- The Washington Times - Friday, November 13, 2015

Some states ban smiling in driver’s license photos, but wearing a colander on one’s head is apparently allowed.

A Massachusetts woman this week won the right to wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo after citing religious reasons. Lindsay Miller identifies as a “Pastafarian” and member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which some critics call a parody religion.

She tried to wear the kitchen utensil in her driver’s license photo this year but the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles denied her request. However, after intervention by the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center the RMV recently reversed its stance.

Ms. Miller said she was delighted that the agency allowed her to don a colander for her driver’s license, which was issued Thursday.

“While I don’t think the government can involve itself in matters of religion, I do hope this decision encourages my fellow Pastafarian Atheists to come out and express themselves as I have,” Ms. Miller said.

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster spawned out of a letter that Oregon State University graduate Bobby Henderson penned to the Kansas State Board of Education in 2005. He wrote to protest the board’s decision to permit the teaching intelligent design as an alternative to evolution in public school science classes, suggesting that students should “hear multiple viewpoints” of how the universe came to be, including the idea that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created it.

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And though many describe the religion as a farce, believers defend it as legitimate, stating on their website that the religion is “backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”

The lighthearted religion opposes the teaching of creationism and intelligent design but believes that Fridays are national holidays, beer should be celebrated, and that pirates were the original “pastafarians.”

“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 of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center.

Despite Ms. Miller’s victory in Massachusetts, not everyone has taken such an evenhanded view of the church.

In October, a Canadian judge issued a rebuke of court case in which a Montreal woman sought permission to wear a colander or pirate hat in her driver’s license photo.

“Too many people implicated in real litigation with consequences that could affect their lives or those of their children or enterprise are waiting their turn in court for us to be silent about the monopolization of these resources to determine if the plaintiff can be photographed wearing a colander or pirate hat,” said Quebec Superior Court Judge Stéphane Sansfaçon, according to Canadian newspaper the National Post. “We forget too often that the courts are a public service with limited resources that must not be abused.”

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• Andrea Noble can be reached at anoble@washingtontimes.com.

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