A Massachusetts woman who identifies as a Pastafarian has won the right to wear a colander (or pasta strainer) on her head during her driver’s license photo. After first denying the Pastafarian’s request, the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) was forced to back down when lawyers from the American Humanist Association’s Appignani Humanist Legal Center got involved.
According to the Washington Times, after filing an administrative appeal, Pastafarian Lindsay Miller was eventually permitted to wear the pasta strainer for her driver’s license, which was issued this Thursday. She claimed that she wanted to wear the colander as an expression of her identity as a Pastafarian, and that the denial of the pasta strainer request was infringing on her religious liberty.
“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, the legal director of the Appignani Humanist Legal Center
People who call themselves Pastafarian are a part of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which is a secular and humanist religion that some say was originally founded as a parody of modern belief systems. Miller herself claims to be a Pastafarian Atheist.
“As a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, I feel delighted that my Pastafarianism has been respected by the Massachusetts RMV,” said Lindsay Miller. “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.”
Though a Pastafarian like Lindsay Miller might adhere to the non-belief of atheism or agnosticism, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is still recognized as a legal religion. The official Pastafarian website confirms that while many followers are atheists, they are not anti-religion.
“Some Pastafarians honestly believe in the FSM, and some see it as satire. I would just make the point that satire is an honest, legitimate basis for religion. Satire relies on truth to be effective. If it’s a joke, it’s a joke where to understand the punchline you must be conscious of underlying truth.”
Pastafarian getting sworn in. (Photo by the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)
According to My Fox Boston, Lindsay Miller was scheduled to attend an appeal regarding the Pastafarian colander in October, but it was postponed and eventually cancelled once the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles decided to let her wear it. She and her lawyers noted that government institutions like the RMV were wrong to discriminate against the Pastafarian religion, simply because it is not as widely known or accepted as a religion like Christianity.
“They were kind of laughing at me,” said Lindsay Miller. “I thought of other religions and women and thought that this was not fair. I thought, ‘Just because you haven’t heard of this belief system, they should not be denying me a license.’”
Lindsay Miller is not the only Pastafarian to have to fight for her right to wear a pasta strainer. A New Jersey Pastafarian refused to take the colander off his head for his driver’s license photo in 2013 even after police were brought in to settle the dispute. And a Texas Pastafarian experienced the same discrimination later that same year.
What do you think? Should the Pastafarian religion be recognized as a legitimate belief like all other mainstream religions? Should a Pastafarian be allowed to wear a pasta strainer for a driver’s license photo?
[Photos by the American Humanist Association and the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster]