What the Flying Spaghetti Monster can teach us about religion in the 21st century

Michael Strmiska

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstractpeer-review


To purpose of the paper is to examine the internal dynamics, social influence, and theoretical implications of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster (CFMS). Sometimes called a “parody religion” or an “anti-religion” because theCFMS  was consciously created by an American graduate student of physics in 2005 to mock more traditional forms of religion, to expose absurdities in religious belief and question religious privilege in society, the CFSM has generated interest and controversy around the world and attracted a considerable following, even achieving official recognition in some countries. Whether the CFSM should be classified as a religion or an anti-religion or a pop culture phenomenon or a protest vehicle are questions that push the boundaries of how we think of religion and its function in society. Furthermore, the way the CFSM was propagated through the internet shows it to be a forerunner of less amusing 21st century political/religious movements/phenomena such as ISIS and Q-Anon. Spending time with the Spaghetti Monster can provide enlightenment about how religion, popular culture, political trends and digital media interact in the current time. The primary text The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster as well as news reports and social science analyses of the CFSM will be examined to see how the CFSM fits or resists common scholarly definitions of religion in both Religious Studies and Anthropology as given by such thinkers as Durkheim, Geertz and Kottak. The work of scholars of New Age and New Religious Movements (NRMs) such as Mark Heelas will also be consulted. The intended result will be a publishable scholarly article for an academic journal such as  Nova Religio. Concluding analysis will show how CFSM straddles boundaries between religion and other cultural or social phenomenon, complicates analytical categories, and exposes role of digital media in 21st century religious life.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes
EventRSU Research week 2021: PLACES - Rīga, Latvia
Duration: 25 Mar 202125 Mar 2021
Conference number: 2


ConferenceRSU Research week 2021: PLACES
Abbreviated titleRW2021
Internet address

Field of Science*

  • 5.4 Sociology

Publication Type*

  • 3.4. Other publications in conference proceedings (including local)


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