The Pastafarian rally in Russia on August 17th began in a light-hearted manner, as members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster took to the streets of Moscow wearing strainers on their heads and carrying various types of pasta to celebrate the tenets of their faith.
However, the day quickly took a dark turn, as members of a Russian Orthodox group as well as the police physically attacked the group, knocking some to the ground and verbally harassing them. Eight Pastafarians were detained and charged with organizing an unsanctioned rally.
Russia's recent anti-gay laws have criminalized behavior that "disrespects religion," penalizing violators with prison sentences of up to three years. These laws don't just affect the gay community, but pave the way for police harassment of many other groups that may fall foul of the vague language of the law.
The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a religion which was founded in in 2005 in the U.S.A., by atheists opposed to the teaching of intelligent design and creationism in public schools. Since then it's become an international movement largely considered as a satire of organized religion, though some followers of the Church claim that it is in fact a real religion, and the dogma they follow is the rejection of dogma. There are a reported 15,000 members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster in Russia.
The rally and march was planned to celebrate the recent submission of an appeal to be recognized as a legitimate religion in Russia. The invitation on the group's website said:
To celebrate the creation of the first religious group of the Pastafarian Church of Russia, the bishops, lay people and followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster are invited to walk through the main streets and squares of the cities and villages of joyful praise for spaghetti and meatballs.
However, not everyone feels so joyful about the recognition of the Pastafarian Church, particularly members of the Orthodox group God's Will, who told Utro that "glorification of the Great Flying Spaghetti Monster offends their religious feelings.” Dmitry Enteo, the founder of God's Will, posted on Twitter that "Pastafarianism is a blasphemous smear against Christianity," according to NBC.
The ensuing video shows members of the police chasing Pastafarians through the streets, who can be recognized by the strainers on their heads.