You might not expect a “religion” which started as an intellectual exercise on the internet to find much understanding in the real world.
But when one Pastafarian insisted on wearing a sign of her faith in her driver’s license photo, tolerance won out in the end.
A Massachusetts woman has won the right to wear a spaghetti strainer on her state driver's license photo. In her fight with the Registry, she claimed religious freedom. http://wcvb.tv/6188BuWCA
As the Boston Globe reports, Lindsay Miller claims to be a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, a parody religion that purports to follow the teachings of a noodle-based monster— that flies, obviously. As a sign of her beliefs, Miller wanted to wear a colander on her head in her driver’s license photo, but the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles does not allow head coverings in photos except for medical or religious reasons.
When she tried to get the license wearing a colander hat in August, Miller was denied.
“They were kind of laughing at me,” Miller told the Globe. “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, [the RMV] should not be denying me a license.’”
Pastafarianism is well-known online for advancing a ridiculous set of religious beliefs — like an invisible spaghetti monster creating gravity — as a way of making a larger point about religion in general.
We're all converting to pastafarianism ? pic.twitter.com/HHXR1mdYDs
— Briana ☾☼ (@brianaaanderson) August 7, 2015
This is part of an attempt to make a distinction between the scientific validity of religious belief and its personal or cultural value.
“The fact that millions of people get something positive out of a religion — even if it is based in superstition — does mean something. But that’s not to say it’s True, only that it has Value,” states the Church’s website.
Miller appealed the denial of her license, enlisting a lawyer to help argue that the spaghetti strainer headpiece should count as religious headgear under the state guidelines. Before the hearing on her appeal was due, however, the Registry of Motor Vehicles canceled the hearing and told Miller she could go ahead and don the colander for her driver’s license photo.
“We do not get into the sincerity or the veracity of religious beliefs,” said Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Verseckes, explaining the shift in policy.
Miller, who had spent two months without a license, was happy to get an ID at last.
— ThirtyBirdy (@ThirtyBirdy) November 13, 2015
Her insistence on wearing a spaghetti strainer in the photo seems unusual, but she enthusiastically explained that her devotion to the satirical faith is based in tolerance.
“It’s a religion that uses parody,” Miller told the Globe. “We accept all dogma, but we reject all dogma at the same time. That’s what is so great about Pastafarianism. It accepts everyone.”
What do you think? Does allowing people to don a colander in an official photo make a mockery of the religious exemption or is it better to err on the side of inclusivity?