A person named Shawna Hammond just wore a colander on her head in her driver’s licence photo because:
Hammond is an atheist, but she told the department of motor vehicles that she is a “pastafarian.” She says she believes no one should be forced into religious beliefs.
“For me the colander represents freedom, our freedom of religion and to whatever religion we prefer or even lack of religion,” she said.
As for being a pastafarian — it is a real thing. It came into being about 10 years ago when a man wrote a letter to a school board talking about a flying spaghetti monster, equating that to creationism being taught in schools.
I’m seeing a lot of cheering about this online, in progressive spaces. But it doesn’t sit well with me. When I tried to explain why, that answer came out as a list of six reasons:
- I am an atheist for sure, and am definitely coming at this discussion from a place of suffering a lot as the result of the religious beliefs of others (specifically the idea that men are head of the household).
- I am absolutely troubled by the role that Christianity plays in setting American and Canadian legislative policy.
- I find the atheist movement as dominated by patronizing and slut-shaming old white dudes as Christianity is. I do think it has a lot less power to make the world worse, because it lacks the community, resources, and political support that Christianity has. It is sure doing its best, though.
- I absolutely think the term “Pastafarian” is the result of a group of thoughtless white people who didn’t think at all about the racist implications of the way they were framing their legitimate reaction to the cultural and political power over their lives of a church they didn’t belong to or support.
- A lot of atheists act like “Whoa you guys did you know oppression is a thing?” and behave as if they are the most oppressed people in this world and it is absolutely infuriating and racist and toxic and horrible.
- I think that most people who identify as atheists more than they identify as anything else (feminists, socialists, etc) are at best doing nothing to make the world a less oppressive place and at worst actively facilitating and perpetuating most forms of oppression.
I’ve watched a few people be pretty defensive about this today, but I honestly haven’t seen any arguments that don’t completely reinforce the concerns I’ve outlined above. I really recommend reading Agnostic Atheist, But Not Interested In White Supremacist Atheism, on the always stellar blog Gradient Lair.