Back in 2005, a fellow named Bobby Henderson, protesting the teaching of intelligent design, created a satirical deity, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
He originally wrote a letter citing the Monster, then put the letter online, where it attracted attention. Since then, a "church" has been created - The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - with a whole set of beliefs and stories. It has even been recognized as a real church in a couple of countries, though a U.S. court recently declared that it is a satirical creation, and hence not a true church.
Given its obsession with pirates, the wearing of colanders, and the speculation that heaven includes a beer volcano and a stripper factory, such a ruling is not surprising. On the other hand, Scientology and Mormonism are recognized, so you never know if a court some day might not rule "pastafarianism" legal.
Henderson has also penned a book - The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster - that has sold more than 100,000 copies. (Hmm, maybe there is hope for my own The Slug Chronicles, or my Wisdom of Baba Dada.) Plus, you can buy ordination credentials or t-shirts and other merchandise from the church.
I suspect Mr. Henderson has made a few dollars off all this.
The original motivation behind creating the FSM was satire. That's fine. Religion certainly can be the object of humor and satire. Indeed, G. K. Chesterton observed, “It is the test of a good religion whether you can joke about it.”
I'm guilty of my own silliness with Baba Dada, for example.
But I've seen FSM used too often in an adolescent and even mean-spirited way to mock people and their beliefs.
Maybe it's time to send in the Dread Pirate Roberts.