Irish Pastafarian, rejected as a Defence Forces chaplain, wins religious discrimination case

Images via YouTube & Etsy

AN ordained minister for the Congergational Church of the Flying Monster, “pasta” John Hamill, above, suffered discrimination at the hands of the Irish Defence Forces, the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) ruled this week.

Hammill, who said in an Atheist Ireland lecture delivered at Manooth University in Co Kildare that his faith as a Pastafarian was “objectively much more sensible than Catholism”, applied to be a chaplain at Aiken Barracks and Gormanston army camp on November 6th, 2020 but was rejected.

According to The Irish Times, He told the commission that he had written to the Defence Forces several times regarding its appointment of military chaplains and expressed an interest in the role.

In this correspondence he noted that the Defence Forces was not a religious body or under the control of a religious body, so section 37 of the Employment Equality Act did not apply.

Christianity ‘imposed’ on Defence Forces members

It was also the case that the Defence Forces employed those of all faiths and none, he said, but that Christianity was being “imposed” on members.

WRC adjudication officer Kevin Baneham ruled that the former Catholic had been discriminated against on grounds of religion.

I order that the respondent [Defence Forces] review the process of appointing military chaplains to ensure compliance with the Employment Equality Act [which prohibits discrimination on religion grounds] and to ensure that suitably-qualified candidates can apply for military chaplaincy roles in order to reflect and foster the diversity of members of the Defence Forces.

A WRC hearing on March 8 last year was told that currently “there are there are about 15 Roman Catholic chaplains and one Church of Ireland chaplain” in the Defence Forces, each appointed by a relevant bishop.

In each case, it was told, the Defence Forces:

Had followed an established path of seeking a nomination from the relevant bishop, and then appointed the priest put forward by that bishop.

At the hearing, Hamill questioned whether it was a genuine occupational requirement for the role to be a Christian appointed by a bishop.

This, he said, excluded other faiths as well as non-believers.

Banehan added in his adjudication

I have no doubt that religious leaders make very good military chaplains and would likely succeed during any assessment and interview process because of their pastoral work in the community.

It is not, however, proportionate that no one else can apply or be considered for appointment as chaplain, irrespective of that potential candidate’s qualities and competencies.

Image via YouTube

Michael Nugent, of Atheist Ireland, above, gave evidence at the WRC hearing. He welcomed the ruling.

Praising Hamill’s “tenacity”, he said the WRC decision:

Vindicates the arguments made in 2021 by Atheist Ireland, the Evangelical Alliance of Ireland and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Ireland in our joint submission to the public consultation commission on the Defence Forces.

He said they had pointed out that about nine per cent of Defence Forces personnel are non-Christian or have no religion, yet all chaplains are either Roman Catholic or Church of Ireland.

The WRC ruling, he added:

Should result in a fair procedure for appointing chaplains and a wider reform of the influence of the Catholic Church on our Defence Forces.

In arriving at his conclusions, Baneham made reference to Report of the Commission on the Defence Forces last year which found that:

The Defence Forces’ chaplaincy service needs to be adjusted in line with international best practice to better reflect the religious/non-religious affiliations of younger Irish people today.

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One response to “Irish Pastafarian, rejected as a Defence Forces chaplain, wins religious discrimination case”

  1. What an idiot, it is no surprise that he was rejected, he wasn’t wearing a colander on his head; for a religion to be taken seriously you need ridiculous head gear.

    Liked by 1 person

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