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    1 Mar 2016

    Weddings legalised for Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in New Zealand

    It's official — New Zealanders can now tie the noodle knot in a legally recognised Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wedding ceremony. 
    The church, which believes the existence of a god made of spaghetti and meatballs is just as likely as the existence of other gods, has just had its first marriage celebrant approved by the New Zealand Government.
    Now weddings of church members, who call themselves "Pastafarians", and anyone else, will be perfectly legal, and different.
    The head of the church, Karen Martyn, has been dubbed a "Ministeroni", or marriage celebrant.
    "We have swords, we have noodles and pasta involved in the ceremony. It's a bit of fun," Dr Martyn says.
    New Zealand's Department of Internal Affairs late last year approved The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster's request to be able to solemnise weddings.
    Now, the department has approved Dr Martyn as a marriage celebrant.
    Although it may seem unorthodox for the New Zealand Government to sanction what many consider a spoof church, the law says any group that "upholds or promotes religious beliefs or philosophical or humanitarian convictions" can obtain the right to perform marriages.
    Jeff Montgomery, the Registrar-General of Births, Deaths and Marriages, says the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster demonstrated "a consistent presentation of their philosophies" when he approved the church last year.

    Church leader: 'We're not a parody'

    The church itself has few rules, but Dr Martyn argues it does have convictions.
    "While some claim this is a parody organisation, members have rebutted this on a number of occasions," she explains.
    "Our religion has no dogma. It's one of our rules. 
    "So we have no dietary restrictions. You can wear any clothing you want. You can look like what you want. You can speak what you want. You can act like what you want. You can even belong to other religions and we don't care.
    "You can make fun of us because we really believe all religions should be subject to scrutiny and to humour. And they should be for the greater good — not something that tears people apart, communities apart, or pits people against each other.
    "We are really into maximising the happiness and pleasure not only of individuals, but community and the world, all sentient beings." 
    But Peter Lineham, a professor at New Zealand's Massey University who specialises in religious history, thinks the Government has erred in allowing the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to solemnise marriages.
    "This is a delightful group which facetiously mocks religious bodies by its constitution and that's perfectly fine, but to then start investing them with what not all religious groups are allowed to have, seems to me to be astonishing," he says.
    "Karen Martyn will doubtless do excellent and appropriate celebrations of marriage but it won't be according to rituals and values, because really, they don't have any.
    Professor Lineham says a better move would have been to make Dr Martyn one of New Zealand's independent celebrants.
    "The heart of the matter is that the organisations that marry people have to treat marriage with appropriate seriousness. They have to have some reason for wanting to engage in this," he said.
    "And really, this is completely absent."

    Pastafarians join Druids, Wiccans as official wedding celebrants

    New Zealand has 9,665 registered wedding celebrants.
    Less than half of those celebrants are with religious organisations.
    Other groups that can solemnise marriages include Druids, Wiccans and those who practise yoga or spiritual healing.
    So what can those who want to marry in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster expect?
    Rather fancy clothes for one thing, given church members often dress in pirate garb.
    "I've got the formal Pastafarian Ministeroni outfit and I've got the more piratey one," Dr Martyn says.
    Her pirate hat also has holes in it, a nod towards the colanders that adherents overseas have worn as their religious headwear.
    There are also special vows — although those are still closely guarded by Dr Martyn.
    "Different couples will choose what suits them," she says.
    The congregation, or crew, as Pastafarian church members are called, can expect to be quite involved.

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