The Flying Spaghetti church approved to solemnise marriage

A groundbreaking New Zealand decision has led to a few disturbances in the fabric of religious time and space.

The registrar-general of births, deaths and marriages Jeff Montgomery has approved the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as an organisation to solemnise marriages.

Massey University professor of history Peter Lineham has questioned the decision by the registrar-general and said he struggled to find any over-arching philosophy other than satirical intent.

The Church of the Fly Spaghetti Monster’s chief office-bearer and 10 members applied in November.

The application was approved under a sub-section of the Marriages Act, satisfying the registrar-general that the principal object of the organisation was to uphold or promote religious beliefs, philosophical or humanitarian convictions.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is based on a belief in an airborne god formed from spaghetti and meatballs.

Adherents of the church wear colanders on their heads and describe their religion as “pastafarianism”.

“I really think the registrar-general needs to answer. I am not at all convinced there’s a genuine statement of values,” Lineham says.

“[Historically] the New Zealand Government has been very coy about recognising religion.”

“If you take Scientology, New Zealand was more cautious in its treatment than Australia and Scientology was certainly very slow to gain recognition for marriage celebrants and for tax purpose.”

“I know some people who think The Force is rather more meaningful than a spaghetti monster.”

“I am startled and I think the registrar has some explaining to do.”

Montgomery said the purposes set out by the church were educating and training people, particularly atheists and superstitious people, about Flying Spaghetti principles and practices.

Those principles covered human rights, cultural and spiritual diversity, ethics, relieving poverty and advancing education.

“In considering the matter I have referred to the Objects of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, reviewed material available online about this organisation and considered other organisations already able to nominate marriage celebrants.”

“A review of media and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s international website show a consistent presentation of their philosophies.”

“While some claim this is a ‘parody organisation’, members have rebutted this on a number of occasions.”

New Zealand law does not define religious, or philosophical, organisations eligible for approval to perform marriages.

Most organisations approved to perform marriages are faith-based and cluster around well-known religious views.

However, alternative philosophies have been granted official licensing capabilities, including yoga, Wicca, Scientology, Heathen, Druidism, Humanism and Reiki spiritual healing.

“As registrar-general it is my role to apply the relevant legislation.”

“In this case, my decision can only be based on whether the organisation upholds or promotes religious beliefs, or philosophical or humanitarian convictions.”

“No judgment is made on the validity of those beliefs or convictions.”

The chief office bearer in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Top Ramen, said this was just the first step; they now need to to nominate marriage celebrants for approval before they can start conducting weddings.

According to the Ramen, who, for earthly reasons wishes to remain anonymous, the church has thousands of followers, although membership is not yet recognised in the census.

“We are a bona fide church, and our people do like to get married, some of them several times,” she told Morning Report.

“We like to have baptisms and babies and celebrations and divorces, and it’s always nice to have official marriage celebrants to preside over these celebrations.

“Churches are all about communities and celebrations.”

There are around 2000 independent celebrants, 6000 organisational celebrants and more than 700 organisations approved to perform marriages in New Zealand.


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