January 2016 Church & State - January 2015

Mass. ‘Pastafarian’ Wins Battle Over License Photo

  AU admin

A Massachusetts woman won the right to wear a pasta strainer on her head in her driver’s license photo last November. Lindsay Miller told reporters that the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) had originally denied her request, even though she informed staff that she identifies as a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

“They were kind of laughing at me,” Miller told The Boston Globe. “I… thought that this was not fair. I thought, ‘Just because you haven’t heard of this belief system, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license.’” She subsequently appealed the decision with the assistance of attorney Patty DeJuneas, who belongs to the American Humanist Association’s network of lawyers.

The RMV eventually relented, saying that its staff had misapplied policy that prohibits hats or head coverings unless they’re worn for religious reasons. “The RMV processed the customer’s request consistent with its established facial image policy,” a spokesperson told WCVB, Boston’s ABC affiliate.

In a statement, the AHA applauded the decision. “If people are given the right to wear religious garments in government ID photos, then this must extend to people who follow the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster,” said David Niose, legal director for the organization. “Wearing a colander is a gesture to express their beliefs publicly.”

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