheek fashion.
In Texas, Pastafarian Eddie Castillo made headlines last year when he won a lengthy fight with the state’s Department of Public Safety, which ultimately allowed him to wear a colander in his driver’s license photo on religious freedom grounds.
While Austrian Pastafarians lament their defeat, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been recognized as an official religion in one other European Union nation. Earlier this year, a court in Warsaw, Poland rejected a lower court’s ruling and allowed the church to register as an official religion in the nation of 38.5 million inhabitants.
Philip Sager, an Austrian Pastafarian representing the group’s “Upper Macarono” chapter, released a statement expressing its disappointment in the Kultusamt’s decision.