Coast Guardsman Receives Pastafarian Gift at Retirement

Master Chief Petty Officer Bob Sebaste of the US Coast Guard had a retirement ceremony in June in which he was presented with an interesting gift [emphasis added]:

I retired recently after 29 years of service in the US Navy and US Coast Guard. The guys I work with know that I am an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. For our holiday party, for example, I ensured that His Noodly Goodness was properly represented, as well as the Festivus pole and other more mainstream (mundane) religious symbols.

In any case, at my retirement ceremony, they presented me with this most excellent headgear, appropriately decorated with my CG rank insignia.

The concept of the “flying spaghetti monster” is interesting as it applies to religion.  While everyone is entitled to have and exercise their religious beliefs, the “FSM” isn’t a religious belief. It is explicitly a mockery of religion, something to which even Sebaste alludes when he notes his “inclusive” displays at their holiday party. (When an Air Force base included an FSM in a holiday card display a few years ago, the fact the sign implicitly mocked those of faith resulted in an EO complaint.)

Still, to those who might object, realize the very-informal ceremony (only Sebaste and the presiding officer were even in uniform) was an occasion to honor Chief Sebaste, and it seems his compatriots considered one of Sebaste’s defining characteristics to be his alignment with the mockery of religious faith — something they appear to have taken in stride and with humor. For his part, Sebaste was apparently proud enough of the presentation to share it with the world.

Some critics like Michael “Mikey” Weinstein, though, take serious issue with units that know the faith of a senior leader (enough to give a “religious” gift), as such knowledge leads to de facto coercion into a faith set — at least, according to Weinstein.

It seems unlikely Weinstein will take issue with a Master Chief known for his mockery of faith, though.

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