Pasta and Pirates and Prison, Oh My!
If you haven’t found God, maybe you are looking for him in the wrong restaurants! A Nebraska prisoner found God in his spaghetti dish, called himself a “Pastafarian” and demanded that prisoner officials accommodate his religious beliefs. This proves the old adage that truth is stranger than fiction!
Steven Cavanaugh, incarcerated in a Nebraska State Penitentiary, belonged to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The FSMism movement believes in a deity that is a big noodle in the sky. Their website claims that FSMism is “today’s fastest-growing carbohydrate-based religion.” According to church founder Bobby Henderson, “the universe and all life within it were created by a mystical and divine being: the Flying Spaghetti Monster.”
So what do they believe in? Well … brace yourself. In addition to believing in a heavenly “Noodly Appendage,” they also believe they descended from pirates and that the afterlife includes beer volcanoes and stripper factories. Wow, this should be the most attended bible study in prison! And come on, who doesn’t love to talk like a pirate? Ahoy Matey! Shiver me timbers!
But when he asked prison officials to accommodate his beliefs, they made him walk the plank! And so he sued the prison in federal court under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (“RLUIPA”). RLUIPA requires prison officials to accommodate prisoner’s religious beliefs.
So did the court convert? No. In fact, the court held that the prisoner’s beliefs were not religious at all, and so did not fall under RLUIPA. According to the court, FSMism is a parody on religion and not a true religious belief, so no accommodation was necessary.
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