Illinois Pastafarian Wants to Wear a Colander on his Head for His Driver’s License Picture, but Gets Rejected

A few years ago, Austrian Niko Alm won the right to wear a colander, the official headgear for Pastafarians, in his driver’s license picture:

In February of this year, 25-year-old Aaron Williams of New Jersey tried to do something similar but got rejected.

And now it’s happening again.

On May 9th, Donald Hoover went to renew his license in Pekin, Illinois. He figured wearing a colander wouldn’t be a problem since state law allows for “religious head dressings not covering any areas of the open face.” The person assisting him, after speaking with his superiors, eventually told Hoover he couldn’t wear it because Illinois didn’t recognize Pastafarianism as an official religion.

That led Hoover to write a letter to the Secretary of State General Counsel asking for a better reason for his rejection:

I realize a lot of you are rolling your eyes over this, but I think there’s a valid point to be made here: What makes one religion any more “acceptable” than another? On what grounds can a state official reject a Pastafarian’s headgear but not a Muslim woman’s hijab?

A week later, Hoover got a response back from Nathan Maddox, a Senior Legal Advisor for the state. After explaining his support for both the First Amendment and public expression, Maddox pointed out that a satire of a religion is not a religion:

We don’t allow satirical headgear. These photographs are not forums for personal expression. They are a means of identifying the holder of the drivers [sic] license.

Maddox added that no one would be allowed to give the middle finger in a driver’s license photo, either, for the same “personal expression” reason.

Hoover wasn’t satisfied with that response. He wasn’t blocking anyone from identifying him any more than a yarmulke would. And, again, who’s to say what religion is satire? If we’re judging religion by the “silliness” factor, then Pastafarianism would fall in the same grouping as all the other ones. The Supreme Court, too, has said the government cannot decide if a belief is valid or not based on established religious doctrine.

So Hoover pressed on:

Just to go ahead and get it out of the way, my head dressing does not seem to meet the criteria for exclusion under “peace or safety of the State” as it does not obscure facial features, nor does it obscure to a greater extent than say a yarmulke or turban would. As was stated in my previous letter, I took great care to make sure the brim of my headdress was level with my hairline in order to be compliant with the code.

I would also request that you refrain from citing Wikipedia.org in future replies. I am interested in the legal standing of the law, not irrelevant and un-academic laymen’s interpretations of my faith. I would appreciate a focus in the future on citing relevant codes, laws and case law.

Again, I like the pushback here. There are so many questions that are going unanswered:

If state officials are going to discredit a religion, shouldn’t they be able to do so on a stronger foundation than it sounds goofy?

Even if Prophet Bobby Henderson intended Pastafarianism to be satirical, do all practitioners have to feel the same way? (Hell, just look at Scientology.)

If Hoover has a sincerely held religious belief — he even has a FSM tattoo on his chest — why should the state deny him the colander?

What about all those people who profess to be Jedis? Would they, too, be rejected despite the abundance of Jedi-religion-related websites and doctrine?

Going back to the free speech issue, are Illinois state officials privileging religious beliefs over non-religious beliefs?

Simply put, if the state wants to reject Hoover’s request, then they need to prove that he’s insincere about his faith. Otherwise, there’s no reason to treat his beliefs any differently from, say, a Muslim’s or Jew’s.

Hoover is currently looking for a lawyer who might be willing to help him make his case pro bono. For now, it looks like the state really doesn’t have a legal basis to say no to him.

And how could anyone say no to this devout believer?



About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    Why should the state even have the right to deny something based on the sincerity of a person’s faith? That, also, is beyond the rights of government.

    Faith is defined by one thing, and one thing only: the words of the person professing it. If you say you are Christian, or Jewish, or Jedi, it’s all the same- that’s what you are in any government context.

    This is why there should be no exceptions in the law for religious belief. None. If a hat can be worn in a driver’s license photo without interfering with the primary purpose of the photo, allow it. Otherwise, disallow it. Religious belief shouldn’t be a factor.

  • Travis Myers

    Whether or not he has sincere beliefs is completely irrelevant. Many cultural Jews do not believe in God, and yet they are still allowed to wear yarmulkes for drivers license photos.

  • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

    Why have I never heard of ‘pastafarians’? I may need to go out and buy a colander…

    • Steve Caldwell

      Just be careful and don’t strain yourself with this task.

      :^)

      • Lee Miller

        It’s a holey religion.

        • Chas Swedberg

          You can’t just pasta on a religious faith; you must believe in order to be sieved.

          • Steve Caldwell

            Would a driver of a wheeled vehicle who wears a colander be a “holey roller”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/Scott.McElhiney Redorblack Nigelbottom

      Let the puns begin even if some of them are a bit strained, Ramen!

    • http://bearlyatheist.wordpress.com/ Bear Millotts

      May you be touched by His Noodley Appendage.

      Choose properly which sect to belong to, however, as some are more radical than others:

      http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Pastafarian_Sects

    • baal

      May the sauce be upon you.

    • The Other Weirdo

      We’re a secret sauce.

  • Greg G.

    Isn’t recognizing certain religions and not recognizing others endorsing certain religions?

    • Travis Myers

      Yes, it most certainly is.

    • pRinzler

      One would think that is the very essence of an endorsement of religion.

      Hoover’s brilliant move only exposes the absurdity of religion. Because all religions are ultimately made-up, we can’t tell the difference between the traditional ones and the made-up ones, er, I mean, the one true religion, Ramen.

      • The Other Weirdo

        Sure we can. It’s all satire and mockery until the founder dies. Then it becomes a religion.

  • Greg G.

    So what if some people see Pastafarianism as satire. Christians refuse to see the sarcasm in Galatians.

  • Michael Waters

    Honestly just seems like a gigantic waste of time.

    • flyb

      It certainly is. They should allow him to have the license photo with his headgear. Accept all religious beliefs or none at all.

    • TheG

      Yes, but it is his time to waste. And whether he is successful or not, YOU benefit, so… you’re welcome.

      • Michael Waters

        I guess if I ever move to the states and want to wear a collander in my government photographs I’ll have the option. *rolls eyes*

        • TheG

          Are you intentionally thick? Or is it only a trait when it allows you to feel superior because in your free time you are a surgeon in Doctors Without Borders, read to the blind, submit amacus briefs to the Supreme Court, and petition your schoolboard to teach a proper eduction?

          Not everything needs to be a sweeping change.

          Like being an arrogant douche. You can just be a little more open minded every day and in a few years, you might be able to contribute something, ANYTHING, to a cause instead of merely looking down your American-at-heart nose at someone trying to enact a small change that helps others.

      • I_Hate_Waiting_In_Line

        I’m guessing there was a line of people at the DMV waiting on the person “helping him” to talk to their superiors and reject his request.

        I don’t really care if he wants to waste his time writing a letter later. But, I don’t want to wait behind this bullshit in line just because someone wants to make a satirical statement.

        • meekinheritance

          Patience is a virtue.

    • pRinzler

      It’s not a waste of time to show the majority Christians culture that all religions, even made-up ones, have their absurd aspects.

      Every small step that gets Christians in the US outside of thinking that their way is the only way, or the natural way, or the assumed way, is not a waste of time. Mountains aren’t going to crumble because of some colander worn or not worn, but it is a small drip on a stone, many of which will have a real effect.

      • Michael Waters

        And to me I’m all for that goal this just seems incredibly weak sauce way to achieve it.

        • pRinzler

          All ways of achieving the goal need not be the same. Some may be weak, some stronger. One person can only do weak things in general anyway. The great, buzzing, blooming mass of many individuals, doing many different things, will all add up.

          I respect your opinion that it is weak sauce (marinara, I presume), but I’m OK with it.

      • meekinheritance

        LOL–”even made-up ones”. Thank you! That almost made a tear come to my eye!

  • Jeff Bowles

    The response from Maddox was well-reasoned and made sense. You’ll have to worker, if you want to appear as anything but a contrarian. It seems to be your defining attribute in the conversation.

  • ortcutt

    Pastafarianism may have started as satire, but who’s to say that it remains as such for its believers. Maybe Christianity is all just a joke gone awry too.

    • Mario Strada

      The Mormon religion certainly wouldn’t cut muster if it was invented a decade ago.
      What with a convict founder, masonic rituals, it would have been looked at the same as pastafarianism. Because now it is 200 years old then it seems more legit, but its beginning were actually outside the law.

    • Hat Stealer

      I’m pretty sure that one of the main “points” of pastafarianism is that it IS a real religion; or at least as real as any other religion without a clearly accepted set of criteria of what makes one religion more valid than another.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Technically, it’s one woman’s lie that got completely out of hand, but see where you’re going with this.

      • ortcutt

        That’s probably unfair to Mary. I doubt anyone in Jesus’ lifetime believed that he was born in anything but the normal way.

        • The Other Weirdo

          Weird births were a dime a dozen in those days.

  • Jasper

    The very idea of government deciding what is or isn’t a “valid religion” is the epitome of “unnecessary entanglement”. The only effective way of dealing with this problem is to just not have religion-based exemptions in the first place.

  • Chas Swedberg

    Although on the surface these kind of cases seem superfluous, they’re wonderful illustrations of the absurdity of the state defining religions in order to separate itself from them.

  • Machintelligence

    FWIW Colorado no longer permits the wearing of eyeglasses in driver’s license photos. I suspect they may interfere with facial recognition software.

    • Michael W Busch

      Same thing happened when I got my license renewed in New Mexico last year.

    • rovinrockhound

      I just renewed my driver’s license in Colorado and the photo guy was making everybody rearrange their hair – off the forehead, behind the ears, behind the shoulders. I thought he was just being obnoxious, but needing it for facial recognition software makes just as much sense.

      • allein

        I’m in New Jersey; for my current license picture, they told me to take my glasses off (though they didn’t say specifically that they weren’t allowed). For my previous picture (which was 8 years ago because they let me keep the same picture the next time), I was given the option to wear my glasses or not.

        They didn’t say anything about my hair but it was off my face, anyway.

  • Paul Reed

    Firstly, I think Mr Maddox’s reply was fair and sufficient. If Pastafarianism was a “recognised” (ie: real) religion, presumably Mr Hoover would have been allowed to wear his headgear with no problem.

    Secondly, I would assume that – since the purpose of the photo is to identify the holder of the licence – authorities would only allow headgear that the person usually or habitually wears in their daily life.
    Therefore, hijabs, turbans, etc would be allowed as the person will virtually never be not wearing it.
    Colanders worn once, to make a point, would not come under the same category.

    • unclemike

      And what about a Jew who only wears a yarmulke on the Sabbath, in Temple. The DMV should be able to decide based on how often or with how much sincerity one wears his or her headgear?

      • Paul Reed

        As I’ve said elsewhere, if people can remove the headgear without religious or personal consequences, they should do so.
        I would think that that right there is pretty much the DMV policy on this.
        If people come along and want to wear something for what amounts to personal expression, they’ll be refused.

        It’d be the same if someone has medical condition which requires them to wear an eyepatch at all times. They’d be allowed to keep it on for DMV photos. But someone dressing up as a pirate would be turned away. “What, but they’re both wearing eyepatches! Why does one get to do it and the other doesn’t?” You get the picture.

        And the “pirate” who stays in character and pretends that his eyepatch is for medical reasons is doing nobody any favours.

    • Travis Myers

      In response to your first point: the government should not be in the business of deciding what is and is not a real religion. As another commenter already pointed out, this amounts to government endorsement of certain religions.

      In response to your second point: if that’s the reasoning they’re using, then it would seem that someone who usually or habitually wears a hat should be allowed to wear a hat for their photo.

      • Paul Reed

        In response to your first point: They need to make some kind of determination as to whether people are sincere or whether they’re just claiming stuff to get around the rules. If someone wants to wear a hockey mask in their licence photo because they claim to be a faithful Voorheesian, they don’t have the right. Because it’s ridiculous.
        In response to your second point: Obviously, that’s not the only criteria. My point is that religious garb that is not required to be worn at all times can logically be removed when taking a licence photo, whereas insisting on wearing something *only* when taking this photo is obviously a different situation.

        • Quintin van Zuijlen

          Headgear obstructing the face aren’t allowed to begin with. Anyway, exclusively allowing religious headgear at all is ridiculous, but I, m really not complaining, because it’s not an inconvenience.

        • Travis Myers

          He was sincere about being a pastafarian. As with most other religions, being a pastafarian doesn’t mean that you have to believe every part (or any part) of the mythology associated with the religion. As I pointed out above, many Jews do not believe in God, but they still wear yarmulkes. Religious identification can be about more than just believing things that are ridiculous. It’s not the government’s place to say “You must believe at least this much stupid shit in order to be considered a sincere member of a religion.”

          • Paul Reed

            I don’t think it’s about the government deciding what is or isn’t a religion.
            Quite apart from the fact that Pastafarianism is satire (virtually the opposite of ‘sincere’) nowhere are adherents commanded to wear any kind of headgear at all times, with severe punishment for failure. Colanders can be removed without any spiritual or social backlash.
            Licencing authosities allow certain people to wear headgear because it’s *the only way for them to obtain a licence* without serious difficulty. It’s a compromise,sure. But the only alternative is to refuse them a licence, which could be construed as religious discrimination.

    • Carmelita Spats

      Kafkaesque…How can a government official possibly know how often I
      wear my colander? My colander is an expression of a sincerely held
      religious belief and it holds 1 – 1.5 lbs of pasta. Crown of thorns? Now THAT is hilarious satire straight out of a long running infomercial called “The Bible”…Ramen!

    • Rain

      Firstly, I think Mr Maddox’s reply was fair and sufficient. If Pastafarianism was a “recognised” (ie: real) religion,

      It is a real religion. It’s just a very silly one. If the test of a “real” religion is whether or not all of its adherents believe the stupid crap, then all religions would fail. Pastafarianism is actually less harmful than the others anyway, so that should count for something. Unless they don’t cook the meatballs long enough, or if the pasta is too al dente. All religions have the potential for doing some harm I guess.

  • formercollegegirl

    This might be slightly off topic, but if we as atheists are using Pastafarianism for the purpose of religious headgear, why aren’t we using Pastafarianism as a means of getting atheist or humanist clergy into the military? That should be able to get us around the recent Congressional stupidity that we have seen recently.

    • http://nomadwarriormonk.blogspot.com/ Cyrus Palmer

      I’d rejoin to be a pastafarian chaplin. Hell yeah.

    • Sinfanti

      If we really want to point out the inconsistencies and irrationalities of government favoritism we should be trying to use Pastafarianism for the purpose of tax evasion.

      • baal

        Taxes are the cost of civilization and being a citizen (deport all the priests!).

  • Rain

    They also serves as a biometric identifier for use in facial recognition technology. To serve these purposes, the photos must be as clear and unobstructed as possible.

    He forgot to say except for state approved religions. Maybe he thought it would look too unconstitutional if he said that, lol.

  • Savoy47

    The state still has one move. Bypass the recognition issue and look at the rules of the religion in question. Does the religion require that the headgear be worn all the time? And if it is required does the person follow that rule? A no answer to either question would mean that the state is not infringing on someone’s religious freedom.

    If someone answers yes and does not live their life outside of the shower with their headgear on, it means they provided false information to the government. Read the fine print, it’s not a good move.

    • Darrell Ross

      Your point is irrelevant. How often someone wears their religious attire doesn’t play into it.

      • Savoy47

        I disagree. If your headgear is not required all the time then it is optional and that means that it is ok not to wear it at times. If it is ok not to wear your headgear at times then it’s ok not to wear it for the DMV photo and your religious freedom is not infringed upon.

        If you are pointing out the exception that occurs when your religion requires you to wear your headgear for any DMV photo then I would agree with you.

    • Alconnolly

      There are several problems with your proposal. 1. What text can be the considered the binding law of a given religion? 2. The law does not require that a person always wear the head covering to be legitimate for the picture. Only that the person state that they consider it to be their religious duty to do so. Could they arrest an individual who wore a yarmulke in a drivers license photo, if the individual were ever seen in public without one? Of course not. The whole proposal falls apart.

      • Savoy47

        I’m not advocating for this position. I’m only pointing out an obvious move the DMV may make.

        Equal protection may be a better claim. Some religious people can wear headgear why can’t I? Why are religious people being giving preferential treatment under the law?

        Do they allow wigs? If you put strands of your hair through the holes in the colander it becomes your religious wig of choice..

        Personally, in this case I’d rather use the opportunity to fight against religious privilege than fight for religious inclusion. This story will play out in the weird news section. When the people reading it stop laughing I want them to ask themselves – Why do religions get preferential treatment under the law? If the story is about religious inclusion people will laugh, shake their heads and move on.

      • Gus Snarp

        I don’t think any one is saying it’s grounds for arrest to be seen without headgear you’ve claimed you must wear, but it’s going to kill any lawsuit he might try to file claiming his sincere belief has been violated if it can be shown that he himself is voluntarily violating it on a routine basis.

        If someone wants to make a case over this and is serious about changing the law, then they need to start wearing the colander to work every day, out to the bar, and everywhere else they go. If you want to protest the absurdity of the religious exemption by wearing a silly hat, then you need to commit to it, especially if you want to go to the extent of a lawsuit in an effort to get the law changed.

    • Gus Snarp

      I think you’re absolutely right. If this guy sues, for example, and the state can show that he rarely, if ever, wears the head wear, then he’s going to lose. If there are photos of him without the colander that post date his first attempt to get the license, then he can’t argue that he has a sincere belief that he must always wear it, or even that he has a sincere belief that he must always be wearing it in photographs.

  • Tom

    “These photographs are not forums for personal expression.” Can someone explain to me how satirical religious garb counts as personal expression but genuine religious garb doesn’t?

    • Paul Reed

      Genuine religious garb is worn out of obligation, because (the wearer believes that) a god told them to, and failure to do so could lead to serious consequences, religiously (angering their god) and socially (family, friends, and the community shunning, attacking or worse).

      Personal expression is something people do freely by their own choice.

      • The Other Weirdo

        So we are to uphold slavery and elimination of free will but deny personal choices? That may be the most succinct description of a religion I’ve ever seen.

  • JohnnyRelentless

    Government is not allowed to look at or interpret the rules of ones religion.

    • Nordog6561

      “Government is not allowed to look at or interpret the rules of ones religion.”

      It does so nonetheless.

      Curious, any DMV’s in the various states issuing any type of photo ID of Muslim women wearing “full” hijabs or burqas?

      • Paul Reed

        Aren’t muslim women forbidden to drive? Especially if they’re hardline enough to wear full coverings.

        • Nordog6561

          I think it depends on where they are at.

          Saudi Arabia? Sure.

          Dearborn, Michigan? Not so sure.

          • The Other Weirdo

            If that’s the case, why bother with the burqa?

      • JohnnyRelentless

        Do you have any examples of government doing that? If they are, they doing it illegally.

        • Nordog6561

          This story is an example of government doing that.

          I recall stories about the burqua/driver license issue a few years back.

          The HHS Mandate requiring Catholics to provide contraceptive coverage, right or wrong, is an example of government deciding what the limits of a church’s rules are.

          • JohnnyRelentless

            I didn’t say the government doesn’t put limits. Human sacrifice would also be illegal. I said government is not allowed to interpret people’s religions for them. They may not judge one to be worthy while another is satire. They also may not decide whether or not a particular religion requires the wearing of headgear.

            • Nordog6561

              Okay, then what is the point of your original statement: “Government is not allowed to look at or interpret the rules of ones religion.”

              It was offered without further explication within the context of the story about the Pastafarian.

              Are you saying that that story is, or is not, an example of government looking at or interpreting the rules of one’s religion?

              • JohnnyRelentless

                I was responding to a comment someone made that government should look into whether or not a colander is required by Pastafarianism. If they did that, they would be getting into the very sticky area of interpreting people’s scriptures for them. Judaism has no requirement to wear a yarmulke, for instance, but for many Jews it is a necessary way to demonstrate devotion to god. Does government start telling some religions, based on their interpretations, that they may wear religious headgear, while others may not?

                Sorry if I wasn’t clear.

                • Nordog6561

                  Got it; makes sense.

                  Thanks.

      • UWIR

        Muslim veil case:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sultaana_Freeman

        One of many cases where I found ACLU’s position to be absurd, as they supported her position.

  • Hero

    the fact that it’s found “mocking of religion” is hypocritical- wouldn’t a christian find a muslim hijab just as offensive? The hijab could be seen as an attack on christianity simply because the muslim faith is different and purports a different truth than christianity- much like atheists are different and purport a different truth than religious people….

    • Nordog6561

      Interesting.

      However, it seems to me that hijabs should be offensive even in a secular context. Not so much an attack on Christianity as an attack on women. (This assumes that the wearing of the hijab is being mandated in some way.)

      • Hero

        good point

  • Mario Strada

    I think that because Pastafarianism started as an instrument of irony we cannot lose focus of its tremendous power should it be recognized as an official religion (aside from the state’s power to do so or not). Imagine the disruptions it would cause whenever some stupid religious law is passed.

    And we could follow the Mormon Church footprints in rewriting some of the dogma so that it loses, on paper, some of its comedic traits and bury them deep in some holy book to be used at a later time.

    In my opinion this is much more than a guy wanting to wear a colander on his DL picture.

    • UWIR

      Or we could follow the Scientologists’ footprints and declare that its founding documents are copyrighted, and sue anyone who disseminates them without permission.

  • Nordog6561

    All I know is that if Pastafarians are wearing their colanders on their heads, I’ll be turning down any invites to spaghetti dinner.

    • Hat Stealer

      Bah… these New Pastafarians clearly don’t know the true meaning of scripture. If they did, they would know that they should be wearing pirate hats, not defiling the very place where He boiled with their dandruff.

  • JasonTorpy

    It’s a parody, not a religion. No one actually believes in and adheres to the Pastafarian religion. I love FSM until someone starts to actually pretend they adhere to the religion. I’ve yet to see anyone have a sincerely-held FSM belief. Government aside, it hurts the secular movement when people put forth FSM as if it were a sincerely-held belief.

    • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

      The government doesn’t require you to sincerely hold religious beliefs, though. A Muslim woman who thinks hijabs are stupid can still wear one in her driver’s license picture. A Christian woman can wear a hijab in her driver’s license picture even though it’s not her religious symbol. Why is a colander given less credence than a hijab?

      The point is not whether it’s a sincerely held belief. The point is the government cannot make that determination without severely entangling itself in religion by declaring what is and is not valid religious belief.

      • JasonTorpy

        first of all, I could be convinced otherwise on this, but I feel pretty strongly now. The difference between hijab/Islam and strainer/FSM is that Islam is a sincerely-held belief by someone. FSM is not a belief sincerely-held by anyone. If FSM gets to the point of Jedi where there is, as far as I know, some small subset of folks who have actually sincerely adopted Jedi practices. Whether or not these Jedi really believe in The Force, they might follow the Jedi way. That’s a nontheistic belief. But FSM has to become more established even to get to the level of Jedi and until they’ve at least met that standard, then no one gets to wear a strainer in a license photo, imho.

        • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

          Well, the guy does have a tattoo- that’s a pretty serious indication of some, er, seriousness on his part. The “tenets” of Pastafarianism are pretty solidly good rules, and I follow most of them. The “I’d Really Rather You Didn’ts” are good rules for life in general. (Listed here: http://www.venganza.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=320657 )

          Given that, would you really argue that Pastafarianism shouldn’t be recognized by a secular government as, at the very least, a valid nontheistic philosophy that has “sacred headgear”?

          • JasonTorpy

            Yes. I’m aware of all that. All the trappings of religion doesn’t make it deeply-held. And a tattoo is good evidence in general, but I don’t buy it. An FSM group, Friday nights in pirate costume with beer, a dog-eared copy of the FSM Gospel, … a lot more. And not just him. Remember also that vegan and libertarian and Raiders fans aren’t ‘religious’ either. I don’t think it qualifies. It’s a good satire of religion but it takes away from humanism when it’s taken too far.

            • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

              Eh, I think people have to take it too far. If there’s not “radical Pastafarians”, how can we truly show the world how absolutely ridiculous religion is in general? The idea that you need “nice” activists and “mean” activists is a well-understood one; these guys fall squarely into the second category, but pushing the boundaries needs to happen and this is a fun, harmless way to do so. It also brings up real, serious issues of church/state entanglement. No matter how ridiculous the issue (and I admit, wearing a colander is pretty ridiculous), it exposes problems and privilege that need to be exposed.

              • JasonTorpy

                Not radical, just committed. “fun and harmless” is not how I would explain any deeply held belief I’ve heard about, and certainly not my humanist life stance. And it’s not a special privilege. Everyone gets to have deeply-held beliefs. Everyone gets accommodation. No one gets to laugh and say ‘people get accommodation for their silly beliefs; this is a silly belief; I should get accommodation too’. The sincere and authentic commitment is what matters – not the god, not the silliness or not-silliness of it.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  How do you know he isn’t committed? How can you make that determination for him? He has a tattoo, for crying out loud; I’d call that pretty sincere and authentic commitment.

                  More importantly, why does government get to make that determination for him or anyone?

                • The Other Weirdo

                  That’s not committed. Now, those guys in the Philippines who flog themselves bloody in the name of a dead ancient Jewish zombie, now that’s dedication. In fact, I’d be willing to say they are more committed than any of these so-called warm-weather Christians who don’t hate their families and plan for the future.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Ah, the old-school definition of committed :)

                  Along the same lines as, “In a ham-and-eggs breakfast, the chicken’s involved. The pig’s committed.”

                • The Other Weirdo

                  Not unless the pig chose to donate some part of the delicious ham it’s filled with.

                • ufo42

                  I disagree, Jason. If there are going to be religious accommodations at all (and I don’t think there should be) then it is a perfectly valid form of self-expression to insist that one get the same accommodation for any religion. It is not up to the government to decide who is sincere or not. If Sikhs get to carry carpans on public transportation, as a member of the Church of the Holy Uzi, (Note to the NSA, I made that up… there is no such church) I should be able to carry a machine gun as well as long as it is in a ceremonial carrying case. See the problem there? Religious accommodations in general are a problem. The colander is just a more light-hearted and more likely to be allowed method of making the same point.

              • C Peterson

                A colander doesn’t even come close in ridiculousness to that giant blue dildo on the Anglican archbishop’s head in another article here. Or the contraption worn by His Assholiness, the Bishop of Rome. It’s not our government’s business to assess the legitimacy of a religion when it comes to people’s beliefs.

              • baal

                I hold to a distinction between disruptive or in your face and ‘mean’. The former can be done without malice but not the later. I’m am entirely against strikes done in anger (all contexts).

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I mostly agree with you. Anger, the long-term anger and passion that lead to political change, is the only reason things ever get changed. Anger, the short-term flash that makes you do really stupid shit before thinking it through, is not so good. I guess it would be the difference between using your anger or letting your anger use you, for lack of better terms.

                  I also think that malice has its place, so long as it’s been considered beforehand what the likely consequences are and the person being mean plans to accept them. Again, being mean in a flash of anger is not cool, but being mean in a calculated manner can be acceptable. Disruptive and in-your-face actions have their place, but being mean (to ideas, not to people) has its place too. Vicious, relentless mockery of bad ideas will hurt people who believe those ideas, but it also can cause them to consider just why they are being mocked. It’s ok to be mean to ideas that hurt people.

                • baal

                  I’m ok with abusing ideas generally but worry that it gets a little close to ‘hate the sinner and not the sin’. I don’t see an use of malice (wishing harm on others) that I can support. I can’t hardly tolerate listening to Rush Limbaugh he’s so wrongful and bad for everyone but at worst, I want him off the air and forced to live on 3x the poverty wage (for his perspective education). I don’t want him flayed, sent out for torture or paraded down the street while folks through crap at him.

                  I would also feel like a hypocrite for my endless condemnations of christians being mean were I not consistent on the point that being mean as a means doesn’t lead to good ends (regardless of the planning on the part of the mean person).

                  Anger I’m ok with, that’s an internal emotion that happens in response to bad things.

                  FWIW, I rarely disagree with your posts and frequently up vote them.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  Heh, I rarely disagree with yours either, and I think part of this one is differing interpretations of “mean”. Being flayed, tortured, or paraded through the streets goes so far beyond mean in my book … there’s other words to describe it, but I wouldn’t use ‘mean’ because it would trivialize the severity of such actions.

                  I guess I’d call George Carlin’s anti-religion and anti-Republican/conservative routines “mean”. Tim Minchin is “mean” to religion. They mock the ideas mercilessly, but they don’t call believers stupid or say bad things about them. If someone wanted to mock atheism (accurately!), I might feel a bit hurt and uneasy, but I wouldn’t call that unacceptable behavior either.

                • baal

                  I don’t think of either Carlin or Minchin as mean ;p.

                • http://gamesgirlsgods.blogspot.com/ Feminerd

                  I don’t think they’re mean people lol. But their comedy routines? Yeah, they’re mean. They take stupid ideas and call them stupid. Tim Minchin has a short routine hoping all the evolution deniers also admit that gravity is just a theory, so maybe “they’ll all just float the fuck away”.

                  That sort of stuff is what I consider mean- tearing apart the ideas with no mercy, no apology, and no false “respect” for religion. Sounds like we agree that that’s acceptable :)

            • gn0m0n

              but the point is that the distinction between “real” and “fake” religions is completely tenuous and subjective, a point generally glossed over even by humanists who don’t want to seem overly petty or contrarian. but it’s a very legitimate point. the ultimate reason this guy got denied came down to a government official saying that the government does not recognize his religion. that’s a problem and there’s no real way around it.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      In accordance to my “truthfully memorized assertions” I believe you are wrong about this.

    • UWIR

      How are “parody” and “religion” mutually exclusive? If one seriously and sincerely believes in parodying Creationism, how is that not a valid religious belief?

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    We should all be naked in our licence photos

    Too much personal expression in clothes

    • baal

      They are all head shots so topless would suffice.

  • tasteless chap

    “These photographs are not forums for personal expression.”

    They why allow ANY religious headgear then? Isn’t wearing such a thing a personal expression? Religious is after all personal, and the driver is certainly attempting to express their religious views in the photo.

  • closetatheist

    Wearing religious headgear IS a form of personal expression. So to claim that one cannot wear a strainer on their head because it is merely a form of personal expression is ridiculous!

  • SJH

    In the piece you ask “What makes one religion any more “acceptable” than another?”
    The answer is that a religion is more acceptable than another religion when your so called religion is not actually a religion and the others are. He does not actually worship the FSM. People actually worship Allah.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

      and you know he doesn’t do this how?

      • SJH

        Because I am rational.

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

          Is that subjectively rational or objectively rational? My point is unless you know this person intimately how can you make the assumption that he does not actually worship the Flying Spaghetti Monster? A rational person would, based upon the available information, make the assumption that he does worship The FSM. My evidence for this is 1) he has a tattoo on his chest signifying the FSM and 2) he strongly desires to have his drivers license picture taken with his religious headgear on and 3) he made a very impassioned request of the state of Illinois to make an allowance for his religious headgear. All these examples happen to be the most evidential of his worship of FSM and they are the only available evidence per this blog in support of that conclusion. Making assumptions based solely upon your own opinions is not rational thinking it’s just subjective opinion. An opinion that is false given the only available evidence. Your sense of rationality is purely based upon self interest.

    • UWIR

      “The answer is that a religion is more acceptable than another religion when your so called religion is not actually a religion and the others are.”
      So what makes something an acceptable religion is that it’s an acceptable religion?

      “He does not actually worship the FSM. People actually worship Allah.”
      Buddhists don’t worship Buddha; does that mean Buddhism isn’t a religion?

  • SJH

    He looks foolish. I suggest that if atheists want to be taken seriously, you should discourage such behavior. Trust me, it only makes you look silly and childish.

    • ImRike

      What does this have to do with atheism? He is a pastafarian, not an atheist!

    • Roy Gamsgrø

      “He looks foolish.”

      *laugh* Have you -seen- the pope?!

  • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

    pfft!! His colander is made of plastic, I would not take him serious either, now if he had a tin one, like mine, circa 1930′s he might have a legitimate cause.

    • UWIR

      Do you have any interest in pointers on how to take pictures without a camera in front of your face?

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ Tanner B James

        I’ll ask when I’m not trying to be anonymous.

  • raerants

    If your driver’s license/state ID is not a forum for personal expression, then why was it acceptable for me to be wearing makeup and have my hair arranged a certain way and be wearing my Highlander Watcher necklace?

    The point of photo ID is to be able to accurately identify the bearer at any given moment. Don’t tell me that people don’t engage in subtle and not-so-subtle personal expressions when they go about their daily business. So the photo ID should be a reflection of what a person normally looks like/how they normally present themselves. If someone has facial piercings and is told to remove them for the photo, then it’s no longer an accurate representation.

    So by that criteria, I should have been told to scrub off my makeup and bind my hair in a pony tail, because that’s how I normally look on an average day. What’s happening here is that the normative, the expected, is being privileged. Because I’m a woman, people who don’t know me just assume that it’s right for me to be wearing makeup.

    And my husband absolutely engaged in blatant personal expression when he got his driver’s license photo taken, but because it didn’t fall horrendously outside the norm, no one called him on it.

    When it comes to photo ID, the single (I was going to say “most important” but on second thought, single, bar none) criterion ought to be “Is this more or less what the person normally looks like?” (Veils are easy to remove and re-place; the photo would show what the person looks like underneath.) But if this were truly prioritized, then there would be a law to the effect that you had to get a new photo if you got your hair cut more than some number of inches, or a perm, or some other long-term appearance-altering procedure.

    Bottom line: As long as the functional guidelines are followed (and he conscientiously made sure the colander did not obscure his facial features in any way as to interfere with positive identification) it should not matter what you wear in your photo or why you wear it.

    (Apologies if my thoughts aren’t as neatly organized as they could be. Hopefully I’m coherent.)

  • http://www.myfathershouse.squarespace.com/ A Christian

    I didn’t think people were allowed to wear religious headgear for their driver’s license? Or does that vary by state?

  • The Other Weirdo

    The state is right to judge as they did. Hoover is obviously a blasphemer. According to the Holy Texts of Noodly Meatballs, the colander must be metal. And single-handed. I feel insulted, shocked, dismayed, disturbed and yes, even discombobulated, by this blatant mockery and satire of my honestly-held religious beliefs.

  • Gus Snarp

    I am of two minds on this subject. The simple fact is that a yarmulke or a turban doesn’t obscure the face in any way, so there’s really no reason not to allow any head wear that similarly reveals the face. Why make religion the exempting factor at all? Why not just, any brimless head wear the sufficiently exposes the face? Honestly, I could shave tomorrow and be far more unrecognizable compared to my photo than anyone in any hat, so what’s the point of it all anyway? He’s just pointing out the silliness of basing this exemption on belonging to an officially recognized exemption, and the fix seems simple: define acceptable head wear based on recognizability of the face and remove the religious wording from the law.

    On the other hand, if I’m an agent of the State whose job it is to enforce the laws, I’d have no choice but to do so and should this individual sue, then it would likely be pretty simple to beat him. The question is not whether his religion is “real” or silly, it’s whether he sincerely believes in a mandate to wear a colander. Does he wear it to work every day? Everywhere else he goes? Or is he just putting it on for the license photo? If it’s the latter, he loses.

  • baal

    I can clearly see his face in the photo here and while it’s from a down angle, his forehead is clearly visible. You could do a drivers license photo with that strainer.

  • ufo42

    Funny as this all is, it does raise the serious point that civil servants are violating the constitution both of Illinois and the USA in denying this guy’s request to wear whatever the hell he wants to on his head as long as it meets the specific regulations for the license photo — which this clearly does. I think it looks cool! :)

    Raaamen!


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