December 2019 Church & State Magazine | AU Bulletin

An Ohio man is protesting a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) policy that he says infringes on his religious beliefs.

Richard Steve Moser III of Cincinnati said he has been denied the ability to get a driver’s license photo while wearing a pasta strainer on his head. Members of a satirical religious group known as the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose members call themselves “Pastafarians,” sometimes sport colanders, and Moser said he wants to wear one for his photo.

Officials at the BMV say they allow religious head coverings in photos only if the person wears them in public on a daily basis. Lindsey Bohrer, a spokeswoman for the BMV, told the Akron Beacon Journal in an email, “Upon consideration of Pastafarians’ requests, the BMV has determined that there is no evidence that members of this religion usually and customarily wear the colanders whenever they appear in public, such as at work, school, job interviews, etc.”      

Moser says this is discrimination. “Every other religion, they’re allowed, so why shouldn’t I be?” Moser told the Beacon Journal.

Members of the church in question have a precarious legal status. A federal court in 2016 ruled that the church is tantamount to satire and not a bona fide religion. That decision came in the case of a prison inmate in Nebraska who claimed to be a member of the church and sued to get equal treatment for it.