Anti-‘Intelligent Design’ Church Holds Legal Wedding In NZ, April 18, 2016

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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Anti-‘Intelligent Design’ Church Holds Legal Wedding In NZ Spaghetti Monster adherents have ‘philosophical convictions’

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 16, 2016) – The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster has held its first legally recognised marriage, with the offbeat movement hailing the New Zealand ceremony as a world-first milestone toward acceptance.

Church adherents call themselves pastafarians, wear colanders on their heads, revere pirates and believe the world was created by a deity made of spaghetti.

But while they have a love of pasta-based puns and celebrate holidays such as "Talk Like a Pirate Day", followers insist their religion is no joke.

New Zealand officials agreed, and gave Wellington-based pastafarian Karen Martyn the legal right to conduct marriages last month after ruling the church was based on genuine philosophical convictions.

Ms Martyn conducted her inaugural wedding as an ordained "ministeroni" on Saturday, when Toby Ricketts and Marianna Young became the first couple in the world to "tie the noodly knot" in a legally recognised ceremony.

"It's a formal recognition that we are a church and that's just great," Ms Martyn said ahead of the ceremony.

She said many more weddings were planned, including same-sex unions, which were legalised in New Zealand in 2013.

"I've had people from Russia, from Germany, from Denmark, from all over contacting me and wanting me to marry them in the church because of our non-discriminatory philosophy.

"We will marry any consenting legal adults who meet the legal requirement."

Church arose as protest against 'intelligent design' in schools

The wedding took place on a charter vessel decorated as a pirate ship at the South Island town of Akaroa, with guests dressed in costume.

Mr Ricketts, a filmmaker who discovered pastafarianism while making a documentary about religion, said he knew some people may not take the marriage seriously.

"That's kind of what attracted us to it," he said. "We were never planning to get married and have a conventional wedding, but this allowed us to do it in a way that we're comfortable … our families are 100 per cent behind us."

Pastafarianism first appeared in a 2005 open letter written by Bobby Henderson to the Kansas Board of Education in protest over its decision to teach intelligent design — a form of creationism promoted by Christian fundamentalists — in schools.

Mr Henderson, 36, a self-described "hammock enthusiast" and computer nerd from Oregon, is regarded as the prophet of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM).

He argued that believing a pasta god made the universe was no less valid than intelligent design as both theories had no scientific merit.

"New Zealand is one of the few places that has formally recognised us," he said.

But not all are happy with the decision, including Professor Peter Lineham, a religious history specialist at New Zealand's Massey University.

"I am not at all convinced there's a genuine statement of values (in the church)," he told Fairfax New Zealand when the original decision was handed down.

Ms Martyn disputes that view, saying a strong belief system underpinned FSM.

"We are anti-discrimination on any basis for any reason, and we truly believe there should be a complete separation of church and state," she said.

"We believe in challenging ourselves and other religions and challenging cultural superstitions … we're very serious about our beliefs."

In November American woman Lindsay Miller, who identifies as a member of FSM, won the right to wear a colander in her driver's licence photo.

But in December, the church's application for incorporation as a not-for-profit organisation was rejected by the South Australian commissioner for corporate affairs.

FSM is planning to launch an appeal to that decision in the District Court.

 

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