This is only the second time in the history of this blog that the topic has been about a non-Australian case (and I am grateful for the bar librarian’s sense of humour and the link to this case in the bar library’s 21 January newsletter).

The case is a decision of the European Court of Human rights and was basically an argument about article 9 of the European Convention on Human Rights (dealing with freedom of religion). It all started when the  (Dutch) authorities refused to accept a  photograph of the applicant (for her drivers’ licence) with a colander (yes – “kitchen utensil”) on her head.

The Applicant is a “Pastafarian”, a follower of the “Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster”. The Church has it’s origins in Kansas USA in 2005 in the context over a debate about whether creation or evolution should be taught in schools. The Church’s founder advocated that a further alternative theory was that the universe was created by a flying spaghetti monster and this should also be taught in schools.

Church members believe that modern humans are descended from “pirates” (and their “wenches”) rather than “primates”. Heaven, promised to the righteous in the afterlife, is said to hold delights including a “Beer Volcano” and a “Stripper Factory”; sinners are to be punished in hell with menial work in the service of the righteous, stale beer and sexually unattractive strippers. The Church also has scriptures (published by the founder) which are known as The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and The Loose Canon. The Gospel contains eight “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts”. The Canon is sub-titled “St John the Blasphemist, Saint of Freakin’ Awesome Holy Texts”.

Anyway….back to the legal issues….the Applicant asserted that being a strict Pastafarian believer she genuinely saw the wearing of a colander as a religious requirement and she was prepared to suffer inconvenience, censure and ridicule to comply with it. After all, how was it different to a hijab or turban?

To cut a long story short, the Court found that not all firmly held convictions or opinions were a “religion or belief” which was required to fall within article 9 of the convention. The case was dismissed.

However, if you want to know more about Pastafarians you are welcome to read the judgment in De Wilde v. The Netherlands (2021).

Creative commons acknowledgment for the photograph.


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