For years now, the Poland branch of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has been working to have the country recognize Pastafarianism as an official religion. Even when a court rejected their arguments last year, they kept fighting.
“Do not be afraid, as it will only be a matter of time before our community is registered as a religious association,” the statement continued, adding it will first appeal to the Polish supreme court.
Well, guess what? It worked. Thanks to a ruling by Judge Wlodzimierz Kowalczyk, Poland will now have to recognize Pastafarianism as an official faith! The ruling (which you can read in Polish here) comes on a technicality… but let’s not let that ruin the celebration:
He said the original decision to bar the group from being officially registered had been wrong because Poland’s Ministry of Administration had not allowed the group a two-month extension for submitting outstanding documents.
Who cares?! It’s an official religion now!
The Church’s website issued this amusing summary statement (translated into English by reader Caroline!):
Yesterday was filled with signs indicating the Monster’s goodwill. Mars was at its closest approach to Earth, while the storms and downpours forecast for the time of the hearing turned into veritable spring weather and our spaghetti remained al dente and tasted especially delicious, regardless of cooking time. The hearing was attended by many Pastafarians, certain of the positive outcome of the judgement, whose import was confirmed by the fact that the expected 20 minutes stretched to an hour and a half. The assembled judges heard the flawless arguments put forward by Attorney Dariusz Goliński; noticing the fervent belief of the assembled crowds, they required more time to make their decision, fully aware that history was being written. Finally, euphoric with victory, the Monster’s followers spread out a banner on the stairs of the Court bearing the uplifting words “Do not fear the Monster!”, and — following a tradition sanctified over centuries — repaired to a nearby restaurant for a bowl of spaghetti and a small beer
What separates a real religion from a parody religion? Nothing from an outsider’s perspective. That’s the whole point. It shouldn’t be for the government to decide, in any case, what constitutes a serious believer. And if “real” religions get perks, the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s followers should have dibs on them, too.
Indeed, there are financial benefits, as Polish Pastafarian Artur Mykowski explained last year (I’ve paraphrased and edited his remarks below):
In Poland, religious organizations (all 170 of them) can count on tax and legal benefits from the state. The greatest benefactor is the dominant Polish Catholic Church which gets about $230,000,000 (USD) a year, courtesy of taxpayers. Now, the Government has issued a law that will grant every taxpayer a chance to donate 0.5% of his yearly tax to a religious organization of his choosing, which will give the Catholic Church alone another $66,000,000 yearly… But wait, there is more. Non-religious taxpayers won’t have the chance to donate that 0.5% to any other secular organization. That means that atheist or agnostic citizens of Poland will in effect pay higher taxes because they won’t have the chance to decide where their 0.5% goes.
It’s unclear whether the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster will not be eligible for these funds, but I can’t imagine why not.
I’ve asked Church of the FSM founder and Prophet Bobby Henderson for his thoughts on the matter and will update this post if/when I hear back.
In the meantime, Christopher Schaeffer, the Pomfret (New York) Town Board member who swore an oath with a colander on his head earlier this year, sent me this statement:
… this is a great leap forward for the Polish Nation, Pastafarians and especially for Pastafarians in Poland.
I doth my colander to the Polish Nation, and bid them pokój.