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Pastafarian Woman Forbidden From Wearing Colander on Her Head in ID Photo

A Dutch court ruled that the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is, in fact, not a religion.

by Jelisa Castrodale
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Aug 17 2018, 6:43pm

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

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One of the unofficial rules of having any ID photo taken is that no matter how much time spent preparing, you'll end up hating the final product. Whether it’s for an employee identification badge, a passport, or your driver’s license, guaranteed you will either look like you just emptied a month’s worth of Ambien into your open mouth or that the photographer startled you immediately after you clicked a link marked “NSFW.” But Dutch law student Mienke de Wilde is extra-upset about the results of her ID photo, and it’s largely because she has been banned from wearing a colander on her head.

De Wilde is a Pastafarian, a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and has argued that wearing a pasta strainer is an expression of her religion. The highest court in the Netherlands strongly disagrees, and said that the she cannot cover her head in her passport or driver’s license pictures, because it believes that Pastafarianism is a parody, not a true religion.

According to the NOS, the Council of State cited the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in its decision, which states that a movement must have “persuasiveness, seriousness, coherence, and importance before it can be regarded as a religion.” By that definition, the court believes that Pastafarianism falls way short.

De Wilde’s fight began two years ago, when officials in the town of Nijmegen told her that she could not use her colander-topped photos for either form of ID. (Her previous driver’s license expired, so she hasn’t been able to drive since her application was rejected). Instead of backing down, she went to court. Then she went to the Council of State. And, despite the fact that it ruled against her, she is considering taking her case to the ECHR.

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“I can imagine that it is all very strange if you do not believe in it,” De Wilde told the Algemeen Dagblad newspaper. “But that’s the case with many faiths if you don’t believe in them—people who walk on water, or split seas in two, for example. I think other religions are unbelievable.”

For the uninitiated, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was created in 2005 by then 24-year-old Bobby Henderson, who wrote an open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, suggesting that if its schools were going to teach intelligent design, then they also needed to devote part of their curriculum to the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Henderson has since written the Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which starts with the titular monster-slash-deity creating the universe and includes eight tenets, called “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts.” (“I’d Really Rather You Didn’t act like a sanctimonious Holier-Than-Thou ass when describing my Noodly Goodness,” for example.)

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was officially recognized by the government of New Zealand in 2015, and its ministers have since been authorized to perform marriages in the country. Although it is not considered a religion in the United States, a handful of its followers have been allowed to take their driver’s license photos with colanders on their heads; the most recent seems to have been Sean Corbett, a Chandler, Arizona man, who briefly won his own longstanding battle with the Arizona DOT last June. But just a day later, the state said that it would void his license.

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“Some may view the religion as a satirical version of standard religion," Corbett told USA Today. "I think it really drives in the point that if you’re going to include one, you have to include all. You have to respect everybody’s beliefs if you’re going to respect one."

That...actually makes so much sense—which is probably why there’s so much resistance to it. Keep fighting the good fight, Pastafarians.

CORRECTION: This article incorrectly described the court as Danish and not Dutch. MUNCHIES regrets the error.