- (Photo: Wikimedia)
Officials in Chester County, Pennsylvania recently denied a request by local Pastafarian members to have their pasta-covered pine tree displayed on the county's courthouse lawn next to a traditional Christmas tree and a menorah.
"I don't stand in judgement of people's beliefs no matter what they are, God, multiple gods, spaghetti, or lasagna. Whatever you want to worship, there is nothing the government can do to stop you," County commissioner Ryan Costello told the Pastafarians in attendance at a Nov. 27 public meeting.
"I just don't think that this is where our focus should be now. We have something in place and I think we should follow it," Costello added.
Chester County, Pa., currently allows for only county-implemented displays relating to Judeo-Christian beliefs or veterans memorials to be displayed on the Chester County Historic Courthouse lawn for the holiday season.
Before Nov. 2010, county officials allowed any group to display their holiday tribute on the lawn on a first-come basis, but reportedly after much debate the policy was changed to avoid further conflict between the religious and the nonreligious in the community.
Tuesday's ruling came to the chagrin of Pastafarians, a religion recognized largely to be a satire on creationism and based in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
According to its website, Pastafarianism was founded in 2005 after an unemployed physics graduate wrote an angry, mocking letter to the Kansas Board of Education regarding its teaching of creationism in public schools.
The letter included references to Pastafarianism and the worship of a Flying Speghetti Monster in order to mock the Christian belief of God as creator.
Initially, the mock religion then gathered a substantial following. Characteristics of the religion include an opposition to creationism and intelligent design, as well as the worship of their god, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a noodle-armed creature with meatball eyes that flies through the air and, according to the religion's manifesto, holds all humans to Earth using its noodle arms.
Although Chester County's Tuesday meeting ultimately denied the Pastafarian display, one county commissioner, Vice Chairwoman Kathi Cozzone, motioned for the display to be approved, arguing that the county should be open to all religious groups.
"I am not speaking in support or in opposition to any particular display," Cozzone told the crowd in attendance, as reported by the Daily Times of Delaware County. "I just think our policy should be open. It should be an open policy or we should have nothing at all."
In addition to the Pastafarians being denied their holiday display, the atheist group, Freethought Society, also had their motion to display a "Tree of Knowledge" on the courthouse lawn denied.
A similar issue is currently taking place in Loudoun County, Virginia, where officials recently ruled that only county-sponsored holiday displays be allowed on the county courthouse lawn.
In Dec. 2011, the Pastafarians displayed an illustration of their Flying Spaghetti Monster on the Loudoun County lawn.