Meet your newest holiday display figure — the Flying Spaghetti Monster.
Created within the last decade, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is a sea creature-like clump of spaghetti that holds a pair of meatballs and stares out with unmoving eyes, is the "deity" of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is often seen as a parody religion.
It has now earned the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty's "lowest honor": the 2013 Ebenezer Award, awarded each year to "the most ridiculous affront to Christmas or Hanukkah celebrations," according to a Becket Fund release.
The monster is invading the Christmas season, as multiple spots across the United States display the monster, which has been used by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to counter religious holiday displays and creationism.
One such case is in Wisconsin, where the Department of Administration “invited anyone and everyone to display anything they want,” according to The Becket Fund. This ultimately led to the University of Wisconsin’s Atheists, Humanists and Agnostics group (AHA) building and displaying the Flying Spaghetti Monster, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“He boiled for your sins!” reads the display sign, seen on the Wisatheists blog. “Be touched by his noodly appendage before it is too late!”
It’s a similar story in Florida, where the Department of Management services gave Peter Wood, a Florida State University student, “floor space to, essentially, an office desk chair that is used to display the pseudo-church's deity,” according to the Orlando Sentinel. On the back of Wood’s display, there’s text that reads, "A closed mouth catches no noodly appendages. ProvHerbs 3:27,” the Sentinel reported.
The Becket Fund said displays of the Flying Spaghetti Monster aren’t necessary to show equality. Although the monster is a form of free speech, the government should recognize it has its own form of speech that gets compromised when displaying things like the Flying Spaghetti Monster instead of traditional displays.
“The postal service can issue a stamp honoring Martin Luther King Jr. without also honoring the Ku Klux Klan. Congress can celebrate Veterans Day without also celebrating Pacifists Day. And Wisconsin can recognize Christmas and Hanukkah without also recognizing the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” according to the Becket Fund.
But the leader of AHA, Sam Erickson, said in a statement that the monster display is in-line with what state officials asked for, according to the Wisconsin State Journal.
“We would prefer to keep our capitol secular,” Erickson said, according to the Journal, “but if the state decides to turn it into an open forum, they have opened the floodgates. We hope everyone takes advantage of this opportunity to advertise their own viewpoints, no matter how silly.”
The AHA isn’t the only group displaying an unusual holiday decoration. The Freedom From Religion Foundation set up their natural nativity scene with a winter solstice message, which the FFRF displayed on their website.
And in Tallahassee, Fla., a man, Chaz Stevens, built a Festivus pole out of beer cans to show separation between church and state, according to the Associated Press.
"What's the point? There is no point. It's ridiculous. This is the most ridiculous thing I could come up with," Stevens told the AP. "This is about the separation of church and state."
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @hscribner
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company