If you're a fan of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the gospel of Pastafarianism, then you have to love what's going on in Crossville, Tenn.
There, as I discovered today on Laughing Squid, some members of the local chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have gotten city approval to erect a statue of "His Noodly Appendage" outside the local courthouse.
I talked briefly by phone Monday with Ariel Safdie, one of the local chapter members involved with building and installing the statue, and she said that for her and her fellow members, the issue involved in building the statue and seeking and acquiring approval to install it wasn't about religion, but about freedom of speech.
That seems perfectly appropriate to me, since the whole point of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is to make the point--via free speech--that if communities are going to give credence to one theory of the origins of life in their schools, then they also have to give credence to others.
Safdie and others applied for permission to install their statue, and it was granted by the city of Crossville.
This is the text of the statement they made at the installation ceremony, according to the blog of the Crossville chapter of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster:
"We are lucky enough to live in a country that allows us, its citizens, the freedom of speech. I have chosen to put up a statue of the Flying Spaghetti Monster to represent the discourse between people of all different beliefs. The many faiths, ethnicities and backgrounds of Cumberland County's residents make our community a stronger richer place. I respect and am proud that on the people's lawn, the county courthouse, all of these diverse beliefs can come together in a positive dialogue. Here, we are all able to share the issues close to our hearts whether it is through a memorial to the soldiers killed fighting for our country, the Statue of Liberty honoring our nations welcoming promise to all, a group's fight to stop homelessness, or powerful symbols of faith. I greatly treasure this open forum between everyone in the community."