New Zealand: Pastafarian marriage ceremonies approved

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

Image source, Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster New Zealand
Image caption,
New Zealand's registrar-general said the church's application was "one of the more unusual ones"

New Zealand has given approval to the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to carry out marriage ceremonies in the country.

Members of the church call themselves Pastafarians and believe that the world was created by an airborne spaghetti and meatballs-based being, although its own website notes that some followers consider it to be a satirical organisation.

The official notice was published online in New Zealand's government gazette. Registrar-general Jeff Montgomery says his decision was based purely on whether the organisation upholds or promotes religious beliefs, or philosophical or humanitarian convictions. "No judgement is made on the validity of those beliefs or convictions," he tells website.

The church's lead official, or Top Ramen, prefers to remain anonymous, but tells Radio New Zealand that the next step is to nominate a marriage celebrant for approval. "We are a bona fide church, and our people do like to get married, some of them several times," she says, adding that Pastafarian wedding attire can range from pirate outfits to the traditional colander headgear. "We can wear the pirate gear, we can wear the pasta gear, we're quite flexible."

While the church has an international following, which it says is in the "millions, if not thousands", its members have faced legal hurdles in the past. In 2011, an Austrian man was given permission to use a driving licence photo showing him wearing a colander as "religious headgear", but a similar application in Germany - this time involving a pirate bandana, failed last month.

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