Monster theory created
School board officials in Kansas have been debating whether evolution lessons should be accompanied by classes on "intelligent design" - a veiled form of creationism backed by Christian groups.
Opponents have struck back by establishing their own religion - the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. They want creation lessons to be divided into thirds - one on intelligent design, one on Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and a third on logical conjecture based on observable evidence.
Teachers would be required to wear full pirate regalia for classes on the pasta creature. "The explanation is He becomes angry if we don't," says a letter to the board.
Followers of the Flying Spaghetti Monster have been lobbying Kansas officials to have their creation theory on the curriculum.
"It is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose the theory that makes most sense to them," says one letter. "I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster."
Terry Sanderson, vice-president of the UK's National Secular Society, said:
"I think we should look into the possibility of setting up a city academy teaching this marvellous theory."