The Washington Post

A 'Pastafarian' wins the right to get a license photo wearing a strainer on his head

The image used on Alm’s driver’s license. (Courtesy of Niko Alm)

Alm posed for the license wearing an upturned colander on his head, with the handle cocked to one side. Muslim women could wear head scarves when posing for their driving license photo, so why couldn’t he wear headwear relevant to his religion?

But Austrian authorities told Alm to come back when he got a doctor’s certificate that said he was “psychologically fit” to drive.

Three years later, with the help of a doctor’s note, Alm has finally obtained a license, kitchen utensil headwear photo and all.

Niko Alm’s license (Courtesy of Niko Alm)

Alm said he decided to wear the strainer after the Austrian Ministry of the Interior issued a brochure with specifications for pictures to be used in driving licenses. A hat, caps or any type of other headgear are not allowed, except for religious purposes.

“I am a person who believes in the equality of all people. I consider priviliges due to religious or any other type of belief as anti-democratic. So I wanted to apply the same exception to my headgear,” Alm says.

In some ways, the reaction of Austrian authorities unwittingly proved Alm’s point, which is that the only dogma of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose members call themselves Pastafarians, “is the rejection of dogma.”

The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster began after a man named Bobby Henderson wrote a satirical open letter to the Kansas State Board of Education, who wanted to teach intelligent design as an alternative to evolution. Henderson parodied the concept of intelligent design by professing his belief in a creator that looked like spaghetti and meatballs.

Alm now wants to apply for Pastafarianism to become an officially recognized faith in Austria.

A Pastafarian Headgear Day International has been declared for Oct. 12.


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