Barbara Barrett, a dedicated Pastafarian, has worn a colander on her head every single day since February 2016, including as she works at an Indiana post office.
Barrett, who recently got her Indiana driver license featuring a miniature strainer showcased on her head, is an adherent of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The FSM was created in 2005 in Kansas to make a point about science in classrooms but has evolved to include its own religion (Pastafarianism) and a worship word (R’amen).
Barrett says customers at the post office have asked her many questions over the years, but that they are mostly out of “sincere curiosity.”
“Customers are very curious. I get questions several times a week,” Barrett told me via Facebook Messenger. “Most often I simply say I am ‘Pastafarian’ which is why I wear a pasta colander on my head.”
She says the postmaster calls it “that thing on your head,” but that she is well liked and well respected at work.
“I work hard, am knowledgeable, and usually am willing to go an extra yard to make sure the work gets done,” Barrett told me. “Aside from the postmaster having a mistaken impression that my head gear prevented me from working with the public, I’ve never been given any bad attitude.”
Although she had to correct some misconceptions from her boss, that didn’t stop her from getting an official USPS badge that includes her trademark dishware.
In addition to her operator license, Barrett has a license plate that advertises her noodle-based faith to the whole world.
To Barrett, the Pastafarian religion is “more than just humor.” It’s also more than the noodles and alcohol, although she says they should be “praised routinely.”
“My Pastafarianism serves many purposes in my life,” she added.
For one, Barrett says, the strainer helps her keep a smile on her face.
“The pasta colander reminds me to have a sense of humor. Daily. Sometimes hourly,” she said. “Basically, whenever I need to. It’s funny.”
In addition to the benefits of hilariousness, Barrett says Pastafarianism is important to her because of the “obvious representation of keeping church and state separate.”
“I’ve been passionate about the First Amendment most of my life, but especially since the religious right started using people like Kim Davis, the KY court clerk, to push their ‘religious rights trump civil rights!’ agenda,” she said. “No, rights do not trump other rights. Rights are equal.”
Barrett has been stopped in the park, at the grocery store, at the crosswalk, and more by people who want to ask about her attire and beliefs. But that hasn’t stopped her from living her life. In fact, she has used that opportunity to educate curious people.
“I think it helps others to let them know publicly that I exist, I’m out in the public, and I’m open to talking about non traditional or unconventional concepts,” she said. “I know it helps me when someone asks if I am Pastafarian. It reminds me that I am not the only liberal, atheist/Pastafarian, non-conformist in a conservative, religious and sometimes oppressive society.”
Barrett may have many of the typical IDs with her religious head-covering, but she still has a long way to go. In fact, her request for a passport was refused. She said she plans on reapplying, but that no passport has been issued to to a Pastafarian with head gear.
Barrett certainly isn’t the only dedicated Pastafarian in the world, nor the only one in the United States, but she does show that it’s possible to live a normal life while honoring the Flying Spaghetti Monster. May you be touched by his noodly appendage.