If you claim you are a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster you may be entitled to wear a “Pastafarian” pasta strainer on your head when you sit for your driver’s license photo.
At least, this is true in Wisconsin, where the state has agreed to let Michael Schumacher do just that, the Associated Press reported Thursday.
Schumacher hired lawyer Derek Allen to pursue his case when employees of the state DMV objected to his plan to wear the strainer (a.k.a. colander) on his head when he went to sit for the license renewal photo in Madison last month.
“I felt bullied. I felt like I was being told I was in the wrong,” Schumacher told TV station WKOW in Madison.
Schumacher says he is a member of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he describes as a growing international religion. On a website purported to represent the religion, it says, “Some claim that the church is purely a thought experiment or satire … These people are mistaken — The Church of FSM is legit, and backed by hard science. Anything that comes across as humor or satire is purely coincidental.”
Allen took up Schumacher’s cause, telling WKOW, “In my mind his right to freely exercise his religion wasn’t being recognized by the DMV.”
Allen told the TV station that Pastafarians had won similar challenges in Utah, Texas and Massachusetts.
Schumacher, described by WKOW as a farmer, told the TV station that the pasta strainer is “our religious headdress. We wear it in various ceremonies. This relates to our faith, because the giant flying spaghetti monster was boiled alive for our sins and we wear this in representation of that sacrifice.”
After mulling a letter from Allen for a couple of weeks, the Wisconsin DMV decided to let Schumacher wear the strainer as long as it was tipped back far enough so that it didn’t cover his face.
Allen said the publicity might encourage greater awareness of 1st Amendment rights.
“If it gets someone to know a part of the 1st Amendment that they didn’t know before, I think it’s ultimately a good thing,” Allen told WKOW.