Pastafarianism: from protesting student to worldwide church

A Pastifarian parody of Michelangelo's 'The Creation of Adam'

Online communities

Pastafarianism: from protesting student to worldwide church


The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM), which is the deity of the Church of Pastafarianism, was originated by student Bobby Henderson in 2005. He made the monster up as a protest against the idea of ‘intelligent design’ being taught in public school science classes. Intelligent design is a pseudoscientific argument that claims that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. Henderson demanded equal teaching of FSM and ideas such as intelligent design, proposing that both are pseudoscientific and therefore unimportant to science classrooms.

The monster became an internet phenomenon and gained popularity quickly. Pastafarianism’s main purpose is recognised by scientists as the following: protect teaching of science in public schools from pseudoscientific and creationist ideas. But to what extent can it be considered a religion?

Dutch community and practices

Pastafarianism may have its origins in America but its followers are spread throughout North-America and Europe, also in The Netherlands. On the website of ‘Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster’ you can read blog posts, look at tweets, and check the church’s holidays like ‘Talk-Like-A-Pirate-day’. The blog posts serve as short ‘sermons’ on topics like Ramadan, loneliness and global warming. 

Under a tab called ‘our faith’ you can find the 8 ‘rather-nots’. A prime example the Pastifarians give is the following: “I’d rather not have you use my existence as a way to suppress, punish, murder, or you know, be mean to others.” Founder and prophet Bobby Henderson came upon the 8 rules through a story about the FSM and pirate Mosey, who dropped 2 of the 10 stone tablets he was given by the monster. The 8 ‘rather-nots’ form the base of the religion, which is open to everyone as all you have to do is accept yourself as a Pastifarian. The ‘Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster’ is recognised in the Netherlands as a denomination. The church states that they organise events and come together in churches every now and then. Their prime activities are eating pasta, drinking beer and having discussions about religion and society. These activities are also done online, via meme-sharing and video calling. This has become more prominent since the pandemic started. Pastafarians therefore engage in a relational community where they share a specific lifestyle with each other. 

Is it a religion?

The Pastifarian church is highly aware of the fact that many people ridicule them for believing in a Flying Spaghettimonster. They understand this response but reflect back to those people by claiming that their religion is just as proven by evidence as, for example, Christianity. “If a Flying Spaghettimonster is too strange and cannot exist, then why do people believe in a man that turned water into wine?” In the FAQ section of the website, the following question is asked: “Do you truly believe in the Flying Spaghettimonster?” The Pastifarians answer by stating that some do, and some don’t. They state that ‘believing is not an essential factor to be a religious person, it is about a community with shared values’. 

To define if Pastafarianism is a religion, we must first look at how we define religion. According to the polythetic definition, the Church of the Flying Spaghettimonster checks some boxes. Some groups are legally recognized as religion, there are religious texts, there is a creator to praise, communities come together in events, strainers are religious headwear and there are rules to follow to end up in Pastafarian heaven, or hell when you don’t. But on the other side: there is no central organization, one can become a Pastafarian through self-identification, there is no good vs. evil narrative, and there aren’t any churches/holy buildings. 

To truly understand the Pastifarian church, we must look at their intention. Bobby Henderson came up with the Flying Spaghettimonster as a response to pseudoscientific teaching, not to create a new religion. The Church has since transformed but the basis of Pastafarianism, in my opinion, is to ridicule creationism and intelligent design. Intention is highly important in this religion and it seems that the most important factor of the Church, according to their founder, is to support science and go against the hatred that is rooted in religion.

It is not up to me to decide if Pastafarianism is a religion or not, but it comes pretty close to some factors of the polythetic definition. And just like the Pastafarians claim: some people believe, and some don’t.



Flying Spaghetti Monster. (2005, August 5). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved May 19, 2021, from


Intelligent design. (2001, November 29). Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 

Retrieved May 19, 2021, from 


(n.d.). Kerk van het Vliegend Spaghettimonster.