Pastafarian Barrett Fletcher delivering the opening prayer at government meeting
Pastafarian Barrett Fletcher delivers the invocation before a government meeting in Homer, Alaska. Colanders are the official holy headwear of Pastafarianism.

A local government meeting in Alaska is no stranger to non-Christian invocations. Satanist Iris Fontana set the bar in 2016 when she delivered a controversial opening invocation that ended in "Hail Satan." Offended officials at the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly then tried to block atheists of all stripes from repeating the stunt - a fight they eventually lost in court. That ruling opened the door for non-traditional religions to deliver opening prayers ahead of local government meetings.

This week, it was Pastafarian Barrett Fletcher's turn.

As the founding pastor of the First Lower Peninsula Congregation of Pastafarians, Fletcher is a proud member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). FSM followers believe that the creator of the universe is an invisible deity made of spaghetti and meatballs. They also believe the FSM was completely intoxicated when He created the universe. Those who believe hope to be 'touched by His noodly appendage'.

And so, this week, Fletcher talked education, taxes, and waste management-- all with a colander on his head.

Penne For Your Thoughts

"A few of the Assembly members seem to feel they can't do this work without being overseen by a higher authority," Fletcher began, reading evenly from prepared statements. "So I'm called to invoke the power of the true inebriated creator of the universe, the drunken tolerator of all the lesser and more recent gods, and maintainer of gravity here on Earth. May the great Flying Spaghetti Monster rouse Himself from His stupor, and let His noodly appendages ground each assembly member in their seats, reminding them of the purpose of their election to this body, and helping them to stay focused on the tasks at hand."

The prayer ended with a humble "rAmen."

Several members repeated Fletcher's closing rAmen with a smirk. However, the Anchorage Daily News noted most failed to stand or even remove their hats for the two-minute invocation:

Pastafarian Publicity

Regardless of whether this was merely a publicity stunt (as some argue) or a sincere attempt at spreading the good word of Pastafarianism, Fletcher's antics should surprise nobody who is familiar with this particular brand of glutenous worship.

An artist's rendition of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

Pastor Bobby Henderson founded Pastafarianism in 2005 specifically to poke fun at Christian fundamentalists on the Kansas State Board of Education hell-bent on teaching creationism in American schools. To make his point, Henderson demanded his belief structure receive equal time in science classrooms in a now-iconic open letter.

But then his movement gained international steam. A fellow Pastafarian was legally allowed to officiate a New Zealand wedding in 2016. And a Massachusetts woman was granted the right to wear a colander for her driver's license photo after successfully arguing that it deserved the same consideration as any other form of religious headgear.

But not everyone is buying the legitimacy of the Pastafarian doctrine. Last year, a citizen of the Netherlands petitioned for the right to wear a colander in her passport photo. But to the dismay of Pastafarians everywhere, a Dutch court ruled that it does not constitute a real religion.

Should They Be Taken Seriously?

Critics view the Kenai Assembly speech as a high-level troll job - and perhaps it is. But does that mean this new faith should be discounted? That's a much harder question than it might seem.

First, how do we define what constitutes a "real" religion? Is it having a doctrine, a mission, and a base of followers? Or is there another component - let's call it "sincerity" - that must also be present?

On the one hand, it's hard to argue that a Gospel whose commandments are labeled "I'd Really Rather You Didn'ts" and that promises an afterlife full of stripper factories and beer volcanoes is trying to be taken 100% seriously.

But conversely, what benefits can be achieved by questioning the professed beliefs of others? This is a free country, after all. And many Pastafarians are also members of the ULC. Is there any harm in letting people wear colanders and say "rAmen"?

42 comments

  1. Alicia's Avatar Alicia

    NO specific religion should be giving invocations at public meetings unless it's a church meeting. Salute the US flag...done. Why is there a need to "bless" a meeting?

    Even the guy who invented this Pastafarian "religion" says it was done to mock Christian fundamentalists, so why leave meetings open to farces like this? You don't like shit like this happening? Then don't allow ANY religious invocations or you'll be getting a lot more of this.

    1. Don's Avatar Don

      "Then don’t allow ANY religious invocations or you’ll be getting a lot more of this."

      And that's exactly the point.

    2. Rev. Brien's Avatar Rev. Brien

      Well said. Alot of stupid crap could be avoided simply by separating church and state.

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Rev. Brien...I agree...if there are no invocations at public/governmental etc events, then this issue should not arise...in any event, each person should be free to worship anything he or she wants...just because there have been invocations in the past at public events, does not mean they are mandated to continue...Peace...Tom B

        1. Donna's Avatar Donna

          Well said Rev Brien & Tom B.

          I will add that the person in the video in the black dress was “worshipping” a cell phone. Let’s spend our energies addressing those types of social etiquette concerns. Cell phone misuse and abusing time and space of others in this manner is a far greater epidemic issue.

          Peace ☮️ to all...

      2. JT's Avatar JT

        Agreed.

        But ... please define "church". And "state".

        Some religions (Islam, anyone?) make no distinction - the two are always and forever inseparable.

        Are you ready to condemn Islam, unequivocally, as a religion/ governmental system, insofar that it recognizes no distinction between "church" and "state"?

        hmmm ... I didn't think so.

        Who, after all, wants their head (and their families') chopped off?

        Reject any - and all! - "religions"!

        1. Randy C Hamilton's Avatar Randy C Hamilton

          Islam has to be seperate in The USA. They do not like it? Then tough.

        2. Rev. Brien's Avatar Rev. Brien

          Oh, wait. I got this. Here is a definition: State is where someone who is alive tells me to do stuff that I think is bullflop. Church is where someone who is make believe tells me that I am bullflop. Hope that clears it up. ?

          1. Sandra Ru's Avatar Sandra Ru

            Rev. Brian, that is the BEST definition I have ever read.??

    3. Randy C Hamilton's Avatar Randy C Hamilton

      Prayers at Govenment meetnigs violate the Constitution's 1st Amendment. Read it for yourself. Why doesn't the ACLU or SOMEBODY fight this in court???? Lying scum in Washinton even have opening prayers for Congress which costs us millions of dollars. ILLEGAL!! Tell those preachers to get real jobs. Slime balls in Congress put "Under God" in the Flag Pledge in the 1950s. ILLEGAL!!! Our money has "In God We Trust" on it. (NOT ME!!!) ILLEGAL!!! Even the President has to say "So help me God" at the end of his oath. ILLEGAL!! Same thing for the Jury Duty oath!!! ILLEGAL!! The Supreme Court consists of "religious" people. ILLEGAL??? I do not know, but wrong, wrong! I could do a thousand words on the stupidity of the Supreme Court.

      1. Marty's Avatar Marty

        Your thoughts are valid. However, the money of the United States does not belong to the government. The Federal Reserve is a private bank that was founded "illegally" and does not have the true financial backing that it claims (ever since going off the gold standard". It says it is legal for all debts public & private, but it is still a Private bank. We have been led to believe this since the early 1900's. Things would be much easier if the government had common sense and we could avoid such nonsense. Have a good day & peace.

      2. MO's Avatar MO

        "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"

        Congress! Remember them - the legislative branch of the FEDERAL government?

        The 1st Amendment does NOT say that there shall be no establishments of religion in the states.

        In fact the first Congress pointedly rejected James Madison’s proposal to address the question of state establishment of religion. The purpose of the 1st Amendment was to ensure that Congress would neither establish a religion for the United States (as England had done) nor interfere in the religious policy of individual states - including Massachusetts, Connecticut and New Hampshire - that retained their colonial religious establishments.

        By the time the Constitution was ratified, several states had official state churches, but not official state denominations. In other words, a state would charter a church as it would a business today, but it would have no other formal role in the running of the church. Even that practice was waning, with only six states incorporating churches in any way by 1789. Clearly, the trend in church/state relations was towards no relationship at all.

        You may not like it. I may not like it (I don't). But I don't let what I like, or don't like, affect my reading of the Constitution. It is what it is; it says what it says. Don't like it? Amend it!!

        Also ... the official oath of office of the President is as follows:

        “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

        There is no requirement that the President-elect say "so help me God." However, most find it politically expedient to do so. And it's their 1st Amendment right to say/add whatever they please. And ... no! Their Constitutional rights (including 1st Amendment) do not stop merely because they hold public office. If anyone believes otherwise, show me where in the Constitution they forfeit those personal rights.

        The US Constitution contains 4,543 words. And IMHO it's a fairly straightforward and understandable-to-the-commoner read, at least until the "the stupidity of the Supreme Court" took over, which didn't take long after its ratification.

        US State constitutions are quite long. The shortest is that of Vermont, which contains 8,295 words, while Alabama’s sixth and most recent constitution (ratified in 1901) is 340,136 words long.

        By contrast, the Mexican Constitution contains 57,087 words; btw - If you want to read a truly racist / supremacist document, read that. Just as a single example --> Article 32: “Mexicans shall have priority over foreigners under equality of circumstances for all classes of concessions and for all employment, positions, or commissions of the Government in which the status of citizenship is not indispensable. In time of peace no foreigner can serve in the Army nor in the police or public security forces.”

      3. Barrett Fletcher's Avatar Barrett Fletcher

        The ACLU actually did sue the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Alaska Superior Court (Alaska's constitution is stricter and clearer on the separation issue than the US') and prevailed to the extent that the Assembly can no longer require invocation presenters to represent a 'local' congregation'. So I no longer have to host regular meetings of The First Lower Peninsula Congregation of Pastafarians in order to qualify to give an invocation. But apparently legal precedent suggests that the courts are unlikely to outright prohibit invocations, as long as there's no apparent discrimination about who gives them. Currently in this community various secularists are dominating the invocation list in hopes that the evangelicals will finally get sick of us and relent by dropping the invocation entirely.

    4. Richard White's Avatar Richard White

      Well said.

  1. Don's Avatar Don

    "most failed to stand or even remove their hats for the two-minute invocation"

    Typical Christian hypocrisy. They want THEIR beliefs treated with respect, but spit on everyone else's. Nothing in that evocation was any sillier than a typical Christian prayer.

    1. Dark Gray's Avatar Dark Gray

      Are you sure that Pastafarians consider removing one's hat a sign of respect? Some religions consider it a sign of respect to cover one's head. Please stop imposing your narrow-minded ideas of respect on other religions. ( :-) in case that's not obvious.)

  1. Karen's Avatar Karen

    I love and respect the Pastafarians?

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      Yes, and why not, at least they aren’t nodding, and talking to a wall, floor, or ceiling ?

      ?❤️

      1. Patrick's Avatar Patrick

        True. Though they do occasionally address their primavera.

        1. Steve W.'s Avatar Steve W.

          If I recall, there is a beer volcano in heaven. Im in.

          1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

            I’m in also, see you there, I’ll buy you a pint. Mines an IPA.

            ?❤️

  1. Cyndi McReynolds's Avatar Cyndi McReynolds

    I watched the video of this invocation. It began with his observance that the council seem to believe they can't be effective without the help of a higher authority. I don't know the history of why he held that belief, but he seemed to be performing a service on behalf of the some part of his community that thought otherwise.

    It seemed to me that he didn't necessarily believe that prayer is appropriate in government meetings. By offering a prayer to a deity that is unconventional, to say the least he seemed to be delivering a message to council that they didn't need prayers to be able to do their jobs, but he would oblige them with one, if they thought it was necessary.

    As he progressed through his presentation, he had nothing but kind words and well wishes for the council and the people they represent. He requested sound judgments, and harmony among the council members I see nothing wrong with that.

    You can call it a prayer, an invocation, a presentation or a speech or whatever you like. The sentiment would still be the same. If alcohol was allowed at council meetings, it would have been equally appropriate to make a toast wishing the council well and ending with a resounding "Cheers!" in stead of a "rAmen".

    What matters here is not what religion this man chooses to follow. The important lesson is the propriety of the tradition of invoking the power of our higher selves in service of others.

    I think he did a good job.

    Yes. I ;think he should be taken seriously, even with a colander on his head.

    Watch the video again and then tell me what's inappropriate about it.

  1. Stephen Wehrenberg's Avatar Stephen Wehrenberg

    As a committed (or should be!) Pastafarian (hail FSM) I believe that even though the whole business is satire, it has as much right to provide invocations as any "religion." In my view, they are all equally satirical. Except ULC, of course, representing the one TRUE religion. I side with keeping religion out of politics, and vice versa, altogether.

  1. JT's Avatar JT

    "First, how do we define what constitutes a “real” religion? Is it having a doctrine, a mission, and a base of followers?" Perfect!!

    Ahem .... so, now that we've settled that: how about the tree huggers, animal rights groups, climate alarmists (yeah right, like 'm gonna take my cue from a sanctimonious, brainwashed child giving an overwrought lecture at the UN) , pro-gun and anti-gun rights nuts, pro-life and pro-choice kooks, political parties, green new dealers, alien abductees, etc. etc. etc.

    All meet this definition: - doctrine - mission - followers (aka lemmings) - worship at the altar of some cause or another (the cause being their ‘god’).

    Thus, all are therefore “religions”, especially given the infinite elasticity of definitions these days.

    So, I say to PETA, MUFON, Greenpeace, UCS, CRP, CODEPINK, NRA, Moms Demand Action, Republicans, Democrats, Antifa, BLM, KKK, BAMN, supremacists and all the other alphabet-soup better-than-thou do-gooders: Keep your d@mn religions out of my face, out of the public square and buried deep in whatever holes you crawled out of in your insufferable quests ostensibly to save the rest of humanity!!

    (btw - It's about saving nothing and no one, actually; it's only about power and control, nothing more.The powers seekers and power keepers love nothing more (except themselves and their self-righteousness, of course) than that their lemmings believe that there’s some higher cause in play.)

    Essentially, leave me alone! And leave everyone else alone! As the eminent French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and philosopher Blaise Pascal said, "I have discovered that all human evil comes from this: man's being unable to sit still and quiet in a room alone."

  1. Jeffrey Frye D. D.'s Avatar Jeffrey Frye D. D.

    Humm ... How do I become a member of the church of spaghetti?

    1. Lionheart's Avatar Lionheart

      I believe! I believe! The Pasta has risen.

      ?❤️

  1. Steve W.'s Avatar Steve W.

    https://www.venganza.org/about/

  1. Secretary3rd's Avatar Secretary3rd

    It is the IRS that can decided if they are a religion or not if the issue a 501 (c) (3) to anyone. Other wise this can say he is a religion if he wants to, but like us without that tax number as a non-profit he is just another flake.

    1. arawngraalrd's Avatar arawngraalrd

      I am not such a flake, but could and will, get three signatures, and U$50, to establish a church, and manage that church in a tax exempt manner, whether the IRS likes it or not. The since defunct Church of Scientology of California was admittedly organized in response to a legislative initiative to regulate Psycho-Therapy, when Evans Farber realized that Psycho-Therapy meant Healing of the Spirit, and was clearly a religious activity. The IRS didn't like it, but they are no longer arguing. Psycho-Therapy is unquestionably religious practice but, between George Fox and Miamoto Musashi, anything could be a religious activity.

    2. Michael Grace's Avatar Michael Grace

      There is no reason why a Church must be a 501 (c) (3), they only need this if they want to be tax exempt.

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Michael...you are right...further, I do not believe there should be tax exemptions for religions...there should be no exemptions for divisive organizations...Peace...Tom B

  1. Daniel's Avatar Daniel

    "Our Spaghetti Monster who art drunk in the heavens inebriation be thy game. Thy noodles come. Thy meatballs be done on my plate as it is in the heavens. And give us some bread, some garlic bread, while leading us to parmesan temptation and delivering us from hunger. For thine is the Spaghetti, the parmesan and the garlic bread forever and never. rAmen" All you followers of the FSM please excuse my creative license with the above prayers adding in of garlic bread and parmesan cheese, but feel free to adopt it if you wish. As for the rest, if anyone seems overly offended you might consider WHAT IF the FSM takes drunken offense at your offense and responds with a big "FORK YOU!"

  1. Qrez's Avatar Qrez

    I take pastafarianism as seriosly as any other religion. Only it has the additional advantages of being less likely to spawn witch burnings, bloody crusades, and violent conflicts... Other then the the what's for dinner argument.

    keep in mind christian groups in africa are still doing witch trials and american evangelicals are traveling to other african countries to lobby fort the death penalty for homosexuality.

    So if anything i think pastafarianism should be taken more superior and be seen as the superior religion based on its self parodying features that constrain it from such deadly insanity

    the worst a pastafarian would do is tryt to garrote you with spagetti and that will just result in both of you looking silly... though you may look like a bloody mess if ketchup is involved..

    It's a religion that really does not have the problem of it tending to murder people... that a lot more then you can say about most religions... (except Jainism... though that one can be so extreme they refuse to even harm bacteria and die of infections...)

  1. Jeremy's Avatar Jeremy

    Let me know when there is a following for Tacofarians and I am in.

  1. Brian Balke's Avatar Brian Balke

    You don't need to be of any religion at all to call the Spirit of Love into a social engagement. The posturing and satire only serves to satisfy the ego of the presenter.

    1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

      Brian...i agree...you do not need religion to be loving, compassionate and forgiving...Peace...Tom B

      1. Tom B's Avatar Tom B

        Joseph...for what possible reason should this comment be "awaiting moderation"?...Tom B

    2. Daniel's Avatar Daniel

      Good point Brian B. It has always seemed to me that the need for some kind of a ritual has always served as a way to distract and occupy the ego so that our true selves can "connect" with that which we are always a part of: the true essence of love, which holds all that is while also being the basic building blocks of all that is. The extent of the ritual seems directly proportional to the extent of the ego's need to be distracted. I think even the sacramental bread and wine could just as easily be pizza and beer or French fries and a soda; the symbology used is not nearly as important as the emotional intention released by using the symbols.

    3. Don's Avatar Don

      Anyone who actually believes they can summon the "Spirit of Love" (or any other supernatural woo) by chanting a few words is doing nothing but stroking their ego - from the Pope to the guy on the street corner.

      1. Daniel's Avatar Daniel

        Don, the word you use, "supernatural" implies there would have to be a state of nature above or beyond the status quo definition of nature. To that extent I would agree that it is not about invoking something/someone that would otherwise be seen as being separate from the "natural". But the current awareness of the laws of nature tend to be limited. Kind of like our scientific experience is like someone playing Yahtzee with only 3 dice. Somethings can be done, but no full house or Yahtzee wo is old be possible. However, when someone, like the Christ, comes along and is able to use the full set of dice people tend to call the results "miracles" or that its "supernatural". Consider how the scientific development of the radio tells us that are limited physical senses can not be directly aware of the radio waves surrounding us. With the limits of physical perception we have to extrapolate that are scientific developments, like the radio, are also limited. Therefore we have to allow for the likely possibility that, along with radio waves, we may be currently surrounded but an infinite field of possibilities. These physically unknown, and, scientifically obscured possibilities are not "supernatural" as they are ALL part of the expanded version of the laws of nature, regardless of whether we are currently aware of them. Thus- attempts to "invoke" what is already naturally there are nothing more than ritualized attempts to distract the ego and allow a "connection" that was never really disconnected to begin with. When seen as trying to access the "supernatural" the illusions of separation tend to persist within what is only natural to begin with.

  1. Onyeocha Nnadiozi's Avatar Onyeocha Nnadiozi

    Diet and Nutrition, heath and wellness is for the body, and wellbeing in spiritual and cleansing practices.

  1. angel's Avatar angel

    The only reason why it is an issue is because they are paid salary and is wasting their time. When you work for the government, you get paid by our taxes and therefore religion should be left outside the door. But, these people are not being paid at all and should be able to express what they like so long as they are doing it respectfully and getting to an actual topic.

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