'Pastafarian' Aaron Williams Refuses To Remove Strainer For License Photo
The Huffington Post | By Meredith Bennett-Smit
Employees at a Motor Vehicle Commission office in New Jersey called the police on Feb. 2, when a man claiming to be a "Pastafarian" -- a follower of a parody religion called the "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster" -- refused to take a pasta strainer off his head for a new license photo.
Aaron Williams, 25, told employees at the South Brunswick motor vehicle office that “his pasta strainer was a religious head covering and it was his right to wear it for his license photo,” according to a South Brunswick Police Department report newly obtained by The Smoking Gun.
Per The Smoking Gun, officers were eventually able to convince Williams to remove the strainer for his picture and reported that Williams was calm and cooperative throughout the incident.
The tongue-in-cheek Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was founded, in part, to protest the teaching of creationism in schools, according to CBS New York.
"What we deem as different or embarrassing is different from what another individual deems as different or embarrassing, in terms of religious practices," Williams told the South Brunswick Patch after his incident at the MVC. "As a Pastafarian, I believe the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster ... The strainer is a showing of my devoutness to the religion."
Williams went on to speculate that MVC employees did not understand the significance of his headgear because his beliefs are not widely known.
"Had it been a turban or a head scarf, or something from a mainstream religion, then it would've been fine," he told Patch. "I guess since they hadn't heard of the religion, that's why they opposed it. But that's not really acceptable to me. They're not in a position to discriminate against religions that are mainstream, or not mainstream, just because they may not have heard about it."
The Evangelical Pastafariansim Facebook page acknowledged the incident in a post. "Faithful church member Aaron Williams has been denied his Noodle-given right to wear the religious head covering of his choice - namely a pasta strainer - in his New Jersey drivers license photo," the post read.
While Pastafarianism may come off as farcical, Williams told NJ.com that "I take it as seriously as anybody else when it comes to religious beliefs.”
In 2011, an Austrian follower of Pastafarianism was finally allowed to take his drivers license picture with a strainer on his head, reports the Agence France-Press. Niko Alm had been attempting to have the country recognize his headgear since 2008.
Williams may be able to follow in Alm's footsteps, if he wishes.
In the police report obtained by The Smoking Gun, an officer told Williams that he could apply to the state to have his preferred head gear approved for license photos.
Williams declined to be interviewed by The Huffington Post
All I had to do was read the first sentence.
The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster or Pastafarianism, a movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion and opposes the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Although adherents state that Pastafarianism is a genuine religion, it is generally recognized by the media as a parody religion.
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 and intelligent design were equally valid, 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 used against teaching intelligent design in public schools.
Pastafarian tenets are generally satires of creationism. They are presented both on Henderson's Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster website, where he is described as "prophet", and in The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, written by Henderson and published by Villiard Press in 2006. The central belief is that an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. Pirates are revered as the original Pastafarians (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarian), and Henderson asserts that the steady decline in the number of pirates over the years has resulted in global warming. The FSM community currently congregates at Henderson's website to share ideas and crafts devoted to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and post "sightings" of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Because of its popularity and exposure, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is often used as a contemporary version of Russell's teapot – an argument that the philosophic burden of proof lies upon those who make unfalsifiable claims, not on those who reject them. The Flying Spaghetti Monster has received criticism from proponents of intelligent design. Pastafarians have engaged in religious disputes, including in Polk County, Florida, where they played a role in dissuading the local school board from adopting new rules on teaching evolution
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